Google announces Project Nightingale, a partnership with 150-hospital Ascension in which the company will gain access to the identifiable data of potentially all of Ascension’s patients to apply predictive analytics for patient care.
Business Insider reports that the information of 20 million patients has been uploaded to the cloud, with that of another 30 million patients scheduled for transfer in February.
The Wall Street Journal says the data being shared is not de-identified and is essentially the patient’s entire record. It also notes that at least 150 Google employees have access to the data.
The organizations are testing EHR search software and tools that present EHR data graphically to clinicians.
Ascension’s patients and doctors were not notified of the project, except for the 2,000 doctors and nurses who are testing the EHR search function.
Ascension says the deal meets HIPAA requirements because Google has signed a Business Associate Agreement.
Quoted in the announcement was Ascension EVP / Chief Strategy and Innovation Officer Eduardo Conrado, who spent 26 years as a Motorola IT and marketing executive and four years as an Ascension board member before joining the health system’s executive team in September 2018.
From Laid Off and Up: ”Re: recent layoffs. Why do companies fail to understand how bad they look laying off employees in November and December?” I assume that unrestrained desperation to make Excel cells jump forcibly through hoops to earn a bean counter hurrah outweighs the justified black eye that results from showing previously valued “associates” the door during the two-month holiday window. It’s never a great time to lose your job, but prospects are dim until after New Year’s, long nights invite depressing self-analysis, and it’s an unenviable acting job trying to appear upbeat along with holiday-spirited family and friends. Layoffs are a management failure, but November and December cutbacks suggest a higher level of knee-jerk incompetence. I’ll offer my advice from having served on both sides of the forced march out the door — you don’t want to work for a company that conducts regular layoffs anyway, so they’re doing you a favor by forcing you to choose a better employer.
HIStalk Announcements and Requests
I’m excited that my pre-ordered copy of “Man’s 4th Best Hospital” by Samuel Shem was deposited into my Kindle library upon its release today. I expect that will be the subject of my next book review. Meanwhile, if you think I should read a particular book and report on it, let me know.
Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock
Cerner lays off 131 employees in its latest round of cost-cutting.
Value-based care clinical quality platform vendor Apervita raises $22 million from an incremental investment.
Premier launches Contigo Health, a network of member health systems that will use EHR-integrated, evidence-based clinical decision support to optimize care for employees of its employer members. It will also identify available employer health and wellness programs. Premier acquired evidence-based clinical decision support vendor Stanson Health a year ago for $51.5 million, which I would guess forms a key part of this offering. This announcement is a pretty big deal – as big tech companies start trying to figure out this maddeningly complex market, publicly traded Premier knows it inside and out (supply chain, quality improvement, analytics, technology, clinical delivery, etc.) and has now, via Contigo Health, formed relationships with 35 health systems representing 440 hospitals as well as several national employers to address cost and quality issues (also note that health systems are longstanding Premier member-owners). I wrote here several years ago that Premier was the company to watch in terms of disruption and execution and this announcement doesn’t throw water on that prediction. If I were Google or Amazon and was anxious to get a healthcare foothold… well, let’s leave it at that.
- Mercy will implement Bright.md’s asynchronous virtual care platform to provide online triage, diagnosis, and treatment for patients at any location at any time.
- In Northern Mariana Islands, Commonwealth Healthcare Corporation will upgrade its Medsphere legacy system to CareVue EHR and revenue cycle.
Jon Zimmerman (Athenahealth) joins Holon Solutions as CEO.
Datica CTO Travis Good, MD will leave the company’s management team. He will remain a Datica board member and is starting a new venture that is focused on personal data and privacy
Announcements and Implementations
Cricket Health Chief Product Officer Geoffrey Clapp builds VA Care Finder, a free Amazon Alexa skill that allows veterans to provide an address and to be given the closest three VA locations by driving distance (including traffic conditions), powered by the VA’s Facility API. The screenshot above is from an Echo Show device. He’s working on enhancements to use Alexa’s default home location, answer questions about specific facility hours or address, and answer questions about service lines, such as mental health, rather than all locations. Alexa’s limitations don’t allow him to link to external services or to use mapping tools. He’s hoping to explore the VA’s many other APIs to see if appointment scheduling is a possibility. He concludes in his Veterans Day post,
With these APIs — and there is much, much more than just the facilities subset API that I’ve exposed here — the developer community can now get access to data we only dreamed about back in the highly-mentally-scarring VistA integration days of yore. The fact that nearly all the data that is available to internal development teams at the VA or USDS is also available to every hacker, startup, and BigCo means we can do what APIs are meant to — OPEN THE DATA — and build stuff no one ever thought of (or, thought of but didn’t have the budget for…I see you, VA) and there are few populations as deserving of innovation as our Veterans.
A Black Book survey of health information management professionals finds that 93% are optimistic that AI can streamline document creation and capture a holistic patient history to improve outcomes and revenue integrity.
Prepared Health develops an API that users FHIR 4.0 to connect home care agencies and other providers to health plans and hospitals for referrals, care management, and billing.
