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Monday Morning Update 4/1/19

March 31, 2019 News 6 Comments

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A two-doctor ENT practice in Michigan closes for good and its partners retire after they refuse to pay a hacker $6,500 to restore their ransomware-encrypted systems.

Some of their patients worry about starting over at new practices that can’t get their previous records.

The partners decided not to pay because they had no guarantee that the hackers would restore their data or that they wouldn’t extort them further afterward. They also didn’t want to rebuild their practice from scratch.

The doctors apparently practiced within Swedish American’s Brookside Specialty Center. They declined a TV interview, saying the FBI is now involved.

Reader Comments

From Cyrus of Persia: “Re: [vendor name omitted]. Rumor is they’re for sale after raising $80 million but failing to keep up with their valuation. The co-founder left in December for VC-land, a high-profile client ripped and replaced because the product didn’t work, and none of the company’s sales have gone live.” Unverified, so I’ve omitted their name for now, but I welcome readers to comment.

From Mawkish: “Re: [vendor name omitted]. I heard they have abandoned their development efforts to create an enterprise behavioral health EHR/PM system for the community mental health center and larger mental health / substance abuse agency marketplace after three years of signing up customers who paid deposits with promises that they would be involved in product design, with the remainder not due until go-live. This removed those customers from the marketplace for legitimate solutions. At least the company is refunding the deposits after laying off 40 developers and returning  to their roots of selling EHR/PM to the small practice marketplace.” Unverified, so again I’ve left the name out until I can ask for a company response. I’m not a big fan of pre-announcing software since the only possible reason is to convince prospects to hold off buying an immediately available competing product, but then again, customers who fall for that rather obvious ploy probably would have found a way to screw up their selection and implementation anyway. Still, it’s good news that the company is providing refunds, which isn’t a given in the rough-and-tumble world of health IT.

From Irritable Cereal Bowl: “Re: opioid lawsuits. Good for the states that are suing McKesson and other drug distributors who shipped enormous quantities of opiates that they had to know were being misused.” I disagree – every dose that was sent to those states was dispensed by a state-licensed pharmacy, on the order of a state-licensed prescriber, and under the jurisdiction of the DEA, which tracks every dose of opiates that is shipped to a pharmacy. Clearly those states were asleep at the wheel in expecting the deep-pockets drug wholesalers to provide oversight of legal but inappropriate drug use. If I were McKesson, I would sue the boards of pharmacy and medicine in those states, and perhaps their attorneys general and law enforcement agencies, for failing to do their jobs in protecting the public. Maybe individual prescribers and pharmacies as well since every single transaction is readily available. Drug distributors are required to report unusual usage patterns to the DEA and they failed to do that (not that the DEA isn’t already inspecting pharmacies and prescribers), but blaming them for the immoral and probably illegal behavior of prescribers and dispensers is clearly deflecting blame long after the fact. You can’t tell me that a tiny town from which flowed millions of doses of opiates that were being dispensed to patients who lined up around the pharmacy’s block every single day was too subtle of a problem for their police departments to detect.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests


Most poll respondents say EHR design is not a major cause of physician burnout.

New poll to your right or here: How much impact will AI have on patient satisfaction, outcomes, and cost in the next five years? Click  the poll’s “comments” link after voting to explain, especially if you punt with the safe “some” option.


About 20 percent of poll respondents call their PCP by their first names instead of “Doctor  XXX.” Some agree with me that the PCP is working for them and therefore there’s no need for academic formality, at least once the relationship has been established, while others prefer that both patient and doctor use formal titles (Mr. Ms., etc.) One respondent says they call anyone who has earned a doctorate as “Doc,” but that’s a slippery slope when you separate a medical practice degree (MD/DO) from other medically related doctorates (PhD, DNP for nurses, PharmD for pharmacists, etc.). That doesn’t even consider saying “No fries, thanks, Dr. Jones” in answering the drive-through query of your philosophy PhD. Or, what to do when both patient and doctor have earned doctorates in any academic discipline — do they call each other “Doctor” in the exam room? Or if the poetry PhD patient is called “Mr.” or “Ms.” by their PCP, do they correct them with academic haughtiness? We’ve polluted the etymologic waters quite a bit by assuming holders of doctorates of medicine, dentistry, chiropractic, podiatry, and veterinary medicine should get an extra dose of respect beyond those who hold every other doctorate. My experience is those who are most insecure about their doctorates (usually DO’s and DC’s) are the most likely to insist on being called “doctor.”


None scheduled soon. Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for information.



Medical imaging software vendor Novarad names Paul Jensen (Microsoft) as president.


