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Weekender 3/13/20

March 13, 2020 Weekender 2 Comments


Weekly News Recap

  • COVID-19 dominates the national and healthcare news.
  • Use of telemedicine ramps up to meet COVID-19 screening and management needs.
  • HealthjStream acquires nurse scheduling app vendor NurseGrid, which offers the #1 most downloaded app for nurses.
  • FormFast changes its name to Interlace Health.
  • Final versions of the federal government’s interoperability and patient access rules are published.
  • HIMSS announces plans to offer some HIMSS20 sessions virtually.
  • Organizers cancel most of their upcoming conferences due to coronavirus concerns, including AMIA.

Best Reader Comments

Heading from a lot of friends inside of Epic that things are getting rough. No guidance from HR or the COVID team on what people are to do if schools close, no telework option given to any staff in the Verona office, some divisions (Implementation) have been given the guidance to attend all meetings via WebEx but that they still must physically come to campus. Little to no transparency from the leadership team, and they appear to be one of the only major tech company not implementing remote work. (Ex-Epic)

Epic’s travel policy is not right. They may think that they are helping us, but these people who go from one hospital to another may act as pollinators for COVID-19. We have already determined to cut all non-employees visiting our clinics and hospitals. (CMIO @ Med Centre)

Will 2021 finally be the year of the PHR now that these ONC rules came out? B.Well’s gimmick is to make the employer pay for it, though they can only swindle employers out of looking at the apps adoption rate for so long. IMO there isn’t enough value in a PHR to run a business. You either have to keep your costs extremely low or make money some other way. To me, two models come to mind. The Linux model, in which some devs do it as a passion project for awhile until it gets big enough that some institutional players start chipping in, maybe with some consulting opportunities with big health system or payer orgs. Or the Facebook model, in which you make it free for the consumer and sell their data. (What)

The big thing that’s missing for me personally is any accountability for breaches of apps or app vendors. My reading of the summary is that app vendors will not be HIPAA covered entities even if they are accessing and storing PHI. ONC is basically waving their hands saying consumers and app vendors can figure this out for themselves with a Terms of Service agreement. Key language from the summary: “In effect, this places more of an obligation on the party requesting the EHI and the individual to attempt to satisfy the precondition by providing a consent or authorization.” (Elizabeth H. H. Holmes)

I find there are two main reasons companies attend [the HIMSS annual conference]. Large mega vendors and even the larger names use it as a current customer meet and greet, and a chance to take them to dinner / schmooze (which they should be doing the other 51 weeks of the year anyway). The other are startups looking for investors or partners. Most don’t return the next year. Due to HIMSS rules on booth location based on seniority (I don’t disagree, just noting), these newbies are relegated to the basement level in building 2, or on the back wall of row 2400, where no one seems to go. Every time I’m asked about conference attendance as a key marketing tool, I tell the company my views. Even during a couple of job interviews I went against what I thought they wanted to hear, but was surprised they agreed with me. I’m not saying having a booth at conferences is a total bust, but isn’t a major tool in revenue growth for the majority of attending companies. Yes, I’m sure I’ll get some pushback from a few here where their effort pays off, but I’m betting it is a small slice of all vendors. (Contrary Ann)

Watercooler Talk Tidbits


Readers funded the Donors Choose teacher grant request of Ms. A in New York City, who asked for sensory play tiles for her class of autism and multiple disability students. She reports:

It is my honor and privilege to be working as a New York City public school teacher. It is in thanks to donors such as yourselves, who have enabled me to do my job even better. I am filled with such joy that you choose to help my students. It means so much to me to bring them an engaging educational experience that has meaning for them. My students inspire me every day, which I have seen inspires wonderful donors such as yourself.

I have already started using the sensory tiles and it is starting to make a difference for my students. Students who are in sensory overload are able to use them to self-soothe and get back to our lesson. We also use them for our lessons to show how colors mix and how force causes the colors in the tiles to move. They are so wonderful on so many different levels. These will allow my students to have an engaging experience exploring Science and STEM and keep control of their senses. Thank you for your kindness!


Brilliantly making lemonade from the unfortunate HIMSS20 lemon is Medic.Life, which missed the chance to demo its upcoming “smart toilet” but touts its ability to detect virus markers in urine samples for early detection.  

Facebook, Ebay, and Amazon try to throttle back advertisements from price-gouging sellers of face masks and hand sanitizer.

The Los Angeles Times writes about doctors whose medically related poetry is published in medical journals, whose editors say they turn down a lot of badly written poems, but seek out those whose vivid imagery invokes an emotional reaction. A retired internist wrote this one:

Tell Me

Tell me the night silence
on the locked Alzheimer’s ward is broken
by a yell from room 206,

that an old man with flattened
nose and crumpled ears,
whose family moved away to Arizona,

whose doctor never comes
to visit, is standing
in the middle of that room, naked,

his freckled face a clenched fist,
urine and feces running
down his legs.

Then tell me that the fat one, twelve
years on the job,
working her second shift because

someone’s car won’t start,
comes with a pan
of warm water, a sponge and a towel;

how, back in bed, he
cries, You know—
I’m in the ring tomorrow with Killer

how a tiny smile begins, how
her hand reaches out
to flick down his wild flame of hair.

Now tell me again
why you don’t believe in angels.

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