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Monday Morning Update 10/26/20

October 25, 2020 News 6 Comments

Top News


Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center (WA) goes live on Cerner as the VA’s first implementation site.

Reader Comments


From Chris Stenrud: “Re: Teladoc Health. Your headline doesn’t reflect reality. Our chief product officer, chief data scientist, and chief medical officer for product and analytics all come from Livongo.” A recap of the SEC filing: (a) five Livongo executives will leave following the acquisition; (b) seven of eight of the CEO’s direct reports will come from Teladoc; (c) two of six R&D executives will come from Teladoc; (d) seven of nine commercial organization executives will come from Teladoc; and (e) one of five executives in the US Group Health segment will come from Teladoc. Chris is Teladoc’s VP of communications. My point is that Teladoc is paying $18.5 billion for Livongo but isn’t bringing over Livongo’s founder and executive chairman, CEO, president, CFO, and SVP of business development as announced so far, while other Livongo execs aren’t mentioned as either coming over or not.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests


Nearly two-thirds of poll respondents haven’t taken a consumer DNA test, but 50% of those who have done so received surprising results about their known or unknown close relatives. Peter says it has been a pain since he and his wife took a test for fun –his wife started getting hits for half-siblings from all over the world because she was unknowingly fathered by a sperm donor instead of her legal father, which her parents refuse to acknowledge. Peter suggests leaving the test’s “family” features turned off.

New poll to your right or here: As a patient, when have you encountered scribes in the past one year? It occurs to me that I don’t know if it’s legally or ethically OK for a clinician to have a remote scribe listening in without telling the patient – thoughts? I’ve only been in one encounter with a scribe – the doctor introduced her and she didn’t say anything other than quietly responding to the doctor’s questions or instructions as she worked from within the EHR, leaving him free to focus on me. It was a good experience, although it probably wouldn’t work with a PCP who would need look more frequently at the EHR or share its contents.


I listened to the rehearsal for Bright.md’s Thursday webinar, which will be in the form of an interview with Ries Robinson, MD, SVP/chief innovation officer of Albuquerque-based Presbyterian Healthcare Services. It’s a no-BS description of how the health system ramped up technology to respond to COVID needs and what that experience taught them for redesigning care going forward. Interviewer Ray Costantini, MD of Bright.md was so careful to avoid any hint of doing a company pitch that we had to urge him to at least give a one-minute overview of the technologies the company offers and that PHS uses. One thing I learned — Ries talked about how it’s no easier for doctors to stay on schedule with fixed-length telehealth visits than with in-person visits, but patients hate waiting online and are quicker to give up than when they’ve driven into the office and are already sitting in the room, so technologies can help with pre- and post-visit work to keep the physician on schedule. My first question in reviewing a webinar’s content is, will someone whose employer doesn’t own the sponsor’s product still learn something useful? In this case, the answer is yes, and I enjoyed the no-slides conversational format.


October 27 (Tuesday) noon ET. “Don’t Waste This Pandemic (From a Former Healthcare CEO).” Sponsor: Relatient. Presenter: Monica Reed, MD, MSc, former CEO, Celebration Health. Some healthcare organizations are trying to get back to the normalcy of 2019, but tomorrow’s leaders are accelerating even faster in 2020. Two- or three-year roadmaps were accomplished in six months, so what’s next? The presenter will describe how technology was changing before COVID-19, how the pandemic accelerated plans, what we can expect to see as a result, how leaders and providers can adapt, and what healthcare’s digital front door looks like going forward and how it can be leveraged.

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.

October 29 (Thursday) 1 ET. “How Presbyterian Healthcare Services Is Preparing for a Post-Pandemic Future Using Digital Care Tools.” Sponsor: Bright.md. Presenters: Ries Robinson, MD, SVP/chief innovation officer, Presbyterian Healthcare Services; Ray Costantini, MD, MBA, co-founder and CEO, Bright.md. Presbyterian Healthcare Services changed the way New Mexico patients access healthcare with its pres.today digital front door, which has given patients easy access to care during a global crisis. The health system’s digital care strategy goes beyond simply offering virtual visits and instead makes every episode of care — regardless of where it is delivered — better by streamlining clinical workflows and by directing patients to the most appropriate venue of care. The presenters will describe how Presbyterian has continued to meet patient needs during the pandemic, how it is deploying digital tools to tackle the combined COVID-19 and flu seasons, and how the health system is innovating care delivery to prepare for a post-pandemic future.

