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August 5, 2021 News 10 Comments

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Healthgrades splits its business, creating a software company that will be called Mercury Healthcare and selling its Healthgrades.com doctor marketplace media business to RV Health, which owns websites such as CNET, Healthline Media, and The Points Guy.

Reader Comments

From Doctor CIO: “Re: HIMSS21. Maybe this is the safest time to visit Las Vegas since the HIMSS is requiring vaccination and masks. Unless you will isolate at home, the HIMSS floor might be the safest places you can see people.” I agree, although the downside is that the conference hotels will be teeming with people of unknown vaccination status outside the HIMSS21 velvet ropes, airports are crowded and still iffy, the multiple HIMSS21 venues require walking among the general public, and always-risky restaurants are mandatory unless you can live on room service. Las Vegas case counts are out of control, so while I will feel comfortable in the HIMSS21 areas  — trying not to think about the possibility that attendees faked their vaccination cards or that my antibody response to the vaccine may not have been robust or long-lasting – the rest of Las Vegas is a Petri dish. While I’ll probably still go even as I constantly reconsider my options, the key issue is whether a stripped-down conference is worth attending given that we’ll be doing it again in six months (or not, depending on viral whims). I think I’m a go unless a bunch of big companies announce their non-participation Friday, which isn’t likely at this point.

From Uh Oh: “Re: HIMSS21. My company pulled out. A former colleague says his company is going, but employees aren’t allowed to leave their rooms all week except to go to the show floor. They will be allowed to eat only in the booth or in a reserved hospitality suite.” I’m fascinated that some companies have said publicly that they are sending only a skeleton crew of junior folks and leaving the executives safely at home.

From Utility Outfielder: “Re: HIMSS21. I keep hearing that more vendors are pulling out. Some that I know have done so still show up on the floor plan. I don’t think the floor plan can be considered accurate.” I don’t know that I would assume that the floor plan is being promptly updated with cancelled exhibitors, if for no other reason than it isn’t in the best interest of HIMSS to fuel a rush for the doors like last year. Still, it seems to mostly align with announced cancellations, although not all cancellations will be announced.

From Scrivener: “Re: health IT media consolidation. HIStalk will eventually be the only independent media outlet left.” TechTarget acquires Xtelligent Healthcare Media, expressing ambition to serve advertising “customers” using “intent data productization” (readers are apparently incidental widgets in this process). I can’t say I’ve ever read any of their 10 sites, but good for them for being acquired.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

I’m just now considering what it will be like to attend an all-masked conference, which is much weirder than just masking up for a grocery store full of strangers. A lot of memorable conference experiences involve random across-the-hall eye contact with someone you know, where you recognize the face, wait for confirmatory matching eyebrow-lifts and smiles, and then launch an unplanned catch-up conversation. We will only be seeing printed names on badges this year, so let’s hope the font is large enough for that same across-the-hall identification.

HIMSS has long said that the digital version of HIMSS21 will be entirely separate in content from the live conference, but it is now waffling by deciding to stream some sessions live using its new Accelerate platform and offer others for next-day playback.

Las Vegas weather: cooling off a bit from Thursday’s high of 112 this weekend to around 106 each day and “plenty of sunshine.”


Early in my interview with Carrie Kozlowski of Upfront Health this week, she casually mentioned, as captured by my recording of the call, “I should preface this, and this may be a first for you, I am presently trapped in an elevator, so they may release me at some point during our call.” Many folks, especially claustrophobes, would skip the call to reschedule once freed, but she soldiered through in what was indeed a first for me. I once did an interview with the CEO of a publicly traded company from a Mexican restaurant due to poor timing on my part, where I joked about the Mariachi music playing in the background, asked my first question just as the food arrived, and then muted the phone so I could crunch chips during their answer. I did another having forgotten about it until the call started, making up questions on the fly with zero preparation and conducting the conversation from the car.

