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Morning Headlines 8/20/18

August 19, 2018 Headlines No Comments

Anthem $115 Million Data Breach Settlement Approved by Judge

Anthem settles its huge 2015 data breach for $115 million, of which it will make $15 million available to reimburse the resulting out-of-pocket expenses of its 19 million customers who were represented in the class group.

Mayo Medical Laboratories, National Decision Support Company team up to develop CareSelect™ Blood, a comprehensive approach to patient blood management

Mayo Clinic and National Decision Support Company develop CareSelect Blood, which offers 100 Mayo-maintained transfusion guidelines integrated into EHR ordering workflows.

Choosing Wisely Clinical Decision Support Adherence and Associated Inpatient Outcomes

A Cedars-Sinai study finds that failing to use available real-time clinical decision support was associated with a 7.3 percent increase in encounter cost, a 6.2 percent increase in length of stay, and a higher incidence of readmission and complications.

Monday Morning Update 8/20/18

August 19, 2018 News 1 Comment

Top News

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Anthem settles its huge 2015 data breach for $115 million, of which it will make $15 million available to reimburse the resulting out-of-pocket expenses of its 19 million customers who were represented in the class group (you can do the per-person math here).

The judge also scolded the plaintiff’s lawyers for excessive billing, awarding them $31 million of the $38 million they billed. The judge previously said she was “deeply disappointed” that the plaintiff’s four leading lawyers brought in an additional 49 law firms and an external review suggested setting their hourly rate at $156 instead of $360, with the judge choosing $240.

Anthem’s breach impacted 78 million people.

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The agreement also binds the company to implement better security, including data encryption, that will triple its data security costs for the next three years.

The judge also noted that data breach litigation isn’t yet mature and therefore taking the case to court – which would involve a long, expensive trial in which the laws of all 50 states would need to be studied — could have resulted in the class group getting nothing.


Reader Comments

From Inquiring Mimes: “Re: post-discharge contact. We were working with a vendor who said they would contact discharged patients via an automated system to ask a series of yes-no questions that would then notify our care team for prioritizing contact. They achieved almost none of their promises, so we aren’t going live. Do any of your sponsors handle automated calls with patients?” HIStalk sponsors (since the reader specifically asked for my sponsors), please let me know if you can handle this and I’ll pass your contact information along.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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I’m fascinated with responses to my recent polls that looked at health insurance. The great majority of respondents believe that (a) insurance companies shouldn’t use social and lifestyle data to price your policies; (b) people shouldn’t be forced into bankruptcy over medical bills; and (c) from last week’s poll, sicker people shouldn’t pay higher premiums or be denied coverage. Those respondents are apt to be disappointed by the health system we have (or are hurtling toward) since everybody refuses to address the key issue of healthcare costs and instead tries to squeeze their end of the balloon to push the cost problem off onto someone else.

Responses this week included that of Dave, who says enrollees who don’t control their own risks (obesity, smoking, drinking) should pay more. Loss Ratio says insurance can work only if everyone carries it without having their pre-existing conclusions excluded since any of us could be seriously injured or disabled, while Jeremy thinks risk should be priced into premiums like other insurance, no different from homeowners who pay higher premiums to live on the beach. PFS_Guy hopes for Medicare for all with a secondary insurance market to manage out-of-pocket risk, adding that we can choose just two items from the list of price, quality, and service. Inclusive OR also argues for universal coverage since health “insurance” is really not that at all and instead is more of a discount plan. Healthcare Idiot Savant thinks people who make bad health choices should pay more, but worries about the resulting privacy issues, concluding that we need mandatory coverage and to get away from private pay inequities that cause a lot of wasted time and money chasing revenue cycle and other healthcare administrivia.

This week’s poll question: how much impact will result from five big technology companies announcing their support last week for healthcare interoperability? Click the poll’s Comments link after voting to elucidate your thoughts further (beyond just choosing the safe middle option).

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I considered a different poll question – will medical students really flock to lower-paying specialties just because NYU has eliminated medical school tuition? My experience is that people and companies invariably take whatever action pays them the most, so I’m cynical that altruistic med students will happily pass up surgery, cardiology, and dermatology residencies to become PCPs who are endlessly monitored, benchmarked, and regulated away from developing those patient relationships that drew them to primary care in the first place. I’ve known a few people who took lower-paying jobs just for the service and satisfaction aspects while fresh out of school, but not many.

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I suppose it’s hiatus time for my “Wish I’d Known Before” series since I can’t seem to cajole people into responding. Check out responses to the final one about taking time off to do something enriching.

HIMSS is tweaking its annual conference dates yet again, I’m reminded when looking something up on the registration site, with HIMSS19 kicking off with pre-conference sessions on Monday, February 11; the opening session will be Tuesday, February 12; and the exhibit hall will be open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. That’s 1-2 weeks earlier than previous Orlando iterations.

I was thinking that, for the first time, I’m on a version of Windows (10) that gives me nothing to complain about. This is as close to an invisible operating system that I’ve seen, and that includes IOS and Android on mobile devices .


Webinars

None scheduled soon. Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for information.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Here’s a “healthcare is really a business” case study. Hospitals are petitioning Medicare to pay all hospitals to perform the TAVR heart value procedure instead of limiting payment to those hospitals that have high cardiac procedure volumes. Interesting facts:

  • Medicare pays $45,000 for the effective, safe, and quickly recoverable procedure, including the $30,000 that goes to the device’s manufacturer.
  • Hospitals that obtained a TAVR franchise want the policy to remain since it stifles competing hospitals that are anxious to obtain a share of the ancillary revenue and to gain marketing cachet.
  • Hospitals and medical device manufacturers say limiting Medicare payment to specific hospitals discriminates against minorities and rural residents and that Medicare imposes no volume restrictions for other heart procedures.
  • Patient advocacy group Mended Hearts wants access expanded, but that organization gets funding from the device makers.

Announcements and Implementations

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University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston’s School of Biomedical Informatics will offer the country’s first Doctorate in Health Informatics (DHI) degree for working professionals who have executive-level healthcare experience, with the program focusing on solving real-world problems instead of performing a research dissertation. The 63-credit-hour program requires a master’s in health informatics or equivalent.

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Mayo Clinic and National Decision Support Company develop CareSelect Blood, which offers 100 Mayo-maintained transfusion guidelines integrated into EHR ordering workflow to improve outcomes and cost.

A Cedars-Sinai study finds that failing to use available real-time clinical decision support (Choosing Wisely guidelines presented to clinicians via Stanson Health) was associated with a 7.3 percent increase in encounter cost, a 6.2 percent increase in length of stay, and a higher incidence of readmission and complications.

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Respondents to a new Reaction Data survey of mostly C-level health system leaders expect the biggest healthcare disruptor to be Amazon, followed by Apple, Google, and Microsoft. Executives asked about emerging technologies say the biggest impact will be caused by telemedicine (mostly for care delivery to rural or remote areas), artificial intelligence, interoperability, and data analytics.

Aprima will integrate Dolbey’s cloud-based speech recognition solution, which includes voice-powered screen navigation and prompting, with its EHR.


Other

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CNBC’s Chrissy Farr catches up with former ED physician Matthew Wetschler, MD, who was profiled as a “holiday miracle” in November 2017 after a surfing accident made him a temporary quadriplegic. He was saved by aggressive, innovative hospital treatment, but the not-so-feelgood part of the story is that he was taken to San Francisco General Hospital, which isn’t in the network of his insurer (Oscar), and he’s on the hook for the portion of the $500K bill that Oscar wouldn’t pay. The hospital turned his bill over to collections, his credit is shot, and he’s getting daily calls demanding that he pay up. His wheelchair was never delivered and he spent months trying to get his rehab approved to start even though he was pre-approved. As Farr says, “his story is the best and worst of the US medical system.”

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Friday night’s episode of CBS’s “Whistleblower”profiled Brendan Delaney, the former implementation specialist at NYC’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene who filed a whistleblower lawsuit against EClinicalWorks that the company settled for $155 million in May 2017 (Delaney got $30 million of that).

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The American Nurses Association seeks public comment by September 10 on its draft “Core Principles of Connected Health.” I don’t have any issues with the content, so I’ll focus proofreading: correct the inconsistent use of commas (especially the Oxford comma); stop saying “utilization” when “usage” is synonymous without being pompous; eliminate the word “current” since it is superfluous; and review incorrect hyphenation (such as “in-person” when not used as an adjective).

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Here’s an interesting tweet from Mario Molina, MD, former CEO of insurer Molina Healthcare.

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The St. Augustine, FL newspaper interviews Flagler Hospital CMIO Michael Sanders, MD about its pilot project of Ayasdi, which uses AI for clinical variation management (although the paper’s headline writer might need algorithmic assistance to spell “Flagler” correctly). 

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Mike Funderburk, formerly of Charlotte, NC-based benefits app vendor Novarus Healthcare, writes a Business Insider article covering his experience with the company. He took a 50 percent pay cut to join the small startup team in sales, landed a few customers and potential investors after an initial $750,000 investment, but saw the company shut down after less than a year due to lack of revenue. He says it wasn’t hard to return to a corporate job afterward and still urges people to give their dream a shot. The company’s web page and social media accounts remain active, but frozen in time.