Government and Politics
Politico reports that CMS Administrator Seema Verma signed a $2.25 million government contract to hire at least 40 consultants to polish her personal brand, several of them former Trump campaign workers who billed taxpayers up to $380 per hour to perform tasks that have always been managed by CMS’s civil servants. HHS cancelled the contract in April 2019 after Politico reported on it, but at least $744,000 had already been spent.
In Israel, Sheba Medical Center says it will create “the first fully VR-based hospital.” That’s certainly a press release stretch, unless the hospital plans to sell off all those buildings in the photo above and instead pass out VR headsets to patients. They calmed down a little further down the page, specifically listing that the hospital will use virtual reality for therapy services and education.
The non-profit Health Care Cost Institute gains access to de-identified Blue Cross Blue Shield claims in a multi-year partnership agreement. UnitedHealthcare stopped sharing its claims data with the group earlier this year, citing privacy concerns about HCCI, which is a non-profit competitor to its claims data-selling Optum subsidiary.
The Environmental Protection agency is proposing to ignore the conclusions of academic studies in its rulemaking unless the authors submit all raw data, including any patient medical records that were reviewed, for public inspection. EPA says outsiders should be able to independently review all study data to verify the conclusions of the researchers. The measure would make it more difficult to pass new environmental laws because the personal health information that was involved is often collected under confidentiality agreements. EPA’s proposed standard would exceed those for published medical studies, which do not require investigators to submit raw data.
A newspaper in India interviews Viren Prasad Shetty, the COO of India-based Narayana Health, which plans to expand from its 30 hospitals and 6,000 beds to 30,000 beds. Interesting points:
- The company plans to create a virtual health network that involves apps rather than buildings in an Uber-like model that will allow it to grow more quickly at a lower cost.
- He says India’s plan to add a new medical school in every three districts of India isn’t adequate because many of the graduates leave the country, noting that the US has more India-graduated nephrologists than India itself.
- He predicts that “the biggest export-earning industry of this country will be our manpower,” specifically medical caregivers as declining populations leave Western countries with no one to care for their senior citizens.
- Narayana’s 20% annual growth in cancer services eclipses that of its primary focus of cardiac services, so “we will want to convert all our hospitals into cancer hospitals.”
- He says the company’s strength is that is led by a core group of doctors – including cardiac surgeon and CEO Devi Shetty, MBBS – instead of business executives, which makes it attractive to doctors.
A man who expected his hernia repair to cost around $10,000 is shocked at the for-profit hospital’s $116,000 bill for the 91-minute outpatient procedure, including $1,700 for a pair of scissors. He had passed on buying real health insurance and instead enrolled in a health-sharing ministry that pools medical bills among self-pay patients outside the purview of insurance regulations. He was approved for up to $50,000, but inadvertently chose the most-expensive area hospital and didn’t realize that patients who are covered by health-sharing ministries are billed at the same rate as uninsured or cash-paying patient without the benefit of heavy insurer-negotiated hospital discounts. The hospital refuses to budge on the $67,000 balance he owes. He’s demanding that Virginia’s consumer protection office force the hospital to write off his balance, but an attorney with Virginia Poverty Law Center says the hospital will probably just sell off his debt to a collection agency for 10 cents on the dollar.
An American Osteopathic Association survey finds that 75% of Americans feel lonely. My free advice – forget your pretend friends on Facebook and make an effort to interact with actual human beings instead of accidentally trampling them on the sidewalk while staring down in wonderment at your phone’s compelling but imaginary world. The most provocative art I’ve seen recently is by photographer Eric Pickersgill (above), who showed what real life would look like once the “small, cold, illuminated devices” of social media addiction are removed. He describes it as: “This phantom limb is used as a way of signaling busyness and unapproachability to strangers while existing as an addictive force that promotes the splitting of attention between those who are physically with you and those who are not.”
- Apixio will exhibit at the Rise Annual Risk Adjustment Forum November 12-14 in Scottsdale, AZ.
- Clinical Architecture will exhibit at AMIA November 16-20 in Washington, DC.
- Diameter Health will exhibit at the Advent HEDIS 2020 Client Conference November 19 in Scottsdale, AZ.
- Give your practice the financial breathing room it needs (AdvancedMD)
- You don’t have to list your negotiated rates (yet): Our 3 key takeaways from the HOPPS final rule (Advisory Board)
- Better. Faster. More Efficient. (Agfa Healthcare)
- Keys to a Successful Laboratory System Implementation (Optimum Healthcare IT)
- Analytics for Whole-Person Care: The Rise of the Connected Behavioral Health Network (Arcadia)
- HIPAA Security Rule Checklist: What is the HIPAA Security Rule? (Atlantic.Net)
- The State of AI in 2020: 35 Stats You Need to Know (Avaya)
- HIPAA vs. HITRUST (Datica)
- 6 Reasons to Initiate a Network Assessment Now (Burwood Group)
- nteroperability: Why It Matters So Much to the Current and Future State of Healthcare (ChartLogic)
- Basic Principles That Could Transform Your Practice (EClinicalWorks)
- Recap: ACEP19 Focused Heavily on Workplace Violence (Collective Medical)
- Why a Manufacturer Cash-Price Program Can Be a Better Option for Patients Purchasing Prescriptions (CoverMyMeds)