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Morning Headlines 12/7/17

December 6, 2017 Headlines No Comments

National Health Expenditure Report Shows We Have Not Solved the Cost Problem

The latest update on health spending from CMS shows that spending grew 4.3 percent in 2016 to $3.3 trillion, representing 17.9 percent of the GDP.

Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity

NIST publishes a draft update of its Cybersecurity Framework.

Henry Ford Health data breach affecting 18K patients

Henry Ford Health System notifies 18,470 patients that someone gained unauthorized access to the email credentials to employees that would have allowed them to access patient information, including “name, date of birth, medical record number, provider’s name, date of service, department’s name, location, medical condition, and health insurer,” but not social security number or credit card information.

House lawmakers: VA Choice reform bill can wait until 2018

VA committee Chair Phil Roe (R-TN) says that the Veterans Choice program is no longer in danger of running out of funds and can wait until early 2018 before new funding legislation is needed.

Morning Headlines 12/6/17

December 5, 2017 Headlines No Comments

Advocate plans to merge with Wisconsin hospital giant Aurora

Advocate Health Care (IL) announces plans to merge with Aurora Health Care (WI) in a deal that will create the tenth-largest not-for-profit system. Under terms of the merger, neither system will pay the other cash, and the combined health system, to be called Advocate Aurora Health, will have 27 hospitals and $11 billion in annual revenue.

More than Half of All Healthcare Providers in the US are Connected Electronically through the Carequality Interoperability Framework

The Sequoia Project announces that more than 1,000 hospitals, 25,000 clinics, and 580,000 healthcare providers are connected through the Carequality interoperability framework, representing more than 50% of all healthcare providers in the country.

DeepVariant: Highly Accurate Genomes With Deep Neural Networks

Google releases DeepVariant, an open-source deep learning tool that analyzes genome data with significantly greater accuracy than previous methods.

Emergency rooms are monopolies. Patients pay the price.

A year-long investigative study on the use of emergency department facility fees concludes that costs climbed “89 percent between 2009 and 2015, rising twice as fast as the price of outpatient health care, and four times as fast as overall health care spending. Overall spending on emergency room fees rose by more than $3 billion.”

Morning Headlines 12/5/17

December 4, 2017 Headlines No Comments

Senators McCain, Moran Introduce Legislation to Reform VA Into 21st Century Health Care System

Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) introduce the Veterans Community Care and Access Act of 2017, legislation that would ramp up the Veterans Choice program by requiring the VA to use objective data to measure healthcare demand and availability in communities, offer access to walk-in clinics, offer telemedicine, increases graduate medical education and residency positions for employees, and improves its collaboration with community providers and other federal agencies.

Texas Medical Board Adopts New Telemedicine Policy

Telehealth vendor Teladoc drops a years-old legal battle against the Texas Medical Board after it reluctantly revised its licensing requirements to allow Texas physicians to treat patients via telemedicine without evaluating them in person beforehand.

Apple Launches Heart Study App in the US in Partnership with Stanford Medicine

Apple launches a heart health study in partnership with Stanford Medicine. The study uses sensors on the Apple Watch to detect atrial fibrillation. If the app detects an irregular heart rhythm, the user receives an alert on their iPhone and Apple Watch, a free consultation with a study doctor, and an electrocardiogram patch for further monitoring.

Mortality Quadrupled Among Opioid-Driven Hospitalizations, Notably Within Lower-Income And Disabled White Populations

A Health Affairs study finds that mortality rates for opioid poisoning hospital admissions quadrupled between 1994 to 2014, while mortality of hospitalizations due to other drugs remained unchanged.

Morning Headlines 12/4/17

December 3, 2017 Headlines No Comments

CVS agrees to buy Aetna in $69 billion deal that could shake up health-care industry

CVS announces an agreement to buy Aetna for $69 billion.

Former GE CEO Immelt Talks Uber, A.I., and a Rejected Bid for Epic

Jeff Immelt recounts several health IT-related anecdotes from his time as CEO of GE, including one when he passed on acquiring Cerner because he though the $2 billion price point was too expensive, and another in which he met with Judy Faulkner in hopes of acquiring a portion of Epic, but was quickly shown the door.

Trinisys Acquires MICA Health

Nashville, TN based Trinisys announces that it has completed the acquisition of MICA Health, a data archiving vendor that supports ambulatory EHR migrations.