November 11 (Wednesday) 1 ET. “Beyond the Firewall: Securing Patients, Staff, and the Healthcare Internet of Things.” Sponsor: Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise. Presenter: Daniel Faurlin, head of network solutions for healthcare, Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise. The biggest cybersecurity risk for healthcare IoT isn’t the objects themselves, but rather the network door they can open. This webinar will address meeting the challenges of security, management, and monitoring using ALE’s Digital Age Networking, a single service platform for the network infrastructure that includes an autonomous network, onboarding and managing IoT, and creating business innovation with automated workflows. Specific use cases will be described, including COVID-19 quarantine management, locating equipment and people, and ensuring the security of patients.

November 12 (Thursday) 5 ET: “Getting Surgical Documentation Right: A Fireside Chat.” Sponsor: Intelligent Medical Objects. Presenters: Alex Dawson, product manager, IMO; Janice Kelly, MS, RN, president, AORN Syntegrity; Julie Glasgow, MD, clinical terminologist, IMO; Lou Ann Montgomery, RN, BSN, nurse informaticist, IMO; Whitney Mannion, RN, clinical terminologist, IMO. The presenters will discuss using checklists, templates, the EHR, and third-party solutions to improve documentation without overburdening clinicians. They will explore the importance of surgical documentation in perioperative patient management, the guidelines and requirements for surgical documentation and operative notes, how refining practices and tools can improve accuracy and efficiency, and the risks and implications of incomplete, inconsistent, and non-compliant documentation.

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

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


NextGen Healthcare reports Q2 results: revenue up 4%, EPS $0.30 versus $0.24, beating Wall Street expectations for both. NXGN shares are down 13% in the past one year versus the Nasdaq’s 42% rise. From the earnings call:

  • RCM and EDI business volumes are at 93% and 95%, respectively, of their pre-COVID levels.
  • 20% of its business came from winning competitive situations.
  • Quarterly spend was reduced by $0.04 per share via short-term cost reductions, but those savings won’t be repeated.


Healthcare governance, risk management, and compliance software vendor Symplr acquires TractManager, which offers solutions for contracting, sourcing, and provider management.

BridgeHealth, which guides employees of self-insured companies to cost-effective surgery providers, merges with healthcare consumer information platform vendor Transcarent as part of its $40 million Series A funding round.

Bon Secours Mercy Health will make a private investment in the business combination that will take acute care telemedicine provider SOC Telemed public in early November.


Tech Mahindra’s US subsidiary will acquire a 6% equity position in VitalTech Holdings for $3 million, with an option to invest an additional $5 million through January 2021. VitalTech offers telehealth and remote patient monitoring technology, while Tech Mahindra owns healthcare consulting firm The HCI Group.


Former Microsoft executive Terry Myerson forms Truveta, which he describes vaguely as working with large amounts of health data to extract insights that will improve patient care. The website lists 19 employees so far, including two physicians, and job openings for bioinformatics engineers, software engineers, clinical informatics and data managers, and marketing and communication VPs.



Amanda Hundt (WE Communications) joins Health Catalyst in the newly created position of VP of corporate communications.


OptimizeRx promotes Karen Lauer to VP of product development.

Announcements and Implementations


Relatient releases Broadcast Messenger, which allows health systems to send text, email, and voice call messages to many patients and groups at once.

OmniSys announces Encounter-Rx, a cloud-based solution that allows pharmacies to integrate data and services to support expanded pharmacist roles such as point-of-care testing, disease counseling, and immunizations.

Four large Illinois health systems will exchange patient information with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois by joining Epic’s Payer Platform, which will launch later this year. The payer-provider system can exchange information about ED visits, tests, lab results; support priority authorization and claims payment; and apply care management strategies.



The US reported a record-breaking 84,000 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and again Saturday, with experts predicting that daily new case counts will hit six figures soon and deaths will spike over the next 3-4 weeks. State governments say the primary spreader events aren’t reopened schools, but rather social and religious gatherings.

