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Morning Headlines 1/3/18

January 2, 2018 Headlines No Comments

At Veterans Hospital in Oregon, a Push for Better Ratings Puts Patients at Risk, Doctors Say

Doctors at the VA hospital in Roseburg, OR point to shady administrative efforts to boost quality ratings, including discharging sick ED patients and steering the chronically ill to nearby hospice care to avoid in-hospital deaths.

Computer downtime update 1-2-18

Jones Memorial Hospital (NY) notifies patients of the continued IT systems downtime after a December 27 cyberattack.

Promoting Telehealth in Rural America

The FCC seeks comments on a proposed rule that would increase and potentially reallocate funding for the Rural Health Care Program.

SSM Health Reports Privacy Breach of Medical Records

SSM Health (MO) notifies 29,000 patients of a November data breach involving inappropriate employee access. The call-center employee honed his activities in on a small group of patients with controlled substance prescriptions from a particular PCP in St. Louis.

Morning Headlines 1/2/18

January 1, 2018 Headlines 1 Comment

Meuhedet Signs Giant Telemedicine Agreement With US Startup

Israel-based HMO Meuhedet inks a deal with American Well valued at between $50 million and $60 million. The company, which is the country’s third-largest HMO, will be the first non-US business to work with American Well. Israeli-born brothers Ido and Roy Schoenberg – both physicians – founded the telemedicine company in 2006.

US medical device tax back in effect after two-year pause

A medical device sales tax of 2.3 percent goes back into effect after a two-year hiatus, a development the Advanced Medical Technology Association believes will stifle innovation and lead to the loss and/or creation of jobs.

FDA chief: I’m surprised it took big tech this long to get into health care

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD shares his thoughts on the ways in which Amazon, Apple, and Alphabet will transform the healthcare industry.

New year set to bring overhauled electronic health records system to Newman Regional Health

In Kansas, Newman Regional Health deploys Meditech 6.16 – its first medical records upgrade in 21 years.

Morning Headlines 12/29/17

December 28, 2017 Headlines No Comments

State’s $44.3M health data system ‘at a crossroads,’ study says

A review of Vermont’s statewide HIE finds financial and administrative issues and an erosion of end user confidence.

CMS Appears to Forbid All Forms of Text Messaging

A health law firm reports that CMS has been issuing warnings hospitals that any form of texting PHI is unacceptable, even through secure text messaging applications. UPDATE: only ordering via text message is prohibited, as confirmed with CMS.

Swallowing a Spy — The Potential Uses of Digital Adherence Monitoring

A NEJM perspective article questions the usefulness of digital medicines, specifically the ingestible sensor manufactured by Proteus Digital Health to track and improve medication adherence. In the article, author Lisa Rosenbaum, MD opines that for digital monitoring to improve adherence rates, “lapses would probably need to reflect pragmatic rather than psychological obstacles, particularly for diseases for which medication taking isn’t associated with relief of symptoms.”

Some Doctors Still Billing Medicare for the Most Complicated, Expensive Office Visits

A ProPublica investigation questions the billing patterns of providers that almost exclusively bill CMS for the most expensive and complex visit type.

Morning Headlines 12/28/17

December 27, 2017 Headlines No Comments

Federal Exchange Open Enrollment for 2018 coverage, most cost effective saving Americans millions of dollars while improving customer service and access to care

CMS reports that 8.8 million consumers used Healthcare.gov to buy health insurance during this year’s enrollment period, down from 9.2 million last year. CMS spent $10 million on marketing and outreach this year, compared to the $100 million spent last year.

CMS to relax reporting rules for ACOs impacted by hurricanes, fires

CMS publishes an interim final rule adjusting the reporting requirements of the Medicare Shared Savings Program to provide leniency to ACOs that were impacted by natural disasters this year.

Ransomware focus limits healthcare IT progress in 2017

Modern Healthcare looks back on 2017 and concludes that the onslaught of ransomware attacks overshadowed any gains made in health IT this year.

Morning Headlines 12/27/17

December 26, 2017 Headlines 1 Comment

RFI — Indian Health Services HIT Modernization

Indian Health Services issues an RFI seeking help developing a health IT modernization strategy as it prepares to migrate away from VistA.