Scientific American covers the planned FDA deregulation and ensuing innovation of hearing aids, noting that they:

  • Haven’t changed since the 1950s
  • Cost $4,700 per set and aren’t covered by most insurance plans
  • Must be obtained through an audiologist or physician
  • Are manufactured by just six companies (who are, predictably, not enthused about new competition)
  • Are used by just 20 percent of people with hearing loss
  • Could be enhanced by big-name tech vendors like Apple or Bose to include a phone interface for reading directions or messages

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New Zealand’s Minister for Women Anne Genter, an avid cyclist, rides her bike to the hospital to give birth, explaining that there “wasn’t enough room in the car.”


Sponsor Updates

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  • Lightbeam Health Solutions employees donate school supplies to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America of Greater Dallas.
  • HCI Group parent company Tech Mahindra will provide the Jacksonville Jaguars football team with next-generation digital technology expertise in areas such as AI and analytics.
  • Medicomp Systems will exhibit at HIMSS AsiaPac18 in Brisbane, Australia November 5-8.
  • Chartis Group posts a white paper titled “Rethinking the Role of IT: The Second Curve of Health IT Value.”
  • Philps Wellcentive publishes a white paper titled “Are You a Data Blocker?”
  • Forrester includes Liaison Technologies in its new report, “Now Tech: iPaaS and Hybrid Integration Platforms, Q3 2018.”
  • MDLive will present at Health:Further August 28 in Nashville, and at the Connected Health Summit August 29 in San Diego.
  • Meditech releases a new video, “How do doctors want to spend their free time?”
  • Netsmart adds MyStrength’s digital, evidence-based content to its EHR.
  • Clinical Computer Systems, developer of the Obix Perinatal Data System, will exhibit at the AWHONN Indiana Section Conference August 24 in Indianapolis.
  • Pivot Point Consulting will exhibit at the NCHFMA Summer Conference August 22-24 in Myrtle Beach, SC.
  • Sunquest will exhibit at the Public Health Informatics Conference August 20-23 in Atlanta.
  • Frost & Sullivan recognizes Surescripts with its 2018 North American New Product Innovation Award.
  • Vocera publishes a new report, “Co-Architecting Healthcare Transformation: How Leading Health Systems Put Patients and Families at the Forefront of Design.”

Blog Posts


Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jenn, Dr. Jayne.

Get HIStalk updates. Send news or rumors.

Contact us.

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What I Wish I’d Known Before … Taking Time Off for Doing Something That Turned Out to Be Motivating, Enriching, or Transformative

I wish I’d known that it was something I shouldn’t have been afraid to do sooner. I was always worried that it would be an issue with my employer. Even though I had to burn several years worth of accumulated vacation, it was well worth it.


I tripped into an amazing pseudo-volunteer experience in Spain after taking some time off between jobs, and I think your readers would love looking into it if they have even a week to immerse in another world. The organization Diverbo is an English immersion program for Spanish-speaking professionals looking to further their English. “Volunteers” (native English speakers from all over the world) join the participants for a week at a resort where everyone is prohibited from speaking Spanish, and we spend meals and activities conversing, interacting, developing relationships, and learning about each other, all in the spirit of helping the Spaniards advance their language skills in support of career growth. It was a blast and free for volunteers (English speakers), aside from the cost of getting to in Madrid (transport to the resort, lodging, and meals were all covered by the program). Hoping I can go back soon.
https://www.diverbo.com/


Work isn’t everything.


Everyone else that didn’t have the experience didn’t understand. And I didn’t know how to manage the feeling of frustration that they didn’t get how great the experience was when I tried to explain. Reinserting myself into routine took awhile, but the lessons learned were lifelong and I’d do it again.


That taking more than the standard one business week off for a vacation offers much more opportunity and rejuvenation. I was able to spend 6 weeks in Europe (combined all my time off after a large project- thanks to my boss) and spent a minimum of two weeks off for several years. Most coworkers thought they couldn’t or the office couldn’t survive without them. Not true.


Time off – regardless of what you do – is itself motivating, enriching, and transformative. It isn’t so much about what you do rather, about your attitude while doing it. Time away from work is time well spent; for you, your employer, everyone.


To make sure that there is some type of follow-up plan in place to keep a proportion of the positive momentum going forward once you get back to “reality.”


That you have to make time to grasp opportunities and sometimes planning too far in advance limits special trips. About 15 years ago, we planned to go to Yellowstone because Uncle Tom lived in a big house close to the park. Never made it and Uncle Tom has moved so can’t stay at his place but could still visit. Had an opportunity to visit a special place given to me in January. Pushed my family to do this — one daughter in medical school and the other just starting PA school. Glad we did the trip as that person no longer works in the special place and if we had not taken the opportunity it would be gone.


Weekender 8/17/18

August 17, 2018 Weekender No Comments

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Weekly News Recap

  • Best Buy acquires GreatCall, which offers emergency response services and digital health devices for seniors, for $800 million
  • Alphabet invests $375 million in data- and technology-focused insurance startup Oscar, following participation by two Alphabet subsidiaries in a funding round a few months ago that valued the company at over $3 billion
  • Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Salesforce, and Oracle pledge to support interoperability at Monday’s Blue Button 2.0 Developer Conference
  • The Wall Street Journal posts another critical review of IBM Watson Health for oncology, saying that “the diagnosis is gloomy” for Watson’s ability to improve cancer treatments.

Best Reader Comments

What do Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Salesforce, and Oracle have in common? No impact in healthcare interoperability despite multiple attempts. (Fourth Hanson Brother)

How does their “support” of interoperability actually translate into something meaningful? Are they going to somehow put the screws to organizations (both vendors and healthcare groups) who are have a greater incentive to protect their own revenues? (RobLS)

The 10% of reality that isn’t perception trumps the 90% at the most inconvenient times. (LFI Masuka)

Watson for Oncology isn’t an AI that fights cancer, it’s an unproven mechanical turk that represents the guesses of a small group of doctors. (Mechanical Turk)


Watercooler Talk Tidbits

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Readers funded the DonorsChoose teacher grant request of Ms. C, who asked for LCD writing boards for her Tennessee kindergarten class. She reports, “We have been using our LCD Writing Tablets every day! My students love to use these boards to practice writing sight words, short vowel CVC words, their names, numbers, and so much more. They have eliminated the mess of dry-erase markers and promote student engagement. They allow me to check my students’ answers and work easily, provide corrections, and allow students to make necessary corrections quickly. These boards are currently one of our favorite things in the classroom. Thanks so much!”

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In Spain, a woman who is growing tired of her ED wait (does that make her an impatient patient?) torches the place by igniting an oxygen bottle, requiring the hospital’s evacuation.

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A new University of Vermont Medical Center federal filing is published in the middle of heated negotiations with unionized nurses who are working without a contract, likely to be emboldened by the news that it pays two executives more than $2 million, or 29 times the average RN salary. The health system says what health systems and universities always do when huge salaries are made public – we have to pay competitively compared to other academic medical centers to attract and keep executive talent.

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New York University will make its medical school tuition-free regardless of financial need, hoping that graduates saddled with reduced debt will consider less-lucrative jobs in primary care and research. Students won’t have to pay the medical school’s $55,000 tuition, but they will still need to cover their estimated $29,000 in living expenses. The announcement was made at the med school’s white coat ceremony, drawing a standing ovation since the change takes effect immediately.

A New York hospital requires visitors to show ID to get an ID badge – which contains their photo and destination — printed with invisible ink that disappears after 24 hours. I’m always surprised that hospitals have few visitor-related incidents other than in the ED since visiting hours have been extended, anyone can wander the halls unmolested (except for the nursery), and security guards rarely wander patient floors. I’ve seen visitors fighting with each other and with employees, family members who tried to kill a patient in their bed, and gang or romantic rivals launching beat-downs at the nursing station. I once talked a newly hospitalized patient out of the gun he was waving around in his room, although I’m still not sure why I thought that was a good idea. It was a small hospital without real security guards and I was the only male on the floor at the time, ill-advisedly succumbing to the impulse to help the frightened the nursing staff and hoping that I had accurately characterized the patient as confused but harmless.


In Case You Missed It


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Morning Headlines 8/17/18

August 16, 2018 Headlines No Comments

Cerner to take over MCHS IT department

Cerner ITWorks will take over the IT department of Medical Center Health System (TX) beginning September 10.

Google is reportedly developing an AI assistant that recommends workouts and meal plans

Google is developing an AI-powered wellness assistant for smart watches that will proactively encourage users to make healthy choices based on their appointments, recorded activities, reminders, and location.

Black Book Releases 2018 State of Healthcare IT Consulting Report, Triple Digit Growth Projected for High Demand Expertise

A Black Book report on health IT consulting predicts firms will rake in $53 billion by the end of this year, with the bulk of that coming from software implementation, optimization, integration, and support.

