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February 19, 2019 News 1 Comment

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Healthcare data expert Fred Trotter, health lawyer David Harlow, JD, MPH, and several patient advocates file a Federal Trade Commission complaint against Facebook over security problems with its Groups function. They say Facebook used AI to encourage users to sign up for private patient support Groups (based on their search history) knowing that their information (including real name, email address, city, employer) could be publicly downloaded.

The complaint also accuses Facebook of allowing its advertisers to target people using their identifiable health information.


The complaint says Facebook Groups fits the legal definition of a personal health record, so Facebook as a PHR vendor should have notified users and the FTC that their protected health information had been exposed. It offers as evidence CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s endorsement of Groups for patient care collaboration and coordination.

It concludes that Facebook violated the FTC’s 2012 consent order and could face billions of dollars in penalties for failing to notify under FTC’s breach notification rule.

House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and ranking member Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) have asked Zuckerberg to provide a staff briefing by March 1.

Reader Comments

From Sampan: “Re: Jonathan Bush. Did you see him at HIMSS? You should interview him again.” I didn’t see him there, but I would certainly enjoy interviewing him since it’s been awhile.


From Waiting to Exchange: “Re: Cerner’s HIMSS19 slide bashing Epic over CommonWell. There are only 16 CommonWell sites available to query (see list above), although this is double the number of sites available in December. New sites are coming on board gradually. None of these organizations are in our region, so while our referring sites have an EHR capable of exchanging data, we are still waiting for the ‘marketplace’ to evolve.”

From Dyn Doc Diva: “Re: Cerner. Leadership is constantly undermining things with hype and hoopla versus functionality and usability. Cerner used to have a way for organizations to innovate with custom builds within Cerner and then sell those innovations to other clients, but I don’t think it was very successful. It will be interesting to see if the app experience is any better. Having a bunch of apps is just another fragmented way of getting people to pay more for extra modules instead of incorporating the features that people want and need into the base build. The adoption of Dynamic Documentation would not be languishing if it really did a credible job of reducing burnout – it was touted as revolutionary when still in the widely-promoted vaporware stage, but our organization has it and it’s good for quick dictated notes but requires a lot of upfront provider work to use for complex patients. Our department suggests that people not use it because it doesn’t do everything we need for regulatory and billing purposes, but Cerner isn’t fixing minor things in Powernotes that would go a long way to improve productivity. Cerner is trying to drive adoption of one half-baked solution over another.”

From Engine Brake: “Re: HIMSS. Maybe the demise of HIStalkapalooza had an impact on attendance. I always enjoyed the HISsies voting and pictures, especially shoes.” I doubt many people made their HIMSS conference attendance decision based on HIStalkapalooza, but maybe some did. Had I not also mercy-killed our expensive and ultimately pointless HIMSS19 booth, I could have designated a “shoe day” in which I would invite everyone to wear their finest footwear to the exhibit hall, then proceed to my “selfie station” of a downward-pointing camera that would catalog their feet for posterity and perhaps for online crowdsourced judging afterward.


From InteropNerd: “Re: Epic App Orchard. Closed to new membership with no timeline on reopening.” A source tells me its open again after Epic updated processes related to safety, privacy, and security policies.

From Unbroken Yolk: “Re: HIMSS19. How were the logistics?” They were invisible, which is the goal. The only gripes I heard involved the convention center’s food vendors, which weren’t particularly inspired (or high value) and unlike in Las Vegas, you can’t easily go elsewhere. That’s not inconsequential since anyone running a conference will tell you that the major factors impacting attendee satisfaction are the quality of the food and having enough networking time built in, but given the scale of HIMSS19, it was mostly a good experience. It’s just a very different environment from Las Vegas, where the convention is just one small part of the Strip, but each city has its fans. Personally I like Orlando better (even without bringing along family members for doing tourist stuff) because costs are reasonable; I don’t end every day smelling like cigarette smoke; I can sleep without hearing drunken screaming and sirens all night; and there are no strippers, panhandlers, or barkers clogging up the walkways. Plus the sun-deprived can spend time at the beaches of either Florida coast before or after the conference. Both convention centers struggle with squeezing too many exhibitors into the hall, however, leaving those with low HIMSS point counts in the basement (Las Vegas) or back past the food court (Orlando).