Regional Variation of Computed Tomographic Imaging in the United States and the Risk of Nephrectomy

A study concludes that the overuse of CT scanning correlates with an increase in discovery of unrelated kidney tumors and an uptick in clinically unnecessary kidney surgeries.

Orlando Portale – My Year End Rant

Health IT strategist Orlando Portale calls on health IT evangelists working the speaker circuit to invest time learning how machine learning algorithms work before telling audiences that they will solve health IT’s woes.


Morning Headlines 12/26/17

December 25, 2017 Headlines No Comments

Theranos gets $100 million in debt financing to carry it through 2018, with some caveats

Fortress Investment Group, a New York-based private equity firm, issues a $100 million debt financing round to Theranos, subject to hitting product and operational milestones. CEO Elizabeth Holmes reports that the new funding provides the company “sufficient liquidity through 2018.”

Health insurer Oscar nears $1 billion in revenue

Next year, Oscar Health anticipates hitting 250,000 subscribers in New York and California and revenue of $1 billion.

Family doctors call for guaranteed access to EMR data for research and quality improvement

The College of Family Physicians of Canada, along with the Canadian Primary Care Sentinel Surveillance Network and the University of Toronto Practice-Based Research Network, are lobbying against EHR vendors over information blocking tactics that are preventing clinicians from accessing data.

Morning Headlines 12/22/17

December 21, 2017 Headlines No Comments

Fortified Releases 2018 Horizon Report Detailing Healthcare Cybersecurity

Fortified Health Security releases its 2018 report on cybersecurity in healthcare in which it predicts double-digit increases in breaches and new variants of the WannaCry ransomware attack making rounds.

US life expectancy falls for second straight year — as drug overdoses soar

Life expectancy in the US fell for the second year in a row, the first time life expectancy has dropped two-years in a row since the 1960s. The opioid epidemic claimed 63,000 lives in 2016, a 21 percent year-over-year increase in overdose mortality.

Healthcare Management Consulting 2017

KLAS releases a report analyzing the performance of healthcare management consulting firms.

Morning Headlines 12/21/17

December 20, 2017 Headlines 3 Comments

Important Update: Domain Registrar Account Compromised

Medhost reports that the account used to register its Medhost.com domain was compromised during a cyberattack Tuesday, but assures customers that all internal systems have remained under the company’s control throughout the incident. The company is reiterating that patient information has not been compromised.

Aledade raises $23 million in new funding round

Aledade, the health IT startup founded by former National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari, MD, closes a $23 million venture round led by Venrock and Biomatics Capital Partners, bringing its funding total to $97 million since its 2014 launch.

What This Computer Needs Is a Physician Humanism and Artificial Intelligence

A JAMA Viewpoint article is cautiously optimistic about the potential for AI to improve EHR usability, but urges developers to include front-line physicians in the design and deployment of these tools, noting that, “Even though the EMR may serve as an efficient administrative business and billing tool, and even as a powerful research warehouse for clinical data, most EMRs serve their front-line users quite poorly.”

We’re A Bunch of Expensive Financial Clerks

Brent James, MD, Vice President, and Chief Quality Officer for Intermountain Healthcare, imagines a next-generation EHR that lets clinicians pull core clinical and billing functions into their own customized, activity-based workflow designs. He goes on to say “Epic is dead, Cerner is dead, in their current form. It’s only a matter of time.”

Morning Headlines 12/20/17

December 19, 2017 Headlines 1 Comment


EDIS vendor MedHost is the victim of a ransomware attack that brought down its webpage twice on Tuesday. The company has yet to make a public statement about the attack, and its public-facing webpage has since been restored.

Humana, private-equity firms buy Kindred Healthcare for $4 billion

Humana has partnered with two private equity firms to acquire home-health care and long-term care operator Kindred Health for $4 billion.

Health IT Leader Fortifies Tech and Policy Innovation at Dell Medical School

Former National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo, MD joins the faculty at the University of Texas Austin’s Dell Medical School where she will serve as a professor in the Division of Primary Care and Value-Based Health.

It’s Official: North Korea Is Behind WannaCry

Republican White House staffer Thomas Bossert pens a Wall Street Journal op-ed publicly attributing the WannaCry cyberattack to North Korea operatives.