Morning Headlines 12/1/17

November 30, 2017 Headlines No Comments

Drug Charity May Shutter After U.S. Faults Pharma Influence

Caring Voice Coalition, a big pharma-funded charity setup to help patients pay their prescription drug co-payments, will likely shut down after an OIG investigation finds that the charity was providing drugmakers detailed information on whether their charitable contributions were going to their own customers, which ultimately allows them to raise the prices of their drugs for insurers, while insulating patients from the immediate out-of-pocket effects.

VA misses deadline on Cerner contract

The VA misses its own self-imposed deadline to sign its contract with Cerner. The contract is reportedly ready to execute, but the VA needs approval from the House and Senate Appropriations committee to transfer of $374 million between existing accounts prior to moving forward, which it has not yet received.

Siemens unit set for major Frankfurt IPO

Siemens will list its healthcare unit, Siemens Healthineers, on the German stock exchange at a value of $47 billion.

Hardly anyone uses Australia’s My Health Record service

Australia’s nationwide patient portal and health information exchange service has almost no traffic, despite its $1.5 billion price tag. Fewer than 200 GP patient summaries and 150 hospital discharge summaries are accessed by healthcare providers in a given month.

Morning Headlines 11/30/17

November 30, 2017 Headlines No Comments

Nuance Fourth Quarter and Fiscal 2017

Nuance releases Q4 results: adjusted revenue fell to $466 million, compared to $506.2 during the same quarter last year, adjusted EPS -$0.23 vs. $0.06, beating estimates on both and driving share prices up 3.2 percent in after hours trading. In its financial statements, the company noted that costs associated with its NotPetya cyberattack totaled $53 million in Q4, less than the $65 – $75 million range it initially estimated.

Is It Time for a New Medical Specialty? The Medical Virtualist

An article in JAMA proposes creating a medical virtualist specialty that would focus primarily on providing telehealth-based services.

Medicare Part D Opioid Prescribing Mapping Tool

CMS releases new data visualizations showing geo-located Medicare Part D opioid prescribing rates from 2013 to 2015 with additional information on extended-release opioid prescribing rates and spatial analyses to identify “hot spots.”

Remarks by Dr. Gottlieb at FDA’s Generic Drug Science Day

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD says the agency is approving record numbers of generic drugs in its push to speed up the “approval of safe, high-quality, and more affordable generic drugs.”

Morning Headlines 11/29/17

November 29, 2017 Headlines 1 Comment

University Hospital Patient Information Was Potentially Vulnerable to Hackers

The student newspaper at the University of Chicago exposes network vulnerabilities that would allow anyone on the school’s network to access printers used within the hospital, where any hacker could access “organ donation logs, surgery face sheets, prescriptions, and even medical records.”

Here’s a good use of AI: help prevent suicide

Mark Zuckerberg announces that Facebook will deploy algorithms designed to identify suicidal ideation to connect its users with someone that can provide immediate help, rather than waiting for concerning posts to be flagged by users.

Athenahealth Files An 8-K

Athenahealth names Marc A. Levine, formerly of the JDA Software Group, as its next CFO.

UnitedHealth’s Optum Launches $250M Fund To Invest In Start-Ups

UnitedHealth will invest $250 million in early-stage healthcare startups.

Morning Headlines 11/28/17

November 27, 2017 Headlines No Comments

Two St. Joseph County hospitals accused of false claims, kickbacks

A $300 million lawsuit filed in Indiana alleges that 62 Indiana-based hospitals defrauded the government when they attested to Meaningful Use but, in practice, repeatedly failed to provide electronic copies of medical records to its patients within 3 business days.

Judge: 84-year-old doctor who doesn’t use computer can’t regain license

In New Hampshire, a judge rules that 84-yer-old Anna Konopka, MD cannot renew her medical license. She claims that state regulators forced her to give up her license over her unwillingness to use a computer and, as a result, her inability to comply with the state’s mandatory PDMP policies.

Prediction of Acute Kidney Injury with a Machine Learning Algorithm using Electronic Health Record Data

An AI algorithm designed to detect early onset of acute kidney injury outperforms current detection protocols, leading researchers to conclude that a “machine-learning-based AKI prediction tool may offer important prognostic capabilities for determining which patients are likely to suffer AKI.”

Rotunda Hospital Officially Moves Away From Paper-Based Records

Dublin-based Rotunda Hospital, the oldest continuously operating maternity hospital in the world, goes live on Cerner, replacing paper-based workflows.

