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September 24, 2020 News 2 Comments

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CMS will threaten next week to terminate the Medicare participation of the 76% of US hospitals that aren’t submitting daily COVID information to the new HHS Protect system, according to an NPR review of internal documents.

The pending update will allow hospitals to submit PPE and ventilator data weekly instead of multiple times per week, but it will also add several new data elements that are related to influenza patients.

HHS previously justified the need for the abrupt system switchover from the CDC’s system in July by saying that the 85% of hospitals that were reporting voluntarily was inadequate and that the White House Coronavirus Task Force requires 100% participation. Since then, only 24% of hospitals are complying with the new mandatory data submission requirements.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

I wanted to schedule a checkup from a former provider and remembered that I have an associated Epic MyChart account that has been dormant for several years. I logged back in and it was impressive, especially compared to my experience with an academic medical center’s MyChart deployment a few years back in which I concluded that their mediocrity spanned both technical and clinical domains. This provider’s version contained useful health reminders, strong security (such as two-factor authentication), easy appointment scheduling, provider messaging, complete medical records, and the ability to update my own medication and health issues lists subject to provider confirmation. It even let me know of a study I could participate in. I would have given it a perfect score other than my submitted insurance information has yet to be verified by the provider’s office after several weeks, so I still don’t know what to expect when I show up waving my card.


September 30 (Wednesday) 11 ET. “The Hidden Threat: New Research on Security Vulnerabilities and Privacy Gaps in Healthcare Apps.” Sponsors: Verimatrix, NowSecure. Presenters: Neal Michie, MEng, director of product management, Verimatrix; Brian Lawrence, direction of solution engineering, NowSecure. The presenters will present research on the security risk profile of 1,000 healthcare apps in managing patient privacy, how they compare to those in other industries, and where the biggest vulnerabilities lie. Attendees will learn how to make their healthcare apps more secure in managing protected health information.

Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre to present your own.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


KKR acquires 1-800 Contacts – which has branched beyond COVID-boosted lens sales with technology that allows consumers to perform at-home eye exams and to scan their glasses to generate prescription details — in a deal worth $3 billion.



Nuvance Health promotes interim SVP/CIO Geoff Hook, MBA to the permanent role.

Announcements and Implementations


NYC Health + Hospitals launches a telehealth solution for non-urgent needs, powered by NYC-based Bluestream Health.

Change Healthcare expands its pharmacy claims billing solution to include COVID-19 tests, which pharmacists can order, administer, and bill under recent HHS rules.

CareSignal offers an at-risk pricing option for its Device-less Remote Patient Monitoring, allowing providers and payers who are paid under value-based contracts to maximize their return on investment.

Redox announces new integrations with Salesforce Health Cloud and MuleSoft.

NantHealth releases APIs that will allow provider and revenue cycle organizations to connect to payers via the NaviNet Open Platform.

Government and Politics

HHS and ONC award $2.7 million to four health IT acceleration projects:

  • CRISP, which will work on using FHIR for participating in the American College of Cardiology’s disease registries.
  • MedStar Health Research Institute, which will demonstrate using bulk FHIR data extraction for research.
  • Children’s Hospital Corporation, which will develop tools to allow researchers to annotate data extracted by bulk FHIR for analytics, de-identification, and cohort assignment.
  • Missouri Department of Mental Health’s developmental disabilities division, which will implement the integration of standardized data to advance person-centered planning, outcomes, and value-based payment models.


A fourth coronavirus vaccine candidate begins Phase 3 clinical trials as Janssen starts testing of its single-dose regimen with up to 60,000 volunteers.


The presidents of the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Medicine issue a statement insisting that pandemic policymaking, especially that involving vaccines, “must be informed by the best available evidence without it being distorted, concealed, or otherwise deliberately miscommunicated.” They add that they find that “the politicization of science, particularly the overriding of evidence and advice from public health officials and derision of government scientists, to be alarming.” 


