Clinical communications and workflow platform vendor Vocera announced after Thursday’s stock market close that it will acquire PatientSafe Solutions, which offers a unified inbox of messages, alerts, and notifications that is integrated with EHR data.
From Descension: “Re: Ascension. EHR is the latest to be outsourced, but not the last. Best part is that they told us they are doing it to help the poor and vulnerable, not to save money. Is it time for me to find another career since it’s tough all over and outsourced offshore health IT is the future?” I’ll invite readers to weigh in on that latter question. I honestly don’t know. While it seemed inevitable, absent major user pushback, that most technical support would be shifted to cheaper offshore providers, I wasn’t so sure about specialized areas such as EHR support. The pessimistic view is that the old saying was right – if your job doesn’t involve touching something, plenty of people outside the US would be thrilled to do it cheaper and maybe even better. Ascension is running a billion-dollar quarterly profit as its contribution to the US’s world-leading healthcare costs that make our workforce non-competitive in the first place. On the other hand, sometimes health systems that are looking for “one neck to wring” elect to indeed wring that neck by insourcing everything back in-house down the road.
From Cond-Ascension: “Re: Ascension. Has outsourced IT, starting a while back with contact center and desktop support, now all application and EHR support. EHR support is considered a non-strategic commodity to Ascension now. Folks are being asked to stay until August, where they will probably need to apply for jobs to earn severance. Ascension allows a 10% pay reduction as a suitable offer when a role is eliminated. Tons of great talent will be flooding the market.” Anyone who is looking for Epic people should pay attention.
From CIO: “Re: VisuWell firing their CEO. The actions of the former CEO were obviously atrocious on any number of levels, but VisuWell did everything a company could do. The acting CEO and board chair got on the phone with the CMIO and me to make sure we understood what they were doing, then followed up yesterday to make sure we had everything we need and were completely understanding about us taking any action we thought we needed to. I can’t think of anything else they could have done short of inventing a time machine. We aren’t changing our relationship with them, and in fact chose them initially because we felt they were a better fit in dealing with a diverse patient population than some other vendors.”
From We Aren’t the Champions: “Re: WaitButWhy. What do you think about its most recent post? It seems like an overly optimistic exercise to get something like this off the ground, especially in the US, much less to have it succeed for the long term. I’m in Canada and there’s no chance of provinces paying for comfy chairs or coffee in the waiting room.” The article, which is titled “Why going to the Doctor Sucks,” calls out limited appointment times, unfriendly front desk employees, making patients write the same information on the same clipboard forms every visit, and doctors running behind and shortchanging patients whose appointment is late in the day. It concludes that in the US healthcare non-system, patients aren’t treated like customers because they actually aren’t customers, so cold interactions and indifferent waiting areas echo the DMV or post office. The author’s wife and a friend (non-physicians) decided to start a $2,400 per year, no-insurance primary care club in which members are assigned a doctor, a wellness advisor, and a concierge coordinator. My thoughts:
- I already have this concept covered in my direct primary care doctor’s practice. I pay $75 per month to have direct access to her at all times (phone, mail, text, video, etc.), appointments are quickly available and booked for 30 or 60 minutes of uninterrupted time, in-office lab testing is included, she can provide prescription medications at cost, and simple procedures carry no extra charge. These no-charge extras save enough of my deductible alone to more than cover her annual fee.
- I keep my health insurance to cover specialists, ED, hospitalization, etc. that might come up, of course, but I haven’t seen a PCP using my insurance for several years.
- I don’t know what my doctor’s waiting room looks like because I’ve never seen one. She meets me at her office’s front door, we walk to the exam room, and we talk face to face with no keyboard between us. I’m the customer, so she will provide advice on whatever I need – exercise, stress, and diet are listed on her website. But she won’t just prescribe something because I ask for it (I don’t ask because I don’t like taking meds unnecessarily, but she made that clear upfront).