President Trump tells attendees at a Wisconsin rally that “doctors get more money and hospitals get more money” in the US if they classify deaths due to other serious conditions and terminal illnesses as being caused by COVID-19, artificially inflating our death counts because “this country and their reporting systems are really not doing it right.”

FDA approves Gilead’s remdisivir for COVID-19 treatment, surprising many experts who note that the drug doesn’t have a long tracked and its only proven effect is to shorten hospital stays rather than improve survival or reduce ventilator use.The drug has been available since May under FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization.

Vice-President Pence, who had five close staff members test positive for COVID-19 over the weekend, will ignore CDC guidelines and continue his campaign travel and public rallies because he is “essential personnel,” according to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Meadows told reporters Sunday that the US is “not going to control the pandemic” and instead will focus developing on vaccines and treatments.

The Wall Street Journal reports that HHS’s controversial $250 million “defeat despair” coronavirus ad campaign has been cancelled. It notes that part of the campaign would have given early COVID-19 vaccine access to performers who portray Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, and their jolly elves as essential workers. The disappointed chairman of the Fraternal order of Real Bearded Santas told WSJ that “this was our greatest hope for Christmas 2020, and now it looks like it won’t happen.”



A genetic counselor sends DNA samples to consumer genetics testing company Orig3n for childhood development analysis, extracting one sample from her dog and the other from her kitchen faucet. The report failed to notice the non-human origins, but advised that the tap water will need longer to develop language skills. The company is also facing CMS sanctions for its COVID-19 tests, which have produced least 383 false positive results this year.

Sponsor Updates

  • Change Healthcare offers ICAD’s ProFound AI platform as part of its Mammography Plus solution.
  • SOC Telemed announces new board nominations ahead of its merger with Healthcare Merger Corp.
  • Pure Storage releases a new podcast, “Tales from the Ransomware Crypt.”
  • Spirion wins multiple Globee International and One Planet Awards for its privacy and security product, customer deployments, and its COVID-19 company response.
  • Summit Healthcare publishes a new use case featuring Galway Clinic, “Solving Complex Interoperability Needs with the Latest in Integration Technology.”

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Currently there are "6 comments" on this Article:

  1. Regarding claims that doctors and hospitals get more money for COVID deaths, I’ve heard others make that claim implying that deaths are overinflated due to that.

    I’m curious what the medical community thinks of those claims? It seems to me it also implies widespread fraud and unethical practices.

      • Exactly – here are the number of deaths for February – September 2020:

        Overall, an estimated 299,028 excess deaths occurred from late January through October 3, 2020, with 198,081 (66%) excess deaths attributed to COVID-19. The largest percentage increases were seen among adults aged 25–44 years and among Hispanic or Latino persons.


        • So as we go into fall we are at half a million dead. The infrastructure is still not in place to record vaccines. And, Operation Warp Speed hasn’t really done anything.

          Can’t expect the vaccine to be impactful until March/August.

          We lost “3000?” in 9-11 and what type of resources did we expend there? Half a million dead to date, probably double or triple that again over the next 6 months, and we still don’t have CVX/NDC/RxNorm codes for a vaccine or a plan on how to distribute a vaccine that requires temperatures in the -50F range.

          Sorry guys, a bit miffed at the incompetence of some, despite the courage of others.

    • Apply Occam’s Razor. What is more likely?

      1). “[D]octors and hospitals get more money for COVID deaths…[this] implies widespread fraud and unethical practices…” And yet no evidence for the claim is presented (!);

      2). The current Administration is widely perceived (60-70% agreement, last I checked) to have mishandled the COVID pandemic. This means that large numbers of otherwise friendly right-leaning voters also believe the Administration has not performed well on this file. Thus, there is a strong incentive to minimize the actual size of the problem.

      Now, I know which one I believe. And Occam’s Razor can lead anyone to the most likely answer…

  2. In th early days (i.e March) patients had similar Dx codes to Sepsis – as that appeared to what was happening as well Covid Dx codes. I would hope that by now we’d know the difference of dying WITH Covid verses OF Covid. My guess someone from the Commercial Carriers would be able to chime in on this.

    Either way, I suspect some claims are stretched, but the vast majority are coded correctly.

    Also… if you are looking for conformational bias…. you can find it.

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