Helsinki’s airport deploys two coronavirus-sniffing dogs in a pilot program for voluntary passenger testing. Travelers wipe their skin, deposit the wipe in a sample, and the dogs then smell it to detect coronavirus with near-100% accuracy within 10 seconds.

California expands its home address confidentiality program that was designed for victims of violence and abuse to include public health workers, following the resignation of a dozen workers after they were harassed at home or received death threats after enforcing masking and stay-at-home orders.

Missouri Governor Mike Parson, who shunned mask-wearing in saying that most people can figure out how to stay safe without government intervention, tests positive for COVID-19, along with his wife. The state reported its highest-ever COVID-19 death total of 83 on Wednesday, although the state attributes the high number to delayed reporting of death certificates.

President Trump says in a press conference that the White House “may or may not” approve FDA’s just-announced higher standards COVID-19 vaccines, saying that the change is politically motivated and that he “has tremendous trust in these massive companies” that are developing the vaccines. The White House’s authority to override FDA decisions is not clear. White House advisor Scott Atlas, MD said in the same press conference that CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD “misstated something” in reporting that CDC blood sampling indicates that 90% of Americans are still susceptible to infection in the absence of antibodies, saying that T cells and exposure to related viruses “make the antibodies a small fraction of the people who have immunity.”


Google Maps will add a COVID overlay that displays the seven-day confirmed COVID-19 case count per 100,000 people for each state, county, and some cities.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announces that the state will perform its own review of coronavirus vaccines that have been approved by FDA, saying that President Trump’s criticism of FDA’s more rigorous standards as a “political move” has led him to determine that “we can no longer trust the federal government.” The state would have little say in the matter other than determining its own rollout plan.



A US federal court sentences an extradited UK citizen who is a member of The Dark Overlord hacking group to five years in prison. Nathan Wyatt will also pay $1.5 million in restitution for stealing the data of several companies since 2016, several of them hospitals, and threatening to sell their data unless they paid a Bitcoin ransom. Among his big scores is the sale of 9.3 million patient records that he obtained by breaching an unnamed health insurer.

Specialty EHR vendor Net Health moves to a permanent Work From Anywhere model, which it says will improve recruiting, increase retention, and reduce costs. It hopes to encourage community building with virtual team meetings, CEO emails, one-on-one video meetings that include pets and kids, virtual field trips and happy hours, and development of affinity groups.


As noted by @Cascadia: the care plan that Amazon is piloting for its Seattle-area employees posts a job opening for a healthcare-experienced Business Development Manager – Network Strategy, with responsibilities that include defining an executing a strategy for acquiring and managing provider networks; creating the highest-quality, lowest-cost referral network; and driving customer adoption via insurance company partnerships. Amazon Care, whose pilot started in September 2019, offers employees text chat with clinicians, video visits, nurse visits in the home or office, and courier delivery of medications.


Mr. H, Lorre, Jenn, Dr. Jayne.
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Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. Re: the Janssen coronavirus vaccine phase IV trial. I don’t know if this vaccine is the same one reported here (https://finance.yahoo.com/news/johnson-johnson-begins-final-stage-062140635.html) but the J&J vaccine in the Yahoo! Finance article is of interest because it can be stored in conditions that are significantly warmer than many of the other vaccine candidates. I’ve read articles saying that COVID-19 vaccines have to be stored at temperatures around -30 C (-22 F); the J&J vaccine in the Yahoo report “is estimated to remain stable for two years at -20°C and at least for three months at 2-8°C”.

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  1. Unfortunately, I can't disagree with anything you wrote. It is important that they get this right for so many reasons,…

  2. Going out on a limb here. Wouldn't Oracle's (apparent) interoperability strategy, have a better chance of success, than the VA's?…

  3. Dr Jayne is noticing one of the more egregious but trivial instance of bad behavior by allegedly non-profit organizations. I…

  4. To expand on this a bit. The Vista data are unique to Vista, there are 16(?) different VISN (grouped systems)…

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