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October 11, 2020 News No Comments

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Online texting-only mental therapy provider Talkspace, frustrated by state-by-state therapist licensing that has limited therapist availability during pandemic-driven high demand, tells its independent contractor providers that the company will pay any fines that result from their serving patients who are located in states where they aren’t licensed.

Emergency waivers have allowed therapists to serve patients who are located in states where the therapist isn’t licensed, but penalties will be reinstated when the waivers expire.

Legal experts warn that unlicensed practice is a crime in some states. They also note that any licensing board actions will remain on their record permanently regardless of who pays.

Health IT attorney Nathaniel Lacktman summarizes, “This is an enterprise-wide aggressive growth play in lieu of getting licensure. When a company uses the waivers to blitzscale its patient base, it needs a plan for what to do when those waivers end.” Competitors have addressed the issue by creating licensure teams and covering some or all of the cost of obtaining new state licenses.

A recent New York Times report says Talkspace’s startup culture conflicts with mental health concerns, noting its obsession with using patient data for purposes that sometimes lapses into marketing. It gave burner phones to employees and asked them to write five-star app store reviews to improve its lackluster scores. Therapists complained that it added a button to its app that allows clients to demand quick responses and and having their pay reduced if they don’t respond several times daily.

Another licensure issue unrelated to Talkspace is that patients are moving or taking extended vacations during the pandemic without necessarily notifying their virtual therapist, which creates legal exposure if the therapist unknowingly conducts sessions with a regular patient who has temporarily or permanently relocated to a state in which the therapist is not licensed.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests


The most valued use of LinkedIn among 386 poll respondents is for casually checking credentials or finding out what colleagues are up to, with few using it as a businessperson’s Facebook in reading the news feed, reading or posting articles, or messaging. Some commenters commendably use it to help others make connections, such as passing along recruiter pitches or leaving a recommendation for a former colleague who has lost their job.

New poll to your right or here: What factors have caused you to leave a recently presented webinar or to stop paying attention? Feel free click the poll’s Comments link to explain the factors that make a webinar interesting and valuable to you. We require companies that have us produce their webinar to do a rehearsal that we record and review, but many times they ignore our advice, usually because (a) marketing people are reluctant to coach the presenter; (b) they believe time is too short to make improvements; or (c) the box to be checked is to present a webinar, not necessarily to make it as good as it can be. Still, our experience is that a knowledgeable, qualified presenter who earnestly provides useful information that delivers what the write-up promises will usually do very well regardless of any other issues.

A friend of a friend just graduated college with a journalism degree, which wasn’t exactly a hot employment ticket even before COVID. I’m thinking about hiring her as a paid remote intern in some fashion, assuming she is interested in learning about health IT and thinks she could gain something useful working in my decidedly non-traditional way. Help me out here – how could a fresh journalism graduate best add value to HIStalk while simultaneously becoming better prepared for the job market? Let me know what you think. I would be doing it as a giving back kind of thing, but it would be nice to user her talents wisely and make her more employable in the process.

Prospective new sponsors: read the media kit, contact Lorre, and get the rest of 2020 free and all of 2021, including HIMSS21.


Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor Change Healthcare. The Nashville-based organization is a leading independent healthcare technology company that is focused on insights, innovation, and accelerating the transformation of the US healthcare system through the power of the Change Healthcare Platform. It provides data and analytics-driven solutions to improve clinical, financial, administrative, and patient engagement outcomes, with specific offerings in end-to-end revenue cycle management, enterprise medical imaging, payment accuracy, and patient experience. Thanks to Change Healthcare for supporting HIStalk.

I found this Change Healthcare explainer video on YouTube.


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.

Announcements and Implementations


Canada’s Trillium Health Partners goes live on Epic.



COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have increased significantly in the past few weeks, with the lagging indicator of daily deaths likely to follow. Acceleration is almost certain as cooler weather sends people indoors. Europe is seeing the same trends. Experts have long feared a second wave given the seasonality that is exhibited by most respiratory infections and coronaviruses, such as in flu season where cases pick up in late fall and peak in January and February.


A CDC review of COVID-19 spread in Arizona finds that cases shot up after the state reopened, but stabilized and then decreased sharply when control measures were implemented.

The Wall Street Journal explains the behavioral challenge in which young people have the most COVID-19 infections, but the older people they spread it to make up most of the deaths.

Companies and schools in the UK are reportedly telling employees to turn off the NHS test and trace app or to remove it from their phones, apparently fearing that their workers will receive warnings that tell them to isolate. One of the companies that told employees to shut the app down at work is GlaxoSmithKline, which is working on COVID-19 vaccine.

HHS Assistant Secretary and pediatrician Admiral Brett Giroir, MD orders Nevada to end its recent ban on two rapid coronavirus testing systems that the federal government provides, saying that false positives are to be expected and that the decision “can only be based on a lack of knowledge or bias.” Federal guidance says states can’t block the use of tests that have been approved by the FDA for testing people in congregate settings. The two test manufacturers issued statements saying they were pleased with Giroir’s order.


A study finds that physician organizations that are affiliated with health systems deliver about the same level of quality care to high-need Medicare patients as independent practices. Aldedade CEO Farzad Mostashari, MD, MSc notes that the Rand researchers seem to have tried and failed to find ways to game the results to make higher-cost health system practices look better, even when trying to bolster the “our patients are sicker” argument that the study did not support.

Security experts find that Dr Lal PathLabs, one of India’s largest lab operators, failed to secure its daily testing logs that were stored as Excel worksheets on Amazon Web Services. The company fixed the problem, but did not respond to the researcher who told them about it.

Sponsor Updates

  • HIStalk Sponsors exhibiting at the virtual Cerner Health Conference October 13-14 include Access, Elsevier, Ensocare, Fortified Health Security, Healthwise, Intelligent Medical Objects, Imprivata, Kyruus, Nuance, and Surescripts.
  • Carroll County Memorial Hospital celebrates 10 years of partnership with Cerner CommunityWorks.
  • Netsmart welcomed more than 3,000 providers and professionals to its 13th annual Connections conference earlier this month.
  • OpenText makes electronic signature accessible to organizations of every size.
  • Dina will sponsor HLTH VRTL 2020 on October 12-16 and will be part of the Matter Startup Showcase on October 16.
  • Ernst & Young recognizes TriNetX CEO Gadi Lachman as an Entrepreneur of the Year in its 2020 New England program.

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