Home » News » Currently Reading:

News 2/5/20

February 4, 2020 News 4 Comments

Top News


VA Secretary Robert Wilkie fires his #2, Deputy Secretary James Byrne, due to “loss of confidence in Mr. Byrne’s ability to carry out his duties.”

Byrne was the VA’s highest-ranking official whose responsibilities included its Cerner implementation and other computer projects. He said in November that either he or Wilkie would make the decision of whether Cerner will be ready to go live at two pilot sites on March 28. Byrne expressed confidence in November that the scheduled go-live at Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center (WA) and Puget Sound Health System was on track.

Axios reports that the White House was not happy with the VA’s handling of a sexual assault complaint, leading Wilkie to ask for Byrne’s resignation.

The VA did not respond to press inquiries about who will take responsibility for its Cerner project.

Byrne is a United States Naval Academy graduate. He was deployed as a United States Marine infantry officer, served as a Department of Justice prosecutor, and was counsel to the OIG office that monitored the federal government’s $52 billion Iraq rebuilding program. He was the VA’s General Counsel for two years before being confirmed as VA deputy secretary in September 2019. He held that job for 20 weeks before being fired Monday.

Reader Comments

From Ghost in the Machine: “Re: Cerner in Europe. Millennium is being pulled from Spain, Portugal, and France. They are also trying to find a buyer for the Siemens product in Spain and Portugal. That leaves no product to sell, so no need for sales teams and eventually everyone else. It’s not GDPR driving these actions, it’s nearly non-existent margins.” Unverified. UPDATE: CompuGroup Medical announced Wednesday morning that it has acquired several Cerner applications that are marketed in Germany and Spain — Medico, Soarian Integrated Care, Selene, and Soarian Health Archive, for which CGM paid $250 million.

From NFL Fan: “Re: Kansas City. Congratulations to Cerner and the other HIT vendors there on the Super Bowl win!” I’m glad that elitists who see the Midwest as faceless flyover country — including many who don’t know or care that two adjacent states confusingly have their own respective Kansas City – might have learned something (beyond lip synching shamelessly while booty shaking admirably) in watching the drought-breaking Chiefs win. KC area schools have cancelled Wednesday’s classes to allow customers to proudly cheer their taxpayer-supported entertainment vendor and its 20-something-year-old, possibly concussed employees who didn’t voluntarily choose to live there, so try not to whack someone while doing that questionably sensitive tomahawk chop thing. For me, I would avoid the adulatory, freezing parade masses and instead have some Jack Stack brisket and burnt ends with a Boulevard beer. Several health IT companies make the Kansas City area their home, with some of them off the top of my head being Cerner, Netsmart, and WellSky.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests


I emailed the HISsies ballots yesterday to HIStalk update subscribers. Voting is tied to those individual email addresses, so non-subscribers can’t vote (to prevent ballot box stuffing). The nominees came from reader submissions, so blame yourself if you don’t like the choices but didn’t bother to nominate your own. Voting so far has yielded few surprises despite heavy voting action in the “worst vendor” category.


Speaking of voting, please take a couple of minutes to fill out my annual reader survey. I sit in an empty room filling up an empty computer screen every day, so this is my one chance each year to see who’s out there and how I can do a better job of meeting your needs. I always get a lot of good ideas from reader responses. I’ll sweeten the pot by doing one or more random drawings for a $50 Amazon gift card.


None scheduled soon. Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre to present your own.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


Cerner reports Q4 results: revenue up 6%, adjusted EPS $0.75 vs. $0.63, beating analyst expectations for both.


Hinge Health raises $90 million in a Series C funding round, increasing its total to $126 million. The company styles itself as “the world’s most patient-centered digital hospital” in the form of wearables, personalized exercise plans, and health coaching for back and joint pain, paid for by employers.  

Premier acquires two healthcare supply chain companies – Acurity and Nexera – from Greater New York Hospital Association for $292 million. The companies offer group purchasing and supply chain consulting, respectively.

I care even less about McKesson now than when they were a crappy HIT vendor who bailed out, but just in case you still own shares, the company reports Q3 results: revenue up 5.3%, adjusted EPS $3.81 vs. $3.40, beating earnings expectations.


  • University of Alabama at Birmingham Health System will implement TransformativeMed’s EHR-embedded worfklow and alert notifications apps.
  • Norton Healthcare chooses Appriss Health’s PMP Gateway to integrated prescription drug monitoring program information into its EHR.
  • MedStar Health joins Cerner’s Learning Health Network, which sells de-identified patient data to drug companies, as its first health system customer. The program was started in August 2019 in conjunction with Duke Clinical Research Institute. 
  • Health plan Regence will offer members chat-based, around-the-clock access to doctors using CirrusMD’s Ask a Doctor app.



Greater Hudson Valley Health System (NY) promotes Craig Filippini, MBA to CIO.


Chris Morrish (NaviHealth) joins Cohort Intelligence as SVP of enterprise sales.


Identity and data exchange vendor 4medica hires Jorge Nobregas (Siemens Healthineers) to the newly created position of SVP of sales.

Southwestern Health Resources promotes Brian Coffey, PhD to SVP of data insight and innovation.

Announcements and Implementations


Medicomp Systems and Emtelligent will partner to develop clinician workflow and usability solutions based on Medicomp’s Quippe clinical data engine and Emtelligent’s medical natural language processing engine. The first co-developed solution is in beta testing and will be released this quarter.


