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June 14, 2020 News 15 Comments

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Milliman acquires Wisconsin-based employee health monitoring technology vendor Healthio, which it will pair with its predictive analytics offering.

Reader Comments

From Lab Matters: “Re: article titles. I see some that capitalize just the first letter of the first word, while others capitalize each word. Am I stuck in the grammar rules of the past? Please help settle my existential conflict.” I capitalize each word because a title looks like a weird sentence to me otherwise. Not to mention that the style guides of AP, APA, Chicago, MLA, and New York Times all agree that the first, last, and important words of an article’s title should be capitalized. However, a recent AP change suggests using “sentence style” for headlines and websites, where only the first word and any proper nouns are capitalized in a “Hawaiian shirt Friday” kind of formally dictated informality. This would be one of a few cases in which I disagree with AP since it seems to be bowing to those who didn’t know or didn’t follow its longstanding rules, although I acknowledge that sentence case is probably a bit easier to read as long as it is used consistently within the same website. I resolve my existential conflicts on style by carefully thinking through the options, choosing the one that makes most sense to me, and sticking with it, and in the spirit of grammatical harmony in the title capitalization question, I use the original style rather than my own when I cite an article from elsewhere. Let’s not even acknowledge that some health IT vendor website capitalize all letters in their press release and blog titles, maybe the same ones that insist on capitalizing all the letters in the company’s name (which gets put right back to first-letter-only here per AP style).

HIStalk Announcements and Requests


Folks who work in health IT are nearly evenly split over whether they would trust research findings based on aggregated EHR information.

New poll to your right or here: How will the use of virtual provider visits change between now and June 2021?


Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor Saykara.The Seattle-based company is working to combat the epidemic of physician burnout that has surfaced from increasingly burdensome documentation requirements and time spent on EHR data entry. They’ve built the first fully ambient and autonomous AI-powered assistant for physicians. Their iPhone app, named Kara, listens to physician-patient conversations, then interprets and transforms the salient content required for notes, orders, referrals, and more, and enters both structured and unstructured data directly to the EHR. Kara is specialty agnostic and being used by doctors all across the country. Data shows that time spent charting is reduced by an average of 70%, after-hours (“pajama time”) charting is eliminated, and note quality and completeness is enhanced by 25%. Saykara was founded in 2015 by Harjinder Sandhu, a serial healthcare technology entrepreneur and former Nuance executive who has stood at the forefront of innovations in speech recognition and machine learning for more than 20 years. See their video featuring doctors from Hancock Health. Thanks to Saykara for supporting HIStalk.


June 18 (Thursday) 12:30 ET. “Understanding the ONC’s Final Rule: Using FHIR HL7 for Successful EHR Integrations.” Sponsor: Newfire Global Partners. Presenters: Bob Salitsky, healthcare IT expert, Newfire Global Partners; Jaya Plmanabhan, MS, healthcare data scientist. This fast-paced, 30-minute webinar will provide an overview of the Final Rule and describe how technology vendors, payers, and providers can use FHIR HL7 to deliver true interoperability. Attendees will learn how to define the data, technology, and flows needed for their EHR integration projects; how products can retrieve health information while meeting compliance regulations; and the benefit of adopting quickly to the future of data exchange while simplifying future integration efforts.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


The investment firm owner of Clinical Ink is putting the drug clinical trials electronic tools company on the market after owning it for two years.

A false claims act whistleblower lawsuit brought against EHR vendor Medhost and Community Health Systems by two former CHS IT executives is dismissed, with the judge saying that the “heaps of alleged facts” that were presented don’t prove the claimed misconduct.


  • United Methodist Communities (NJ) will implement systems from VirtuSense and Netsmart as funded by a grant from the FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program.
  • MetroHealth (OH) will use the social services referral platform of Unite Us. Co-founder and CEO Dan Brillman, MBA is a US Air Force Reserve major and pilot with campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, while co-founder Taylor Justice, MBA graduated from West Point and served as a US Army infantry officer.



