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Monday Morning Update 3/2/20

March 1, 2020 News 16 Comments

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Cisco withdraws from HIMSS20 due to COVID-19 concerns.

HIMSS filed its most recent coronavirus update Thursday, reporting a registrant cancellation rate of 0.6%. This may be misleading, however, since the organization offers refunds only to registrants from specific countries, meaning that most people who have changed their minds about attending would not necessarily bother to notify HIMSS.

Any potential cancellation of HIMSS20 would probably need to be announced in Monday’s update to allow time to notify registrants. HIMSS has not given any indication that it plans to cancel the conference.

Several companies that are scheduled to exhibit have recently cancelled their own user and sales meetings. HIMSS20 exhibitor Workday, for example, cancelled its sales kickoff meeting that was scheduled for March 2-4 in Orlando. Readers have said that Intel, Salesforce, and Amazon won’t participate, although those companies have not made any announcements.

Most respondents to this week’s snap poll – which is not vetted — say they haven’t changed their HIMSS20 plans, although 15% of respondents indicate that they are US residents who won’t attend as planned after all.

Readers who are epidemiologists or public health experts and are registered to attend HIMSS20 – will you still attend, and if so, will you take any non-obvious precautions? I’m also interest in hearing from employees of companies who have decided not to send employees to Orlando.

Reader Comments

From Wizened Sage: “Re: MDLive. Changes at the top – chief medical officer, CEO, CFO.” Rich Berner is still listed as CEO on the exec page, but a reader said his resignation was mentioned on a medical directors’ call. CFO/COO Dan Monahan left in November after 10 months and Chief Medical Officer Lyle Berkowitz, MD moved on last month after a couple of years. Comparing the executive web page from April 2019 to the current version shows that seven of the 13 are no longer listed.


From Doc X: “Re: HIMSS exhibitor press release upload portal. My upload failed and I noticed that it accepts only .doc files, which were superseded in Word in 2003 by .docx. So a state of the art health IT conference is using 23-year-old information exchange infrastructure?” I’m actually surprised that the third-party service HIMSS uses accepts Word documents at all instead of requiring PDFs, where formatting is consistent and the threat of malware micros is zero. PR people sometimes email me announcements as Word documents, which even if I wasn’t worried about malware, would go right to my trash folder anyway because it means they are greenhorns. I’m not blaming HIMSS since the technology still works as long as the submitter is willing to do a “save as.” I also think there may have been a time when non-Microsoft word processors such as Open Office and maybe even Apple Pages could export only as .doc files, so this might actually be a commendable interoperability provision.


From Being There: “Re: ZDoggMD’s claim that patients can’t share their Epic data with providers that use a different EHR. I can say as a user of an Epic-enabled mobile app through my PCP that this is categorically untrue. The Share Everywhere option on the mobile app gives any provider one-time, limited access to meds, allergies, health issues, and immunizations. They can even write a clinical note to my care team.” ZDogg also ignores Carequality EHR-to-EHR data sharing, which in also being connected to CommonWell allows sharing information with just about any EHR whose vendor wants to support doing so. I wonder if the EHR that ZDogg designed for his failed Turntable Health had interoperability capability since he’s so passionate about it. 

From Midship: ”Re: HIMSS20. What is the financial impact to registrants if it is cancelled?” HIMSS policy is that you don’t get a registration fee refund – it rolls over to HIMSS21. Hotel reservations booked through HIMSS are non-refundable, so you’re out those costs along with flights unless you bought comprehensive travel insurance, which may or may not cover you anyway unless you got the expensive “cancel for any reason” coverage or purchased before COVID-19 became a known event that is therefore excluded. Employers pay the tab for most attendees, so the paperwork required will vary, but you’ll have all week to complete it.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests


Poll respondents say the best way by far to get people into your HIMSS booth is to deploy friendly, alert reps (hint: reps who stare longingly into the eyes of their phones are neither). 

New poll to your right or here, following up on the KLAS survey: Which of the following patient engagement technologies have you personally used in the past year? I probably should have excluded dentists since they are far better users of consumer-facing technology than their medical counterparts.

I’m looking for a few good companies that are interested in signing up for HIStalk webinar services and sponsorships. Startups get a first-year discount because Lorre decided that would be nice for the little guys. We always get more interest right before and after the HIMSS conference as companies are paying more attention to the comparative effectiveness of reaching an audience of actual decision-makers. Contact Lorre.


