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News 1/22/21

January 21, 2021 News 2 Comments

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The Biden administration chooses Micky Tripathi, PhD, MPP as National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. He replaces Don Rucker, MD, MS, MBA, who was named national coordinator in April 2017.

Tripathi was chief alliance officer for Arcadia, which last year acquired the assets of the closed Massachusetts EHealth Collaborative, of which Tripathi served as CEO for 15 years.

Tripathi has resigned from the boards of Datica, HL7 FHIR Foundation, CommonWell, and The Sequoia Project.


Reader Comments

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From Rad Idea: “Re: PACS. Mach7 (which acquired Client Outlook and its eUnity viewer last year) won the enterprise viewing RFP from Trinity Health this past November, with an option to add VNA, diagnostic viewer, and worklist. It’s a big deal since Trinity does 60% more studies than the big academic radiology heavyweights.” Thanks. Australia-based Mach7, which restructured and fired its CEO a couple of years ago in a cost-cutting effort, has an impressive roster of big customers. Trinity signed a seven-year, $5 million contract for its enterprise viewer in November. Shares in M7T, which trade on the ASX, value the company at $313 million.

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From PEI: “Re: Nano-X. Ever run across them? I’ve heard some interesting stories and wondered about your thoughts.” The technology explanations of Israel-based Nano-X goes way over my head, but it involves low-cost and portable diagnostic imaging, which has yet to earn FDA approval. The chairman and CEO apparently invented wireless phone charging. NNOX did its IPO in August 20 and shares are up 166% since, valuing the company at $2.7 billion. Fun reading of the “interesting stories” variety (but of unverified validity) is the analysis of fraud chasers Citron Research, which calls the company “Theranos 2.0” with just 20-odd employees and “nothing more than a science project with a simple rendering, minimal R&D, fake customers, no FDA approval, and fraudulent claims that are beyond the realm of possibility.” Perhaps readers have more information to contribute.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Dr. Jayne’s office chair write-up spurred me to long-deferred action to replace my old, cheap Office Depot model, whose defective height-adjusting mechanism made it a poor man’s carnival drop tower ride. I was happy to find a local office furniture store that buys used chairs from closed or relocated businesses, refurbishes them, then sells them cheap with a one-year warranty. My new chair is a fully tricked out Herman Miller Celle that came from a closed Blue Cross Blue Shield office that turned in 1,000 of them. The retail price is $750, so $199 seemed like a bargain. I didn’t realize how un-ergonomic and cheap-feeling my old chair was until I sat in a decent, highly adjustable one where my back actually touches the chair.

Listening: new soul / R&B from Grammy winners Black Pumas, which I ran across before finding that they played virtually at the inauguration this week.


Webinars

January 28 (Thursday) 12:30 ET: “In Conversation: Advancing Women Leaders in Health IT.” Sponsor: Intelligent Medical Objects. Presenters: Tabitha Lieberman, SVP of clinical and revenue cycle applications, Providence St. Joseph Health; Ann Barnes, CEO, IMO; Deanna Towne, MBA, CIO, CORHIO; Amanda Heidemann, MD, CMIO, CMIO Services, LLC. IMO CEO Ann Barnes brings together a panel of female health executives for a results-oriented discussion on how managers and C-suite executives can address diversity and inclusion in their organizations. From STEM education to mentoring and networking, the “COVID effect” on women in the workplace, to matters of equity, there’s no better time to talk openly about these issues to help generate meaningful change in healthcare.

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

HealthStream will acquire policy management technology vendor ComplyAlign for $2 million in cash.

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Text chat-based telehealth vendor K Health raises $132 million in a Series E funding round that values the company at over $1 billion. K Health offers unlimited online doctor chats for $9 per month, also offering pediatrics in 15 states and single urgent care visits for $19. Co-founder and CEO Allon Bloch, MBA previously started several online businesses, none of them related to healthcare.

