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Weekender 11/1/19

November 1, 2019 Weekender 3 Comments


Weekly News Recap

  • UnitedHealth’s Optum acquires remote patient monitoring startup Vivify Health.
  • Waiting room advertising company Outcome Health pays $70 million in customer restitution to settle Department of Justice advertising fraud charges.
  • Australia’s Queensland Health confirms media reports that it ordered its IT department to perform no software upgrades, including to its problematic Cerner system, while parliament is in session to avoid embarrassment.
  • Premier acquires purchased services management technology vendor Medpricer.
  • Medecision acquires GSI Health.
  • ESolutions acquires Medidal.
  • Facebook launches a program in which user demographics will trigger preventive health information and reminders.
  • Google parent Alphabet is rumored to have made an offer to acquire Fitbit (the companies announced Friday that the acquisition is set for $2.1 billion).  
  • Cerner says in its earnings call that it will no longer offer outsourced revenue cycle management services after Adventist Health terminate its contract, which triggered a $60 million charge and an annual revenue reduction of $170 million.

Best Reader Comments

Deleting your Facebook account does not actually stop any tracking. All your web activity is still tracked via pixels and linked back to your deactivated FB account (example: I still would know you are a 40 year old woman with two kids over 8 who lives in a specific zip code and has certain interests from your old FB activity). I can still target ads to you through websites who publish ads through Facebook, “audience network.” (FB Marketer)

How can the responses of 6-7 customers out of thousands [in KLAS’s global VNA report] be classed as “global” insight and customer feedback? (PluckyBrit)

Why so cynical re: HLTH? I’m here now, and am finding it refreshingly relevant compared to HIMSS or Beckers. For goodness sake, the keynote presentations actually focused on current issues, and didn’t just include big name politicians, sports stars, or actors. Sure, there’s glitz, and the caricatures, etc., but for conferences, I’ve found it to have more of a “finger on the pulse of what’s coming” than any other major conference out there. (CynicAl)

Banner Health bought the University of Arizona’s medical arm and transitioned them from Epic to Cerner. It’s the reason Epic had to change their spiel to “no *voluntary* deinstalls.” (Math)

I don’t think [EHR training driving provider satisfaction and adoption] has been a big secret to those who have gone through the implementation cycle multiple times, yet it’s always the first thing in the budget to get cut. You’d think that the vendors would be more prescriptive (as opposed to “advisory”) when detailing training requirements during planning. Or maybe it’s a failure of CIOs to make the case to CMOs, CFOs and CEOs that they’re being penny wise and pound foolish. Maybe this KLAS survey will help. (Recovering CIO)

Watercooler Talk Tidbits


ProPublica profiles 27-year-old Nerds on Call computer technician Michael Gillespie (guess which one is him in the photo above, as he receives an FBI award), who has cracked 100 forms of ransomware and provides free decryption tools that have saved hundreds of millions of dollars worth of avoided ransom payments. He receives 2,000 files per day from panicked computer users asking for help and spends his evenings on his couch surrounded by his cats, decrypting new strains and corresponding with people who are seeking his assistance. There’s a healthcare connection – he and his wife are broke because of the after-insurance costs of treating her newly discovered bladder cancer, which forced him to take a 2 a.m. paper route, surrender their car to the bank, and overcome threats of foreclosure of their $116,000 house in Normal, Illinois. Pestered by relatives who can’t understand why he helps people for free, Gillespie says, “There’s a time in every IT person’s career where they think, I’m on the wrong side. You start seeing the dollar amounts that are involved. But nah, I can’t say that I ever have. I just don’t care to go that way.”


The offshore folk who announce a $3,000 market research report and then write it only after someone pays must know, as experts,  something we don’t – that Athenahealth, Allscripts, Epic and clinical trials platform vendor Medidata are among the sellers of pharmacy robotic dispensing systems. They say it’s a big market that is being energized because “the case of non-infectious diseases also increases.” You could take advantage of the company’s offer to “kindly feel free to grill us with queries” as it has “established the pillars of our flourishing institute on the grounds of Credibility and Reliability.”