Geek gadget alert: I read that resetting your router occasionally will ensure good Internet speed. Mine isn’t in a handy location, so I thought about plugging it into a mechanical timer like you do for Christmas tree lights and having it power off early in the morning and then on again a minute later. I then ran across these smart plugs,  which allow you to control the plug over WiFi with a slick app, with Alexa or Google Home, and even IFTTT. I think it even has as one of its programmable elements sunset time, so that you might turn on a lamp at sunset and then turn it off at 11 p.m. A four-pack costs just $25, they were a snap to set up in just a few seconds, and they are working perfectly so far. The only caveat is that they work only on 2.4 GHz WiFi networks.

Listening: The Equatics, high school kids from Hampton, VA who recorded a single funk-soul album in 1972. I heard them on Hulu’s “High Fidelity,” which I’m enjoying a lot (Zoe Kravitz is excellent, at least while I’m waiting for Tony nominee Da’Vine Joy Randolph to steal every scene in which she appears.) The soundtrack is all deep cuts and oddities from obscure LPs like this one and the playlist is on Spotify.


March 4 (Wednesday) 1 ET: “Tools for Success: How to Increase Clinician Satisfaction with HIT Solutions.” Sponsor: Intelligent Medical Objects. Presenter: Andrew Kanter, MD, MPH, FACMI, FAMIA, chief medical officer, IMO. Dr. Kanter will explore how striving to achieve the Quadruple Aim (by focusing on the provider experience) can improve clinician satisfaction and population health needs while also reducing per capita healthcare costs. Attendees will learn how to set providers up for success with new technology, the potential unforeseen consequences of purchasing without the clinician in mind, and the factors that are critically important to clinicians who are using new health information systems.

March 4 (Wednesday) 1 ET: “Healthcare Digital Marketing: Jump-Start Patient Discovery and Conversion.” Sponsor: Orbita. Presenters: Victoria Petrock, MBA, MLIS, principal analyst, EMarketer; Kristi Ebong, MBA, MPH, SVP of corporate strategy, Orbita. Does your digital front door capture consumers who search for health-related information one billion times each day? Do you have actionable steps to convert them into patients? Do you understand voice and chat virtual assistants? The presenters will explore the consumer challenges involved with finding, navigating, and receiving care, discuss why healthcare marketers need to embrace conversational voice and chatbot technologies, and describe how new technologies such as conversational micro-robots can improve engagement.

Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre to present your own.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


Health Catalyst reports Q4 results: revenue up 21%, EPS –$0.39 vs. –$16.33, beating Wall Street expectations for both and sending HCAT shares up 9.5% on Friday.


  • Ontario Mental Health Partnership will upgrade its Meditech system to Expanse.
  • MatrixCare will integrate NVoq’s speech recognition solution to its home health and hospital EMRs.

Government and Politics

The Defense Department acknowledges – after initial denials – that a problem with a common login system has prevented military members, retirees, veterans, and their families from logging in to the Tricare Online Patient Portal and to its MHS Genesis Cerner system for several days. The ID platform DS Logon is working from inside the DoD’s network, but not from outside computers.

Privacy and Security


A Consumer Reports investigation finds that prescription discount coupon vendor GoodRx sends patient information to 20 online companies that include Google, Facebook, and a marketing firms. Most surprising is that consumers and doctors interviewed by the magazine somehow think that HIPAA protects medical information everywhere, missing the major point that it binds only covered entities and their business associates, not discount websites. GoodRx reacted to the unwanted publicity with an apology, the hiring of a data privacy VP, reduction in the information it shares with Facebook and Google, and new user options for opting out and deleting their data as required by California’s privacy laws. The company says it will make sure the third parties to which it sends patient data follow HIPAA standards, which I’m not quite sure I understand.

CNN resurfaces the two-year-old story in which a Facebook bug was found by health IT expert Fred Trotter as having exposed the membership lists of its closed, private groups – as was found with a breast cancer gene support group – to developers and marketers. Facebook changed its closed group settings, but denies that the existence of a privacy loophole even though it admitted that developers had access to membership lists, saying that users shouldn’t use its Groups product if they are worried about privacy. The Federal Trade Commission has not yet responded to the December 2018 complaint filed by Trotter and healthcare attorney David Harlow.

HHS will review the St. Louis Fire Department’s participation in the TV show “Live Rescue” following HIPAA-related privacy concerns about its depiction of accident victims in near-live broadcasts. The fire department accepted legally responsibility for any HIPAA violation in its deal with the TV show’s producers,  an agreement that pays the city nothing for its participation.


Vendors of AI-powered symptom checkers and chatbot struggle to update their algorithms with COVID-19 information.


A small Reaction Data survey of health system clinicians and C-suite leaders finds that most respondents expect HHS’s proposed interoperability rules to have a positive impact. Epic users are more favorable to the ruling than those of any other EHR vendor. The rule’s biggest health system supporters are clinicians and executives, and while IT leaders were less enthusiastic, they don’t feel all that strongly about it either way. Respondents were pretty much equally split as to whether patients should control their own information versus hospitals and clinics doing it for them.