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UnitedHealth Group reports Q3 results: revenue up 8% to $65.1 billion with Optum as its biggest percentage contributor, EPS $2.51 versus $3.90, beating estimates for both. The company said in the earnings call that its OptumCare business will add another 10,000 employed and affiliated physicians to its existing 50,000 in 2021. It expects the combination of its acquired Change Healthcare and OptumInsight to allow it to introduce evidenced-based criteria into clinician workflow.

Healthcare outcomes and community service connection vendor Pieces acquires Bowtie Business Intelligence, which offers a data management platform.

Compute Health Acquisition, a SPAC that will focus on healthcare technology, files for a $750 million IPO that will value the company at around $1 billion. The company is led by Intel Chairman Omar Ishrak, PhD, who was formerly CEO of Medtronic. Medtronic is interested in buying 1.5 million shares in the company, he says.

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Hillrom will acquire ambulatory ECG monitoring vendor Bardy Diagnostics for $375 million in cash.

Healthcare conversational AI vendor MPulse Mobile acquires health video course developer The Big Know.


Sales

  • Community Care Plan chooses CareSignal’s Deviceless Remote Monitoring program to send self-management text messages to its Medicaid members.
  • New York State Office of Mental Health chooses Cerner’s hosted revenue cycle management solutions in a 10-year contract that covers 23 inpatient and 155 outpatient facilities.

People

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Cerner hires Mark Erceg (Tiffany & Company) as VP/CFO. He replaces Marc Naughton, whose departure was announced last fall. Cerner’s entire executive team has now been replaced since Brent Shafer was hired as chairman and CEO in January 2018, with the exception of Don Trigg, who was then president of Cerner Health Ventures and is now president of Cerner.

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David Tavares, founder and CEO of alarm and event notification vendor Connexall, died last week at 73.


Announcements and Implementations

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Jvion launches its COVID Vaccination Prioritization Index, which helps public health officials determine which areas need more vaccines based on an AI-powered analysis of each community’s makeup. I randomly chose Roane County WV, which is high priority as explained in the graphic above.

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AI researchers from Facebook work with NYU Langone Health to develop software that analyzes chest x-rays to predict if COVID-19 patients will deteriorate or require oxygen. The researchers say their models are research solutions rather than products and will make them open source to allow hospitals to tune them using their own data.

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The local TV station covers how SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital allows the family members of patients to send photos electronically to their in-room entertainment system. The video doesn’t mention the interactive patient system vendor that does the heavy lifting, but freeze-framing the video shows that it’s PCare.


Government and Politics

Implementation of HHS’s December 10 rule that reduces the time providers have to give patients copies of their records will be delayed for 60 days in a Biden administration review of all recent HHS actions.

HHS OCR will not impose HIPAA penalties related to use of online scheduling to make COVID-19 vaccination appointments.


COVID-19

The COVID Tracking Project shows 122,700 people hospitalized in the US, with the trend continuing down. Deaths hit a daily record 4,409 as the US total increased to 406,000.

CDC shows as of Wednesday that 16.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered of 36 million distributed (46%).

Amazon offers in a letter sent to President Biden to use its operations, IT, and communications to help get people vaccinated.

Experts question the COVID-19 vaccination plan of Washington, D.C. – which is already struggling with vaccine distribution problems – to open up priority slots to anyone who is overweight, which would be more than half of the district’s residents. An obesity researcher says that “it’s not much of of a discriminator any more if you define a co-morbidity as something that almost everybody has.” The city will also use the honor system in requiring those showing up for a vaccine to answer two questions – are you a resident, and do you have at least one priority chronic condition – with no proof required.

