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October 6, 2020 News 9 Comments

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Harris acquires Australia-based Meridian Health Informatics, which offers maternity and clinical solutions.

Harris says its strategic growth plan calls for more acquisitions in Australia.

Canada-based N. Harris Computer Corporation, which operates as Harris under Constellation Software, operates 18 acquired health IT brands that include Amazing Charts, Iatric Systems, IMDSoft, Picis, and QuadraMed.

Reader Comments

From Pointy Skull: “Re: health IT podcasts and video versions of podcasts. Can you review this one?” I could, but I’m a written word, short attention span kind of guy who values conciseness and weeding out pointless fluff and would thus vastly prefer a skimmable transcript or excerpted high points (if, indeed there were any). Podcasts and videos are fine for entertainment or where a picture is worth 1,000 words, but just watching an undisciplined and / or un-insightful presenter rambling away on a screen drives me crazy. But then again, I’m often critical of industry folk whose books, presentations, or writings seem to fall short on either effort or ability.

From Usurious Rates: “Re: Hims and other vanity prescription-writing companies. Are they telehealth?” They don’t seem like it to me. Companies that sell prescription-only products related to hormones, sex, hair, or skincare by hiring doctors as prescription-writing robots are just exploiting human weaknesses — impatience, vanity, and embarrassment — in allowing customers eschew actual medical advice in favor of getting a quick prescription for whatever they’ve decided they want. I bet 98% of people who are “evaluated” by these sites end up with a prescription that creates no harm, raising the question of why the drug is prescription-only in the first place. I’m really skeptical about Hims getting into the anxiety and depression telehealth business.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

RIP rock legend Eddie Van Halen, who died of cancer Tuesday morning at 65.


October 28 (Wednesday) noon ET: “How to Build a Data-Driven Organization.” Sponsor: Newfire Global Partners. Presenters: Chris Donovan, CEO and founder, Adaptive Product Consulting; Harvard Pan, CTO, Diameter Health; Jason Sroka, chief analytics officer, SmartSense by Digi; Jaya Plmanabhan, data scientist and senior advisor, Newfire Global Partners; Nicole Hale, head of marketing services, Newfire Global Partners. The panel of data experts will discuss the opportunities that data can unlock and the challenges involved with becoming a data-driven organization. Attendees will learn why having a data strategy is important; how to collect, manage, and share data with internal and external audiences; and how to combat internal resistance to create a data-driven culture.

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

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


Rock Health’s latest analysis shows that 2020 is already the largest funding year ever for digital health, with $4 billion invested in startups during Q3, for a total thus far of $9.4 billion. On-demand healthcare services like telemedicine, prescription delivery, and at-home urgent care have seen the most attention, with 48 deals totaling $2 billion.


Medicare insurance plan operator Clover Health will go public through a merger with Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings, giving it a valuation of $3.7 billion. The company, which also offers clinical decision support software, inked a deal with Walmart Health last week to offer its Medicare Advantage plans to patients in Georgia.


  • The Chesapeake Regional Information System for our Patients (CRISP), Maryland’s statewide HIE, selects patient engagement technology — including secure access to COVID-19 testing results — from Get Real Health.



Remote patient monitoring company WithMyDoc hires Frank Astor, MD (Naples Community Hospital Healthcare System) as chief medical officer.


Shandy Guharoy (Evolent Health) joins healthcare and social services referral software vendor Unite Us as CTO.

Announcements and Implementations


New Jersey Urology becomes the first large, independent urology group to implement Epic.

San Luis Valley Health (CO) implements Meditech with consulting help from Engage.


Phelps Health (MO) rolls out Epic.


A new KLAS report on team-shared mobile devices for nurses and other care team members finds that hospitals like the IPhone because it is solid and integrates will with Epic, Meditech, and Mobile Heartbeat; the ruggedized Zebra TC51-HC is heavy and expensive but allows hot-swapping batteries and can be used for barcode scanning and taking photos; and the Vocera Smartbadge has very strong software and security that is used primarily for push-to-talk conversations and texting. Spectralink and Ascom have not been able to regain the market share they lost from their early devices that were heavy and featured small screens.

Government and Politics


Defense Health Agency Director Lieutenant General Ron Place congratulates sites in California and Nevada on their MHS Genesis go-lives, part of the DoD’s Wave Nellis launch in late September. The next wave of go-lives – the department’s third – will happen next month.