Morning Headlines 11/27/17

November 26, 2017 Headlines 1 Comment

Amazon’s cloud is about to announce a huge health-care deal with Cerner, sources say

Cerner and Amazon’s AWS business are partnering to bring Cerner’s population health product, HealtheIntent, to the cloud.

Cottage Hospital Pays $2 Million to Settle Security Breach Lawsuit

Cottage Hospital (CA) reaches a $2 million settlement with the California Attorney General’s office after the health system left a server containing patient records exposed to the Internet for over three years. Investigators found that Google searches led to hundreds of records being inappropriately accessed during that time.

Many doctors aren’t checking Florida database for opioid control, study finds

In Florida, only 21 percent of physicians and 57 percent of pharmacists have registered with the state’s PDMP. The state has had a PDMP since 2011, but adoption has been slow because checking the database is voluntary, and EHR integration is still missing.

Ginger.io Builds on AI Foundation, Offering New Model of Emotional and Mental Health Support

Ginger.io, a digital health startup building a behavioral health surveillance and disease management platform, pivots its strategy due to lackluster demand for its product. The company will now move into the provider space, offering technology-driven behavioral health services.

Morning Headlines 11/22/17

November 21, 2017 Headlines No Comments

American Medical Association severs ties with Outcome Health

AMA formally distances itself from Outcome Health over fraud allegations leveled by investors and investigative reporters.

For the First Time, a Robot Passed a Medical Licensing Exam

In China, an AI-powered robot passes the national medical examination with an above average score.

Trump FCC chair unveils plan to repeal net neutrality

The FCC announces plans to dismantle regulations that uphold net neutrality.

Morning Headlines 11/21/17

November 20, 2017 Headlines No Comments

The Crisis Next Door: President Donald J. Trump is Confronting an Opioid Crisis more Severe than Original Expectations

The White House publishes revised figures on the opioid crisis, reporting that drug overdoses are now the leading cause of injury death in the United States, outnumbering traffic crashes or gun-related deaths. The report estimates that the cost of the opioid crisis in 2015 was $504 billion, or 2.8 percent of GDP.

From Katrina To Wildfires: Leveraging Technology In Disaster Response

In a Health Affairs article, former National Coordinator Karen DeSalvo, MD explores how EHRs can help coordinate care for patients impacted by natural disasters. In 2005, DeSalvo lived in New Orleans and worked at Tulane University School of Medicine as the Vice Dean of Community Affairs and Health Policy when Hurricane Katrina devastated the city.

A New Algorithm Can Spot Pneumonia Better Than a Radiologist

Stanford University researchers have developed an AI algorithm trained on a data set of 100,000 chest x-rays that were annotated with information on 14 different diseases that turn up in the images. The algorithm has proved to be more reliable at spotting each of the 14 diseases than a group of board certified radiologists that also interpreted the images.

Apple CEO Tim Cook gave a shout-out to a $100-per-year app for doctors — here’s what it does

During its recent earnings call Apple CEO Tim Cook mentioned digital health app VisualDx, noting that the company is using Apple’s machine learning plugin to help dermatologists diagnoses skin conditions from a photo.

Morning Headlines 11/20/17

November 19, 2017 Headlines 1 Comment

VA exploring idea of merging health system with Pentagon

The VA is exploring the possibility of merging the VA’s Choice program, which allows some veterans to receive care from private doctors, with the DoD’s Tricare health insurance program.

The Advisory Board Company Stockholders Approve Merger Agreement With Optum

Optum completes its acquisition of the Advisory Board. Optum will retain the Advisory Board’s healthcare business unit, and sell its education business unit to Vista Equity Partners.

Health Giant Sutter Destroys Evidence In Crucial Antitrust Case Over High Prices

A California Superior Court judge finds that Sutter Health intentionally destroyed 192 boxes of documents that employers and labor unions were seeking, “knowing that the evidence was relevant to antitrust issues.”

Computer system upgrade causing delays at Banner’s Tucson hospitals, clinics

Banner Health’s Tucson-based hospitals are working through operational delays following its October 1 Cerner go-live. John Hensing, MD and chief clinical officer for the health system, says that he expects operations to return to normal by the end of the year.

Morning Headlines 11/17/17

November 16, 2017 Headlines No Comments

Some CVS pharmacies are blocking prescription refills, exec blames ‘internal network’ issues

CVS reports nationwide network outages that prevented customers from being able to refill their medications.

