Change Healthcare acquires ERx Network for $213 million.
The pharmacy claims and e-prescribing network reports $67 million in annual revenue.
From Staying At Home Marketer: “Re: HIMSS conference. We learned this year that many people can work entirely from home, including doctors doing telemedicine. This could be the year that we learn the same about physically attending the HIMSS conference.” That could be the case. Vendors are (or will be) looking for new ways to reach prospects that go beyond the exhibit hall and its associated cost, and the exhibit hall is what powers not only the conference, but HIMSS itself. The conference will probably remain a big deal for those vendors who continue to participate even with its reduced critical mass, but others (especially those with shallower pockets) have a chance to even the playing field now that we’ve skipped a HIMSS conference and nobody is traveling. I’m hearing from companies that are interested in sponsoring HIStalk that I didn’t expect, although I’m losing some financially concerned ones as I assumed would happen. It will be interesting to see which companies benefit from adversity-forced strategic moves that go beyond trying to hunker down waiting for the old normal to come back.
From Opening Up: “Re: contact tracing. Technology could lead us out of this crisis.” Hardly, at least in terms of information technology in this country. We don’t have the discipline (and maybe rightfully so) to hide in our caves in hopes that someone will develop a vaccine or effective treatment. However, we trailed the world with our lackadaisical, “it will never happen here” approach to the virus while it was still potentially containable, so now the infection rate is out of control to stay, we’re a long way from herd immunity if there even such a thing with this bug, and you can’t contact-trace the entire country’s movements even with an app. Still, we need to use whatever tools we have available. I think we’re at a point, right or wrong, where we’re so anxious to get back to normal that we are willing to accept the inevitable casualties that will result (assuming it is someone else or their family, of course). It’s a good time to not be old, poor, or sick as we accept herd thinning as the acceptable price of avoiding an economic Stone Age. I’m struggling to find the right answer, or maybe struggling with the knowledge that any choice will kill people.
HIStalk Announcements and Requests
Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor Infor. Infor Healthcare connects the business of healthcare with the mission of healthcare. Its healthcare operations platform elevates ERP to a strategic resource, enhancing delivery across the care continuum by delivering clinically connected capabilities that improve cost, quality, and outcomes. By bringing together supply chain management, finance, human resources, time and attendance, asset management, location-based intelligence, interoperability, and analytics, Infor gives healthcare organizations an industry-specific alternative to traditional enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. Thanks to Infor for supporting HIStalk.
HIStalk had some flaky moments on Monday during a denial-of-service attack that tied me up from Sunday morning until Monday night. I’m still doing some mostly unrelated cleanup that I discovered while figuring out the problem. One of those involves issues with the HIStalk display on mobile devices, which remains a work in progress since the original development company has abandoned the product I was using.
I caught up unexpectedly with Justen Deal (now Justen Burdette), who readers may remember as the 20-something Kaiser Permanente IT employee who in 2006 warned the organization about the uncertain of costs and stability of Epic, which was replacing a $440 million custom-written IBM system. Epic seems to have turned out fine at KP, so for the “everybody lived happily after” ending, Justen is living in Hawaii as CEO of mobile wireless provider Mobi.
Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock
Kaufman Hall acquires the Connected Analytics business of Change Healthcare for $55 million. The business generates $65 million per year.
In Australia, clinical intelligence vendor Pacific Knowledge Systems will acquire Pavilion Health, which offers cloud-based coding and auditing tools.
CPSI announces Q1 results: revenue up 1%, EPS $0.28 vs. $0.24, beating Wall Street expectations for both.
- Orthopedic telemedicine provider OrthoLive chooses Ellkay to bring the EHR information of its patients into its telehealth app.
- Cooper University Health Care (NJ) chooses Accruent’s Connective healthcare technology management and Medical Device Security Analyzer as it brings its outsourced HTM program in-house.
- UK-based medical chat, telemedicine, and appointment scheduling app vendor Babylon Health — whose NHS rollout as the tech platform for GP at Hand created a company valuation of $2 billion — gains its first US client in Mount Sinai Health Partners Provider Network (NY).
Impact Advisors hires James McHugh, MBA (Navigant) as managing director.
Announcements and Implementations
CareMesh offers state and local public health departments free use of its National Provider Directory.
A Black Book survey names Allscripts as the top-rated inpatient EHR vendor in community hospitals.
Nebraska Health Information Initiative goes live with a COVID-19 cases and results dashboard, powered by NextGate’s EMPI, InterSystems HealthShare, and KPI Ninja Universe.
Epic says that 3,000 patients of Community Health Network (IN) have used its MyChart COVID-19 symptom checker.
A COVID-19 model from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health predicts 3,000 US deaths per day and 200,000 new cases per day by June, but the school says those numbers are for a preliminary, FEMA-commissioned analysis rather than a final forecast. Hopkins adds, however, that the death count will rise significantly as governors reopen states despite meeting none of the federal criteria for doing so, such as a declining case count. Those numbers would represent an increase in daily deaths of 71% and an increase in daily new cases of 700%.
FDA says it will tighten its minimal requirements for companies to sell COVID-19 antibody tests, noting that the rush was on in mid-March to get some idea of population spread, but now the tests are being used to make individual decisions. FDA says companies are selling fraudulent tests, claiming their tests are FDA approved or authorized when they are not, and are marketing their tests inappropriately for at-home use. FDA will now require companies to submit their emergency use authorization requests, along with validation data, within 10 business days, and has also issued specificity and sensitivity thresholds for test developers.