News 8/17/18

August 16, 2018 News No Comments

Top News

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Best Buy acquires GreatCall for $800 million.

GreatCall is perhaps best known for its senior-friendly mobile phones currently being hyped in TV ads by vice chairman and former “America’s Most Wanted” host John Walsh.

The San Diego-based company also offers medical alert wearables, emergency response services, and apps that offer medication reminders and connect a user’s GreatCall device with family members.

This is not the big box retailer’s first foray into healthcare. It launched its smart phone-based Assured Living service for seniors and their family members last fall and added health and wellness content and symptom checking capabilities from Mayo Clinic to the companion app in January.


Reader Comments

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From I’ve Been Everywhere, Man: “Re: US News top 20 hospitals. You are correct (in a technicality) that all 20 use Epic. Mayo Phoenix was one of Epic’s first ambulatory sites in the early 1990s, then was forced off in a Mayo corporate decision to self-develop in hacking Phamis Lastword to try to work in ambulatory. Meanwhile, Mayo Rochester, WI, and MN are live on Epic and Mayo Phoenix will go back on Epic this fall.” 


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

The paucity of interesting news will confirm that we’re in the Summer Doldrums, when everybody is focused on getting the kids back in school and squeezing in those last summer vacations and family cookouts. That’s also the time when I get bored and offer new sponsors a special deal just so I don’t feel ignored as page views and reader interaction take one last break before Labor Day. Contact Lorre, get on board now, and spend that budget money on something useful before it evaporates.


Webinars

None scheduled soon. Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for information.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Patient payments company AxiaMed raises $12.4 million.

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The USPTO awards Zynx Health a patent related to using machine learning to analyze clinical decision support documents. The company will incorporate the technology into its Knowledge Analyzer clinical content management solution for EHRs.


People

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Patient safety expert Peter Pronovost, MD, PhD has left his position as chief medical officer of UnitedHealthCare after three months on the job. He resigned after seven years at Johns Hopkins Medicine in February 2018 to become UHC’s SVP of clinical strategy, then became CMO in June.

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Healthwise promotes Jay Reynolds to CTO.

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Dan Speicher (Omnitracs) joins Medecision as CTO.

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Fortified Health Security hires William Crank (Medhost) as COO.

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Michael Cantor, MD, MA (Pfizer) joins Regeneron Pharmaceuticals as head of clinical informatics.


Sales

  • Carteret Health Care (NC) and Ozarks Medical Center (MO) choose consulting services from Engage.
  • HIEs HealtheLink, Quality Health Network, Health Current, Indiana Health Information Exchange, and ClinicalConnect select data normalization and cleansing applications from Diameter Health.

Announcements and Implementations

Michigan Health Information Network Shared Services implements 4medica’s master patient index.

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MedStar Health implements several FormFast form management technologies across its facilities in Maryland and Washington, DC.


Privacy and Security

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In an effort to cut through the “white noise” of data breach news, HGP publishes a concise review of cybersecurity incidents in healthcare since 2010. Items of interest include:

  • Email has become a favored entry point for hackers; breaches of personal devices have decreased by 50 percent.
  • Paper and film breaches continue to account for 20 percent of breaches.
  • Business associate-related breaches have decreased by 10 percent, while payer breaches have increased by 5.
  • Of the 23 cybersecurity companies listed, Armor, Imprivata, Olive, and FairWarning have secured the most funding over the past two years.

Other

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A Black Book report on health IT consulting predicts firms will rake in $53 billion by the end of this year, with the bulk of that coming from software implementation, optimization, integration, and support. The top three consulting needs are for cloud technology adoption, increased digitalization, and to supplement a lack of internal resources. Top wish-list engagements include help with transitioning to value-based care, cloud infrastructure, compliance, and decision support and analytics. The Chartis Group, ECG Management Consultants, Huron, and Impact Advisors top the list of favorite consulting firms, according to survey-takers.

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A new KLAS report on business intelligence finds that Epic leads the pack by far in deep adoption despite immature native functionality and a lack of cost effectiveness, while HBI Solutions and Health Catalyst have the highest overall score and Dimensional Insight is #1 in driving outcomes and delivering value. Health Catalyst’s combination of software and services places it high on the list, especially for those looking for help with readmissions, opioid use, length of stay, and sepsis. Cerner’s offering is “still immature” as most clients are just getting started, with users telling KLAS that it lacks a testing environment, it doesn’t bring in external data easily, and it doesn’t yet offer predictive analytics. IBM, Microsoft, and SAS declined to participate.

Google is developing an AI-powered wellness assistant for smart watches that will proactively encourage users to make healthy choices based on their appointments, recorded activities, reminders, and location.


Sponsor Updates

  • Elsevier receives several Digital Health Awards from the Health Information Resource Center.
  • EClinicalWorks will exhibit at the NACHC Community Health Institute & Expo August 26-28 in Orlando.
  • Spok announces that the 20 hospitals named to US News & World Report’s 2018-19 Best Hospitals Honor Roll and the 10 hospitals named to the Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll are its clinical communications customers.
  • FormFast will exhibit at the 2018 GHIMA Annual Meeting & Exhibit August 19-20 in Pine Mountain, GA.
  • Glytec publishes a new video, “Digital Diabetes Management from a Patient’s Perspective.”
  • HBI Solutions will exhibit at the SHIEC 2018 Annual Conference August 19-22 in Atlanta.
  • Gartner includes Imat Solutions as a sample vendor in its latest Hype Cycle report for US healthcare payers.
  • Influence Health announces 43-percent bookings growth for its Consumer Experience Platform solutions, and a 131-percent increase for its multi-channel campaign managed marketing services.
  • Intelligent Medical Objects will exhibit at Aprima’s annual user conference August 17-19 in Grapevine, TX.
  • PerfectServe will host the Hospital for Special Surgery Educational and Networking Open House September 21 in New York City.
  • Meditech publishes a new case study, “Clatterbridge Delivers More Efficient Cancer Care to the UK with Meditech, and a video titled “How Do Doctorrs Want to Spend Their Free Time?”
  • PMD successfully completes its first SOC 2 and HIPAA security audit.

Blog Posts


Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jenn, Dr. Jayne.
Get HIStalk updates. Send news or rumors.
Contact us.

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EPtalk by Dr. Jayne 8/16/18

August 16, 2018 Dr. Jayne 1 Comment

CMS has posted a new presentation covering the proposed rule for the 2019 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule. For those who have not yet started to dig in for review, it’s a nice 35,000-foot summary of the E&M coding and virtual care pieces. Plus, it’s only 17 slides long, which might possibly make it the shortest document to come out of CMS in a long time.

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My fortune cookie revelations are usually pretty bland and I’ve never had my palm read. However, I wonder if my inbox is trying to predict my future. I had back-to-back emails about the best ways to onboard physicians from MGMA and the top 10 things to think about when you’re thinking of leaving your practice from AAFP’s Family Practice Management journal. It made me laugh, particularly because my current clinical situation is the best one I’ve ever worked in. The support team members are great, the owners are extremely supportive of my life in healthcare IT, and I feel energized and valued at the end of the day even when it’s been a very tough shift. I wish I had found that kind of clinical fulfillment earlier than halfway through my career, but I’m glad I found it when I did. Still, the documents were good advice, so I’ll tuck them into my consulting portfolio for the next client.

From Noteworthy: “Re: news. It’s amazing what passes for a news item in healthcare today. It’s not outcomes data, it’s not a new gamma knife offering, or even mobile mammograms — it’s vinyl flooring.”Actually, it’s both vinyl flooring and new blinds to give the practice greater “curb appeal.” The practice administrator is quoted regarding how important it is to have vinyl flooring in order to provide a clean environment for patients. Does that mean that their previous carpet provided a less than sanitary space before this week’s renovation reveal? Inquiring minds want to know. Perhaps I should pitch a new show to HGTV for renovating disastrously outdated physician offices. I’ve definitely seen more than my share.

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Earlier this week, Mr. H mentioned the phenomenon of medical students skipping classes and instead using YouTube videos and other resources to prepare for their licensing exams. There is a great comment posted by reader AndyWiesental, who details the non-content skills that physicians need to learn. The diagnostic process and how to determine the appropriate care for a given patient take time to learn, but despite the push for patient-centered care and individualized medicine, educational and quasi-regulatory bodies are still pushing us towards fact-based testing that quickly becomes obsolete. Board certification exams are a case in point, with questions such as “which of the following drugs is the most effective therapy for XYZ” where the answers are items that are 70, 72, 80, or 85 percent effective. In the world of in-the-trenches medicine, those numbers are not terribly relevant. It’s more complex than lab-based effectiveness; one needs to look at the cost vs. efficacy, tolerability and side effect profile, whether it’s on the insurance formulary, and more. And by the way, there’s a chance that a formerly-effective drug will be recalled, so all the numbers go out the window. It all depends on the patient sitting in front of you, as well as the statistics, and the way we are currently tested doesn’t take that into account.

