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News 3/3/21

March 2, 2021 News 6 Comments

Top News

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HHS OIG Principal Deputy Inspector General Christi Grimm, MPA and HHS OIG Chief Medical Officer Julie Taitsman, MD, JD say that prescriptions should be required to include the condition for which the drug is being prescribed.

They say in a Stat opinion piece that including the reason the drug is being prescribed would help Medicare detect off-label use that is not payable, such as prescribing hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19.

The authors believe that including the diagnosis would also help people organize the meds of their family members and would make it easier for pharmacists to identify safety issues. They note that privacy concerns are minimal since pharmacists are bound by HIPAA.

Cures Act standards already require EHRs to be able to send and receive the reason for the prescription.

HHS OIG previously made the same recommend in 2011, when it was endorsed by the American Pharmacists Association.


Reader Comments

From Carry On: “Re: my new CIO job. Thanks for mentioning it. I have been an avid HIStalk reader for many years and it is required reading for my team.” I’m always surprised when someone says that they read what I write, given that I just fill an empty screen with whatever interests me without considering the invisible presence of bystanders. An industry legend seemed puzzled years ago when I expressed skepticism about how many CIOs read HIStalk (since I have no way of knowing), after which that person said every CIO they know reads it. Regardless, I’m happy to have anyone who keeps coming back.


Webinars

None scheduled soon. Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre to present your own.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Mayo Clinic-backed maternal and fetal remote patient monitoring company Marani Health raises $3.7 million.

Blueprint Health Merger will raise $200 million through its IPO, according to SEC filings. Led by former Thomson Reuters CEO Richard Harrington and former Virgin Pulse CEO Rajiv Kumar, MD the blank-check company plans to pursue digital healthcare deals.

Health IT vendor MTBC renames itself CareCloud, the EHR vendor it acquired last year for $36 million.

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DeliverHealth Solutions completes its acquisition of Nuance’s transcription services business and EScription technology, first announced last November. Nuance holds a minority share in the Madison, WI-based company.

Hill-Rom cancels its plan to acquire ambulatory ECG monitoring vendor Bardy Diagnostics for $375 million, citing potentially unexpected reductions in Medicare reimbursements for patient-monitoring devices. Bardy has filed a lawsuit in an effort to force the acquisition.

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Truvian Sciences raises a $105 million Series C round of financing. The company, which counts former Livongo Chairman Glen Tullman among its investors, is developing an automated, bench-top device that can perform multiple blood tests. Truvian President and CEO Jeff Hawkins has stressed that the company’s goals are far less “extravagant” than those of its pseudo-predecessor, Theranos.

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Reperio Health raises $6 million in seed funding to advance the rollout of its kits for employer-provided, at-home wellness screenings. The co-founders came from contact lens prescription service Sightbox, which Johnson & Johnson acquired in mid-2017 and then shut down two years later.


Sales

  • Apervita embeds Diameter Health’s data optimization and interoperability capabilities within its care collaboration software.
  • The government of Scotland chooses Genesis Automation for hospital inventory tracking.

People

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Philips hires Shez Partovi, MD (Amazon Web Services) as chief innovation and strategy officer and a member of the company’s executive committee. He held executive informatics roles at Dignity Health from 2011-2018 and helped launch the biomedical informatics program at Arizona State University. He replaces Jeroen Tas, who is leaving the company to spend more time coaching digital businesses.

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Divurgent hires Adam Tallinger (Impact Advisors) as VP of provider services.

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Optum names Maia Laing (HHS) VP of product.

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Industry long-timer Drex DeFord, MSHI, MPA (Drexio) joins CrowdStrike as executive healthcare strategist.

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Keith Lynn (Virtustream) joins ChartSpan as CTO.


Announcements and Implementations

Northern Inyo Healthcare District (CA) will implement Cerner Millenium through the CommunityWorks program.

Sharp HealthCare is using Experian Health’s Patient Schedule to allow patients to self-schedule COVID-19 vaccinations.

Highmark Health and Verily will develop digital solutions for chronic care management in a six-year collaboration that includes Verily-owned wellness app vendor Onduo, whose CEO is former National Coordinator Vindell Washington, MD, MS.