KLAS reports on its November 2019 patient engagement summit that drew 20 provider and 19 vendor attendees. Early high-level success stories involve matching patients to community programs; providing patient care reminders; making visits easier with pre-visit videos, appointment reminders, online rescheduling, and online urgent care appointment scheduling; and increasing patient portal use.


LOINC pre-releases codes for coronavirus.

Life and health reinsurer Reinsurance Group of America announces an underwriting risk score service for life insurers that performs real-time analysis of EHR and medical claims data.



China admits the first patients to its 1,000-bed coronavirus hospital that was built in 10 days by a crew of 7,000 workers in Wuhan. A second 1,500-bed hospital will open this week. Clinicians will connect to a Beijing hospital using a video system that was installed in less than 12 hours, while medical robots will transport drugs and specimens.

Interesting: Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has hired a new CIO with no healthcare experience (Atefeh Riazi, who held that role with the United Nations) who will report to the chief digital officer it hired in November 2019 (Claus Torp Jensen, who came from CVS Health and Aetna). Former VP/CIO Pat Skarulis has apparently retired. MSKCC’s federal tax forms show that Skarulis was one of the higher-paid CIOs among non-profit health systems at $1.4 million, joining at least a dozen of her MSKCC peers in the million-dollar club. I also note from that tax form (from the 2017 tax year) that former IBM CEOs Ginni Rometty and Louis Gerstner both sit on MSKCC’s board and IBM was one of its top five contractors at $4.9 million.


In England, NHS hospitals are installing “sleep pods” to allow doctors and nurses to take short naps during their shifts, with an average stay of 17-24 minutes. American company MetroNaps makes the pods, which include soothing music, lights, and vibrations. Sleep medicine experts say it’s unreasonable that air traffic controllers are required to take a 30-minute break every two hours to avoid mistakes, but NHS caregivers rarely get time to recharge.

Sponsor Updates

  • Optimum Healthcare IT publishes an infographic titled “Year in Review: 2019 Healthcare Data Breaches.”
  • ONC recounts the effectiveness of the Patient Unified Lookup System for Emergencies (PULSE) powered by Audacious Inquiry during the California wildfires last fall.
  • PatientPing’s national network of Next Generation ACO providers earns over $150 million in savings for 2018.
  • AdvancedMD will exhibit at the NILA Mid-Winter Meeting February 7-8 in Scottsdale, AZ.
  • BlueTree adds Epic MyChart support to its service center capabilities.
  • Bright.md updates its Upper Respiratory Infection SmartExam modules to include coronavirus screening.
  • CI Security will sponsor the Data Connectors Charlotte Cybersecurity Conference February 5 in North Carolina.
  • ConnectiveRx will expand its campus in Pittsburgh to meet staffing projections that could reach 1,500.
  • CoverMyMeds receives The Medical Mutual Pillar Award for Community Service.
  • CommonWell’s latest blog, “#InterOp in 2020,” features input from Clinical Architecture CEO Charlie Harp and Diameter Health CEO Eric Rosow.

Blog Posts



Mr. H, Lorre, Jenn, Dr. Jayne.
Get HIStalk updates.
Send news or rumors.
Contact us.


HIStalk Featured Sponsors


Currently there are "4 comments" on this Article:

  1. What are these employer funded health tech companies going to look like after the next recession? Not a 2008 style recession but a regular one. Employers are going to drop these expensive services faster than they drop break room snacks or drink tickets at the Christmas party. If the renewal contracts are a year or less or if the employer pays by usage, these companies are going to drop like flies.

    • Patient wellness apps that help companies target potentially expensive employees will continue to thrive.
      Companies like Virgin Pulse allow employers to identify those employees who are likely to become expensive from a healthcare perspective so they can be included in layoffs.

      There isn’t any enforcement occuring around layoffs that target employees who are likely to be expensive, and the toolset provided by these companies are built around identifying those employees.
      If you think corporations are fundamentally good actors, you can believe that these tools are designed to intercept progressive illnesses, but if you think companies are motivated by profit, it’s easy to see how these tools can be used.

      • Yeah I don’t think employees realize that employer run wellness programs aren’t covered by hipaa. I always wonder if a service like Teladoc is paid for by your employer directly. If it is, your employer can get the providers documentation from Teladoc right?

  2. Mr. H: “The VA did not respond to press inquiries about who will take responsibility for its Cerner project.”

    Presumably the VA took these as rhetorical questions, since the answer is obviously “no one.”

    Silver Lining: Cerner stock is looking AWESOME!

Text Ads

Recent Comments

  1. 100% agree about the remote employees - particularly in health care. If you think you can 100% work from home…

  2. Re: NEJM Article "The Solution Shop and the Production Line..." I totally agree that there can be a bias towards…

  3. In the NEJM piece that you pointed out, I wonder how you see the impacts of hospital-employed physicians, use of…

  4. You asked, "Readers, what is your experience with Oracle as a vendor?" Oracle is notorious for charging a LOT of…

  5. This quote from your article is just hilariously and provably wrong. "At the cost of millions to billions of dollars…


Founding Sponsors


Platinum Sponsors

























































Gold Sponsors











Sponsor Quick Links