A despondent woman whose friend called 911 fearing for her safety is billed $30,000 by Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital for a five-night psych stay. She had bought one of the White House-touted “association health plans” (aka ACA-non-compliant junk insurance) that costs less but covers little. She knew her $210 per month plan didn’t cover mental health services, but said she didn’t expect to need them. She asked the hospital what each treatment was going to cost her, but they couldn’t answer, leaving her with a bill for double the average negotiated price (since cash-paying patients are billed higher than everybody else in our non-system). The hospital wrote the bill down to $9,000 and adds that they offered the patient help, but she didn’t return their calls or fill out their financial aid forms. She also admits that she started to buy real insurance through Healthcare.gov, but thought the information was confusing. I’m siding with the hospital on this one (although not the idea of insurer-negotiated pricing) since she blew several opportunities to make a responsible decision. But then again, much of our population seems incapable of making responsible decisions, sticking the rest of us with the bill.  


A Texas woman live-streams her brain surgery on Facebook in hopes of encouraging others to be optimistic about their outcomes. The stream skipped the graphic parts and instead featuring her speaking to the surgery team while remaining awake as the chief of neurosurgery of  Methodist Dallas Medical Center narrated and answered viewer questions. She went home two days later.


Police arrest a Louisiana medical practice clerk for selling fake doctor’s notes to high school students for $20, of which two students bought 14. 

The New York Times suggests that patients avoid seeing doctors whose practices are owned by hospitals, whose facility fees can tack on unexpected hundreds to thousands of dollars per visit.

This has Weird News Andy written all over it. Entrepreneur David Hachuel, MSc, MPH, who hopes to commercialize an AI-powered stool analyzer, seeks 100,000 photos of bowel movements for training the system. Experts say a poop tracking app is sort of a good idea, but worry that it will send tons of healthy people to doctors unnecessarily and that a better approach would be to actually analyze a sample only when medically indicated. I read this and ponder, has any doctor ever actually asked a patient to bring in a photo of their bowel movement, and if not, how does an app add value? And also, are we so short on good uses of IT in health that poop photo analysis will lure investors? (cue Sally Field in the 1965 “Gidget” episode titled “All the Best Diseases are Taken,” which I just found by Googling in thinking instead of an “Arrested Development” reference). I would swear that Auggi’s video (above) and its rather foul call for photos were actually clever spoofs from The Onion.

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Currently there are "3 comments" on this Article:

  1. >>> I’m siding with the hospital on this one (although not the idea of insurer-negotiated pricing) since she blew several opportunities to make a responsible decision.

    You are a total ghoul to “side with the hospital on this one”. The woman is mentally ill. Even mentally *competent* people struggle to navigate America’s asinine healthcare system, particularly around insurance options. Oh, no, person in distress didn’t have it together enough to make the choices that I, rational blogger, would have made with my ability to navigate the system with perfect information.

    Get out in the real world for once and meet some people who struggle with disability and don’t have the luxury of being degreed, employed, and tech literate enough to make perfect decisions but instead choose to armchair quarterback and pass judgment.

    • I’m siding with the hospital only in the sense that the patient received (and apparently needed) its care and the hospital heavily discounted her bill even though she didn’t complete their financial assistance forms or return their calls. She also says now that her gamble on choosing insurance that didn’t offer mental health coverage was, in retrospect, a bad one, although one that any of us could have made since we wouldn’t assume we would need those services. It’s unfortunate she needed help, but fortunate that she was able to get it and then worry about paying afterward. They also aren’t turning her bill over to collections or suing her as far as I know and she didn’t say she won’t or can’t pay. Every decision she made was, without the benefit of a crystal ball, reasonable other than ignoring the hospital’s offer of help with her bill.

  2. If anybody else is looking to toss a few bucks at the ransomware pro-bono decrypter, I found a GoFundMe and he had a Pattern.

    I’m going to see if the GoFundMe can’t get a little move movement. His Patreon highest subscriber level is just $1.

    I always find it interesting when people have obvious skills but are apparently unable or unwilling to profit from them.


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