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January 7, 2021 News 1 Comment

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UnitedHealth Group-owned Optum will acquire Change Healthcare in a deal valued at $13 billion.

Optum will combine Change Healthcare with its OptumInsight software and analytics business.

Change Healthcare President and CEO Neil de Crescenzo will become CEO of OptumInsight when the acquisition closes in the second half of the year.

Reader Comments

From Mandrake: “Re: Obix being acquired by Harris. What does this mean to the health system? Any key executives departing What was the cost of the sale? Who is the buyer since I’ve never heard of them?” Harris Healthcare Group is part of a Canada-based company that has done a lot of health IT acquisitions. I’ve included a partial list is further down the page. I’ll invite readers to provide answers to any of these questions, especially with regard to how customers fared after Harris acquired their vendor. KLAS data would be interesting.

From Barry Gibberish: “Re: health system IT strategy meetings. You’ve written about the psychology involved. Repeat, please.” I don’t recall what I wrote and I’m too lazy to look it up, so here’s my off-the-cuff list of what hospital meetings are like:

  • Any hospital meeting will be full of people who are empowered to say “no” but nobody whose authority allows them to say “yes.”
  • Ever-larger meeting rooms are needed because people keep inviting themselves or others to validate their importance.
  • It’s almost guaranteed that none of the attendees have given the slightest thought to the issues at hand since the previous meeting, and any assignments they were given will be quickly thrown together while others are talking.
  • Clinicians will either be uninvited or marginalized because they are seen by the suits as being untethered from reality and dangerously unfiltered.
  • Nobody will argue for changing the status quo unless they see personal or departmental benefit. They are the people who thrive in the current state they built.
  • Some people can always be counted on to say why any given action shouldn’t be taken, but they never have ideas of their own because that would be bold. This is the dynamic in which every mid-level attendee takes a position to set themselves apart from everybody else in asserting their contrarian thinking (you don’t get points for agreeing). I guarantee that some of those folks enter the room planning to take the “let’s do it” position, but finding it already taken, flip-flip equally passionately to “this is a terrible idea.”
  • Hospitals are awkward, department-driven democracies where nobody except the million-dollar leadership club can be identified as inarguably in charge, so many meetings are free of agendas, objectives, facilitators, assignments, and conclusions. It’s fun talking about stuff, but the seriousness of actually making a decision and attaching names to it means it often doesn’t get done.
  • Committees that spend great amounts of energy and research to reach a decision will often be overridden by an executive afterward who believes their superior analytical powers and gut instinct takes precedence.

From Be the Ball: “Re: price transparency. Some providers are live with consumer-friendly searches. Examples of our Change Healthcare customers are Rush Health Systems, Levi Hospital, and South Central Regional Medical Center.”

From Wooster: “Re: J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference next week. Usually there’s an entire subculture of meetings around the conference venue. What are everyone’s plans?” Readers are welcome to weigh in on how, if at all, they will participate in a virtual version of a conference whose biggest draw is what happens near but not actually in the actual conference venue.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests


I could really use your help in completing my one-yearly, eight-question reader survey that takes maybe 30 seconds. You’ll earn my appreciation, feel good about voting, and be eligible to win a $50 Amazon gift card. Thanks for helping me out.

Reminder: we have dedicated news history pages for Cerner and Meditech, as requested by readers and maintained by Jenn. If you read HIStalk in desktop mode (not the mobile format), links are under the Company News History menu item. Let me know if you find those useful.


January 13 (Wednesday) 2 ET. “The One Communication Strategy Clinicians Need Now.” Sponsor: PerfectServe. Presenters: Clay Callison, MD, CMIO, University of Tennessee Medical Center; Nicholas E. Perkins, DO, MS, hospitalist and physician informaticist, Prisma Health. Healthcare organizations are leveraging their current investments and reducing their vendor footprint, so there’s no room for clutter in healthcare communication. The presenters will describe the one communication strategy that clinicians and organizations need today, how to improve patient experience and protect revenue, and how to drive the communication efficiency of clinical teams.

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

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


Harris acquires Clinical Computer Systems, Inc., which offers Obix perinatal software. Other health IT brands owned by the acquisition-focused Harris – formally known as N. Harris Computer Corporation as an operating group of Canada-based Constellation Software – include Amazing Charts, Iatric Systems, IMDSoft, Just Associates, GEMMS, Picis, PulseCheck, and QuadraMed. The company looks for acquisitions that have a diversified customer base, offer mission-critical enterprise software, low customer attrition, leading or increasing market share, fragmented competition, and the potential to grow geographically or via product expansion.


Healthcare communication platform vendor TigerConnect acquires Critical Alert, which offers middleware for nurse call, alarm and event management, and medical device interoperability.


Cybersecurity services vendor Intraprise Health acquires HIPAA One, which offers HIPAA compliance automation software.

GE concludes that it has no legal recourse to try to reclaim the compensation it gave to former CEO Jeff Immelt, who disastrous operational and acquisition decisions left the company drowning in debt, selling off pieces and parts, and removed from the Dow Jones Industrial Average. GE says that independent counsel has advised that Immelt wasn’t guilty of misconduct, just incompetence (I’m reading between the lines here, and it should be noted that the board left him in charge for 16 years). Immelt, who was promoted from what was then GE Medical Systems (now GE Healthcare), was forced out in 2017, then spent a few months as executive chairman of Athenahealth in brokering a deal to sell the company to a private equity firm.



Halo Health hires Steve Smerz (NovuHealth) as CTO.


