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May 6, 2021 News 7 Comments

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Cerner announces that Chairman and CEO Brent Shafer will leave the company. The company has hired a search firm to identify external candidates. Shafer will remain in the role until his replacement has been hired, then will serve as advisor for a year.

Shafer, who was previously CEO of Philips North America, took the top Cerner role in January 2018.

CERN share price is up 4% since Shafer took over. The Nasdaq composite index has risen 92% in that period.

Cerner also announced Q1 results: revenue down 2%, adjusted EPS $0.76 versus $0.71, beating consensus expectations for earnings but falling short on revenue.

From the earnings call:

  • CFO Mark Erceg said that as a recently hired newcomer looking back at Cerner history, he thinks that the company’s lack of focus and sub-optimal execution hindered revenue and margin growth, placing it in the bottom quartile of shareholder return among its peer group.
  • Brent Shafer said that he expects the new CEO to focus on operations rather than strategy development or portfolio management.
  • Providers engaging patients at home has emphasized the need for a unified communications strategy for reaching consumers.
  • President Don Trigg says that the entry of life sciences data competitors to Cerner’s Learning Health Network validates Cerner’s strategy and its investment in Kantar Health, also noting data opportunities with the federal government that go beyond DoD and VA.
  • Cerner thinks that the federal government’s TRICARE program will provide opportunities in value-based care for data aggregation and longitudinal records. CDC is also a prospect and signed a real-world data contract in Q1.
  • Shafer says Cerner is doing everything it can to be an attractive employer given the global competition for technology talent, emphasizing to prospective employees that they can make a difference in the world since their work involves healthcare.

Reader Comments

From Eric: “Re: Donors Choose. How do I make a donation?” I support Donors Choose, but just to be clear, your donations are your own business and I’m squeamish about soliciting them since I’m just the occasional conduit, armed with matching funds from my Anonymous Vendor Executive. However, since you asked in response to my recap of the projects I funded using reader Mike’s generous donation, the steps are:

  • Purchase a gift card in the amount you’d like to donate.
  • Send the gift card by the email option to mr_histalk@histalk.com (that’s my Donors Choose account).
  • I’ll be notified of your donation and you can print your own receipt from Donors Choose for tax purposes.
  • I’ll pool the money, apply all matching funds I can get, and publicly report here which projects I funded, including teacher follow-up messages and photos.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests


Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor Talkdesk. The San Francisco-based company is a global consumer experience leader for patient-obsessed providers. Its solutions provide a better way for healthcare and patients to engage with one another. The company’s speed of innovation and global footprint reflect its commitment to ensure that businesses everywhere can deliver better experiences through any channel, resulting in higher patient satisfaction, cost savings, and profitability. Talkdesk gives providers an end-to-end patient experience solution that combines enterprise scale with consumer simplicity. Thanks to Talkdesk for supporting HIStalk.

I found an interesting Talkdesk video on YouTube, showing how its contact center platform is being used for COVID-19 vaccine administration.


May 11 (Tuesday) noon ET. “Modern Healthcare Innovation Leaders: How Top Health Systems Plan and Execute Innovation.” Sponsors: RingCentral, Net Health. Presenters: Todd Dunn, MBA, VP of innovation, Atrium Health; Paul Nagy, PhD, co-founder, Technology Innovation Center at Johns Hopkins Medicine; Roy Rosin, MBA, chief innovation officer, Penn Medicine; Patrick Colletti, founder, Net Health (moderator). This panel discussion will provide insights from innovative healthcare leaders who have embarked on the journey of planning and implementing innovation projects in their organizations and the wisdom they learned through the process. Topics will include predictive analytics and AI, potential challenges and risks of implementing innovation projects, challenges of interoperability and emerging technologies, and when to build versus buy when working with emerging and established vendors.

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

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

Patient medical records access technology vendor Ciitizen acquires the HIE business of Stella Technologies.


Vida Health, which offers employer-funded virtual coaching for mental and physical health, raises $110 million in a Series D funding round.


Premier reports Q3 results: revenue up 40%, adjusted EPS $0.64 versus $0.73. Mike Alkire, newly promoted to president and CEO, said in the earnings call that the company will evolve into a technology-based healthcare solutions provider using its network, data, and machine learning. PINC shares are up 17% in the past 12 months versus the Nasdaq’s 55% rise, valuing the company at $4.3 billion.


Israel-based Vim, whose technology connects health plans to providers, raises $60 million in a Series B funding round let by Walgreens.


  • Mary Washington Healthcare (VA) will implement Sectra’s enterprise imaging solution under the Sectra One subscription service. 
  • HHS will support development and installation of PeraHealth’s Rothman Index Risk Triage tool as a COVID-19-focused hospital triage tool.



AGS Health hires Thomas Thatapudi, MBA (thegrok.io) as CTO. 


Intelligent Medical Objects names Dale Sanders (Health Catalyst) as chief strategy officer. 


EHR workflow tools vendor Wellsheet hires Ryan Sadlo, MBA (Podimetrics) as VP of growth.


Clay Ritchey, MBA (Evariant) joins EMPI and patient matching technology vendor Verato as CEO.


Patient engagement platform vendor Twistle promotes Matt Revis, MBA to president.

Announcements and Implementations


Conversational AI platform vendor Avaamo makes its virtual assistants available on Epic App Orchard.


Two real-world studies find that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is highly effective against the UK and South Africa variants.

A man from Argentina admits that he probably should not have flown from Miami to Buenos Aires last week given that he had just tested positive for COVID-19. He obtained a “fit to fly” certificate from a Florida medical clinic via a telehealth visit. He was arrested and quarantined upon landing by Argentinian health officials, who found that his temperature was 101.3 degrees.