I recently had a conversation with a physician as I was waiting for a plane, and we were lamenting the idea of recertification exams. His board is taking a more progressive approach and allowing more of an extended open-book format that demonstrates the ability to find knowledge rather than memorize factoids. That’s how we practice now, finding the best evidence through curated sources rather than trying to regurgitate what we learned to pass the exam. Although medical education is progressing, the students I work with tell me it’s not a lot different from when I was in school, just more high-tech. Where we recorded lectures on a cassette tape and had a classmate transcribe them, print them, and stuff them in our student mailboxes, today’s students view recorded videos of the lectures.

I once failed a medical microbiology exam because I actually learned the material and didn’t memorize the old test papers that my classmates circulated. When I sat for the exam, the questions were so poorly written that you often couldn’t tell what the correct answer was, with double negatives, multiple correct answers, typographical errors, and more. Yet, many of the members of the class scored 100 percent where a full third of us failed. The dean actually advised us to spend more time with the old tests and allowed us to retake it. With no studying but time spent memorizing questions, I aced it. Hopefully those days are long gone and we’re testing the ability of students to apply information rather than hoping they know the correct answer to the question about E. coli is D.

In response to Mr. H’s question: “If medical school education is vastly different from the content mastery required to pass Step exams, is either set of knowledge incorrect or are students expected to complete a self-managed, dual-track education?” In my experience the latter is correct. Students have to memorize the minutiae for certain, but it’s also often up to them to identify suitable mentors and clinicians whom they want to emulate, and try to learn how to be “that kind of doctor.” Some professors in academic settings aren’t the kind you want to copy, and it can be challenging to find opportunities to rotate with “regular” physicians in the community. There are similar issues in residency training, with some rotations being irrelevant to the trainee’s chosen career path. Statistically, only 17 percent of family physicians practice obstetrics, yet we’re all required to spend several months on rotation. I’d rather have had that time to take extra behavioral health rotations or emergency rotations since those were areas I was more likely to use in my planned future career.

Other rotations are woefully inadequate. My residency’s family medicine program ran a private practice clinic where we learned to code and bill and how to document, which are key for surviving in medicine today. We received productivity and utilization reports. By the time we were in the second half of the last year of residency, we were running full clinic days seeing a volume of patients equivalent to the faculty attending physicians, mostly in 15-minute visits. The internal medicine program ran a clinic where no one ever had to code or bill and every appointment was 30 or 60 minutes. Which trainees came out better equipped to succeed in practice? It was in those 15 minute slots that we learned how to prioritize patient issues and how to best use limited time and resources for individual patients. Of course, we’d all have preferred at the time to have the half-hour or hour slots that our peers did, but when we made it to the real world we were grateful, and our former classmates were shocked.

I’m coming up on a milestone reunion for medical school and it will be interesting to see where people have landed. Our class was an outlier, with nearly 10 percent of graduates not pursuing residency training. Some went to research, others to the pharmaceutical industry, a few to law school or business school, and a couple left medicine altogether. I’m definitely making a point to connect with some of my former classmates who are in academic settings, to see what they make of all of this.

Are you working at an educational institution? How does your employer support student learning? Leave a comment or email me.

Email Dr. Jayne.

Morning Headlines 8/16/18

August 15, 2018 Headlines No Comments

HHS awards $125 million to support community health center quality improvement

HHS will award $125 million in grants to 1,352 community health centers to help them improve care access and outcomes, and advance their use of health IT.

Best Buy Acquires GreatCall, A Leading Connected Health Services Provider

Best Buy acquires GreatCall, which offers emergency response services and digital health devices for seniors, for $800 million.

Kindbody Purchases Cloud-Based Software From IVFqc

Women’s health and fertility care company Kindbody purchases the IVFqc cloud-based EHR and billing software assets of Althea Science.

Readers Write: A Person-Centered Approach for Success in Intellectual and Developmental Disability Services

August 15, 2018 Readers Write No Comments

A Person-Centered Approach for Success in Intellectual and Developmental Disability Services
By Andrew Mersman

Andrew Mersman is senior director at Netsmart Technologies of Overland Park, KS.

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It’s no secret that limited resources and funding have historically been a challenge for providers of Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) services. That’s why it’s important for healthcare providers to break down information silos and work collaboratively to achieve the best outcomes possible. With the introduction of value-based care payment models, it will be even more important for providers to find effective and efficient ways to manage resources across the healthcare continuum to deliver the right care for every individual’s needs. The continued evolution of Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) waiver plans and emphasis on conflict-free case management also make person-centered care more important than ever before.

To aid organizations in providing the best I/DD services with a person-centered approach, awe’ve narrowed down four key elements to keep at the forefront of managing an individual’s care.

Person-Centered Planning

To deliver the best services possible, it’s important to address it with a holistic, whole-person outlook. Keep the individual at the center of this universe and take in surrounding factors into consideration as you plan and coordinate delivery. Important items to consider in person-centered planning include:

  • Taking direction and considering feedback from the individual receiving services, including from their support system
  • Integrate the person’s strengths, preferences, and desires – example is integrating pictures into the ISP to help an individual be more active in their services
  • Drawing on insight gained from the individual’s relationships within their community
  • Enabling individuals to express satisfaction with service delivery through feedback, allowing for course correction as needed

Care Coordination

Care coordination should focus on the health, social, and personal desires of the individual. When approaching care coordination for a person with a developmental or intellectual disability, it’s important to ensure that a person’s service plans are self-directed by the individual and are aimed toward meeting their personal goals, including day-to-day living and other life factors such as independent living or employment goals. Additionally, modern reimbursement models demand more accountability for care coordination between different services and settings.

Comprehensive Assessment and Planning

Person-centered care requires the ability to plan and provide the right type of services that can result in the best outcome possible. To do that, providers need to assess many aspects of a person’s life when determining the best plan for them. This is essential to determine the kind of services that should be provided along with the method in which they are delivered, and account for any potential obstacles that may prevent the individual from being successful. Factors to be assessed can include things like housing, family support, social skills, personal care, communication, financial stability, nutrition, activity level, and more.

When developing a person’s care plan, it’s critical to ensure that all essential elements of the person-centered plan drive the planning process. This is also the time to determine that tasks based on valued outcomes are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely to make sure that an individual can progress and be successful. Planning should also emphasize community inclusion and participation, independence, and the use of informal community supports when possible.

Data Collection, Measurement, and Reporting

Creating a care plan alone isn’t enough. It’s essential to prove the effectiveness of the support and services your organization provides. The way to tackle that is through collecting, analyzing, and reporting data to demonstrate outcomes. Your organization should be able to look at results and determine if the plan was successful, not just that the tasks were completed.

An integral part of applied behavioral analysis requires the ability to measure an individual’s growth and development. You can’t report progress without any data, so the first step is to gather and collect it throughout their journey. Once they are accessing and receiving the services outlined in their plan, it’s time to record progress. What has been the outcome of the services they’ve been receiving? Are they improving with the method of delivery your organization is providing?

Your EHR should allow your support staff to easily record and track a person’s progress through streamlined, intuitive workflows. And in an age where services are delivered in a variety of settings, mobile functionality is essential for entering important data on a tablet or other portable device. Going mobile is an effortless way to build staff efficiencies and supports the move away from a paper-based system, allowing data to be accessed and retrieved in real time.

Once the data is collected, it’s time to look at what it collectively means in the bigger picture. Here’s where robust reporting and analytics comes in. The ability to display data in a variety of outputs (i.e. raw data counts, compliance or achievement percentage, or graphical representation) is important with respect to who is viewing the data. Also, the ability to provide real-time analysis is important to provide on demand.

No matter what care setting, keeping an individual and their needs at the center of their care plan is essential. Remembering these factors while establishing, assessing, and achieving an individual’s personal goals, care providers across all settings – not just I/DD – are sure to provide the best services to meet the unique needs of everyone.

Readers Write: Capturing Patient-Reported Outcomes for Population Health Management Yields Dividends

August 15, 2018 Readers Write No Comments

Capturing Patient-Reported Outcomes for Population Health Management Yields Dividends
By Gary Hamilton

Gary Hamilton is CEO of InteliChart of Fort Mill, SC.

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As the industry pushes towards value-based care, a greater emphasis has been placed on listening to patients, particularly regarding how they view their own health status and quality of life. These patient-reported outcomes (PROs) are essential to help identify obstacles to effectively manage chronic conditions. Patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs), of which there are many across numerous specialties, are also increasingly important to payers under value-based care payment models.

Capturing PRO information can occur in the exam room or hospital, but it is often time-consuming and may be sidetracked if the patient has an acute condition they prefer to discuss. Fortunately, the ubiquity of the Internet, smartphones, and the increasing sophistication of data analytics technology is helping healthcare organizations obtain PRO data and analyze associated measures efficiently so they can improve performance.

PROs are defined by the National Quality Forum (NQF) as “any report of the status of a patient’s health condition that comes directly from the patient, without interpretation of the patient’s response by a clinician or anyone else.” These outcomes are, in some cases, more important to the patient than the clinical outcome because it reflects how they are feeling and their ability to pursue daily activities. For example, how many times has a patient told you that they stopped taking a medication due to its perceived side effects and now feel “better than ever?”