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Diameter Health develops a HL7 C-CDA Online Search Tool for the Consolidated Clinical Document Architecture and its Companion Guide.

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Community Hospital (CO) goes live on Meditech Expanse.

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Gatorade introduces its first wearable, a “sweat patch” and IOS-only app that measures sweat loss during exercise to recommend the volume of sports drink to consume as a replacement (guess which one?) Single-use patches costs $12.50 each, which would seem to limit the potential customer base.

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Period tracking app vendor Clue earns FDA clearance for its “digital birth control,” which statistically models a woman’s self-reported period onset to predict days where they are more likely to become pregnant. The company claims that the app is 92% effective with typical use, although it recently removed a similar feature from its period tracking app because it was found to be unreliable for avoiding pregnancy. The company’s user access agreement had better be airtight to prevent disastrous payouts from the inevitable lawsuits that claim unwanted pregnancy in demanding the net present value of the resulting lifetime cost.

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Senior living community operator Asbury Communities renames its Frederick, MD-based IT outsourcing and consulting group to ThriveWell Tech.


Government and Politics

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CMS hires Liz Fowler (Commonwealth Fund) to lead its Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation.

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Naval Medical Center San Diego goes live on Cerner in the fourth wave of the DoD’s MHS Genesis rollouts.


COVID-19

President Biden says that the US will have enough doses of COVID-19 vaccine to give every adult American their shots by the end of May, cutting two months off the previously announced timeline.

Merck will help competitor Johnson & Johnson manufacture the latter’s COVID-19 vaccine in a deal brokered by the White House to ramp up supplies. Merck, which manufactures and sells several other vaccines, halted Phase 1 clinical trials of its own COVID-19 vaccine on January 25  when the product failed to elicit adequate antibody response.

Novavax expects FDA to issue Emergency Use Authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine as early as May. Novavax, which has a contract to supply 100 million doses to the US, was forced to delay the start of its Phase 3 trials twice due to manufacturing holdups, possibly giving it a too-late start in the race and raising the potential that patients will go off-study to get a known vaccine rather than a possible placebo.

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Microsoft admits that problems with its COVID-19 vaccine appointment scheduling system have caused frustration for several states and their residents, with errors, web page crashes, and inability to complete appointments. The timing is not great given that the company’s recent rollout of Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare.

Researchers find that high employee turnover at nursing homes may have contributed to their large number of COVID-19 deaths, as their infection control practices may not have been adequate. The average nursing home experienced a 128% one-year turnover rate, while some exceeded 300%. Owners of nursing homes, many of them for-profit companies and private equity firms, say Medicaid doesn’t pay them enough to ensure adequate staffing, while observers note that any increase in federal payments should be earmarked to make sure they don’t end up in the pockets of those owners.

Colleges that spent big money on symptom-based COVID-19 screening technologies such as temperature scanners, self-reporting app passports, location tracking, and heart rate monitors have seen few results because the technologies can’t detect pre-symptomatic carriers, they are often inaccurate, and they aren’t always used consistently. Most of the schools, some of them eminent medical research centers, aren’t studying the effectiveness and outcomes of their use of the technologies.

The founder and CEO of Zocdoc explains why vaccination self-scheduling is harder than it looks:

  • Walled garden practice management systems weren’t designed to connect to patient-facing scheduling systems.
  • Sign-up screens collect too much information upfront before showing any available appointments, and if none are available, the user is required to start over to try again.
  • Too little time was available to develop scalable, integrated systems.

Other

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Nursing informatics students: AMIA is offering a travel stipend for poster presenters at this fall’s annual symposium in San Diego, with submissions due March 10. That’s bringing back my fond memories of HIMSS in San Diego, where I enjoyed the opening reception on the patio overlooking the bay, Old Town for Mexican food, and Balboa Park for walking in the sun. They still haven’t expanded the civic center, so San Diego will remain a HIMSS orphan along with New Orleans, Atlanta, and Dallas (I’m excluding Chicago since HIMSS is like a jilted lover who wants desperately to patch things up despite its two-for-two whiffs).