The White House rejects the FDA’s higher standards for the safety and effectiveness of a COVID-19 vaccine after it says drug companies complained and the new standards would delay release until after Election Day. FDA says it has not heard those concerns from drug companies and all but one of the companies in the vaccine race have expressed their support for FDA’s guidance in the interest of bolstering public confidence. Pfizer’s CEO went on record Tuesday morning as saying the company has not discussed FDA’s guidelines with the White House. FDA says it will move ahead with the stricter standards. UPDATE: the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday afternoon that the White House has dropped its objections and will sign off on FDA’s toughened guidelines that call for companies to monitor recipients for two months before requesting FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization.

CDC republishes its previously withdrawn warning that coronavirus can spread via airborne droplets at distances greater than six feet and linger in the air for minutes or hours, especially in poorly ventilated areas. It stresses, however, that most spread occurs from close contact with someone who is infected. The information was accidentally published to CDC’s website a few weeks ago before it had been approved and was then removed.

The White House will not perform contact tracing on attendees of the Rose Garden celebration 10 days ago that has infected at least eight people. Meanwhile, New Jersey health officials scramble to perform contact tracing of the 206 people who attended President Trump’s fundraiser at his golf club there on Thursday, for whom the Republican National Committee provided only email addresses without phone numbers or physical addresses. That event was held after White House aide Hope Hicks had tested positive, meaning everyone who had been in close contact with her for more than 15 minutes should have been self-isolating for 14 days.

Public Health England’s use of Microsoft Excel for COVID-19 test results compilation causes 16,000 cases to go unreported. PHE’s developers chose the old .XLS file format (which was replaced by .XLSX in 2007) for converting the CSV files of commercial labs, unaware that its limit of 65,536 rows would allow a single file to truncate rows after hitting around 1,400 cases.


Salesforce announces Work.com for Vaccines, and end-to-end vaccine management system for governments and healthcare organizations that includes a public health command center, inventory management, appointment scheduling, outcome monitoring, and public health notifications.



Universal Health Services confirms it has completed the recovery process for servers at its corporate data center, and that all of its US-based inpatient facilities have been reconnected. The company was the victim of a cyberattack last week that impacted all 250 of its US facilities.

A former New York City hospital IT employee is sentenced to 30 months in prison for installing a keylogger program on the computers of 70 workers, most of them female, to steal the login credentials for password-protected personal accounts, photos, documents, and tax records. The unnamed hospital spent $350,000 to remediate the resulting network damage.

Sponsor Updates

  • The local news features CI Security’s Drex Deford’s analysis of the Universal Healthcare Systems breach.
  • Frost & Sullivan recognizes CoverMyMeds with its 2020 North American Product Leadership Award for Prior Authorization Solutions.
  • TransformativeMed will combine its clinical communication and collaboration software with clinical decision support from Crossings Healthcare Solutions.
  • Business Group on Health honors Cerner with its Helen Darling Award for Excellence in Health Care Value and Innovation.
  • Elsevier Senior Director for Scientific Services for R&D Solutions Matthew Clark wins bronze in the VHA Innovation Ecosystem and precision FDA COVID-19 Risk Factor Modeling Challenge.
  • Everbridge announces the 4th Annual Critical Event Management Impact Awards recognized the innovative use of its technology for mitigating the impact of COVID-19 and other crises in 2020.
  • Registration is now open for Experity’s Virtual User Experience half-day conference on October 15.

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Currently there are "9 comments" on this Article:

  1. There’s a lot of telemedicine that operates like that. My brother has taken a prescription for years for depression. Every year is healthcare provider withholds his prescription until he goes in for a check-up. He’s in his 20s just starting out and has a high deductible plan so he says it is always at least a 100 bucks to get a renewal on the Prozac.

    • Your brother’s situation sounds unfortunate but if there was a reasonable approach to health care coverage in the US, it wouldn’t be an issue.

      No one who prescribes medication can just keep renewing it without ever seeing the person. It’s poor practice and would place them at risk of liability or professional sanctions. Over the years, prescribers have learned that renewing meds with a promise that an appointment will be made usually does not result in ever seeing the patient.

      If telemedicine makes it easier to see patients, that’s a good thing. But regardless of whether patients are seen via telemedicine or in person, there needs to be better coverage so that this type of high deductible care dilemma becomes a thing of the past!

      • The reason I mention it is that it seems solvable by the Him’s style telemedicine or some telemedicine equivalent. The reason it costs so much is because he sees a physician who the health system has to pay a couple hundred grand a year and the health system itself has high overhead (rent, administration, etc.) that it needs to bring in revenue to cover. Medicare for all isn’t going to change that cost equation unless it puts substantial downward pressure on physician compensation. Him’s has got it worked out where they have low labor costs for a variety of reasons and they’ve got low overhead besides marketing spend. Why can’t someone replicate that for prescription renewals or other routine, almost secretarial care?

