Medical technology vendor Stryker will acquire clinical communication and workflow platform company Vocera Communications for $3 billion.
Stryker says the acquisition will help it “significantly accelerate our digital aspirations to improve the lives of caregivers and patients.”
Stryker got its start as a manufacturer of hospital beds like its competitor Hillrom, as both companies expanded into technology. Hillrom, which acquired Vocera competitor Voalte in early 2019 for $180 million, was acquired by Baxter International last month for $10.5 billion.
Shares of Vocera, which went public on the New York Stock Exchange in early 2012, had risen 55% in the year prior to the acquisition announcement. The company has 1,900 hospitals and healthcare facilities as customers. Its Smartbadge was named to Time’s list of the “100 Best Inventions of 2020.”
HIStalk Announcements and Requests
Only a small percentage of poll respondents believe they are less effective when working from home. I would expect that some jobs that involve heads-down individual work (programming, writing, etc.) or remote contact (customer service and support) can be performed as well or better at home. I wonder, though, whether companies are being damaged in ways that aren’t yet obvious with the lack of culture-building personal contact, reduction of serendipitous hallway interactions, and having managers in charge whose forte is visually monitoring piecework production.
New poll to your right or here: What is your personal experience with COVID-19? I’m not sure it’s a relevant question since I’m pretty sure we will all have tested positive soon, but I’m curious.
Meanwhile, HIMSS still hasn’t announced any changes to its Right of Entry Protocols for HIMSS22 that may be required by Florida laws. The conference is just over 60 days away. Exhibitor count is at 603, lower than HIMSS21 although the number will likely increase as the conference draws closer. HIMSS21 had 14 booths of 2,000 or more square feet while the HIMSS22 floor plan is showing 32, so that’s a positive sign of increased exhibitor interest. The big question now, assuming that the conference won’t be cancelled because HIMSS can’t afford a skipped year, is whether COVID-drowning hospitals will allow their employees to attend a conference.
The number of friends and family members who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past few days is getting too hard for me to track, especially since it’s not the first go-round for some of them. Mrs. H went to a tiny-town Walgreens Thursday for hairspray or something and the clerk said they had already sold out of the 4,000 antigen tests they received that same morning, even with a purchase limit of four. PCR testing lines are impossibly long and results are taking 4-5 days to come back in many cases, rendering testing somewhere close to pointless. Home testing, no-testing, and other under-reporting probably means that we’re at 3 million or more cases per day, and many of those folks who will be sick and/or isolating (and/or spreading infection because they can’t afford to miss work) are critical workers and healthcare staff. Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD estimates that up to 40% of Americans may end up becoming infected with Omicron, spreading the virus widely because their mild symptoms aren’t obviously COVID-19 and tests are too hard to get to verify. Let’s hope, probably unreasonably, that the supply chain for prescription drugs and medical supplies holds up since hospital beds and physician appointments are going to be scarce for a while.
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January 13 (Thursday) 1 ET. “Cultivating gender equity in STEM.” Sponsor: Intelligent Medical Objects. Presenters: Laura Miller, CEO, TempDev; Amanda Heidemann, MD, CMIO, CMIO Services, LLC; Deidra Jackson, VP of IFP customer success, Bright Health; Sunita Tendulkar, VP of agile portfolio management, IMO. Despites strides that are being made, women make up only 27% of the STEM workforce. This panel discussion will cover mentorship, STEM education, pay gaps, and debunking stereotypes.
Divurgent hires Joe Grinstead, MBA (Healthcare Triangle) as principal.
Industry long-timer Amy Fuller-Heffernan (Verinovum) joins Interbit Data as VP of client strategy.
Chris Apgar, president and CEO of security and privacy consulting firm Apgar & Associates, died last month at 60.
Announcements and Implementations
TriNetX announces Bring Your Own Model for applying machine learning capabilities to real-world research data.
HIMSS launches a new certification to its stable, Certified Professional in Digital Health Transformation Strategy. The cost is $1,299 plus a renewal fee. I would question whether someone passing the exam will suddenly find themselves more employable or whether the market really needs HIMSS to sort out the lesser-competent players in it, but I always underestimate the yearning of insecure industry folks to add new letters to their walls, business cards, and LinkedIn profiles. For them, HIMSS also offers CAHIMS (associate in healthcare information and management systems) and CPHIMS (professional in healthcare information and management systems). All require healthcare IT experience, so candidates must have been boldly working without certification for employers who didn’t seem to mind.
A study finds that in-hospital mortality at the former Lutheran Medical Center (NY) declined from 2.6% to 1.9% after it was acquired by NYU Langone Health and the hospital saw improvements in central line infections, catheter-associated UTIs, and patient recommendations. Three of the five post-acquisition focus areas were related to IT – implementing Epic, using real-time analytics and dashboards, and implementing EHR-embedded clinical decision support.
Government and Politics
ONC releases final technical specifications for Project USA, which hopes to standardize the representation of patient addresses to support identity matching.
A.O. Fox Hospital (NY) becomes the latest hospital to make local news for failing to pay its employees accurately because of the Kronos payroll system ransomware downtime. Most affected hospitals are paying hourly employees the same amounts as on their last system-issued paycheck in early December, meaning they aren’t being paid accurately for overtime, holiday pay, or COVID-19 coverage and instead are being promised that their money will be sent retroactively once Kronos comes back up (or, even less positively, that employees whose early December hours exceeded those afterward will need to return the overpayment).
HHS reports that 18% of available US hospital beds were being occupied by COVID-19 patients this weekend as the COVID curve resists flattening (thank goodness for our US profit-driven overbedding). Brown School of Public Health Dean Ashish Jha, MD, MPH warns that the US healthcare system is in even more trouble than is obvious, as 1 million Americans could need hospitalization for COVID-19 over the next 4-6 weeks, far exceeding aggregate hospital capacity (note also that average length of stay times a million admissions is an unfathomable number of patient days, not to mention that hospital beds don’t sit on a grid so that total supply can meet local needs). The New York Times says that hospitals are being bombarded with punishing patient loads as they operate short-staffed because of employees who have quit or who have COVID-19 themselves.
- Availity partners with PriorAuthNow to deliver timely prior authorization services.
- The Consulting Report includes Nordic CEO Jim Costanzo on its list of “Top 50 Consulting Firm CEOs of 2021.”
- Olive appoints Credit Karma executive Nichole Mustard to its board.
- Bringing Quality and Financial Viability to Long-Term Care (Netsmart)
- Marketing Your Hospital Services: How to Attract Loyal Patients (PatientBond)
- How can we make billers’ and coders’ hard jobs easier? (PatientKeeper)
- Support Nurses’ Ability to Easily Communicate with Providers and Patients (PerfectServe)
- Most Important Metrics for a Healthcare Quality Management Dashboard (Symplr)
- All Fun and Games: Gamification and Its Application to Health Care (PMD)
- Healthcare Innovation for New Year: Andy Brailo with Premier members (Premier)
- Year in Review: Top 2021 Trends in Digital Health and What They Mean for 2022 (Quil)
- How Leading NextGen Users Leverage our Revenue Cycle Engine (RCxRules)
- Infographic: The ongoing power of paging (Spok)
- Always Striving to Be Better Than We Were (Surescripts)
- For healthcare organizations, the patient experience is paramount (Talkdesk)
- Improving Patient Use of At-Home Testing and Medical Device Management (Twistle)
- RSNA 2021 / Visage’s Top Five (Visage Imaging)
- MIPS and the 2022 Final Rule: Key Takeaways (WebPT)
- Evidence-based Clinical Decision Support to Improve Care in Skilled Nursing Facilities (Zynx Health)