HIMSS21 Exhibitor Updates

Exhibitors that have publicly stated that they won’t attend or that have been removed from the exhibitor list:

  • Ambra Health
  • Athenahealth
  • Clearsense
  • First Databank
  • Imprivata
  • InterSystems (not pulling out, but reducing its show floor presence)
  • Medicomp
  • Nuance
  • Olive
  • Premier
  • Qliqsoft
  • Tegria
  • TeraRecon

Exhibitors that readers say aren’t going, but that haven’t confirmed that I’ve seen:

  • Accenture
  • Amazon Web Services
  • Definitive Healthcare
  • Philips
  • Salesforce


On-Demand Webinars:

Key Differences: Value Based Care vs. Fee-For-Service.” Part 1 of a three-part series. Sponsor: Net Health. Presenters: Bill Winkenwerder, MD, chairman, CitiusTech; Josh Pickus, CEO, Net Health. Dr. Bill Winkenwerder, former assistant secretary of defense for health affairs for the US Department of Defense, shares his unique perspective on the future of value-based care (VBC) systems in the public sector and how VBC differs from fee-for-service models in the private sector. This Part 1 webinar covers which aspects of the fee-for-service health system payment model look the most different compared to fully value-based systems (clinical, back-office, analytics, etc.)

Current Innovation and Development in Value-Based Care.” Part 2 of a three-part series. Sponsor: Net Health. Presenters: Bill Winkenwerder, MD, chairman, CitiusTech; Josh Pickus, CEO, Net Health. Dr. Bill Winkenwerder, former assistant secretary of defense for health affairs for the US Department of Defense, shares his unique perspective on the future of value-based care (VBC) systems in the public sector and how VBC differs from fee-for-service models in the private sector. This Part 2 webinar discusses what health systems should know about the transition to value-based care, including macro versus micro shifts.

Future of Value-Based Care: Predictive Analytics, Technology, Policy.” Part 3 of a three-part series. Sponsor: Net Health. Presenters: Bill Winkenwerder, MD, chairman, CitiusTech; Josh Pickus, CEO, Net Health. Dr. Bill Winkenwerder, former assistant secretary of defense for health affairs for the US Department of Defense, shares his unique perspective on the future of value-based care (VBC) systems in the public sector and how VBC differs from fee-for-service models in the private sector. This Part 3 webinar discusses the role analytics will play in the shift to value-based care and how financial and clinical ROIs for analytics-oriented products must differ when applied to FFS and VBC models.

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

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


Allscripts announces Q2 results: revenue up 1%, EPS $0.15 versus –$0.05.


Clinical decision support vendor EvidenceCare acquires Healthcare Value Analytics, which developed the ValueBar cost transparency tool that lets physicians know the cost impact of their clinical decisions. Both companies are based in Nashville.

Care management software vendor Evolent Health will acquire Vital Decisions, which helps patients with cancer and heart disease and their providers align treatment goals, for up to $130 million.

Healthcare analytics vendor Clarify Health acquires Apervita’s value optimization business.

Change Healthcare announces Q1 results: revenue up 25%, adjusted EPS $0.41 versus $0.25, beating Wall Street revenue expectations but falling short on earnings. Meanwhile, anonymous sources report that the Department of Justice may sue to block the $8 billion cash acquisition of the company by UnitedHealth Group’s OptumInsight, which was announced in January.


JPMorgan recovers from its Haven healthcare cost management failure by investing $50 million in Vera Whole Health, which offers primary care services to employers on a per-patient, per-month basis. Vera has primary care centers in 10 states and also partners with Central Ohio Primary Care. The care model is not unusual for Medicare programs, but hasn’t been tried at scale with employers.

Real Time Medical Systems, which offers a collaboration platform to connect hospitals to post-acute care partners, raises $20 million in a Series C funding round.



Pharmacy benefits technology vendor Truveris promotes Nanette Oddo to president and CEO.


Autonomous medical coding technology vendor Nym Health hires Melisa Tucker, MBA (Flatiron Health) as SVP and head of product.


Industry longtimer Merrie Wallace, MSN (FairWarning) joins interpretation platform vendor Boostlingo as chief revenue officer.