From A Sheen Warlock: “Re: hospitals losing money after EHR implementations. Why isn’t this bigger news?” The headlines always claim that hospitals “blame” losses on their EHR implementations. However, most of them (the smart ones, anyway) had planned for the obviously higher short-term costs — much of it the labor expense of training employees — and the temporarily lower revenue due to intentionally reducing appointments to give ambulatory users time to get used to the system. It’s not all that different from a big construction project that involves high costs and business interruption, but that hopefully pays for itself for years afterward. Assuming, in both cases, that it is used wisely.

From Confused Parent: “Re: Epic. In MyChart under Health Trends, there’s an option to graph a patient’s vital signs. We clicked the button for our son and here’s what rendered.” I’m not including the screen shot since I know Epic goes crazy over that, but it’s just a bunch of vital signs trended onto a single graph. The reader didn’t say what they were looking at specifically, but I’m guessing that it’s the body surface area trend line, which shows up as close to zero. That’s a graph scaling issue since the child’s BSA would be 1 or less throughout and the single graph’s X axis runs 0-100 (so BSA is always going to be near the Y-axis line). Parents probably don’t care about BSA anyway since its primary purpose is to calculate drug doses, so displaying it is somewhere between pointless and misleading.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

Here’s one last chance to tell me your thoughts about HIMSS19. I’m also looking to ride the wave of enthusiasm it created by interviewing health system CIOs, CMIOs, CISOs, or caregivers interested in technology. Email me at mrhistalk@gmail.com —  the interview takes only 20 minutes by phone, no prep is required, and you can remain anonymous if you like.


The reader who was randomly chosen as a $50 Amazon gift card winner for completing my reader survey asked that I instead use the money to fund teacher projects. With some careful application of a couple of layers of matching funds, the prize funded these DonorsChoose teacher grant requests: (a) math and English manipulatives for Ms. H’s kindergarten class in Fresno, TX; and (b) word games for Ms. G’s elementary school class in Denver, CO. Ms. H responded immediately to say, “My students will be so surprised and happy to know that they will receive new learning materials thanks to an awesome donor! I am super excited to see their reactions. We will use the station materials for both reading and math. Thank you again for your kindness!” Ms. G also responded in expressing excitement that she can share the news with her students that they will soon have new resources to use for their sight words.


I decided to keep my burner phone active for now. Add 818.722.1903 to your phone’s contacts and you can text me stuff quickly and easily. I appreciate the information and photos sent to me at HIMSS19.

Listening: new from Strand of Oaks, a project of Indiana-born Tim Showalter that spans indie rock, Americana, and mainstream pop.


Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor OptimizeRx. The Rochester, MI-based company gives life sciences companies a digital communication channel to healthcare professionals with a single connection point to 500 brands of EHR, allowing them to alert the prescriber within their workflow of available patient prescription financial support, such as co-pay offers and vouchers, that can improve prescription affordability. The EHR user can print or email the information to the patient or send it electronically to the pharmacy, also providing the patient with customized patient education materials. OptimizeRx helps drug companies launch new products by getting them added into e-prescribing and EHR drug data files. It recently announced its acquisition of CareSpeak Communications, which engages patients and families using multimedia text, chatbot, and other platforms to optimize adherence, support dose titration, provide fill and refill reminders, and manage side effects. Case studies found an 83 percent reduction in transplant rejection, a 50 percent decrease in asthma symptoms, and a 15 percent increase in heart drug adherence. Thanks to OptimizeRx for supporting HIStalk.


March 6 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “Pairing a High-Tech Clinical Logistics Center with a Communication Platform for Quick Patient Response.” Sponsored by Voalte. Presenters: James Schnatterer, MBA, clinical applications manager, Nemours Children’s Health; Mark Chamberlain, clinical applications analyst, Nemours Children’s Health. Medics at Nemours Children’s Health track vital signs of patients in Florida and Delaware from one central hub, acting as eyes and ears when a nurse is away from the bedside. Close monitoring 24 hours a day integrates data from the electronic health record, such as critical lab results, and routes physiological monitor and nurse call alerts directly to the appropriate caregiver’s smartphone. This session explores how the Clinical Logistics Center and more than 1,600 Zebra TC51-HC Touch Computers running Voalte Platform connect care teams at two geographically dispersed sites for better patient safety and the best possible outcomes.

Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for information.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


CPSI announces Q4 results: revenue down 7 percent, adjusted EPS $0.78 vs. $0.63, beating earnings expectations but falling short on revenue. Shares are up 8 percent in the past year vs. the Nasdaq’s 4 percent increase. From the earnings call:

  • 18 Centriq and Classic clients moved to Thrive in 2018.
  • The company added 29 new community hospitals for the year and expects the same for 2019 as “the acute EHR replacement market continues to experience churn.”
  • CPSI says new hospital sales are driven by hospitals that made bad long-term decisions based on Meaningful Use and clinicians aren’t happy with the systems they chose.
  • Quarterly MU3-related revenue dropped $9.2 million year over year.
  • The company expects ONC’s proposed information blocking regulations to benefit the company as those actions usually drive smaller competitors out of the market.
  • President and CEO Boyd Douglas says HIMSS19 was “a typical HIMSS” that provided little traffic from either existing or potential customers, adding that customers in CPSI’s market don’t have a lot of travel money and that they would be better off attending the company’s user conference. He also added that while more international visitors dropped by, you never know if any business will result from that.


Healthstream announces Q4 results: revenue up 8 percent, EPS $0.09 vs. $0.10, beating Wall Street expectations for both. 



Huntzinger Managment Group names John Hendricks (Residual Point Technology) as CTO.


Computational pathology vendor Paige.AI hires Leo Grady, PhD (Heartflow) as CEO.

Announcements and Implementations


A new KLAS report on patient engagement technology finds that it’s a “wide but shallow field” in which only CipherHealth, GetWellNetwork, and Press Ganey rise above the fray. Epic leads by far in EHR vendor patient portals and 92 percent of customers say it plays a significant role in their patient engagement strategy. Providers are looking beyond HCAHPS retrospective patient surveys in considering technologies for rounding, patient self-scheduling, care coordination, and targeted educational content delivery.

HFMA and Strata Decision Technology release the free, open-source L7 Cost Accounting Adoption Model, intended to help health systems measure their adoption and use of advanced cost accounting methods.

Privacy and Security


Authorities in Sweden find that audio recordings of 2.7 million calls made to the country’s 1177 health information line were stored as .WAV files on a Web server that did not use authentication or encryption, allowing anyone to play them back on their browser. The service is operated by Thailand-based, Swede-owned MediCall, which says it will “soon release a statement” following the CEO’s initial denial that the breach occurred. MediCall recruits experienced nurses from Sweden who want to work “in an unusually sunny place.”


HIMSS seeks comments on its proposed update to the definition of “interoperability.” My only observation is that it sees interoperability as a technical capability rather than a provider requirement. Every one of us has examples of our providers not sharing information, but let’s make Phase I simple – look only at hospitals and grade them (maybe in yet another Maturity Model) on how well they provide their patient information to other providers, how they accept and use information sent by other providers, and how well they perform in giving patients their own information quickly and inexpensively. Create the demand for interoperability and the technology will quickly follow.


Israel’s national EMS service and tech startup MDGo develop a system that uses existing car sensors to analyze the impact of a crash, determining with 92 percent accuracy the extent of occupant injuries and then immediately calling for an ambulance with the accident’s location. The company estimates that non-pedestrian deaths can be reduced by 44 percent because the system eliminates the 5-7 minutes that elapses before a passerby reports an accident and also alerts EMS personnel of its severity so they can deploy the right resources. Co-founder and CEO Itay Bengad recently earned an MD degree and an MS in oncology and cancer biology.


Connection provides a video update for the children’s bags filled at their booth by HIMSS19 attendees, introducing those who will take them to the children of their respective organizations —  Dan Lim, PhD (VP, AdventHealth University, which offers a children’s summer camp) and Kim Barkman, RN, MSIT, MBA (VP/CIO, Community Health Centers).