Julie Flaschenreim (Fairview Health Services) joins Hennepin Healthcare as CIO.



I really dislike the headline of this article from HIMSS, and not just because they misspelled “ZIP” as “Zip,” used unrelated stock photography, and pitched their recent acquisition Healthbox. ZIP codes do not “define” health outcomes, although situations that are common in the economic demographics of those who reside in a given location certainly do. As the headline fails to indicate, people who live in South St. Louis would not get instantly healthier by moving to Palo Alto since there’s no guarantee their social determinants of health would change along with the relocation to an area with a closer Whole Foods, or that their healthcare journey isn’t already set in stone to some degree. There’s also the meme-bursting phenomenon of a single ZIP code covering wildly disparate income ranges, such as parts of San Francisco and Atlanta in which multi-million dollar apartments are flanked by the homeless and working poor (if you like digging deeper, check out census department’s Gini Index measure of income concentration.)  I agree with the remainder of the article, just not the simplistic concept that knowing someone’s address is all you need to understand their health.

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer gauges return on investment in healthcare by looking at the average age of death, which he says has increased only 0.6 years in the past 20 even as healthcare spending rose dramatically. He says employers should look at their prices and costs, such as whether end-of-life spending really increases overall value, but adds that a non-transparent system of healthcare management and delivery makes such analysis nearly impossible.

Sponsor Updates

  • Meditech produces a new podcast, “Clinical efficiency and the journey to Expanse.”
  • Mobile Heartbeat and Clinical Computer Systems, developer of the Obix perinatal data system, will exhibit at the BGHIMSS & INHIMSS Annual Spring Conference April 4-5 in Florence, IN.
  • NextGate will exhibit at the CCI Symposium April 4-6 in Greenville, SC.
  • Netsmart will exhibit at the LeadingAge IL Annual Meeting April 2-4 in Schaumburg, IL.
  • Nordic will present at the Quality of Care Outcomes Research Scientific Sessions April 5-6 in Arlington, VA.
  • Medhost congratulates its 19 hospital customers that earned CMS’s five-star quality rating.
  • Practice Velocity, T-System, Wellsoft will exhibit at the 2019 UCA Urgent Care Convention & Expo April 7-10 in West Palm Beach, FL.
  • Cooper University Health Care (NJ) expands its use of Access Passport’s electronic forms solution to oncology and surgical services.
  • The Oliver Wyman Health Podcast features Qventus CEO Mudit Garg.
  • SymphonyRM will sponsor the Women in Data Science Pittsburgh @CMU event April 4.
  • Visage Imaging will exhibit at the 2019 SBI/ACR Breast Imaging Symposium April 4-6 in Hollywood, FL.
  • Vocera will exhibit at the Beryl Institute Patient Experience Conference April 3 in Dallas.

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Currently there are "6 comments" on this Article:

  1. Why do you not have a category for vendors under cyber security when you look at the vendor directory? Also, who are security companies sponsoring HIStalk?

  2. True, Epic may wipe their homepage clean of jocularity on April 2nd, but all things webbish persist and Epic (at least for now) does maintain an archival record of Ghosts of April Fool’s Past at https://www.epic.com/epic/archive/april-fools. Might be worth a future poll to ask about favorites. I’m partial to the “I’m with EHR” autocorrect from the “I’m with HER” Clinton campaign and the Meaningful Use requirement that Eligible Providers wear bowties. But the “Going Public” announcement in 2010 probably made the Earth actually shake a bit.

  3. I’m a fan of Weekender, especially reading about the good work (for a change) of contributors to DonorsChoose.

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  • AlphaCodeJockey: Finally, CodeJockey has a incentive to play up issues with developing custom solutions for Epic's platform as improvemen...
  • DeltaCodeJockey: I'd also point out that Epic insiders are probably right to be touchy about this topic as they get flack publicly and li...
  • Gamma Code Jockey: Code Jockey's example of an IT form that ties into Epic's system is wrong though - you are allowed to do that and you ar...
  • Bravo Code Jockey: Code Jockey - thanks a tonne for persisting and for your rational and informed responses to a lot of name calling and mi...
  • Bill O'Toole: Confirming first hand that Cape Cod Hospital was MEDITECH's first customer. My father, the Chief of Pathology, saw the i...
  • FormerCIO: Re JAMA article. How will access to my EHR data help me 'shop for high value health care services' and 'avoid the need t...
  • CommentsTwoWeeksLate: I'd be really disappointed if the "de-identified" data set contained full birth dates or zip codes. That doesn't seem t...

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