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Weekender 8/7/20

August 7, 2020 Weekender 1 Comment


Weekly News Recap

  • Private equity firm Blackstone acquires 75% of Ancestry for $4.7 billion, which includes the DNA information of 18 million people.
  • Teladoc reaches an agreement to acquire Livongo for $18.5 billion, digital health’s biggest deal ever.
  • Epic announces plans to return employees to campus by September 21.
  • Siemens Healthineers will acquire oncology technology vendor Varian Medical Systems, which includes several software products, for $16.4 billion.
  • Virginia will become the first state to use the Covidwise exposure notification app from Apple and Google.
  • CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD tells a House coronavirus committee that CDC was not involved in HHS’s decision to replace its COVID-19 hospitalization data system to a contractor-developed HHS system.
  • Allscripts notes in its earnings call that the US Department of State’s 450 clinicians will use its TouchWorks and FollowMyHealth systems in its role as a subcontractor.

Best Reader Comments

[On Epic’s mandatory return to campus] Most egregious, for a company that beat into me from day 1 that I must make clear recommendations supported by data, they have no data. They released multiple products during the pandemic while working from home. Support ticket closure rates are up 10% in some applications. They have no metric for productivity, but are willing to die on the hill of “magical, spontaneous hallway conversations.” They’ve failed to create a culture that can exist outside of their physical workspaces; I was part of the very first inter-office chat pilot at Epic – Skype in 2017 – and had to fight tooth-and-nail for its roll-out. Even during non-pandemic times, I primarily called into my on-campus meetings because getting there would’ve taken 15 minutes. This is an abject failure of leadership from Judy, Carl, and the rest of the executive team. (Ex-Epic)

Bill Gates used to say that early on in the life of Microsoft, he used to eyeball how many cars were in the parking lot when he left (which often used to be late in the evening/night) to get a sense of how hard his people were working. He later admitted that it was a rather naive and inaccurate way of measuring productivity. And that was 40 odd years ago! Well, Bill G and Microsoft grew up! Seems like Judy and Epic haven’t. (Ghost_Of_Andromeda)

[On Teladoc’s acquisition of Livongo] Mr. Tullman and Mr. Shapiro poised to cash out (again). As has been proven with Allscripts and now here, it’s easier to raise money for a startup than it is to actually run a company. (It’s All Good)

[On Teladoc’s acquisition of Livongo] No quarterly profit ever and an 18.5 billion price tag… Is there that much waste reduction in the US healthcare non-system to account for such strange valuation? (Eddie T. Head)

Siemens acquires Varian. Ggreat news for Varian shareholders. Sad to see another technology company move to non-US ownership. Will be interesting to see how things shake out when Siemens decides to “integrate” the business. (Robowriter)

Watercooler Talk Tidbits


Readers funded the Donor’s Choose teacher grant request of Ms. S in Philadelphia, who asked for carpet and bean bag chairs to create a reading center for her after-school kindergarten program. She reported in February, “When my students first saw the new rug and bean bags in the library area, they asked me, how did we get that in our class? Can we keep it? I answered them how Donors Choose helped us get a funder to donate what we needed. They were surprised that a stranger gave us money . They were super excited and wanted to lay down on the rug to read. We follow D.E.A.R. (drop everything and read) in our schedule. With the new cozy area, the students are more interested in literature. The students enjoy sitting in bean bags, or laying down on the rug to read. They go and pick a book of their choice and start reading enthusiastically. We also use the rug to play different games, practice the numbers and the alphabet. Sometimes, the students just lay down on the carpet to relax. When they are having a bad day, they sit in bean bags and distract their mind. It helps students to calm them down and rejoin the class group when ready. Having a cozy and safe library area has been a life-changing experience for them.”


Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital (NY) designates eight-year-old Jorden Hutchins as an ambassador to the hospital after he survives a COVID-19 infection with Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, which involved being placed on a heart-lung machine, undergoing heart surgery, and having multiple strokes and kidney failure.


Here’s a tech tip I learned for editing a web address or any other text on the IPhone or IPad. Hold down the on-screen keyboard’s space bar until it turns gray, which turns the keyboard into a trackpad for precise cursor positioning.


A furloughed urology nurse in Virginia sews cloth masks and 3D-prints 800 face shields for local teachers.


Volunteers for the non-profit Telehealth Access for Seniors are providing devices, instructions, and free tech support to seniors and low-income communities to support telehealth and digital connectivity with family and friends. Lia Rubel from Vermont (above) has collected 50 devices and raised $800 to help with the mental health of self-quarantined seniors. The organization overall has collected 1,500 used devices, $63,000 in donations, and has 315 volunteers in 26 states. The organization seeks IPhone 4 and above and second-generation or newer IPads, for which it provides data erasing instructions. Their GoFundMe has raised $29,000 so far. The founders are Yale undergrads Aakshi Agarwal, Hanna Verma, and Siddharth Jain along with high school junior Arjun Verma. Agarwal is double-majoring in molecular biology and political science, hoping to purse a law degree and then work in healthcare policy. She also co-founded a college admissions consulting service.


A nurse in an explosion-damaged hospital in Beirut runs to the NICU with a colleague to remove five newborns, captured by a press photographer who said that among the rubble and bodies, “The nurse looked like she possessed a hidden force that gave her self-control and the ability to save those children.”

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Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Epic has done so much for the healthcare industry. But I am dismayed by it holding itself so high with claims of a necessary exemption for its hero status and that Epic is as critical as front-line healthcare workers during the pandemic. Our software is an important and necessary tool in modern healthcare. Our digital software can be managed and supported thousands of miles away from a healthcare organization as the 70+ successful Epic Hosting customers would attest to. However, it is stupefying that during the last 5 months of work-from-home conditions, while the Epic software factory has continued to churn out amazing PR ready results and solutions, the Epic cult machine spews out drivel about how the only way to work successfully is to be under the same roof. “Our Networks Are Astonishingly Productive!” “Our HVAC recycles Above standards!” “We’ve taken many precautions!” Those are the words that are supposed to encourage and inspire us — in a time when the SARS-COV-19 virus continues to spread rapidly. Needlessly putting 9000+ staff and their families at risk, so that we can continue to do the jobs we’ve been doing for the last 5 months successfully. If you believe that a software company like Epic can work successfully as WFH, and not potentially add to the overworked jobs of true heroes needlessly, please consider telling Judy what you think. This Change.org: https://www.change.org/p/judith-faulkner-register-opposition-to-epic-system-s-irresponsible-plan-to-return-employees-to-campus is circulating that could help. Judy has stopped listening to employees. Concerned employees need your help. There’s more to Epic than us being under one roof, especially now. Without change, it’s unlikely Epic will be the quirky company you expect.

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