        • Mr. HIStalk’s comments about this model are right on. Treating depression or anxiety isn’t just a matter of writing a quick script. The same is true of virtually any legitimate prescribing. If a drug is sufficiently powerful to work in treating a clinical condition, then it’s also likely to have some potential for side effects, interactions with other drugs, or be problematic depending on the patient’s underlying health conditions. Making those determinations and identifying whether the patient is best served by medication and/or psychotherapy, isn’t a 5 minute process nor is it best served by seeing a different person for 5 minutes every year. If not treated or if treated poorly, depression and anxiety can have significant short term and long term consequences like any other serious medical condition. Organizational models of care may, in fact, include an excess of administrative and overhead costs. But it doesn’t mean that all organizational elements are unnecessary in terms of quality and oversight. Those administrative costs could be much much less in a different health payment system model (as in Canada where they have fewer billing staff for an entire academic center than in my small academic department). Cost savings from lower space needs could also occur in large organizations that adopt more telehealth but you still have to invest in technical infrastructure and the insurance related billing requirements have to allow greater telehealth use. Simply making people seek lousy fragmented care that they can afford out of pocket to offset high deductibles isn’t a good solution for anyone.

          • Hm I find that to be too paternal and beneficial to the doctor/mega health corps desires over the patients desires. The fact is traditional doctors are way too expensive to be handling these issues for the young and low income. That’s been the case for a decade. That’s the case right now. People might get suboptimal treatment via episodic care but paying out the nose for every little thing harms people in it’s own way. We can’t choose the option that protects health systems incomes over patients incomes every time. Americans just do not have the money. Sometimes paying a lot less for care that is a little lower quality is what people want. People need an alternative that doesn’t require Democrats taking and holding the Senate and they need it yesterday.

    • One option that could work in the U.S. around lowering the cost of care is the ability for pharmacists to prescribe drugs for a set of common ailments. This design has been in place in many countries around the world with great success. Prescriptions for common ailments are easily acquired by the patient at their local pharmacy. No need to see a physician, which may result in delayed care plus the time and expense of the office visit, to get a medicine that will help to solve the issue.
      Why we don’t have the same option in the U.S. is primarily due to the “hold” the AMA and others who represent the physicians’ financial interest.

      • Very true. If you live close enough, you can pop across the southern border and pick up Prozac directly from a pharmacist without going to a doctor for renewal. Pharmacists typically know more than doctors about what meds work for conditions, side effects, interactions with other drugs and conditions, etc. A pharmacists time is also at least 50 percent cheaper than a doctor’s, probably more. These options aren’t available to americans because doctors want a system in which the consumer is gouged and the doctors/health “systems” income is maximized.

  2. For the UHS attack, if UHS is Cerner RHO, why is the EHR still down? Is Cerner preventing them from connecting? Were Cerner’s controls and defenses no up to the task? I am puzzled. Does anyone have some insight?

    • RE: Art_Vandelay – Did you click the link and read the article? The hack happened to their Corporate Data center so they killed connections to everything, including the EMR. So the issue is on the UHS side, not the Cerner side. Cerner RHO won’t reissue connections until everything in the UHS owned data centers are back up, running and secure. Not to mention, this was an extensive downtime so probably a fair amount of data that has to be converted/exported. Cerner and CernerWorks isn’t the issue here.

      “The UHS IT Network has been restored and applications are in the process of being reconnected. The recovery process has been completed for all servers at the corporate data center and connectivity has been re-established for all U.S.-based inpatient facilities. Our major information systems such as the electronic medical record (EMR) were not directly impacted; we are in the process of restoring connections to these systems and back-loading data from the past week.”

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Reader Comments

  • @JennHIStalk: Elizabeth, I agree with your optimistic take. I was at Walmart Health for a dental cleaning recently, and the hygienist ...
  • Elizabeth H. H. Holmes: I think Walmart is a lot more interesting as a market entrant than previous tech giants. Walmart has plenty of IT acumen...
  • The Corpulent Illuminatus: I do not yet share optimism that the COVID wave is subsiding in any kind of meaningful way. I'll also add that we probab...
  • Juniper: Ghost of Andromeda...did you click on the ELLKAY link at the top of the article?...
  • Matt Ethington: I don't know if this headline makes me want to laugh or cry. Will WalMart improve access, bring down cost of care and ...

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