Morning Headlines 12/19/17

December 18, 2017 Headlines No Comments

CDC director tells staff ‘there are no banned words,’ while not refuting report

CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald sent an internal email this week assuring staff that the agency would always be a science-based institution and noting that reports that the Trump administration released a list of banned phrases for the CDC, including “evidence-based” and “science-based” were not entirely accurate and would not impact the agency’s work. In a Sunday morning tweet she reiterated that “there are no banned words at CDC.”

Highmark, Penn State Health officially sign off on partnership deal

Highmark finalizes a $1 billion partnership with Penn State Health that will establish a Central Pennsylvania health network that will use Highmark’s insurance data and Penn State’s delivery network to build a cost effective care delivery model.

ONC launches tool to collect patient demographic data

Responding to reports that a vast majority of medical errors occur because of erroneous patient data, ONC and the CMMI Institute release the Patient Demographic Data Quality framework, a collection of best practice recommendations on collecting and improving patient data.

FDA takes more aggressive stance toward homeopathic drugs

The FDA is taking a tougher stance on homeopathic drugs, specifically those containing potentially harmful ingredients or being marketed for cancer, heart disease, or opioid and alcohol addictions.

Morning Headlines 12/18/17

December 17, 2017 Headlines No Comments

UPDATED: Tampa health IT company lays off 120 in Georgia

An Atlanta business paper updates a story it published on Greenway Health’s layoffs last week, clarifying that the EHR vendor is only closing its Atlanta offices but will keep its Carrollton, GA offices open.

McKesson unit wins $400 million U.S. defense contract: Pentagon

McKesson wins a $400 million contract to provide DoD a digital imaging network.

John Halamka Celebrated as Inaugural International Healthcare Innovation Professor

BIDMC CIO John Halamka, MD is named International Healthcare Innovation Professor byHarvard Medical School.

Cigna Acquires Brighter, a Leader in Digital Engagement of Health Care Consumers

Cigna acquires patient engagement vendor Brighter. Co-founder Jake Winebaum comments, “We set out to use technology and consumerism to improve the health insurance experience and reduce unnecessary costs. Our experience with Cigna as a partner over the past two years has proven that those goals can be accomplished.”

Morning headlines 12/15/17

December 14, 2017 Headlines 1 Comment

Software firm protests upgrade contract for UI’s Chicago med school

Cerner is protesting the University of Illinois medical center’s decision to award Epic a $62 million, seven-year contract.

21st Century Oncology To Pay $26 Million To Settle False Claims Act Allegations

21st Century Oncology will pay $26 million for fraudulently attesting to Meaningful Use, noting that “its employees falsified data regarding the company’s use of EHR software, fabricated software utilization reports, and superimposed EHR vendor logos onto the reports to make them look legitimate.”

120 people affected in health IT company Georgia facility changes

Greenway Health announces that it is laying off 120 employees and closing its Atlanta and Carrollton, GA offices as it moves to consolidate its headquarters in Tampa. UPDATE: the local paper reporting this news has updated its story. Greenway is eliminating some jobs at the Carrollton office, but it will remain open.

Preliminary Survey Findings: Impact of the Trump Administration on Health IT and Is Health IT in a Bubble?

A Health Growth Partners survey investigating the Trump Administration’s impact on health IT finds that 72 percent of respondents do not feel that the current administration has had any impact on business.

Morning Headlines 12/14/17

December 13, 2017 Headlines No Comments

This Startup Wants to Democratize CRISPR Gene Editing Research By Making It Free

A Venrock-backed startup called Inscripta is releasing an alternative CRISPR-Cas9 enzyme that scientists can use for free to conduct research. CEO Kevin Ness reports, “You can go right to the website, download the sequences instantly, even get a user guide.”

A health care paradox: measuring and reporting quality has become a barrier to improving it

A STAT opinion piece explores the conflicting dynamic between “patient-centered care and the administrative burdens that measurement imposes on physicians, hospitals, and health systems.”

New CDC head faces questions about financial conflicts of interest

CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald recuses herself from decisions involving health IT and cancer detection because her and her husband are legally required to retain equity in companies involved in both markets.  Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) is questioning her ability to function in her role if she is unable to engage in conversations around cancer care, the second leading cause of death in the US.