Digital ambulatory surgery platform vendor ValueHealth hires Don Bisbee, MBA (Cerner) as president.


One-fifth of US nursing homes have less than a week’s supply of PPE on hand despite the federal government’s April 30 promise to help them with their needs to address COVID-19, which has killed 43,000 residents. Many have not received PPE shipments, some received only cloth masks and low-quality ponchos, and most say the quantities they received will last only a few days. The head of one Catholic nursing home group concludes, “The federal government’s failure to nationalize the supply chain and take control of it contributed to the deaths in nursing homes.”

A Seattle man who recovered from COVID-19 after a 62-day hospital experiences survivor’s guilt after seeing his hospital bill of $1.1 million, which doesn’t include the two-week rehab stay that followed. Medicare will cover most of his bill and he may pay nothing because of the federal government’s COVID-19’s bailout money, which the Seattle paper says is “like we’re doing an experiment for what universal health coverage might be like, but confining it to only this one illness.”

Rates of new cases and test positivity are trending up in Arizona, California, Florida,and Texas, suggesting that hospitalization and ICU bed usage will be increasing to possibly dangerously high levels over the new few weeks.

A new study of COVID-19 in Japan finds that symptom-free people aged 20-39 were most often the source of primary exposure, while healthcare facilities were most often involved. The authors also conclude that close-proximity singing, cheering, exercising, and bar conversation were associated with many of the clusters.



Former Mass General Brigham and Cerner executive John Glaser, PhD makes the case to redesign EHRs around the patient-clinician medical plan rather than their current role as a place to record the byproducts it generates. He advocates keeping existing EHRs while addressing specific needs via wrap-around modules that providers can buy to meet their specific challenges (population health management, HIEs, patient-facing apps, and analytics). The next-generation EHR should include:

  • A library of situation-specific care plans.
  • Treatment algorithms.
  • A master plan that is supplemented with to-do lists for each type of caregiver.
  • Interoperability that allows the plan to travel across care settings, geographies, and EHRs.
  • Decision support and workflow.
  • Analytics tools that assess the patient’s individual plan and apply relevant lessons learned from the broader patient population.


County-owned, 647-bed New Hanover Regional Medical Center (NC) entertains acquisition and partnership offers from the state’s big health systems, with Duke Health offering $1.35 billion, Novant committing to $1.5 billion at closing and $2.5 billion in improvements, and Atrium Health offering a 40-year lease at $28 million per year and along with $2.2 billion in improvements.

Epic sends an internal email only to its diversity, equity, and inclusion employee groups, warning them that they should not participate in a virtual walkout in support of Black Lives Matter. Some white employees complained to the local paper that the email should have gone to everyone.The company also updated its employee policy to limit use of company resources for work purposes.

In Canada, the medical association of Newfoundland and Labrador complains about the government’s new app that connects people with a nurse practitioner in an extension of its 811 HealthLine telephone program. The doctors are unhappy that they weren’t consulted and are worried that the NP won’t see the patient’s electronic record, but the health minister says that’s a problem in general because some doctors use paper charts, some use an EHR, and some use Meditech’s regional implementation. He adds that the service was launched because people are happy with their virtual visits with doctors and they are equally effective as face-to-face visits in most cases, also noting that doctors don’t have a monopoly on providing healthcare services.

Sponsor Updates

  • ChartLogic is named as a SoftwareAdvice.com’s EHR FrontRunner.
  • PatientKeeper wins a Bronze PR Club Bell Ringer Award for its integrated marketing communications strategy.
  • The local paper profiles PerfectServe’s efforts to provide providers with free software and services during the pandemic.
  • The Big Unlock podcast features Phynd CEO Tom White.
  • Redox releases a new podcast, “Powered by Battery with Redox CEO Luke Bonney.”
  • Summit Healthcare names Amanda Mehlenbacher (Nicholas H. Noyes Memorial Hospital) implementation engineer.