The physician humanities editor of Neurology resigns following retraction of an article that the editor-in-chief admits contained “racist characterizations.” The journal will also discontinue the Humanities section; require all articles to be reviewed for diversity; hire a deputy editor for equity, diversity, and inclusion; and offer awareness training. The retracted article by William Campbell, MD, MSHA (cached copy here) described Reggie (“a 60-year-old black man”) and digressed into a side story in which the author wrote, “I once shared a table at a fried chicken fast food establishment with a nice African American lady. Immensely enjoying her fries, she sat with the shaker in one chubby fist and liberally salted each individual fry. I knew the various ways lead could get into moonshine. And I was fluent in the lingo.” The author is a widely published 1970 medical school graduate of Medical College of Georgia and a retired US Army colonel who practiced in a Richmond, VA HCA practice.

Ochsner Health System (LA) partners with drug company Pfizer to make it easier for patients to participate in clinical trials via the use of digital tools. The organizations tested exchanging mock patient information between Ochsner’s Epic system and Pfizer’s clinical trials data capture platform to reconcile gaps and variances. The project will publish a model for using FHIR standards to collect clinical trials data from hospital EHRs.


Vox runs another example of city-owned Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital sticking patients with high bills because it intentionally stays out of all private insurer health networks to maximize its ED revenue. A 19-year-old football player who was hit by a city bus is taken to the city hospital – also its only Level I trauma center — for six stitches and CT scan. Despite having insurance through his father, the hospital billed him for his $28,000 portion of the bill after his insurance paid $2,000. The hospital then turned his bill over debt collectors and placed a lien. He sued the city, finally getting a favorable ruling two years afterward in which San Francisco was ordered to pay his hospital bill (to itself, apparently) along with economic damages. This would be the point where rational people would demand that hospitals offer their lowest accepted prices to everyone, or at least prevent them from chasing private-pay patients for amounts exceeding what they are willing to take from Medicare or other insurers.


Intel publishes a white paper describing its experience running a five-location, technology-powered employee ACO.  Health outcome improvements were modest, but user retention was high and employees benefited from better choices for appointments and faster responses to their medical advice requests. The company says its key strategies are contracting directly with providers, using health IT and measuring its use, and working with delivery systems to improve quality of care. Technology components vary by state, but include:

  • Data-sharing via EHealth Exchange and Direct messaging, connected to Kaiser’s Epic and Premise Health’s Greenway Health PrimeSuite (which has since been replaced with Epic at Premise).
  • Waiting for the HIE situation to resolve in Arizona and then using the Connected Care to connect with 125 provider EHRs.
  • Connecting to its partner IPA in California, which replaced NextGen Healthcare with Epic.
  • Using Epic’s Care Everywhere and Carequality connectivity in its San Francisco Bay region.
  • Using Direct messaging in Oregon to coordinate referrals with unaffiliated practices, then working with Epic to accelerate functionality development with regard to closing the loop with providers.
  • Using Providence’s Collective Medical’s EDie to obtain patient opioid prescription histories and PreManage ED and to send alerts to providers when their patients are seen in the ED, admitted, or discharged.


Weird News Andy only wishes this guy lived in the UK to support his fantasy headline “Doctors Remove a Third of a Stone of Stones.” Doctors in South Korea resort to surgery to resolve the stomach pains of a man who had ingested 4.4 pounds of coins and pebbles, which he admitted was his practice when feeling anxious.

Sponsor Updates

  • AdvancedMD will exhibit at the Association of Dermatology Administrators and Managers event February 26-28 in Washington, DC.
  • The Channel Company’s CRN brand names Avaya’s Mark Vella to its list of 2019 Channel Chiefs.
  • Bernoulli Health CNIO Mary Jahrsdoerfer, RN publishes a study on the key attributes of continuous clinical surveillance.
  • CarePort Health will exhibit at the Population Health Management Summit February 21-22 in Miami.
  • The National Cancer Institute awards Carevive with the only Fast-Track Phase I/II contract supporting the development of an innovative symptom management and electronic patient-reported outcome solution.
  • Staffing Industry Analysts names CTG President and CEO Bud Crumlish to its 2019 North American Staffing 100.
  • The VA issues an Authority to Operate for Diameter Health’s health data quality technology.
  • Divurgent publishes a new white paper, “Application Rationalization.”

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Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Hi.

    I don’t see our organization on the Commonwell slide. We have gotten a lot of value from the tool and have access to data in our region which is supporting care transitions. It would be helpful if folks like eCW would actually play ball with others to improve care. I am not worried about Cerner and Epic but rather the small players ability to share

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