Email is the biggest source of data breaches

A new survey finds that email is the leading cause of data breaches in healthcare, contributing to 73 breaches thus far in 2017, affecting 574,000 people.

Morning Headlines 12/13/17

December 12, 2017 Headlines 1 Comment

Health IT company that sued VA goes after Cerner’s patents

Following a failed legal attempt to block the VA’s no-bid Cerner deal, CliniComp is now suing Cerner directly, citing patent infringement of a 2003 patent that describes remote hosting of a hospital IT system.

Aetna wants to create a ‘Genius Bar’ at CVS, and it could forever change the way Americans access healthcare

On a recent earnings call, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini described plans to roll out CVS-based ‘health hubs’ that would provide patient navigator services. He likens the service to Apple’s Genius Bar, and explains that in this case, employees would be “preparing them for their visits, setting up appointments, eliminating prior ops, doing all those other sorts of things to help navigate that system for them.”

Diagnostic Assessment of Deep Learning Algorithms for Detection of Lymph Node Metastases in Women With Breast Cancer

An cross-sectional analyses of 32 deep learning algorithms designed to review pathology images concludes that seven deep learning algorithms performed better than “a panel of 11 pathologists in a simulated time-constrained diagnostic setting.”

NewYork-Presbyterian and Walgreens Collaborate To Bring World-Class Care Through Telemedicine

NewYork-Presbyterian will begin offering telehealth services provided by its ED doctors to non-emergency patients at local Walgreens.

Morning Headlines 12/12/17

December 11, 2017 Headlines 1 Comment

Hopkins taps Duke executive to head medical system

Johns Hopkins Health System names Kevin Sowers, current president and CEO of Duke University Hospital, as its next president.

More delays, cost overruns hit Vancouver electronic health project

In Canada, a local paper profiles the Cerner implementation at Vancouver Coastal Health, the Provincial Health Services Authority, and Providence Health Care, which executives say is now $130 million over budget and a year behind schedule.

HHS announces the winners of the HHS Opioid Code-a-Thon

HHS announces winners from its Opioid Code-a-Thon, an innovation challenge that attracted 50 teams comprised of programmers and public health advocates that worked together for 24 hours to create data-driven tools that could be used to combat the epidemic.

OIG Advisory Opinion No. 17-07

HHS OIG approves a pilot program that will allow a pharmaceutical manufacturer to fund and implement integration points between a community hospital and community pharmacists so that pharmacists would gain real-time access to patient discharge information.

Morning Headlines 12/11/17

December 10, 2017 Headlines No Comments

The White House will convene a meeting on EHR interoperability this Tuesday

Jared Kushner and CMS Administrator Seema Verma will chair a half-day session that addresses interoperability, authentication, and accelerating progress.

Philips expands its Population Health Management business with the acquisition of VitalHealth

The Netherlands-based, 200-employee population health management software vendor was co-founded by Mayo Clinic and Noaber Foundation in 2006.

Hospital Giants in Talks to Merge to Create Nation’s Largest Operator

Ascension and Providence St. Joseph Health are reportedly discussing a merger that would create a 191-hospital system with $45 billion in annual revenue.

Historical Perspective on Health System Modernization Contracts and Update on Efforts to Address Key FITARA-Related Areas

A GAO report finds that the VA spent $1.1 billion on four failed efforts to modernize VistA.

Morning Headlines 12/8/17

December 7, 2017 Headlines No Comments

Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD on advancing new digital health policies to encourage innovation, bring efficiency and modernization to regulation

FDA releases three sets of digital health guidance: clinical decision support (draft), reassertion that lifestyle apps will not be treated as medical devices (draft), and how software will be assessed as a medical device (final).

Dignity and CHI sign definitive agreement to merge

Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiatives will merge to create the country’s largest health system as measured by operating revenue.

Apple health exec Anil Sethi leaves to form new healthcare records startup

Apple’s health director Anil Sethi leaves to focus on his medical information sharing startup Ciitizen.

Using Electronic Health Data for Community Health

A report from public health grant-making organization De Beaumont Foundation and Johns Hopkins University presents use cases describing how public health agencies could use provider EHR data without running afoul of HIPAA.

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