Learning about medication side effects and how a patient feels about other elements of their care plan aligns with many value-based care goals. After all, if patients are not achieving their personal health or quality-of-life goals, they may not perceive any value for their care. A treatment then cannot be considered fully effective, even if clinical indicators of health improved along the way.

Listening to patients’ goals is key to designing a care plan that will yield health status improvements or eliminate symptoms, but also improve quality of life. When a patient notices and reports these improvements, they are likely to engage in their care plan or follow through with a recommended procedure recovery regimen.

Capturing PROs can be tedious and not always accurate, especially when the patient is distracted by another condition or other factors, such as being discharged from the hospital. This is where advanced population health management (PHM) technology helps providers save time while improving the patient’s experience.

At discharge, for example, a patient who underwent a procedure may be so concerned about how they will resume their activities at home, they may not be aware a medication prescribed at the hospital is giving them intolerable side effects. After they adjust to the care transition, an automated survey would be sent from the PHM platform to their smartphone to learn about the recovery from the procedure, as well as the new medication. Based on patient preferences, PROs could be captured through an automated interactive voice response (IVR) phone call or a secure electronic message, both initiated through the PHM technology.

Although automated methods are most efficient, a live phone call with a clinician is just as effective at gathering crucial patient information. The PHM technology assists in these situations by automatically reminding the care manager to conduct the interview and offering to create the electronic questionnaire form to be completed. Based on responses from any of the PRO outreach methods, the physician can then decide to adjust the prescribed treatment.

For patients with chronic conditions, here again, a survey can be sent to a mobile device or patient portal periodically to ensure associated care plans are helping them achieve their goals. Electronic surveys or interviews using an IVR or live phone call would include quality-of-life questions concerning physical function, mental health, sleep, or the ability to participate in daily activities. An analytics platform would then flag and compile negative responses for follow-up.

Remote-captured PRO can also support many elderly and rural patients who may have transportation challenges. Instead of these patients coming to the office for routine consultations regarding their chronic conditions, an automated survey, secure portal message, IVR, or live phone call can capture PROs and allow them to avoid unnecessary travel.

The benefit of using a mobile device or a computer to capture PROs is that patients can report their perspective at the right moment, when they have time to reflect away from the distractions of a busy practice, hospital, or workplace. Surveys or automated interviews delivered on a consistent schedule prove to patients the organization is focused on their care, nurturing engagement, and motivating them to improve their outcomes.

For the provider organization, identifying PROM trends among these populations is easier when the PRO module is part of an advanced PHM platform that is integrated with the electronic health record (EHR) system, other information systems, and fed by comprehensive and aggregated data from around the care continuum. When a physician reviews a patient’s chart, they can view PROM trends at a glance to support their decisions.

PRO insight, in conjunction with other data included in the EHR, can help the physician design an effective treatment plan that achieves clinical objectives as well as the patient’s quality-of-life goals. Combined, improving performance on these outcomes can secure greater reimbursement under value-based care payment models while building stronger engagement from patients throughout the year.

Morning Headlines 8/15/18

August 14, 2018 Headlines 1 Comment

Alphabet puts another $375 million into Josh Kushner’s Oscar Health, just months after previous investment

Alphabet invests $375 million in data- and technology-focused insurance startup Oscar, following participation by two Alphabet subsidiaries in a funding round a few months ago that valued the company at over $3 billion.

Geisinger and Merck Unveil New Applications Developed to Help Improve Patient Communication and Care Delivery

Geisinger and Merck launch a patient-caregiver communication, and medication reconciliation and adherence app, both of which will use SMART on FHIR to connect to EHRs.

Sansoro Health Raises $8M to Accelerate Electronic Health Record Interoperability

Digital health-EHR integration platform vendor Sansoro Health raises $8 million in a Series B investment round, increasing its total to $14 million.

News 8/15/18

August 14, 2018 News 7 Comments

Top News

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Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Salesforce, and Oracle pledge to support interoperability at Monday’s Blue Button 2.0 Developer Conference, announcing their support for FHIR open standards, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence.

The event was hosted by the White House’s Jared Kushner-led Office of American Innovation.

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Integration experts and technologists – should we care about Blue Button 2.0? Will it significantly impact interoperability and patient access to data?


Reader Comments

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From The World is a Vampire: “Re: Allscripts. Hosted clients are having difficulty connecting to their EHR and other applications due to a data center issue.” I’ve reached out to the company, but haven’t heard back. The Raleigh data center was the site of January’s ransomware attack that left users unable to connect to their Allscripts PM/EHR systems, although the telephones of angry users remained up so they could call their lawyers to join a class action lawsuit over the downtime.

From Ozone Lawyer: “Re: prescriptions. Pharmacies won’t quote a price until my doctor calls or faxes my new prescription, after which the pharmacy will use my insurance to quote co-pay, etc. That puts extra work on my doctor. Is it legit for the pharmacy or just an obstacle?” They might do that to discourage competitive intelligence, but I can see why they would be reluctant to give a price without running it through your insurer’s test claim for pricing your co-pay. That way they have the complete prescription details without being tied up on the phone while you read them your prescription. Cash patients would do best to go online and pricing all local pharmacies (at least the chain ones) on GoodRx. InteliSys Health also offers an EHR-integrated pricing tool that would be super useful, but your doctor would need to use it on your behalf. An integrated solution would get you and your doctor the answer, allow reconsidering your choices, and then having the prescription sent electronically to the right pharmacy the first time.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Did you ever take work time off to go on a spiritual retreat, attend a university’s resident summer camp for adults, participate in a church mission, delve deeply into a newfound hobby, bond with your grandchildren, join a cult, travel as a punk band’s roadie, or bum around Italy for a month in search of the perfect Montepulciano d’Abruzzo? Perhaps you were understandably enriched and motivated, in which case those of us less fortunate would enjoy living your experience vicariously.

I’m getting flooded with emails and announcements from folks who are still listing times as EST, apparently clueless that we’re on EDT until November 4 (like we have been every summer for 100 years – DST started in the US in 1918). Those who can’t master this simple concept should instead just list times with “ET.” Someone will always proclaim indignantly (as they do for their incorrect grammar or spelling) that “you know what I meant,” suggesting that it’s everybody else’s job to interpret their lazy errors.

Listening: new, outstanding contemporary Christian music from 26-year-old Lauren Daigle, who’s on a very long tour that covers a giant chunk of the US. Also: new from LSD (Labrinth, Sia, and Diplo), which takes a toe-tapping trip into doo-wop and reggae territory. There’s also a new album from St. Paul & The Broken Bones, infectiously giddy, horn-heavy, 1960s-style soul from Birmingham, AL. And in a goosebump-inducing moment, there’s Renaissance doing “Ashes Are Burning” live in 1976. I’ll eat the vocals-enhancing software of any diva singer who can match Annie Haslam  — who wasn’t even in her five-octave top form toward the end of a rigorous, long concert — starting at the 22:00 mark through the end. 


Webinars

August 15 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “Raising the Digital Trajectory of Healthcare.” Sponsored by: Health Catalyst. Presenter: Dale Sanders, President of Technology, Health Catalyst. Healthcare ranks lowest in McKinsey’s Digital Quotient (data assets x data skills x data utilization) of all industries except mining and has largely ignored the digitization of patients’ state of health, but that’s changing. This webinar will describe the empathetic components of healthcare digitization strategy; the AI-enabled encounter; why today’s digital approach will never work and instead sucks the life out of clinicians; the role of bio-integrated sensors, genomics, and the “digitician;” and the technology and architecture of a modern digital platform. It’s going to happen, so let’s make it happen the right way.

Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for information.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Digital health-EHR integration platform vendor Sansoro Health raises $8 million in a Series B investment round, increasing its total to $14 million.

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Alphabet invests $375 million in data- and technology-focused insurance startup Oscar, following participation by two Alphabet subsidiaries in a funding round a few months ago that valued the company at over $3 billion. Wired reports that Alphabet owns 10 percent of Oscar, which has expanded into new states, plans to enter the Medicare Advantage market, and is rumored to be interested in bidding with insurers to manage care in risk-based contracts.


Sales

  • Triple-S Salud Blue Cross Blue Shield of Puerto Rico will use HMS’s Essette care management software for its health plan members.
  • New York’s Healthix HIE will implement the cloud-based Verato Universal MPI.

People

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Integration technology vendor MedicaSoft hires Helen Figge, PharmD, MBA (CareFully) as chief strategy officer.

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Health IPass promotes Ryan Navratil, MS to VP of product management.

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Holly Spring (Athenahealth) joins ReviveHealth as SVP and public relations department lead.


Announcements and Implementations

Geisinger and drugmaker Merck launch apps Family Caregiver (patient-caregiver communication) and MedTrue (medication reconciliation and adherence). The apps will use SMART on FHIR to connect to disparate EHRs.

SwedishAmerican goes live on Epic.


