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Weekender 12/21/18

December 21, 2018 Weekender No Comments


Weekly News Recap

  • The VA considers terminating its patient scheduling contract with Epic and Leidos in favor of buying a similar system from Cerner.
  • 3M will acquire MModal’s physician documentation technology business for $1 billion.
  • Epic’s 75-year-old CEO Judy Faulkner tells The New York Times that she will probably never retire, but has instructed shareholders that when they choose a new CEO, they should replace her with an Epic software developer.
  • GE firms up plans to spin off its healthcare business via an IPO.
  • Teladoc’s COO/CFO resigns over an incident in which he shared stock trading tips with a Teladoc employee with whom he was having an affair.
  • Livongo hires former Cerner President Zane Burke as CEO.
  • HHS OCR issues an RFI for help reviewing how HIPAA impacts data sharing, how long it takes for patients to get copies of their own medical information, and how often providers refuse to share PHI for treatment purposes.
  • Change Healthcare acquires the API and blockchain assets of interoperability vendor PokitDok.
  • FDA names Flatiron Health Chief Medical Officer Amy Abernethy, MD, PhD as principal deputy commissioner.
  • A federal judge in Texas rules that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.

Watercooler Talk Tidbits

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Reader donations provided the first-grade class of Ms. L in Indiana with math games and activity centers by funding her DonorsChoose teacher grant request. She reports, “My students love getting to play with and use math tools at home. Families particularly like the games so that they are getting to learn and practice with their child during the week as well! Thank you so much for your generosity and helping my students be able to gain confidence in math and get more practice at home!”

Donations from Deborah and Vicki this week, supplemented by generous matching money, fully funded these DonorsChoose requests:

  • A wireless color printer for Ms. P’s second grade class in Morehead City, NC (impacted by Hurricane Florence)
  • Makerspace technology for Ms. B’s high school library in Houston, TX
  • Five laptops for Ms. H’s second grade class in Havelock, NC (her class was out for 5.5 weeks due to Hurricane Florence)
  • Four tablets and cases for Ms. S’s third grade class in Fresno, TX
  • Art supplies for Ms. W’s healthcare STEM high school class in Conway, SC (her school was impacted by both Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Matthew)
  • A molecular modeling set for Ms. G’s fifth grade school class in Tracy, CA (she is a first-year teacher)
  • LEGO bricks for Ms. W’s elementary school class in Balch Springs, TX 


A reader tells me that industry long-timer and friend of HIStalk Ford Phillips of River Bend Marketing passed away this week in Cape Girardeau, MO at 73.


Customer service reps for consumer DNA testing companies are finding themselves in the awkward position of shocking customers with news that their sibling doesn’t share the same parents, that their child was fathered by someone else, or that their DNA matches that of a previously unknown family member. Ancestry.com prepares employees with a months-long training program that includes role-playing and empathy.


A woman settles for $1 million her lawsuit against a plastic surgeon who she claims implanted an unapproved breast reconstruction device that injured her, then falsified her paper medical records to make it look as though she had approved. The doctor had been paid nearly $500,000 over five years by the device’s manufacturer and owns company stock.

Researchers analyze Sweden’s national cardiac patient database to find that while heart attacks happen more often in early mornings and on Mondays, the year’s peak happens at 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve. The study, along with others, finds that heart attack incidence rises during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, perhaps due to the stress caused by money issues, family gatherings, and increased consumption of food and alcohol.


Cigarette maker Altria will pay $13 billion in cash for a 35 percent state in vaping vendor Juul, valuing the three-year-old company at $40 billion. $2 billion of the sales price will go to Juul’s 1,500 employees as bonuses (that’s $1.3 million each, although individual payouts will be based on years of service and shares owned). Juul, which had vowed to make cigarettes obsolete, will benefit from Altria’s legal and marketing muscle as it tries to avoid FDA crackdowns on what some experts say is the top public health crisis in teens. Altria is also diversifying its declining tobacco business by making investments in cannabis and beer manufacturers.


Former President Barack Obama visits Children’s National hospital to sing Christmas songs and give gifts to children. He also thanked employees for working over the holidays.


In Nigeria, a financial consultant regularly visits a government hospital in Lagos to pay the bills of patients who have been discharged, but who aren’t allowed to go home until their bill is paid. Only 5 percent of the country’s residents have health insurance and hospitals sometimes even hold the bodies of deceased patients until relatives pay their bill. The man doesn’t want publicity or thanks for what he calls The Angel Project, where he advocates that “you be the angel you hope to meet.”

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Reader Comments

  • Patient advocate: Hi. I don’t see our organization on the Commonwell slide. We have gotten a lot of value from the tool and have ac...
  • Anonymous: I worked for Cerner at the time of the fire, and Cerner had a few dozen associates at the Feather River facilities. Both...
  • monica: 'Champions of Heath' that is perfect and says more about the whole rebranding strategy in 3 words than I could in a para...
  • Bill Spooner: It would be great to know about healthcare costs and outcomes in China, India and Norway, to learn how the various care ...
  • Mr. HIStalk: I'm torn between wanting to make them stop by showing how ridiculous they are vs. shaming them by name publicly. Apparen...
  • Mr. HIStalk: My personal dilemma is that I don't want to assume that someone attractive who is working a booth must be a contractor h...
  • Ex Epic: My favorite is when you're appropriately washing your hands for the twenty + seconds with soap and somebody is standing ...
  • Evelyn Reed: Thanks for the detailed guide in the conference and other news as well. After months of public negotiating drama and sev...
  • MATTHEW HOLT: I’m getting very bored of the calling out of anonymous social media types. I’m deep enough into the genre to see you...
  • Craig Katz: Just curious - are booth babes gone? If so, when did they go? And was it complaints or companies realizing how much it m...

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