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Currently there are "15 comments" on this Article:

  1. “62 year old Seattle Man”s $1.1M explanation of benefits is a nice story but how does it relate to the real cost of his care?
    What will his insurance company pay as a result of these EOB “charges”? What will he pay? Would the EOB look any different if he was 65+ years old and covered by Medicare?

  2. In case anyone wants more information about the Epic situation mentioned in the article, the madisonwi subreddit has a discussion that provides more info. Apparently the walkout was mentioned but decided against pretty firmly right away, then two days later the email got sent out saying not to walk out. Employees in the diversity group got it, as did black employees in the black @ epic group, but white people who were in the walkout discussion but not a part of either of those groups didn’t get the email. That seems to be what’s got people upset – the target audience looked less like “people who thought about a walkout” and instead more “all our black employees, even the ones who had no idea a walkout had been discussed”, and no one really needed an email about it since it wasn’t going to happen in the first place.

    • I think the bigger question is why does Epic have a mailing list that’s specific to their black or other diversity employees? Why would that be ok in the first place?

      • The mailing group for people of color or other populations are groups created by those populations, as a way to self-identify. The same as if there was a group for people who were left handed, or who liked HISTalk.

      • Epic has the ability to create and join interest groups built into the main intranet site.
        Think everything from knitting and cycling to LGBTQI+ and people of color.

        The groups are meant as a way to communicate with folks of similar interests and any employee can create their own or join any existing ones.
        Each interest group also forms an email list, usually used to communicate about the interest.

        I am not saying what they did is right by any means, but also don’t want folks thinking there is some insidious list of emails put together by management.

        • “but also don’t want folks thinking there is some insidious list of emails put together by management.”
          That’s probably correct! But like most other companies of this size, they do have a “shit list”. I know it because I was on it once!!!

        • Did the sender of the email really not consider that racism is a concern for everyone? That joining or not joining an interest group does not determine a willingness to take action?

          • There seems to be a tremendous lack of diversity in leadership roles at Epic (that also reflects the broader lack of diversity in healthcare leadership across the board).

            At the SVP/VP level (called Division Managers or DMs at Epic), apart from one, pretty much everyone else is White. Epic never had many Black people but there used to be a reasonable number of people of color – predominantly from South Asia, and many of them in leadership positions. Overtime, seems like many people of color were passed over for senior leadership roles in favor of a mostly White crowd. Of course, Epic would like to claim that they hire and promote people solely based on their abilities and that they are color blind. We all know that that’s as much of a BS as “separate but equal”.

            [Note from Mr. H: I’ve removed the names of individuals mentioned in this comment since this is not the place to anonymously claim unverified illegal or immoral behavior].

          • The problem is the wheels in the machine are slowly grinding the people at the bottom to dust and the people at the bottom are black. Epic is a powerful organization in Wisconsin that claims a central part of its mission is to “Do Good”. Wisconsin has some of the worst racial disparities in the country regarding health and employment. Some try to brush those issues off as a Milwaukee problem like Milwaukee isn’t part of the state. Or like Tony Robinson wasn’t shot by police during a welfare check in downtown Madison. When you only want to “do good” for a certain type of person or you don’t care about anybody equally but wait you do care about people who look like you, there’s a problem that goes beyond apathy.

  3. Thanks for the article from John Glaser. I worked with John at Siemens and he is one person that I never tired of. He was always, always respectful, interesting, and aimed at the greater good. He is an intellectual with a solid moral compass, one of the good guys in our industry. I kind of laughed when I saw his bio at the bottom didn’t mention his indentured service at Cerner.

    • I worked with John at Partners. 10/10 would recommend.
      Seriously – I would walk through fire for him and that doesn’t seem to be an uncommon sentiment.

  4. The email at Epic was sent to a group that was half white staff or more. It was confused in that it used similar affinity lists instead of using literal email addresses from the original email.

    Was not sent to only black staff or even only people of color.

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