Healthcare in America: a man and his three-year-old daughter who underwent mandatory US government quarantine after returning from Wuhan, China find a pile of hospital, radiologist, and ambulance bills waiting when they finally got home. The government didn’t have a plan for who pays for being forced into quarantine in a non-government facility, and since the man has no health insurance since his China-based employer doesn’t offer US coverage and he’s lived in that country for years, he’s looking at a $4,000 expense so far. The biggest chunk of the bill, $2,600, was from a short ambulance ride provided by American Medical Response, which was sold to private equity operator KKR in 2017 for $2.4 billion in cash. He was coughing and his daughter was blinking excessively in a TV interview, which he would like to have checked out if he can qualify for Medicaid.


I had a double gotcha on this story in the Venice, FL paper. The first was that I thought it was about telehealth – it’s actually about architects for a new hospital trying out the design on employees using virtual reality. My second thought is that those cataract sunglasses that are ubiquitous among Florida’s senior citizens have gotten awfully large.


Paging Weird News Andy: Maryland police arrest a man who stabbed a woman with a syringe full of semen in a grocery store. Tom Stemen (!) told the woman when she confronted him, “It felt like a bee string, didn’t it?”

Sponsor Updates

  • Meditech adds a Hypertension Management Toolkit to its Expanse EHR.
  • Health Catalyst announces that former UPMC CFO Rob DeMichiei will join its board as a strategic advisor.
  • Clinical Computer Systems, developer of the Obix Perinatal Data System, will exhibit at the AWHONN Missouri Section Conference March 5 in Chesterfield.
  • The Greenville Chamber honors OmniSys founder Jerry Ransom with its 2019 Worthy Citizen award.
  • Experian Health will exhibit at Quorom Solutions Expo March 4 in Litchfield Park, AZ.
  • Phynd adds six new health system clients in Q4.
  • Impact Advisors is named a Workday Alliance Services Partner.
  • Redox releases a new podcast, “Using transportation to improve healthcare access and outcomes with Ankit Mathur of Roundtrip.”
  • Relatient will exhibit at Nextech Edge March 5-7 in Orlando.
  • Surescripts will exhibit at the 2020 PBMI National Conference March 2-4 in Orlando.
  • Rare disease patient data platform Raremark partners with TriNetX to bring more clinical trials to its community.
  • SAS Health integrates Wolters Kluwer Health Language portfolio of data-quality solutions with its analytics software.

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Currently there are "16 comments" on this Article:

  1. Thanks for the geek gadget idea. I have two extra smart plugs not doing anything (used during the holidays only) and I never thought about using them to recycle the router. Excellent tip!

  2. You do realize the fatal flaw in your Wi-Fi enabled smart plug to do a hard turnoff/turnon process? Yeah turn off will work like a charm. Sadly turnon will not (your Wi-Fi router is turned off!). and you’ll be face to head up to you attic or wherever to physically plug it back in.

    Most routers actually have a pretty decent phone app access with a reset function that does work pretty nicely in the Netgear and Linksys routers/networks I have in my hone.

    • It actually works for me because my modem is attached to Router A that sends broadband signal into Ethernet. Those are the hard to access components. Handily located is the mesh Router B that is plugged into an Ethernet jack, which isn’t on a smart switch. I turn the modem off and on via the smart switch app, wait a few seconds and repeat for Router A, then manually recycle the mesh Router B by unplugging/plugging.

      I think the app will control the switches over the Internet, although that’s not as important to me. Amazon also sells a plug that monitors broadband and recycles when it’s down, but I didn’t need that. A common use case seems to be vacation homes and outbuildings with broadband monitored security systems or cameras.

  3. Re HIMSS and COVID-19.

    Orlando will be next site of “community spread” of the Coronavirus.

    In the midst of a global pandemic let’s all attend an international trade show where people from Asia, ME, Europe all come together inside an auditorium for a week…..
    …for a conference on healthcare.

    Make sense?

    • I am definitely looking forward to spending four days inside a concrete box with 40,000 of my germ-ridden colleagues, including a significant cohort of physicians who refused to stop wearing neckties despite having evidence shoved in their faces (or rather, the faces of their patients) that they are a significant vector for hospital infection. Trustyworthy stewards of public health? Sure.

  4. Well, it is not quite a pandemic, or even an epidemic in the US (where it is in other parts of the world),. It is, however, shaping up to be the closest thing we have known to a real pandemic since H1N1, and it presents greater risks because it spreads a lot “quieter”,
    It is concerning that HIMSS has yet to be canceled. I have no doubt about its cancelation. IT WILL BE CANCELED, POSTPONED, OR RESCHEDULED. And it will likely not be HIMSS decision. They will not have a choice in the matter.