Pfizer launches human trials of four variations of its COVID-19 vaccine, with the company saying that a successful candidate could be given clearance for emergency use or accelerated approval in the fall. Pfizer, like Moderna, is basing its vaccine on messenger RNA, a method that has never been used to develop an approved vaccine. More than 100 vaccines are being developed and 20 are expected to reach human trials this year. Initial tests involve patient safety.
Preliminary contact tracing studies suggest that most coronavirus transmission occurs by close, prolonged contact with someone who is experiencing symptoms. The highest risk factors were household contact, transportation, and dining, with family gatherings and church services giving high infection rates and those over age 60 at higher risk. Children are often infected, but do not seem to be driving outbreaks. The virus seems to spread best in cramped, poorly ventilated areas, such as homes, nursing homes, restaurants, and public transportation.
A survey finds that two-thirds of Americans don’t believe that reported COVID-19 death counts are accurate. Forty percent of Republicans think the death count has been overstated, while 63% of Democrats believe the actual death count is higher than the official number. Overall trust in federal government has dropped to 38% and more than half of those surveyed are worried that schools won’t reopen in the fall and that food shortages will develop in the next month.
WHO warns that government reopenings don’t change the fact that coronavirus is still a global health emergency, as case counts are rising rapidly in poorly prepared Africa and South America.
Axios notes that COVID-19 has placed most clinical drug trials on hold, especially those that involve hospitals, and pharma startups face uncertain timelines, a need for more venture funding, and a requirement to conduct studies in multiple locations to avoid having a study halted due to a local outbreak.
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Center for Health Security recommends healthcare system changes that will be needed to address the pandemic, saying that the changes will cost billions but “certainly cost less than the trillions now being spent because our public health and healthcare system was not prepared or equipped for this pandemic.” Among them:
- The federal government should create an information sharing system to allow states and hospitals to work together to obtain PPE and medical supplies and improve its medical supply chain tracking and coordination. .
- Congress should create legislation to increase domestic production of PPE.
- Hospitals should buy more reusable devices in their respirator purchases, such as elastomeric face masks and PAPRs.
- Hospitals should not resume full services until ED visits, ICU census, ventilator use, and PPE use either plateau or return to pre-COVID levels.
- Hospitals should give every admitted patient a rapid COVID test to detect asymptomatic carriers.
- HHS should track hospital financial losses and establish short-term bridge funding for hospitals that are in danger of imminent collapse, while CMS should provide financial incentives for those that achieve specific goals for preparedness and infection prevention.
- Regulatory limits of professional licensure, certification, and scope of practice should be relaxed, including extending cross-state licensure beyond the compact-signing states.
- Barriers to conducting telephone or video encounters should be removed – state and federal regulations, HIPAA, and reimbursement that is lower than for in-person visits.
- Congress should use its emergency regulatory authority to authorize clinicians to work at top of license.
- Healthcare organizations should consider offering hazard pay to employees who are involved in direct COVID patient care and offer mental health counseling to all employees.
- Congress should make sure that all COVID-related costs are covered under the CARES Act, should require companies to provide 10 days of sick leave for all employees, and develop a plan to give Americans access to affordable healthcare insurance.
- Healthcare facilities should make significant investments in telemedicine, payers should pay them at the same rate as for in-person visits, and HHS and professional societies should publish guidance and best practices.
- EHRs should be searchable by public health personnel to aid situational awareness.
- The US needs to review hospital surge capacity given the existence of market forces that have driven down staffed bed levels.
MIT scientists develop STOPCovid, a one-hour, $10, minimal handling COVID-19 diagnostic test that offers 97% sensitivity and 100% specificity, requires no special instrumentation, and appears to work well with saliva samples. The FDA has not yet reviewed the test, but the project invites COVID researchers to request a starter kit, hoping to expand test-trace-isolate measures that are required to re-open society.
Sources say President Trump is shutting down the coronavirus task force, sending its responsibilities to FEMA. The frequency and length of the group’s meeting have already been reduced.
- A Dimensional Insight survey finds that EHR analytics tools deliver lower user satisfaction than both analytics-specific platforms and in-house solutions, with more than one-third of users reporting slow queries and inadequately robust capabilities.
- Nordic posts a podcast titled “Rise in telehealth sessions alone won’t create great patient experiences.”
- AdvancedMD publishes a new e-book, “Telehealth: The Ultimate Guide to Maximizing Revenue, Keeping More of What You’re Paid, and Thriving Through Thick and Thin.”
- Dimensional Insight publishes a new report, “How Satisfied are Healthcare Organizations with EHR Analytics?”
- Health Plans – Are You Ready for the New CMS Interoperability Rules? (Wolders Kluwer Health Language)
- 3 Changes That Will Impact the Post-Covid Patient Journey (Dina)
- Communications in the time of COVID-19: The unique role of pagers (Spok)
- Post Go-Live Training Tips (Optimum Healthcare IT)
- KLAS Report: 314e has the Most Satisfied Customers for Technical Services (314e)
- The Telehealth Paradigm Shift in a Post-Pandemic World (Access)
- How COVID-19 is Affecting Primary Care (Collective Medical)
- A “Thank You” to Healthcare Workers Selflessly Helping Patients (CoverMyMeds)