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The White House publishes its 200-page national COVID-19 strategy, in which the federal government will:

  • Provide expert-led, science-based public briefings and CDC-led communication and guidance.
  • Give states more support and funding to “convert vaccines into vaccinations.”
  • Expand vaccine production and purchasing.
  • End the policy of holding back second doses and encourage states to move quickly through the priority groups.
  • Create as many vaccination venues as are needed, including federally run centers in stadiums and conference centers, drugstores, VA hospitals, physician office, hospitals, urgent care centers, and mobile clinics.
  • Compensate providers fairly for administering the vaccine, expanding the FMAP to 100% for Medicaid enrollees and assigning CMS to review whether payment rates are appropriate.
  • Strengthen the federal government’s approach to vaccination data collection.
  • Have CDC and FDA perform real-time safety monitoring of vaccines through expanded systems.
  • Expand provider scope-of-practice laws and waive licensing requirements to meet community workforce needs.
  • Require masks and distancing within federal buildings and lands and require mask-wearing on planes, trains, and other public transportation.
  • Develop a COVID-19 treatment discovery and development plan.
  • Establish a US Public Health Jobs Corps to provide 100,000 contact tracers, community health workers, and public health nurses.
  • Provide technical help with the use of technology and data to guide response.
  • Invoke the Defense Production Act to fix supply problems with vaccination and testing supplies and PPE.
  • Implement a national strategy to support the safe reopening of schools, with most K-8 schools to be open within 100 days, including Congress-approved funding.
  • Provide emergency funds to help hard-hit childcare providers remain open and to support higher education operation.
  • Restore the US’s participation in the World Health Organization.

Other

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The non-profit, Tulsa-based MyHealth Access Network protests the state’s selection of Orion Health to provide a statewide HIE platform for $49.8 million, which is nearly $30 million more than its own bid. ONC warned the state in a January 6 email that scrapping MyHealth and starting over was a bad idea. MyHealth bid $106.6 million on December 30, 2019, then lowered its price nine months later to $41.7 million when the state asked for its best and final offer, then lowered its price again to $19.9 million. The federal government will pay 90% of the cost.

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I mentioned that health IT long-timer Amy Gleason had a big role in the successful implementation of HHS’s COVID hospital data reporting system as part of the US Digital Service. She invites other industry folks to join the group. I’m fantasizing about how cool it must be to casually name-drop “The White House” as a current or previous employer when meeting someone.


Sponsor Updates

  • Everbridge launches its enhanced Public Warning System.
  • Experity adds distribution phase information to its state-by-state COVID vaccine plan tracker.
  • The HCI Group hires Blake Richardville as a business development executive, and Eli Lemkin as an account executive.
  • Kyruus adds online consumer scheduling for COVID-19 vaccine visits to its patient access platform.
  • Lumeon publishes the “US Patient Access Leadership Report 2020/21.”
  • Medicomp Systems sponsors the awards section of the Physician Burnout Symposium through January 29.
  • Meditech customer Northeastern Vermont connects the full birth experience with Expanse Labor and Delivery.

Blog Posts


Contacts

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Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. Just don’t get one of those “synthetic leather” chairs.

    I got one, against my better judgement I’ll admit. It was super comfortable, affordable, and the store was convenient. Well less than 7 years of light use and the arm covering is breaking down.

    In a related note, I was watching that British show “The Repair Shop”. It’s on something called the Maker’s Channel? Anyhow a woman got a fine chair repaired, an original Eames from the 1960’s. She related how it cost her a fortune when money was tight for her.

    Now THAT’S a fine chair. Worth the money, IMO. And worth repairing, unlike my pleather/naugahyde Frankenstein monster!

  2. Nice to finally see a well thought out COVID federal response plan. But sadly makes me wonder: where might we be today if such a plan was put into action about a year ago, how many lives might have been saved, how many businesses may not have suffered such economic hardships?







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Reader Comments

  • PM Consultant: Insightful piece Dr. Jayne. I read this WaPo piece as well. I took my company to 100% remote 7 years ago. We are loca...
  • IANAL: I don’t claim any special insight but it does feel like there is a lot of combined insurer-health tech-healthcare prov...
  • Smartfood99: Zoom meetings have their place but I'm pretty confident over time people and organizations are going to almost completel...
  • Mr. HIStalk: Thanks. Maybe I should research which of the startup-type insurers are touting their technology along with (or instead o...
  • IANAL: I think traditional healthcare not paying attention to the insurance health tech industry is a bit short sighted. Those ...

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