Government and Politics

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Relevant to a couple of polls I’ve run recently: former CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt lists the items the White House hopes to eliminate from federal insurance law in a September 10 hearing, all of them affecting anyone with health insurance even if they get it through employers instead of the marketplace.

The San Francisco business paper covers huge companies using complex equipment depreciation rules to claim low value for property taxes, with the extreme case being two Apple properties in Cupertino valued at $1.4 billion that the company claims are worth just $400. Maybe the county should add a requirement that any business be forced to sell its property to a willing buyer at the assessed value it accepts. 


Other

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Adventist Health System will change its name to AdventHealth early next year, also renaming its 45 hospitals that include Florida Hospital Orlando. The health system will also launch the Center for Genomic Health next year.

IBM posts a rare publication rebuttal in disputing The Wall Street Journal’s report that says Watson Health hasn’t accomplished much in oncology. The company cites a few articles from hospitals and oncology groups – including the VA’s contract extension for genomics – in claiming patient benefit as its work “is only getting started.”

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Florida Today profiles Health First EICU intensivist Mark Pessa, MD.

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Apple lists an open position that suggests the company is considering developing its own “health, wellness, and fitness sensors.”

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The local paper says 80 of 300 doctors at Central Maine Healthcare left in the most recent fiscal year, citing conflicts with health system executives, staffing cuts, increased patient loads, and an unwillingness to use its new Cerner system.

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US News & World Report’ “Best Hospitals” list puts Mayo, Cleveland Clinic, Johns Hopkins, Mass General, and University of Michigan Hospitals as its top five. I glanced down the top 20 list and, from my admittedly occasionally unreliable memory, I think every one of them uses Epic (although UPMC is one of perhaps several on the list that also run other systems, Cerner in its case). 

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Meanwhile, that #1 ranked hospital Mayo is accused of “medical kidnapping” by the family of a high school student who was unhappy with her care during a two-month stay in 2016 for a ruptured aneurysm but was refused a transfer to another hospital. The dispute came when she was transferred to the rehab unit following four surgeries, where her stepfather complained that her doctors wouldn’t order opioids, they missed her bladder infection, and a social worker was overheard discussing financial information about her. The family also demanded that several employees be fired or removed from her care and posted near-hysterical Facebook rants. They finally signed her out against medical advice, triggering a “patient abduction” 911 call from Mayo and the family being trailed by three police agencies. The core issue seems to be whether the adult patient was capable of making her own medical decisions and the reports that a Mayo social worker was trying to appoint either the county or Mayo itself as her guardian. They family ended up at the ED of Sanford Medical Center (SD), which decided she didn’t need to be hospitalized and that she was capable of making her own medical decisions, after which the police ended their hunt.

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Medical students are skipping classes to the point that 25 percent of second-year students say they almost never attend lectures, relying instead on YouTube videos (like the one above from SketchyMedical) and other outside prep materials to ready themselves for the Step exams. They say those tests cover material glossed over in their med school courses. A student says, “That was the biggest learning curve of med school — it wasn’t so much how do I do well in it, it was, how do I use all these crazy resources that are being marketed to me to best meet my goal of passing Step.” I observed that personally from a relative whose medical school attendance mostly involved listening to recorded lectures at double playback speed. This raises questions:

  • If medical school education is vastly different from the content mastery required to pass Step, is either set of knowledge incorrect or are students expected to complete a self-managed, dual-track education?
  • What’s the level of relevance of physician education to actual medical practice?
  • Medical education involves coursework, endless test-passing, and residency that takes many years and a ton of taxpayer money – is all of that really necessary for knowledge that quickly becomes obsolete?

Sponsor Updates

  • AdvancedMD announces AdvancedCQM, a free module to support MIPS Quality Reporting.
  • Aprima will integrate payment solutions from ClearGage.
  • Florida HIE Services expands its Encounter Notification Service, powered by Audacious Inquiry, to FQHCs.
  • The KLAS Performance Report 2018 identifies Agfa Healthcare as a “strong and guiding partner” for health systems rolling out enterprise imaging.
  • Arcadia CMO Rich Parker, MD and Sales Engineer Stefanie Groner will speak at the CHESS Move to Value Summit August 19 in Winston Salem, NC.
  • AssessURHealth receives Greenway Health’s 2018 Partner Rookie of the Year Award.
  • Practice management vendor Nextech Systems will integrate and co-market Solutionreach’s patient relationship management product suite.
  • Burwood Group names Renee Lawrence (Ingram Micro Cloud) director of product marketing.
  • CarePort Health and Clinical Architecture will exhibit at the SHIEC Annual Conference August 19-22 in Atlanta.
  • The Better Business Bureau awards CompuGroup Medical US BBB Accreditation and an A+ for customer care.
  • The Angel Investor’s Network podcast features Datica CMO Kris Gösser.
  • CoverMyMeds will add its electronic prior authorization app to the Greenway Health Marketplace.
  • Diameter Health will present at the SHIEC Annual Conference August 21 in Atlanta.

Blog Posts


Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jenn, Dr. Jayne.
Get HIStalk updates. Send news or rumors.
Contact us.

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Morning Headlines 8/14/18

August 13, 2018 Headlines No Comments

Watson Health: Setting the Record Straight

IBM SVP John Kelly rebuts a Wall Street Journal article that called Watson Health’s effectiveness in oncology into question, saying that, “To suggest there has been no patient benefit is to ignore both what we know The Wall Street Journal was told by a number of physicians around the world and these institutions’ own public comments.”

Microsoft, Amazon, Google, IBM, Oracle, and Salesforce issue joint statement for healthcare interoperability

Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and Salesforce pledge to break down barriers to interoperability at the CMS Blue Button 2.0 Developer Conference in Washington, DC.

Staffers are fleeing as central Maine hospital system is roiled by turmoil

Central Maine Healthcare EVP David Tupponce admits the health system’s Cerner EHR has been a big contributing factor to high physician turnover.

Google DeepMind’s AI can detect over 50 sight-threatening eye conditions

A study conducted at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London reveals that DeepMind’s algorithms can detect over 50 eye conditions with 94-percent accuracy.

Curbside Consult with Dr. Jayne 8/13/18

August 13, 2018 Dr. Jayne 1 Comment

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For many of us in healthcare IT, our primary arenas of work tend to fall within hospitals and health systems, ambulatory organizations, payers, and the vendor space. There are plenty of subdomains within each of those areas, such as tribal health, community health centers, post-acute care hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, and more. I had the chance this week to dig into a segment of healthcare IT that I haven’t done much work in – a university health center. This is the time of year that millions of students are making the leap from college to the university environment, and I was pleasantly surprised to see how digital health is playing out in that space.

At the university in question, students submit their health histories and physicals online via a secure patient portal, including immunization records. Given the volume of international students, the system has to be configured to accept different types of immunizations and offer enough patient-facing help features so that the incoming students understand what they are documenting and can fill out the online forms accurately. Copies of examinations and records can be submitted online, either through scans from the student or via secure email from transferring physicians. I was pleasantly surprised that there were no fax machines to be found at the facility.

Once the initial records come in, a member of the health center staff reviews them with a couple of areas of focus. Immunizations are first, because without them or a notarized waiver document, students can’t attend. Many of the students receive diphtheria and tetanus boosters prior to attending, along with meningitis vaccinations. When I began to think of the size of the entering class, plus the number of transfer students, times the number of doses administered, multiplied further by the cost of the vaccines, it was a large number representing a significant healthcare investment. If the immunizations don’t meet the requirements, a nurse reaches out directly to the student to discuss the issue, eliminating any back-and-forth related to misunderstanding of the questions or errors in documentation. Students are directed to resources to obtain needed vaccines, rather than simply being told they need to get them.

If the student’s documentation passes the immunization requirement, the file is routed electronically to a different part of the clinical team for a general review. Histories are screened for chronic conditions which may require care from the student health team beyond the routine conditions that people typically assume are cared for at a health center. I was impressed by the level of review given to some of the files – given some of the “medical miracles” we’ve seen over the last several decades, students are coming to college with fairly complex histories and specific medical needs. There is a special team to perform second-level review on these files, flagging students with conditions such as congenital heart disease (often following surgical intervention), transplants, cystic fibrosis, and more. Often the students have included their own supporting information that they wanted added to the file, whether it is a transfer of care summary from their pediatrician or a recent referral or consultation letter from a treating physician. It’s a testament to these doctors “back home” as well as to the families of these students that the necessary information is being supplied up front so that the best outcomes can be possible.

Since the patients (students) in this situation are voluntarily attending the institution, and many thousands of dollars are being spent, nearly everyone involved has a vested interest in making sure they stay healthy. Students are made aware of all the services the student health center offers – psychological counseling, preventive services, treatment for sexually transmitted infections, interventions for chemical dependency and eating disorders, screening for depression and intimate partner violence, and more. It reminded me of what many of my community health center clients are trying to do, but on a less-fragmented and better-funded platform. Of course, students are able to find a physician in the community if they choose, but with a team like this, who would want to?