    I do find it interesting regarding those who are cheerleading for HIMSS to NOT be canceled out of precaution for basic public health management and safety.
    I haven’t seen a Provider or Clinician, or a CHIO, CTO, CIO or CMIO of a health system claim that we must proceed. Not one that says canceling HIMSS would be an panicked overreaction. But I’ve seen plenty of marketers be very vocal and make fun of the public health advisories.

    Makes us all wonder if all of those vendors, “influencers”, “community organizers”, who make a nice income off of HIMSS and the patient care community are totally out of touch with real patient care. Now, large publicly-traded companies will continue to drop out. Such decisions are forced from their Risk Guidance and Board. They would lose their Risk Coverage if they violate terms of their policies.

    We can only focus on what we can control. We can control our decisions to take smart precautions to reduce the likelihood of spread. We can’t control if there is an outbreak at a major event. We can’t control the supply chain of necessary medical supplies. We must do our part to lesson the burden on the healthcare system and critical resources.

    And please, if you are not a clinician, or a in-the-field public health professional, data scientist or caregiver of the sick, please stop dismissing the facts because you are more focused on the $$ you make off of the patient-care community than common sense. Know when to let it play out for the right reasons. And respect everyones “at will” choice in the matter.

    • On behalf of small to mid-sized vendors, I can tell you that Coronavirus is presenting a huge decision making challenge for us. A huge % of marketing budget has already been spent on the conference. Regardless, we do not want to send our employees to an event where they could get sick, or get others sick. However, if we don’t go – but our competitors DO go, the potential lost revenue opportunity is a big concern. And it’s not greed – its about being able to maintain a healthy business.

      Bottom line – we really have no choice but to go if the conference is not cancelled. I applaud HIMSS bringing in an external panel of medical professionals. I’ve been concerned that other factors will interfere with good evidence based decision making. HIMSS: Use the experts. Listen to the experts. We are depending on you to do so.

  5. It seems like a big trend with large events in the last few years has been to implore attendees to forgo the usual handshakes and other personal contact when they happen during flu season.

    This request has certainly been conspicuously absent from the regular COVID updates that HIMSS has been sending out.

  6. HIMSS20 and COVID-19:

    The missus — a healthy four-time cancer survivor — had planned to return to HIMSS once again for business development with her company (Insperity), but on her own dime. Now her docs are advising her not to attend. It doesn’t look like she can get a cancellation because she’s not coming from a banned location. She’s attended many times to be a patient voice among all the noise. It seems pretty uncool that her only option is to “rollover” her registration for 2021. Any advice on this is welcome.

    In our ongoing conversations about HIMSS20, she noted that she suspects many decision-makers won’t attend because they don’t want to risk being quarantined after traveling to a soon-to-be pandemic epicenter. In thinking about this, I can imagine the conversations going on inside healthcare organizations where they imagine a local headline like — “[Health System] Leaders Party at Orlando Boondoggle While Coronavirus Overtakes Hospital.” Even if things are relatively under control, this is a rapidly evolving all-hands-on-deck undertaking for the US health system. If they don’t cancel the event, HIMSS had better significantly revamp programming to justify why healthcare leaders from all over the world show up in one place.

    For prep, you should be actively practicing “no face touching” — one of the hardest parts of infection control even if you’re a master at hand washing. Try turning on your webcam for 20 minutes, then going on with your business in front of your machine. Review the video in fast forward to see how many times you touch your face. Even if you’re consciously trying to train yourself, you will forget and inevitably do it. A 2015 study showed med students touched their faces an average of 23 times per hour — half of those to mucous membrane areas (eyes, nose, mouth). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25637115

    • Zero chance of people not touching their face. It’s semi ridiculous advice. Next they’ll be telling us not to touch our phones….

      • I’m not sure if “semi ridiculous” is a step forward or backward for the quality of my advice… Point is that, unless you’re sanitizing your hands, your devices, and all the things you touch many times an hour, hand washing alone is not going to cut it. It’s not impossible to retrain yourself, but no doubt it’s difficult. Last I checked, people in operating rooms do a pretty good job of not touching their faces while scrubbed in.

        • Maybe veils will come (back) into fashion as a mechanism to keep people from touching their faces. As an added bonus they also thwart facial recognition software, and are easier to apply and maintain than Juggalo makeup.

  7. Ugh, thanks for reminding me that since I put my modem inside my mantle (leaving only my mesh router on top of the mantle) last summer, I haven’t power-cycled it. Of course I can power cycle my mesh router system whenever I want with the Google Home app, but no such animal exists with my modem.

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