A KHN report says that the state of California has weakened its public health infrastructure by outsourcing life-and-death duties in no-bid contracts to big tech firms, most of them donors and supporters of Governor Gavin Newsom. State officials praise the public-private partnerships, while others warn that companies like Salesforce and Google are accountable only to shareholders and the deals are siphoning money away from the already gutted public health infrastructure.



Systems at Scripps Health are apparently still down after a weekend ransomware attack.

Australia’s SA Health investigates whether patient harm has resulted from an apparent bug in Allscripts Sunrise, which it says is duplicating the last digit of medication doses in displaying a 10 mg dose as 100 mg.

Kansas Heart Hospital files a federal complaint against its former CFO and COO, claiming that they conspired with the hospital president to divert $31 million through bonuses and other compensation payments. The hospital also accuses Steve Smith and Joyce Heismeyer of copying and then deleting computer files and creating a $1.5 million severance package for themselves before suddenly resigning.

Wired recaps last fall’s data breach at Finland-based Vastaamo, the “McDonald’s of psychotherapy” that shut down after hackers gained access to its full records – including psychotherapy notes – and then extorted 25,000 clients individually to keep their information private. Vaastamo had built its own EHR and decided not to pursue newly created Class A standards that would have allowed it to connect to the national health data repository, making it a lightly regulated Class B system that was intended for small organizations that keep paper records. Hackers breached the system, demanded payment that was not made, and then posted the system’s database to the internet. Finnish authorities later seized millions of dollars from Vastaamo’s owner, who they suspected covered up the breach while selling the company to an investment firm. The incident has raised questions about whether therapist notes should be entered electronically at all, much less shared with a national repository, whether EHRs are secure, and if the government should be more involved on oversight.

An opinion piece by author and former New York Times reporter Elisabeth Rosenthal, MA, MD says that “COVID-19 let virtual medicine out of the bottle” and the result could be lower-quality care, inequities, and even higher charges as startups focus on the benefits to providers and investors rather than patients. She says that evidence – lacking at present – rather than the market should drive telemedicine decisions to avoid focusing on the most profitable services.

Sponsor Updates

  • Protenus announces that its fifth annual PANDAS healthcare compliance conference – addressing patient privacy monitoring and controlled substance diversion surveillance — will be held virtually on May 11-12.
  • Cerner releases a new podcast, “The tipping point of healthcare consumerism and engagement.”
  • PerfectServe recognizes 100 outstanding nurses in its inaugural “Nurses of Note” Awards program.
  • Relatient announces that Greenway Health users now have access to its Appointment Reminder solution.
  • Fast Company recognizes Jvion’s COVID Community Vulnerability Map with an honorable mention in its 2021 World Changing Ideas Awards.
  • MedTech Breakthrough names Fortified Health Security as “Best Overall Healthcare Cybersecurity Company.”
  • Lumeon’s Pre-surgical Readiness solution and COVID-19 Remote Home Monitoring solution each win a Silver Stevie Award for Best New Product in the Healthcare Technology Solution category of the American Business Awards.
  • Meditech releases a new podcast, “How St. Luke’s doubled patient portal enrollment during the pandemic.”
  • Forbes includes Pure Storage CIO Cathy Southwick on its list of 50 innovative technology leaders.

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Currently there are "7 comments" on this Article:

  1. Re: Cerner. They should try to land Carl Dvorak as CEO. Given Judy’s recent pronouncements, she likely is not going anywhere for a few years and Carl has too much talent to continue playing second fiddle. They may have to really sweeten the deal as far as equity is concerned because it is highly likely that Carl will need to unload all of his Epic’s (private) stock to avoid conflicts of interest.
    It is highly unlikely (it is more likely that Rick Pollack will support full price transparency) but boy, if it were to happen, EHR space will become lot more interesting.

    • That’s a great idea but unfortunately it won’t work due to Epic’s non-compete policy.

      • Carl may not have a non-compete contract due to his very lengthy tenure and position. That said, I highly doubt he’d go to Cerner. Very different company.

        • That’s exactly the opportunity here! Cerner is struggling and could really use someone who knows how to execute with discipline. And the overall healthcare market will benefit because competition is good for everyone.

      • RE: RE: Cerner CEO opportunity That’s hilarious.

        Although, it will be a good way to test out that ridiculous non-compete. No time like the present! WI Supreme Court is less conservative now and Justice Brian Hagedorn has been more open to progressive arguments and this could swing 4-3 against Epic.

  2. I feel like Brent’s legacy is successfully transitioning Cerner from a company that sells vaporware to providers, into a company that sells vaporware to the government. It’s a brilliant strategy, because the government pays even when you fail.

    In fact, they’ll pay you more to fix it.

  3. So what should Cerner do though? They have some market issues because the largest potential or current customers have attached medical groups and those medical groups drive customers to Epic. The customers that don’t fit that description are substantially more price sensitive. With their current product and a replacement market, they need to have significantly lower costs to win deals. Their strategy now seems to be slowly cut costs and lose customers until they are a government contracting company. They should have kept going on the rcm, support, data sales, analytics on the theory that the EHR is sold closer to at cost and they make it up on services. Make a couple acquisitions (Athena) and they could have a strong alternative to play against Epics weaknesses. That would have required looking further ahead than the next couple quarters.

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  1. Unfortunately, I can't disagree with anything you wrote. It is important that they get this right for so many reasons,…

  2. Going out on a limb here. Wouldn't Oracle's (apparent) interoperability strategy, have a better chance of success, than the VA's?…

  3. Dr Jayne is noticing one of the more egregious but trivial instance of bad behavior by allegedly non-profit organizations. I…

  4. To expand on this a bit. The Vista data are unique to Vista, there are 16(?) different VISN (grouped systems)…

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