Health Data Movers hires Patrick McDermott, MBA (Pivot Point Consulting, a Vaco Company) as business development executive.

Announcements and Implementations


Medicomp launches Quippe Nursing, which allows nurses to quickly complete care documentation and planning using clinical data filtering and links to Clinical Care Classification terminology.

CoverMyMeds announces Med Check, a clinician version of its real-time prescription benefit solution that displays a patient’s previous meds, drug interactions, cash pricing, formulary alternatives, and prior authorization requirements.

Imprivata launches Enterprise Password AutoFill, which allow users to use a proximity badge tap to enter their username and password.


Providence-owned Tegria and Cedar will offer their revenue cycle management services and financial engagement platform, respectively, to each other’s customers. Providence will implement Cedar’s post-visit patient engagement and payment platform. Cedar co-founder and CEO Florian Otto, MD, DDS, PhD was formerly sales VP for ZocDoc and founder of Groupon Brazil.

NTT Data announces a global Health and Wellbeing initiative that focused on closing care gaps in underserved communities and using technology to improve health outcomes.

Change Healthcare announces beta testing of a cloud-native solution for medical imaging in radiology practices. The company will consolidate its cloud-native enterprise imaging solutions under the name Change Healthcare Stratus Imaging.

Government and Politics

The US again ranks last among high-income countries in access to healthcare, equity, and outcomes. It’s also the only one of the 11 countries that does not have universal health insurance. The US finished last in administrative efficiency because of the time patients and providers have to spend filing medical paperwork and arguing with insurance companies.

CMS will use AI to infer a Medicare patient’s race based on their name, ZIP code, and language preference in cases where their race is not available on hospital forms. The de-identified data will be shared with hospitals for reducing inequity, but privacy advocates warn that the algorithm could unintentionally amplify the biases of its developers.



US COVID-19 hospitalizations are trending sharply up and now exceed last year’s peaks in the first two COVID waves, although still falling short of January’s high. Florida has more patients hospitalized with COVID-19 that at any time in the pandemic, with Louisiana and Arkansas not far behind. Meanwhile, Florida hospitals are struggling to obtain oxygen as COVID-19 cases increase and the expiration of the public health emergency limits the supply of truck drivers who are qualified to transport oxygen.

Demand for COVID-19 tests is delaying results reporting and lengthening waiting lines once again. The positivity rate is above 9% versus June’s 2% low.

Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD notes that CDC’s reporting of breakthrough case hospitalizations and death cover only January through June and thus misses much of what has happened with the delta variant, which he notes reflects CDC’s lack of near-time reporting capability for questions that require analytical methods.

Leana Wen, MD, MSc, MA says in a Washington Post op-ed piece that CDC seemed to be blaming vaccinated people for the need to wear masks again, but unvaccinated people are responsible for most of the spread and risk. She says CDC’s message should have been (a) that vaccinated parents of unvaccinated children need to wear masks indoors in public areas to avoid passing infection to their kids due to the more readily spread delta variant; and (b) the only reason to mandate that everyone wear masks indoors is because unvaccinated people can’t otherwise be trusted to wear them.


New York will extend its Excelsior Pass COVID-19 vaccine verification to create Excelsior Pass Plus, which will interoperate with the SMART Health Cards Framework that was developed by the VCI consortium. The framework has been adopted by several states (including California), Walmart, Apple, Epic, and Cerner. VCI’s steering group includes Mayo Clinic, Mitre Corporation, Microsoft, The Commons Project Foundation, Evernorth, CARIN Alliance, UC San Diego Health, and Apple.

The drummer of the band Offspring is kicked out when he refuses to receive COVID-19 vaccine because of a history of Guillain-Barré Syndrome. Among those arranging his dismissal is molecular biologist Dexter Holland, PhD, who performed research on the molecular dynamics of HIV and who is also the band’s lead singer.



