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Weekender 12/4/20

December 4, 2020 Weekender 2 Comments


Weekly News Recap

  • Healthcare process automation vendor Olive acquires prior authorization platform provider Verata Health.
  • McKesson launches Ontada, an oncology technology and data business.
  • Imprivata acquires FairWarning.
  • The former GM of Uber Health launches home care provider MedArrive.
  • ONC, HL7, and other groups launch Project US@, which hopes to publish a healthcare standard for representing patient addresses.
  • Salesforce acquires Slack for $28 billion.
  • HealthStream acquires Change Healthcare’s capacity management business, including its Ansos staff scheduling system, for $67.5 million.
  • A Stat review finds that health systems are using AI to create patient COVID-19 risk scores despite a lack of evidence of real-world correlation or assurance that the training of those systems was adequately broad.
  • University of Vermont Health Network restores full access to Epic after nearly a month of malware-caused downtime.
  • Informatics pioneer Reed Gardner, PhD dies.

Best Reader Comments

I’m reluctant to be too critical of such pronouncements because they come from a desire to improve service delivery. The energy and enthusiasm this displays is worth protecting. But honestly, if there’s one thing we do know: All too often, healthcare does NOT “have to” deliver a great customer service experience. If it did, then we’d see that achieved routinely. The fact that we talk about a need is telling. (Brian Too)

Re: Olive. Not seeing it, what am I missing? They seem to have found a nice niche, but they are not what I would call revolutionary, and I don’t think their execution is anything to write home about. $1.5B valuation? Seems like this is a case of Silicon Valley easy money mania meets healthcare. (WestCoastCFO)

In spite of AMA lobbying, regulatory changes in the early 2000s allowed pharmacists to give flu shots. Costs fell, accessibility went up, public health improved, and doctors wallets weren’t quite as fat as they could be. Maybe half of flu shots still occur when people happen to be in the doctor’s office for another reason, but for the most part the doctor “establishment” has been cut out of making money on flu shots. Telemedicine cuts out your local doctor from making money on all those non-procedural, episodic office visits. Brian Too is right that your local doc is not going to do telemedicine unless it is convenient for her and the billable rates make sense. (IANAL)

Like most other people in this country, my health insurance is offered by my employer, who provides three plans for me to choose from. For the most affordable of these, if someone in my family develops some sort of serious condition, our PCP will have to be the gatekeeper before getting a referral to a specialist (likely first, one within the same organization, and MAYBE a second opinion from another group with providers known to be strong in that specialty). There’s a lot of talk about the “consumerism” of healthcare, but the idea that most people have the financial resources to just pick up and go to whatever provider of whatever service they like is blatantly false, in my opinion. (Employee)

Watercooler Talk Tidbits


Readers funded the Donors Choose teacher grant request of Ms. M in Florida, who asked for two Chromebooks for her second grade class. She reports, “The minute we arrive in our classrooms, the children are directed to the computers to finish their IReady minutes. IReady is a math/reading program that when used properly has a huge correlation to the SAT and FSA exams the students take at the end of the year. I always find it amazing how they cannot wait to get on and never complain about getting it done. This is because the program is child friendly and offers rewards, games, and other incentives to increase student performance.”

In England, town councils are hiring an analytics software company to study the personal finances, school absences, and living arrangements of residents to identify those at risk for COVID-19. Privacy experts worry that the information could be used to predict which residents are likely to break isolation rules, also noting that the system can analyze issues such as unfaithful and unsafe sex, emotional health, dangerous pets, anger management issues, and financial struggles.

Geisinger produces a 30-minute documentary called “Five Days in May – Inside the Fight Against COVID-19.”


Cleveland Clinic and other businesses will provide affordable Internet service to residents of the Fairfax neighborhood of Cleveland, which is America’s worst-connected large city. The EmpowerCLE wireless internet service provider has installed equipment on the roofs of two main buildings of Cleveland Clinic’s campus to boost coverage.

Reuters reports that North Korean hackers are posing as recruiters on LinkedIn and offering jobs to employees of COVID-19 vaccine maker AstraZeneca, after which they email them job descriptions that contain malware that gives them access to the employee’s computer.


Former professional soccer player and Olympian Rachel Buehler Van Hollebeke, MD is working as a first-year family medicine resident at Scripps Mercy Hospital.

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Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. What I find amazing about olive is that their whole product is set up to work via screenscraping. In other words, running the customers EMR app and simulating clicks and key presses. Epic explicitly bans this, yet Olive lists Epic customers as major clients. They leave out the Epic name and logo on their site though….
    On the topic of companies operating in Epic’s grey area, Fair warning gets its data from Epic from some script that runs on Epic’s database. The story from Epic is that some customer support person wrote a customer a security logging script once and Fair warning got ahold of the output. The customer then strongarmed Epic into supporting ilthe script for them. Then Fair warning went around to other Epic customers telling them to ask for the script that this support rep wrote. Of course now a bunch of customers have the script installed and Epic must feel obligated to maintain it. That’s great for Epic customers and the millions of dollars Fair warning has made visualizing this scripts output. But it seems like a rookie move by Epic management.

    • Very interesting. Olive calls themselves an AI firm. But what it really is is screenscraping and scripts. AI, to me, means something very different.

      I guess time will tell. I have no doubt that they have a robust marketing department, I’m just waiting to see if they can actually execute at a level that is worth a premium (recurring) spend. Recurring revenue is great for the vendor, but often not for the customer.

      I’d rather pay $10,000 for a screenscraping script than $100,000 for the same thing that someone labels “AI”.

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