The student health center is more than a walk-in clinic. It staffs a couple of beds where students can stay overnight for observation or delivery of IV fluids for fairly straightforward illness such as gastroenteritis or medications for conditions like acute migraine headaches. The physicians have referral arrangements with a group of hospitalists, which is happy to accept student patients when they have more complicated conditions like influenza, pneumonia, or the occasional appendicitis. They run a women’s health clinic and an orthopedic clinic. Given the presence of an athletic program with a notable football component, I was pleased to see they have a concussion clinic to not only follow up on symptoms and management, but to work with the patients’ academic advisors and professors to address any ongoing cognitive issues.

All of this is being managed in a state-of-the-art electronic health record, hooked up to the state HIE and also to Carequality. They’re routinely sending data to students’ home physicians of record and are electronically managing consents to make sure they can talk to parents when appropriate or to other members of the students’ support systems. The clinic is all about interoperability and coordination because they can be and want to be, not because they have to be. Since they’re not billing Medicare, Medicaid, or commercial payers, they’re not subject to a lot of the regulations and box-checking that the rest of us are. It made me think I was stepping back in time to pre-2009, back when health systems were embracing technology because it was the right thing to do, not because they were being forced to. There was a level of enthusiasm back then and in this practice now that I don’t typically see.

I’ll be working with these folks for a while and am excited about it, not only for the opportunity to see a well-oiled machine and not have to fix very much, but also because of the providers. They are happy and it seems legitimate. Maybe it’s because their systems are optimized, maybe it’s because they don’t have to bill insurance, and maybe it’s because most of their patients are young and healthy with fairly self-limited conditions. Regardless, it’s a good way to experience a different part of the healthcare space and see what pearls of wisdom I can find as I continue on my travels. I’d be interested to hear from student health informaticists – their challenges and opportunities. It’s certainly a bit of a different space for me, but I like it.

What’s your favorite college fight song? Leave a comment or email me.

Email Dr. Jayne.

HIStalk Interviews Rich Berner, CEO, MDLive

August 13, 2018 Interviews No Comments

Rich Berner is CEO of MDLive of Sunrise, FL.

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Tell me about yourself and the company.

I approach this as technologist, having grown up programming computers since fourth grade. I got into healthcare about 15 years ago, working in a variety of roles across a number of the big EMR and population health management companies. While I come at this as a technologist, I spend most of my day with teams and clients, getting them to focus on the outcomes versus technology.

MDLive was founded in 2009 and serves over 27 million members, providing virtual care for urgent care, behavioral health, and dermatology needs. We have over 1,200 clinicians across the country, operating in all 50 states 24/7.

Surveyed Americans love the idea of virtual visits, but the number who have actually experienced them is small. What will drive adoption?

Our greatest challenge is getting the word out there. People who use this service tend to come back about 1.8 times per year after the first visit. Where payers or employers are covering most of not all of the cost of the visit, we can get adoption rates as high as 30, 40, or 45 percent.

Have state-specific virtual visit restrictions mostly been eliminated?

2017 was an inflection point. It felt like the regulatory environment, payer environment, provider environment, and consumer demand came together. We’re seeing significant growth this year. Now you’re seeing CMS continue to talk about the future rules, and now that they are seeing the results, they’re going to be covering more types of visits virtually.

Have health systems mostly decided not to set up their own virtual visit service?

Whenever new technology comes out, people might be a bit threatened by it. But we have seen our hospital and health system clients view us as a partner, where they’re using our platform with their own clinicians, and where appropriate, they’re using our network to complement what they’re doing. We’re both trying to solve the same problem, which is how to improve the access and convenience of healthcare while increasing quality and driving down cost. We enable them to do that in partnership versus competition.

How do you recruit providers and prepare them to practice in a virtual environment?

We have nine years of hard work doing recruiting to bring these folks on board. They get credentialed with our groups. We also give them training, not only on the tools, but also things like webside manner and how you provide care virtually versus physically.

As a large, national medical practice, can you do a better job than small practices in terms of practicing evidence-based medicine and monitoring quality and patient satisfaction?

For our payer, employer, and even our health system clients, when you’re able to manage quality with fewer touch points, you have a better ability to drive quality initiatives. We’re doing it at scale across the nation. We definitely think that’s an advantage for us and our group to improve quality.

What expectations do virtual visit patients have and what do they like or dislike most often?

While many patients have a good relationship with their primary care physician, many don’t have a primary care physician at all. Or even if they do, for certain types of conditions, the most important thing they’re looking for is convenience or privacy. The ability to get the care they want, when they want, where they want. We are working with patients to identify situations when they are less likely to be satisfied. If they think they already know what the answer is and want a certain prescription or antibiotics or they have a condition that may not be appropriate to treat virtually, we do our best to identify that very early on in the process so they don’t get too far into a visit before recognizing that it may not be appropriate for virtual, or the condition they have may be different than they thought.

What patient information is available to the provider before the visit? What information from the visit is shared with the patient’s primary care physician or health system?

For our payer, employer, and hospital and health system clients that feed us data, the provider has access to all of the information that those organizations have. In addition, we have Sophie, our interactive chatbot, that collects a certain amount of data. We’re rolling it out this quarter, where she is automating the triage process so that the provider can get presented with predictive SOAP note. It’s our goal to give the provider as much of the patient’s story as possible before they see the patient, so that when they do, they can focus on the things that they were trained to do — empathize, educate, and make sure they get to that proper diagnosis quickly and develop the plan of care.

What technologies do your doctors use to document and complete the visit?

They choose the device they want to work from. Then we have a lightweight EMR that automates as much of the visit as possible to focus on letting the physician do what they’re trained to do, which is focus on the care they want to provide. We take out as much of the registration, billing, scheduling, and documentation as possible. We’re seeing this have a significant impact on helping solve one of the biggest problems that is out there, which is physician burnout.

What are the characteristics of doctors who most enjoy providing virtual visits and what is their satisfaction level compared to a more traditional setting?

We do surveys regularly and focus on addressing any concerns that are raised. We believe there will a movement for the rise of the virtualist. These will be classic clinicians who, more and more, want to do this full time, similar to the hospitalist movement in the 1990s. We are seeing a broad array of physicians who want to do this, from millennials who want work-life balance to people who are getting near retirement and want to pull back from the shifts but still want to be able to provide care and focus on care rather than a lot of the administrative stuff.

Are providers satisfied with working episodically and not having ongoing involvement with that patient’s overall health?

I’ll answer in two ways. One, our physician satisfaction is higher than most national groups and survey averages that we’ve seen. They get a lot of real-time feedback. Once consumers become aware of this service and use it, they are so thankful for not having been forced to go to the emergency room or urgent care or driving 50 miles. They are getting that real-time feedback. They’re also getting feedback from surveys. For a lot of our clinicians, the patient can select if they want to schedule an appointment with the physician versus see one in real time, so a number of our clinicians see the same patient when they request a visit with the same clinician.

Does the patient choose the doctor or their location before the visit begins? How is a patient matched with a provider?

The clinician they ultimately see has to be licensed to provide care in that state. The consumer has the ability to say, I want to see the first available, or I want to schedule an appointment from a list of clinicians who are licensed to practice in the state.

Are you seeing doctors seeking medical licenses in multiple states just to prepare themselves for offering virtual visits?

Yes. The vast majority of our clinicians have multiple licenses.

What are the benefits of virtual care for people who are seeking counseling or psychiatric services?

As much as 40 percent of the population has behavioral issues. Many of them aren’t getting addressed, either because of access or embarrassment. We’re excited about providing these services virtually, which gives these people the ability to do it in the privacy, comfort, and convenience of their own home.

How will virtual visits change in the next 3-5 years?

We’ve done great work over the past two to three decades in automating the healthcare industry with electronic medical records, population health management systems, and even incorporating genetic information to make sure plans of care are personalized. But we still fundamentally haven’t disrupted the healthcare industry or the way care is provided. Telehealth represents a real opportunity to disrupt healthcare — to put it on the consumer’s terms and to give them care where they want, when they want, and how they want.

Looking out three to five years, we can see a healthcare system where a large portion of primary care is not only provided virtually, but is also automated and optimized through things like artificial intelligence and machine learning and with chatbots like Sophie, to help make that shift to proactive, predictive health management as well as care.

Do you have any final thoughts?

We’re extraordinarily excited about the opportunity in front of us. It’s not often that you can provide a service that’s better for the consumer, better for the clinician, and better for the healthcare system overall. Consumers can access it conveniently, clinicians can focus on providing care, and quality and cost will improve. It’s an exciting time for MDLive and the healthcare system overall.

Morning Headlines 8/13/18

August 12, 2018 Headlines No Comments

IBM Has a Watson Dilemma

The Wall Street Journal posts another critical review of IBM Watson Health for oncology, saying that “the diagnosis is gloomy” for Watson’s ability to improve cancer treatments.

Cory Wiegert Named New CEO of CancerLinQ LLC

CancerLinQ, a non-profit data initiative of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, hires Corey Wiegert (IBM Watson Health) as CEO.

