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June 23, 2020 News 1 Comment

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CMS Administrator Seema Verma says that analysis of Medicare claims confirms that socioeconomic status, race, and ethnicity of COVID-19 patients affect their likelihood of complications.

Verma says the US health system needs to transition from fee-for-service to value-based care and to hold providers accountable for outcomes.

CMS has started publishing a monthly Medicare COVID-19 Data Snapshot. The initial release indicates that 325,000 Medicare beneficiaries were diagnosed with COVID-19 through May 16, with 110,000 of them being hospitalized. Blacks were hospitalized at a rate four times that of whites.

CMS also announces the creation of CMS’s Office of Burden Reduction and Health Informatics, which will look at the burden of meeting CMS compliance requirements, fostering innovation through interoperability, and using technology to create new tools to allow patients to own and carry their health data and to give clinicians their complete medical history.

Reader Comments

From Wilson’s Gremlin: “Re: telehealth visits. I’m wondering what percentage have deficient pre-screenings performed (temperature, blood pressure) because appointments are remote? Or that require patients to leave home afterward for follow-up (for blood to be drawn or for a nasal swab)?” Good question – maybe someone knows. That would lead me to wonder whether traditional practices had to reconfigure their EHR to make in-person measurements such as temperature optional rather than required. It would also be interesting to know how many physical trips a virtual visit generates (lab, pharmacy, X-ray, PCP, etc.) although most of those would have been required even with a face-to-face visit.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

Newbie vendor prospecting and marketing people are working energetically from home with minimal supervision and mentorship, so I’ll provide these tips:

  • Do not “circle back” if a health IT executive didn’t find your first unsolicited email interesting enough to respond the first time.
  • Do not hound people on LinkedIn with unsolicited connections and boilerplate messages.
  • Do not send unsolicited calendar appointments.
  • Whatever your company sells may well be the most important part of your universe, but the provider world is dealing with decimated revenue and COVID-19 challenges, so you aren’t anyone’s top priority.
  • Those books on lead generation, sales funnels, and social media marketing that you ordered from Amazon push ideas that are not only ineffective in selling to the health system C-suite, but often detrimental.
  • Focus on their problems, not your needs.
  • It is risky for an industry newbie to pursue a conversation with someone who has decades of health IT leadership. Your unfamiliarity with the industry’s lingo, lack of broad knowledge, and insecurity-driven adherence to the company-approved conversational script makes success unlikely even if you get someone on the phone.


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

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

Cerner conducts another round of layoffs, this time involving 100 employees. The nails-on-blackboard corporate phrase “new operating model” was uttered yet again as an explanation.


CoverMyMeds finds in a comprehensive prescription access report that 70% of patients have made sacrifices to obtain their medications, while 30% of providers say their patients are unable to pay for meds. COVID-19 has caused changes – 20% of patients paid cash for prescriptions; two-thirds say they are more likely to use telehealth going forward; 30% of providers say their biggest telehealth challenges are privacy concerns and lack of EHR integration; and 80% of providers say their telemedicine use is hampered by patients who lack technology skills. Patients who are prescribed specialty medications report delays of up to several weeks waiting for prior authorization. Most prescribers don’t trust the formulary and insurance benefit information contained in their EHRs and 86% of them say their office bears a “high” or “extremely high” workload burden in managing prior authorization requests.


High-acuity house call provider DispatchHealth raises $136 million in a Series C funding round, increasing its total to $217 million. It offers home visits that can include lab work, EKG, infectious disease tests, medications, IV placement, breathing treatments, suturing, catheter placement, and splinting.  The company operates in 19 cities and accepts many insurances, leaving patients an out-of-pocket cost that averages $5 to $44.


  • Billings Clinic (MT) will implement TransformativeMed’s specialty- and disease-specific EHR workflows, which include notification, messaging, and a COVID-19 app. The company will also be developing a nursing handoff app.



Physician practice change analytics vendor Empiric Health hires Spiro Papadopoulos (Stanson Health) as VP of business development.


Shally Pannikode (WellStar Health System) joins Humana as CVP/CIO of healthcare services.

Rush University Medical Center SVP/CIO Shafiq Rab has resigned, according to his LinkedIn.