- Quite a few investor-backed companies are placing big bets on practices – both general primary care and specific to Medicare beneficiaries – that feature better creature comforts, a more customer-friendly environment, and more convenient access.
- These models are better for the doctor, who doesn’t need to jam their schedule full, practice substandard but profitable medicine, bow to corporate overlords like health system executives and insurers, and get stuck with patients who just want drugs. You can do the math – if my doctor has 500 members, she takes in maybe $40,000 per month of all-recurring revenue (cost varies by age), has minimal overhead, and can use just the tiny portion of EHR functionality that actually benefits the patient and her. She has to be careful about patient mix since having all Medicare-aged patients could require too much work, but she is allowed to set her panel any way she wants.
- Here’s the beauty of the screwed-up system we have. Neither patients nor doctors like it and it is so wastefully expensive that it it’s easy to find enough cost savings in a new model so that neither pays more. Those corporate overlord middlemen I mentioned are bureaucratically inclined and thus ripe for disruption, and while the cash-only membership system excludes those who don’t have the resources to pay on their own, it assures equal treatment among those who do (and leaves assistance programs for those who need them most). Our suits-to-scrubs ratio makes fat-trimming easy.
Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock
UK-based Halma acquires perinatal safety technology vendor PeriGen. Halma, which operates many brands in the safety, environmental, and medical sectors, acquired healthcare location services vendor CenTrak in early 2016 for $140 million.
Allscripts announces Q1 results: revenue down 3%, adjusted EPS $0.19 versus $0.02, beating earnings expectations but falling short on revenue.
Castlight Health announces Q1 results: revenue down 10%, adjusted EPS $0.01 versus –$0.01. CSLT shares are up 140% in the past 12 months versus the Dow’s 40% rise, valuing the company at $288 million.
Surgery analytics vendor Caresyntax raises $100 million in a Series C funding round.
CVS Health launches a $100 million venture fund that will invest in early-stage companies that are “focused on making healthcare more accessible, affordable, and simpler.” The company cites previous success in its direct investments, such as Unite Us and LumiraDx.
Shares of national medical group and practice support technology vendor Privia Health closed Thursday with an IPO-day share price jump of 51%, valuing the ownership stake of parent Brighton Health Group at $2.75 billion. CEO Shawn Morris holds shares worth $144 million.
Online pharmacy operator Capsule raises $300 million in a funding round that values the company at more than $1 billion. The pharmacy fills and delivers prescriptions in six cities.
- Orange County, NC selects Everbridge’s vaccine distribution platform.
- UK’s Guy’s and St. Thomas NHS Foundation Trust will use Nuance Dragon Medical One to support its Apollo service transformation project, integrated with Epic.
- Cigna will offer virtual mental health services to its behavioral health members from Ginger, of which Cigna is an investor.
- Seattle Children’s moves its Epic system to the healthcare cloud of Virtustream, which is owned by Dell Technologies.
- American Health Communities will implement live video consults for residents of 28 skilled nursing facilities in Tennessee using videoconferencing, live bio-analytics, and instruments from Let’s Talk Interactive.
Tonya Hongsermeier, MD, MBA (Lahey Health) joins Elimu Informatics as VP / chief clinical innovation officer.
NTT Data hires Michael Petersen, MD (Accenture) as chief clinical innovation officer.
Announcements and Implementations
Omnicell’s EnlivenHealth division will use Twilio’s customer engagement platform to expand its retail pharmacy offerings that include personalized communication by IVR, texting, chatbots, email, and a mobile app.
AHIMA creates DHealth, a catalog of digital health products whose developers have attested that they meet security and privacy standards.
The US Army’s General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital (MO) goes live with MHS Genesis / Cerner, the first facility to use the system for in-processing of newly arrived trainees. Above is Major Cynthia Anderson, chief nursing information officer, overseeing use of the mass readiness module that was developed for military medicine and is used at GLWACH to process 100 trainees per hour.
A small interview-based study of VA facilities looks at why timely follow-up on abnormal test results doesn’t always happen:
- Rotation of medical residents, who may be sent results after they have left.