Lawmakers Decry Trump “Cronyism” at the VA

Legislators call for VA Secretary Robert Wilkie to provide unredacted copies of his correspondence with President Trump’s informal VA advisors following ProPublica’s piece on the “Mar-a-Lago Crowd” and its influence on VA politics and programs.

FDA allows marketing of first direct-to-consumer app for contraceptive use to prevent pregnancy

In an agency first, the FDA approves marketing of the Natural Cycles birth control app as part of its fast-track approval program for digital health devices.

Monday Morning Update 8/13/18

August 12, 2018 News 4 Comments

Top News

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The Wall Street Journal posts another critical review of IBM Watson Health for oncology, saying that “the diagnosis is gloomy” for Watson’s ability to improve cancer treatments.


Reader Comments

From Axe the Fax: “Re: fax machines. Finally someone is pushing to get rid of them in healthcare.” We healthcare folks are always embarrassed by technologies that, while understandably outdated in the consumer arena and in other industries, are nearly perfectly suited for our needs. We have a zillion things wrong with the healthcare non-system, and fax machines and pagers — while emblematic of healthcare’s resistance to change – can be swapped out whenever a provider finds a better alternative (and while CMS has jumped on the bandwagon, I bet they still require providers to fax in information to support claims or information requests). Fax machines are the one form of interoperability that data-hoarding and technically incompetent providers can’t suppress, and in that regard, are disruptive in their own way. They require no training, they always work, and incoming faxes are easily noticed and sorted without sitting down with a keyboard. I wish we would save the righteous indignation and smarmy dismissiveness for things that should truly embarrass us, like poor value, self-serving clinical and administrative practices, and treating patients like the widgets of profit. We spent billions of taxpayer dollars on EHRs, and while they allowed health systems to preen about their high-tech wonderfulness, most of those providers didn’t see their cost or quality needle move one iota and neither will dumping fax machines – a better hammer doesn’t necessarily make you a great carpenter.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Most poll respondents don’t like the idea of someone having to file bankruptcy over medical bills. PFS_Guy says people don’t manage their money well and he doesn’t have good answers on how to help them, hoping that those in need look to charity or hospital financial assistance programs. Greg Park advocates Medicare-for-all because the profit-driven system preys worst on those with little or no insurance. Cosmos says someone has to pay for medical care, and if your short-sighted, invincibility-fueled decision to not buy insurance turns out to be unwise, you should have to take financial responsibility, including filing bankruptcy if needed. He adds a hypothetical example in which someone’s life is saved with a million-dollar hospital bill – is it unreasonable that bankruptcy gives that health system part of your life’s income in the form of a repayment plan? 

New poll to your right or here, continuing with the theme and getting right to the heart of today’s healthcare debate: Is it OK for insurers to charge sicker people higher health insurance premiums or refuse to cover them as was common pre-ACA and is about to become common again? A follow-up question might ask what should then be done when someone quickly runs out of resources and simply signs up for Medicaid so taxpayers foot the bill.

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Responses to last week’s question are here.

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We’re in peak vacation season, which raises this week’s question: what have you done with time off that turned out to be especially motivating, enriching, or transformative? Something that changed your life, maybe? Those of us looking for something beyond the usual vacations need some guidance.

Here’s my favorite quote of the moment, which I thought of upon biting my lip as an acquaintance who is dying of cancer explained that she still puts in endless work hours because nobody else can do her job: “Graveyards are full of indispensable men.”


Webinars

August 15 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “Raising the Digital Trajectory of Healthcare.” Sponsored by: Health Catalyst. Presenter: Dale Sanders, President of Technology, Health Catalyst. Healthcare ranks lowest in McKinsey’s Digital Quotient (data assets x data skills x data utilization) of all industries except mining and has largely ignored the digitization of patients’ state of health, but that’s changing. This webinar will describe the empathetic components of healthcare digitization strategy; the AI-enabled encounter; why today’s digital approach will never work and instead sucks the life out of clinicians; the role of bio-integrated sensors, genomics, and the “digitician;” and the technology and architecture of a modern digital platform. It’s going to happen, so let’s make it happen the right way.

Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for information.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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This should stir up some debate. FDA approves the first “gene-silencing” drug that treats a rare nerve destruction disease. The company spent $2.5 billion to develop Onpattro and will sell it for $450,000 per patient per year, including a money-back guarantee. The chief medical officer of Express Scripts applauds the company for “taking a responsible approach to pricing and patient access in the rare disease space.” About 50,000 people worldwide have the condition, of which 100 percent will want the drug versus the approximately 0.0 percent that can afford to pay for it. What do you do?


Decisions

  • Abington Hospital (PA) went live with Oracle HR software in January 2018.
  • Southeast Georgia Health System (GA) will go live with Kronos HR information system in September 2018.
  • Wake Forest Baptist Health (NC) plans to switch from Oracle HR information system to a new vendor that has not yet been chosen.
  • Sedgwick County Health Center (CO) switched from Azalea Health to MedWorks on February 1, 2018.
  • Parkside Psychiatric Hospital (OK) went live with Paycom HR software in spring 2018

These provider-reported updates are supplied by Definitive Healthcare, which offers a free trial of its powerful intelligence on hospitals, physicians, and healthcare providers.


People

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Ashish Sant (McKesson) is named SVP/GM of enterprise imaging of Change Healthcare.

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CancerLinQ, a non-profit data initiative of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, hires Corey Wiegert (IBM Watson Health) as CEO.


Announcements and Implementations

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Mobile Heartbeat launches CURE Analytics, which allows users of its mobile communications platform to improve communications processes and quality and to add communication data to a data warehouse.

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LOINC releases its FDA-funded “Guide for Using LOINC Microbiology Terms.”


Other

The government of India develops “e-mortality” software, hoping to improve on the 90 percent of death records that are not medically certified to include ICD-10 codes that indicate the underlying and contributing causes.

Minnesota’s health department finds that an appendectomy can cost as little as $6,600 or as much as $35,500, due not to which hospital is doing the work or how risky a particular patient is, but rather the secret price negotiations between health systems and insurance companies. Hospitals with little competition charged 15 percent more and patients are getting stuck with ever-higher bills because of high insurance deductibles and co-pays. 

In the UK, Alder Hey Children’s NHS Trust wants to use Microsoft HoloLens for a heads-up display for surgeons and Surface Hub for single-screen collaboration in sharing EHR data and medical images.

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Guess which country isn’t home to this market research firm whose website self-aggrandizes its “well-endowed research teams headed by true curators of talent and strong-headed individuals?”

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Weird News Andy confides that he heard about this in a tweet. A bronchoscopy reveals that a four-year-old boy’s mysterious, whistling-like cough is being caused, in fact, by an actual toy whistle.


Sponsor Updates

  • Medicomp Systems is exhibiting at Greenway Health’s Engage18 customer conference in National Harbor, MD August 10-13.
  • Iatric Systems posts a case study titled “Prevent Third-Party Breaches, Protect PHI, and Avoid the “Wall of Shame” with Iatric Systems SecureRamp.”
  • Black Book updates its mobile healthcare survey apps.
  • Liaison Technologies achieves record-breaking growth in the first half of 2018.
  • Lightbeam Health Solutions will exhibit at the SHIEC Conference August 19-22 in Atlanta.
  • Vyne President and CEO Lindy Benton joins the Florida State University Alumni Association National Board of Directors.
  • MedData’s Pulse intranet software wins ThoughtFarmer’s annual Best Intranet Awards in the Innovation category.
  • Surescripts will exhibit at the 2018 Aprima User Conference August 17-19 in Grapevine, TX.
  • SymphonyRM and ZappRx achieves AICPA SOC 2 Type 2 compliance.
  • TriNetX releases the agenda for its annual user conference September 25-26 in Boston.

Blog Posts


Contacts

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Reader Comments

  • Guy respondoing: Re: post-discharge contact. We were working with a vendor who said they would contact discharged patients via an automat...
  • A-M: Regarding the proposed Medicare fee schedule changes, have you heard anything from commercial insurances to suggest they...
  • Mr. HIStalk: Honestly, I haven't written a mailing address for so long that I don't really remember (ever since I discovered the bene...
  • Robert D. Lafsky M.D.: RE: EST vs. EDT Speaking of rules nobody knows, I'm wondering how you yourself format city, state and zip when you writ...
  • RobLS: RE: Fourth Hanson Brother Exactly what I was thinking. How does their "support" of interoperability actually transla...
  • Vaporware?: Why was facebook not invited? They've been very successful in acquiring and synthesizing all sorts of disparate data....
  • dza md: re: med students skipping class. IMHO, and speaking generally, an in-person lecture may benefit an audio learner but ...
  • Fourth Hanson Brother: What do Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Salesforce, and Oracle have in common? No impact in healthcare interoperability ...
  • Chris: NYP still uses Allscripts. I admit that I am an Allscripts employee but I must say that NYP has used my teams experience...
  • AndyWiesenthal: Where to start on your question about the value of medical education? First, while mastery of content is important, and...

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