In Thailand, police arrest the director of a state-run hospital in a sting operation that was triggered by a vendor’s complaint that the director was demanding a 35% commission of the company’s $8,500 bid to install a computer system. The accused director admits that he asked for the money and accepted the marked bills, but says he planned to use it for the hospital. He has faced similar complaints in the past.


I enjoy the LinkedIn updates of industry long-timer Steve Hau, who posted photos of new Ukraine-based team members of his Newfire Global Partners. I like seeing health IT workplace pictures.

Sponsor Updates

  • 3M Health Information Systems will offer Waystar’s revenue capture solutions to its customers.
  • Halo Health publishes a new case study, “Improving HIPAA-Compliant Communication for Accredited Home Care.”
  • Twistle publishes a case study from Ashley Clinic (KS), which saw 80% of patients achieve an average BP of 140/90 after completing a 14-day or 28-day cycle of the company’s Controlling Blood Pressure Pathway.
  • NTT Data launches a health and wellbeing initiative, and publishes a new white paper, “Improving the Health of Me.”

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Currently there are "10 comments" on this Article:

  1. RE: HIMSS21. My company pulled out HIMSS21 two weeks ago and the floor map still shows the 50×50 booth occupied by my company.

  2. I’ve heard no one from Tegria or Mulesoft will attending. I’m still going but it may feel like a ghost town.

    • I will say that this is all seems to reflect poorly on HIMSS more than anything. They should have gotten ahead of this from the beginning. They are the people that are literally bringing the smartest people in the room when it comes to all things Health IT and they could not use that at all. Vaccinations? Done. Masks were optional until Vegas mandated. How many vendors are hawking temperature monitoring of some kind? The should have used this as a use case on how to get something like this off the ground safely and instead they will probably be bleeding hospitals and vendors by the end of next week.

    • No doubt HIMSS will stay mum about cancelations, ultimately they’re just a trade organization maintaining their position against the likes of HLTH and whatever shiny new entity shows up to try and steal the Healthcare IT crown. I’m more disappointed by the exhibitors like Salesforce, Philips and Accenture which clearly eliminated almost all of their LinkedIn posts promoting their booth & presentations but have yet to make a statement about their presence… time to “you know what” or get off the pot.

  3. I am the The Big Cheese of Man & Machine. I a totally frustrated with HIMSS because they are focused on the money rather than the safety of the attendees and exhibitors. I will be the only person from my company at the show. I will not put my associates at risk. I expect so few people on the floor that I may just walk around and leave a sign asking people to call me if they want to talk. What a waste.

  4. Early-July- we’re going! schedule meetings!
    Mid-July – we’re going! confirm travel for 40+ people!
    Two weeks ago – ooh… let’s strip that back to 20+
    Last week – hm… maybe just 10?
    Yesterday – nope, we’re out.

    All the HIMSS website and our company website/social still show us as attending.

  5. Fear has gripped many companies in regards to HIMSS! As long as we continue to adhere to this stupidity, the longer we have our lives taken away from us.
    I’m glad HIMSS is moving forward, I think it’s the right thing to do. All the appropriate safety measures are being taken.
    For those vendors who bailed, thank you, those vendors left will all enjoy the time afforded us to speak with your customers:)

    • GenesRFree: “As long as we continue to adhere to this stupidity, the longer we have our lives taken away from us.”

      More like: As long as we continue to participate in potential super spreader events, to ignore advice from highly trained experts, and to create risk for residents of a county that is strapped for hospital beds, the longer we’ll prolong this pandemic and its accompanying suffering.

      Congratulations on your callous attitude. Wish I knew who you worked for, so I could avoid sending any of my hospital’s money to your company’s pockets.

  6. RE: Thai police arrest a director demanding kickbacks.

    I’m imagining the Statement of the Defense:

    “Your Honor, I HAD to take the bribe! The hospital was falling apart and couldn’t afford this new system. I mean, it was expensive to begin with, but add in the cost of the kickbacks and it was through the roof! I planned to turn in the money to pay for the bribe. It was the only way we could afford it.”

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