Carl Swart, MHA (Ensemble Health Partners) joins ApprioHealth as COO.

Announcements and Implementations


Urgent care operator CityMD launches a virtual line solution using technology from urgent care software vendor Experity, hoping to eliminate hours-long lines of people waiting for COVID-19 tests.


Tele-ICU services vendor Advanced ICU Care renames itself to Hicuity Health.

Walgreens will open up to 700 in-store Village Medical primary care clinics in the next four years following its previous $1 billion investment in VillageMD.


Beebe Healthcare goes live with TransformativeMed’s Core Work Manager, which it will use to increase situational awareness of patients at both the employee and care team levels.


A new KLAS report on rapid telehealth uptake during the pandemic finds that few Amwell and Teladoc Health customers plan to use their solutions to meet all their telehealth needs. More focused solutions have high satisfaction, such as Caregility for teleICU (it has multiple capabilities) and Mend for virtual clinic visits. Videoconferencing platforms from Zoom and Doxy.me feature easy rollout and low cost, but 30% of users will replace them with products that offer better support, EHR integration, and a simplified clinical experience. Microsoft Teams performs well but falls short on patient experience, while more than half of Vidyo customers are unhappy. Telehealth solutions from Epic and NextGen Healthcare earn high customer satisfaction because of integration with their EHR, a feature that customers of other EHR vendors are hoping to get.


Another new KLAS report on credentialing during COVID-19 finds that Verge Health leads in remote credentialing; Verge Health, Modio, ASM MD-Staff score highly for emergency credentialing; and most vendors perform well at telehealth credentialing across state lines. 

Government and Politics


Cerner VP of strategic growth Amanda Adkins leaves the company after losing her bid to unseat Rep. Sharice Davids (D-KS) in the November US House election. She had been with Cerner for 15 years, but took a leave of absence a year ago to campaign. She lost by 10 percentage points as the Republican candidate.


Wednesday’s COVID-19 hospitalization set another record at 132,476. Nearly 4,000 new deaths pushed the US total to 361,000. States are continuing to catch up with posting holiday-delayed data. The worst spread of any area of the world is in Arizona, where hospitalizations are at almost 5,000 and 297 people died of COVID-19 on Wednesday.

Scientists warn that the US is not equipped to track mutated versions of coronavirus since no national surveillance program is in place, with genomic sequencing being performed on only 3,000 of 1.4 million positive samples each week.

The Surgeon General urges states to aggressively expand vaccinations to other phases if their vaccine supply exceeds Phase 1a demand (healthcare personnel and long-term care residents). Phase 1b includes frontline essential workers and those over 74. Meanwhile, NYC Health and Hospitals says it has given every public hospital employee shots who wanted them – 30% did not – but the city has not received state permission to start administering the vaccine to first responders, corrections officers, and people over 74.



Weird News Andy intones mellifluously (in my mind, at least) that, “It is better to have loved and flossed …” in hair-balling up this story, in which a woman experienced gingival hirsutism, i.e. she sprouted hair from her gums.

Sponsor Updates

  • Healthcare Growth Partners advises Digisonics in its sale to Intelerad, PatientMatters in its sale to Firstsource Solutions, and HIPAA One in its merger with Intraprise Health.
  • Health Catalyst will present virtually at the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference January 11.
  • The local news covers Cerner’s efforts to help Truman Medical Center (MO) streamline patient scheduling and registration for the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Everbridge surpasses 5 billion communications in 2020 from its Critical Event Management Platform, supporting healthcare, business, and government organizations around the world.
  • Fortified Health Security will present at the ISACA Huntsville Chapter virtual meeting January 25.
  • Goliath Technologies enters an equity partnership with Cloud-Oculus to expand its cloud-monitoring product portfolio.
  • Healthcare Triangle publishes a new case study, “2020 Epic Program Spotlight: Tanner Community Connect.”
  • With support from InterSystems and its Veterans Data Integration and Federation Enterprise Platform, the VA has launched its COVID-19 vaccination program, while treating 130,000 cases.
  • Meditech adds the Northside Achievement Zone in Minneapolis to its charitable giving program.
  • Medrah IT expands its reseller agreement with NextGate.
  • Several HIStalk sponsors take home Best in Biz Awards: CoverMyMeds (Bronze, Most Innovative Product of the Year – Healthcare and Medical); Spirion (Bronze, Enterprise Product of the Year – Security Software); Lumeon (Gold, Best New Product of the Year – Healthcare and Medical); and Waystar (Silver, Best New Product of the Year – Healthcare and Medical).

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Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. That IT strategy meetings summary makes me even more impressed with the CIO who I used to work for, who set up most meetings to be the opposite of nearly everything on your list!

    I got my vaccine at H+H on Tuesday- the process was incredibly smooth. Email notifying me I was eligible->easy mychart appointment setup-> 30 minutes in and out, even with the 15minutes of wait time post-vaccine.

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  1. I share your concerns about a lot of similar projects, but I think this one's an outcomes comparison thing, not…

  2. "Ascension Via Christi sent several ICU nurses home after they raised concerns about inadequate staffing." Nice. That'll show em.

  3. Thank you for sharing the full HIStory file. What a great tribute to Mr. Ciotti. “Those who cannot remember the…

  4. "Epic will roll out a “patients like this one” type tool to its users in Indiana this summer. It will…

  5. I don't see Cerner winning employee satisfaction surveys. I can't see VHA pivoting to Epic. It's going to be some…

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