Stjeptan Tot vs. eClinicalWorks

The estate of a deceased cancer patient files a class action lawsuit against eClinical Works arguing that the company’s $155 million settlement with OCR over falsified Meaningful Use certification statements stemmed from missing functionality that compromised patient safety. The suit is seeking nearly $1 billion in damages.

CHIME National Patient ID Challenge

CHIME suspends its National Patient ID Challenge after two years of effort that yielded no meaningful results. A press release announcing the decision explains, “Though we’ve made great progress and moved the industry forward in many ways through the Challenge, we ultimately did not achieve the results we sought to this complex problem.”

Morning Headlines 11/16/17

November 15, 2017 Headlines 1 Comment

U.S. scientists try gene editing inside a person for the first time, aiming to cure a disease

For the first time, UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital researchers have injected a patient with a CRISPR-based therapy designed to permanently edit his DNA in hopes of curing his Hunter syndrome, a rare but terminal genetic disease.

HHS cybersecurity initiative paralyzed by ethics, contracting investigation

The top two executives at the Health Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, a new HHS office established to help providers protect themselves from cyberattacks, have left the fledgling department amid fraud allegations.

Oversight Hearing – Veterans Affairs Electronic Health Record

VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD testifies before the House Appropriations Committee on its systemwide Cerner implementation.

Towards a genomics-informed, real-time, global pathogen surveillance system

A Nature article explores the possibility of combining sequencing of pathogen gene sequencing to help epidemiologists bring about innovative digital disease detection platforms.

Morning Headlines 11/15/17

November 14, 2017 Headlines No Comments

Transforming Medicine Through Innovation: Looking Beyond the Chaos of the Moment

At its Interim Meeting this week, American Medical Association EVP/CEO James Madara, MD calls for more clinically-organized EHR workflows, improved interoperability, and inclusion of the patient’s own feedback in charts, all leading to more context and meaning to the clinical data now available to providers. Describing the current healthcare landscape, he says, “we confront oceans of data, but only puddles of clinical meaning.”

MEDITECH Introduces MaaS, a Cloud-Based EHR Subscription

Meditech announces availability of a cloud-hosted EHR aimed at the critical access hospital market.

Health records vendor looks to settle lawsuit with VA

CliniComp, the plaintiffs in a suit filed against the VA for selecting Cerner as its next EHR in a no-bid contract, offers to settle its appeal in exchange for the opportunity to prove to the non-partisan General Services Administration that its system “can be delivered cheaper, faster, and better than the alternative.”

Humana Elects Karen DeSalvo, M.D., to Board of Directors

Humana adds Karen DeSalvo, MD, former Assistant Secretary of HHS and National Coordinator for Health IT, to its Board of Directors.

Morning Headlines 11/14/17

November 13, 2017 Headlines No Comments

Trump Chooses Alex Azar for Health and Human Services Secretary

Former Eli Lily executive Alex Azar has been nominated as the next Secretary of HHS. Azar has a law degree from Yale University and served as a deputy within HHS under President George W. Bush.

Dr. John Halamka voices thoughts on precision medicine and the road ahead

MedCity News interviews John Halamka, MD and CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center on EHRs and precision medicine.

Why I’m Digging Deep Into Alzheimer’s

Bill Gates launches the Dementia Discovery Fund, a $50 million private fund that will invest in a diverse selection of research efforts aimed at identifying new treatments for dementia.

New Opioid Addiction-Documentation Tip Sheet from AHIMA

AHIMA publishes a tip sheet to help improve physician documentation of opioid use, abuse, and dependency.

Morning Headlines 11/13/17

November 12, 2017 Headlines 2 Comments

NHS accused of breaching doctor-patient confidentiality for helping Home Office target foreigners

In England, the Migrants’ Rights Network challenges the legal precedent under which the Home Office requests NHS patient data in support of immigration enforcement efforts. According to England’s Department of Health, the Home Office made 8,127 requests for data in the first 11 months of 2016, which led to 5,854 people being traced by immigration enforcement teams

Breaking Down The MACRA Final Rule

Health Affairs analyzes the CMS final rule updating MACRA’s Quality Payment Program criteria for reporting year 2018.

Marshall Medical invests $20 million in new electronic medical records system

Marshall Medical Center (CA) will implement Epic across its hospital, clinic, and home health divisions. CEO James Whipple commented, “Epic is the dominant EHR provider in the area. Information can be shared across (each) system.” Kaiser Permanente and UC Davis both also use Epic and are both providing care within Marshall Medical’s community.

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