- Lack of ownership of secondary findings.
- Providers ignoring or not seeing EHR alerts with no standardized follow-up defined.
- Lack of current contact information on file for the patient.
- Communications breakdown caused by referrals to another facility.
- Providers covering for each other.
- Uncertain responsibility for reviewing results that were pending on discharge.
A new, small study finds that COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna are 94% effective in reducing COVID-associated hospitalization of those who are over age 64.
California’s COVID-19 case rate is now the lowest in the country.
Some experts say that President Biden missed a chance to reduce vaccine hesitancy in his Wednesday address to a joint session of Congress, where audience members were spaced, masked, and asked not to make physical contact. A better approach, some say, would have been to allow only vaccinated attendees and then permit them to behave in a 2019-like manner to send the message that vaccination can end the pandemic and return life to normal.
Pfizer expects to release a protease inhibitor for experimental use in treating early-stage COVID-19 by the end of the year, potentially keeping people with early symptoms out of the hospital.
The Public Health Company — which will advise businesses, providers, and public health organizations on public health issues using data, containment best practices, and genomic epidemiology – launches with an $8 million seed funding round. Its scope includes, beyond COVID-19, healthcare-acquired infections, antimicrobial-resistant infections, and foodborne infections. The co-founders are a California public health physician executive and a former Goldman Sachs partner. The business case involves the cost of avoidable business interruption, including supply chain and labor issues.
A University of Missouri study finds that nurse workload is doubled when patients are seen in virtual visits rather than in-office appointments, as nurses have to review, document, and act on blood glucose and blood pressure readings multiple times each week instead of the average in-person visit frequency of every three months.
China’s government is considering allowing prescription drugs to be sold online, which a state-controlled magazine says is a warning shot to public hospitals that profitably overprescribe drugs, including IV drips and antibiotics. The article notes that the government tried to fix the problem in 2017 by mandating that doctors and hospitals sell drugs to patients at their cost, but the providers wormed around that requirement by manipulating cost data and retaining rebates. The country does not have a system to make prescriptions universally accessible and Internet-based sales raises issues of prescription authenticity and supply chain safety.
- Medicomp Systems releases a new “Tell Me Where It Hurts” podcast, “Reimaging Healthcare Through NLP.”
- Meditech offers a new case study, “How Meditech and Interlace Health support integrated electronic patient consent.”
- KLAS recognizes GetWellNetwork as a top-performing vendor for COVID-19 response.
- Is Electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI) Getting Outside Your Healthcare Organization? (Fortified Health Security)
- What is Digital Health – Healthcare Industry Transformations of 2021 (Gyant)
- The Impact of COVID-19 on Clinical Communication and Collaboration (Halo Health)
- Developing the Next Generation of Healthcare IT Professionals (Optimum Healthcare IT)
- EHRs in Urgent Care Clinics (HCTec)
- Charge Capture Optimization: Target Five Hotspots to Boost the Bottom Line (Health Catalyst)
- 2021 Infor User Group Conference is a Wrap! (Infor)
- Proof-of-Concept Study Shows CGM Benefit in Patients with COVID-19 (Glytec)
- Five Ways Independent Physicians Can Capture and Keep More Revenue (Ingenious Med)
- Data complexity and its impact across the health IT sphere (Intelligent Medical Objects)
- How Top Health Systems are Scaling COVID-19 Vaccine Scheduling with Kyruus (Kyruus)
- Looking Back and Leaping Forward: How Unprecedented Times Shaped the Way of the Future for Health Seekers’ Online Experience (Loyal)
- What payers and providers need to know about the ONC and CMS information blocking rules (Lyniate)
- Time is Almost Up! Are You ADT Notification Compliant? (Medhost)
- EHRs as healthcare, not software: Highlights from Meditech at the CHIME21 Spring Forum (Meditech)
- 7 Signs It’s Time to Update Your PT Billing System (MWTherapy)