Announcements and Implementations


AbleTo launches population-based virtual mental health services to payers.

PatientKeeper develops its Charge Capture software into a FHIR-based app that is embedded in Cerner, allowing clinicians to launch the charge entry screen within their Cerner workflow to record patient charges.



US COVID-19 infection doubling time has dropped from 60 days last week to 52 days now, with 31 states reporting an expanding epidemic. Deaths are at their lowest levels in three months, however, leading to interesting speculation as to why. Most likely answer – younger people are getting increasingly infected without becoming seriously ill, but the infection’s spread to more vulnerable populations in the absence of mitigation strategies is inevitable. Most optimistic but unlikely answer – treatments and care management are improving outcomes.

Coronavirus seems to be infecting people under 50 at higher rates than were observed in the Northeast, with 50% of hospitalized patients and 30% of those in ICUs being under 50 in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The median age of people who are testing positive in Florida has dropped from 65 years in March to 35 now, which may be a function of more widespread testing, but also possibly because older people are protecting themselves better. Florida hospitals are admitting more COVID-19 patients in their 20s, 30s, and 40s.

Texas Children’s Hospital starts admitting adult patients to free up Houston-area beds for the expected surge of COVID-19 patients. Houston Methodist Hospital says COVID-19 admissions have tripled since Memorial Day.

A preliminary report suggests that oral dexamethasone – which is cheap, readily available, and low in significant side effects — can reduce mortality in hospitalized COVID-19 patients, especially those who are ventilated or receiving oxygen.

The European Union is likely to add the US to its list of countries whose citizens will be barred from entering its 27 countries because of out-of-control COVID-19 spread. Travel restrictions will be loosened on July 1 for countries whose new infections in the previous 14 days meet or beat the EU’s average of 16 per 100,000 residents. The US is at 107.

A COVID-19 congressional hearing finds that President Trump hasn’t spoken to the government’s key pandemic players in several weeks, including NIAID Director Anthony Fauci, MD and FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, MD. CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD declined to answer when asked.


A White House executive order suspends issuance of H-1B work visas through at least the rest of the year, prohibits US companies from transferring foreign executives to long-term US assignments, and blocks US entry of spouses of foreign-born workers. The federal government says the order will keep 525,000 people out of the country to protect American jobs. The H-1B employer program is for highly educated people in specialty occupations, most of them in technology, medicine, academics, and engineering.

Cerner VP of Government Services Julie Stoner says the VA’s rollout will take 10 years.

Sponsor Updates

  • Pivot Point Consulting performs a virtual Epic go-live at Carle Foundation Hospital (IL).
  • Central Logic CEO Angie Franks will describe health system telehealth use cases in a presentation this week to the virtual American Telemedicine Association Conference & Expo.
  • Health Catalyst joins the FDA’s COVID-19 Evidence Accelerator.
  • Optimum Healthcare IT and University of North Florida create an EHR apprenticeship program called Last Mile Training.
  • Capita Healthcare Decisions adds Healthwise’s evidence-based information to its Salus Universal patient engagement and relationship software.
  • The Chartis Group publishes a new white paper, “After the Surge: Five Health System Imperatives in the Age of COVID-19.”
  • Clinical Computer Systems, developer of the Obix Perinatal Data System, releases the latest edition of its Critical Care Obstetrics Podcast, “DKA Made Simple.”

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Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Just re-posting… Not adding any comment.

    “A COVID-19 congressional hearing finds that President Trump hasn’t spoken to the government’s key pandemic players in several weeks, including NIAID Director Anthony Fauci, MD and FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, MD.”

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Reader Comments

  • Matthew Holt: Non EMR user here, but isn't the answer cloud-based systems, non configurable by locals?...
  • David Butler: Great list. You're spot on. These were the EXACT issues I was frustrated with Epic in the early-mid 2000s. After goin...
  • WestCoastCFO: Re: Olive. Not seeing it, what am I missing? They seem to have found a nice niche, but they are not what I would call...
  • rxpete: Politico reporter didn't see "No Time for Sergeants" which leaves no doubt as to the spelling of cavalry based on the pr...
  • AnInteropGuy: Of the six EHRs I am familiar with, I have seen at least one or two of the problems described in each of them. Certainly...

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