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Madison Magazine profiles Carebot Health, launched by Healthfinch co-founder Jonathan Baran and former Healthfinch sales director Tyler Marklein last March. The startup is focused on helping providers use its automated software to manage COVID-19 vaccinations. Health Catalyst acquired Healthfinch in July for $40 million.

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In a reverse telemedicine (or perhaps a telejudicial) session, California’s medical board investigates a plastic surgeon after he reports to his Zoom traffic court hearing while wearing scrubs in front of a patient who was on the operating table. A Superior Court commissioner ends the proceeds — eloquently, I would say — in explaining, “Unless I’m mistaken, I’m seeing a defendant that’s in the middle of an operating room appearing to be actively engaged in providing services to a patient … I do not feel comfortable for the welfare of a patient if you’re in the process of operating.”


Sponsor Updates

  • Meditech announces that 61 hospitals went live on Expanse in 2020.
  • Cerner Chief Human Resources Officer Tracy Platt joins the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce board.
  • Deloitte will offer CareSignal’s Deviceless Remote Patient Monitoring to its healthcare clients.
  • ChartSpan announces its partnership with I2I Population Health.
  • The local news covers the new $240 million CoverMyMeds headquarters, set to open sometime this summer.
  • Staffing Industry Analysts includes Ettain Group CEO Trent Beekman on its “Staffing 100” list.
  • Elsevier Clinical Solutions adds additional resources to its COVID-19 Healthcare Hub, including a COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit and ICU Nurses Refresher Toolkit.
  • Wolters Kluwer Health introduces Lippincott Clinical Context, a suite of digital learning tools intended to help medical schools as they incorporate digital and remote instruction into their curriculum.

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

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Monday Morning Update 3/1/21

February 28, 2021 News 6 Comments

Top News

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Cigna’s Evernorth health services business will acquire telehealth vendor MDLive, the company announced Friday. Terms were not disclosed.

MDLive had raised $200 million and was reportedly valued at $1 billion early last fall, when it was considering an IPO.


Reader Comments

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From Umbrella Beverage: “Re: Twilio. Was down Friday, affecting the ability of multi-factor authentication vendors (Entrust, Duo, Imprivata) to send out second-factor push or SMS notifications to phones, thus the ability of those users to access any services. Have the Russians figured out that Twilio is the center of the SMS universe?” Twilio’s incident log shows Friday downtime with “cross-platform API erors involving multiple products” that was resolved at just after noon Eastern on Friday. I’ll take this as an opportunity to provide some background on Twilio. The company offers APIs for sending and receiving phone calls and text messages, such as those for two-factor authentication, and Epic uses Twilio Programmable Video for its native telehealth offering. Twilio is huge, with 4,500 employees,  over $1 billion in annual revenue, and a $61 billion market cap. TWLO shares are like riding a rocket, up 240% in the past year versus the Dow’s 20% rise. Had you invested $10,000 on April 20, 2020 when the company’s deal with Epic was announced, you would be holding well over $36,000 in shares today. The co-founder and CEO is a multi-billionaire, of course.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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One might quibble with the clinical and business operations of hospitals, but don’t doubt their ability to market themselves, although their owned medical practices don’t register to poll respondents any higher than independent ones (probably because they don’t always make their ownership obvious). 

New poll to your right or here: How does your employer’s company culture compare today to a year ago? Define “company culture” however you like, but in general, think of the company’s social fabric – what it encourages or discourages, how it relates to employees and customers, how well its goals align with those of employees, and how its beliefs and leadership practices are likely to make it successful for the long term. Vote, then click the “comments” link to explain whether you saw changes during the pandemic.

March 1 isn’t spring, but with the changes in weather and COVID-19 trajectory, it feels that way, especially now that baseball spring training games have started. It was one year ago Friday that HIMSS20 was cancelled, an early warning that 2020 was going to be eventful in all the wrong ways. Parts of the country that were almost cold enough to store Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on the back porch last week have swung to daytime highs that are nearly 100 degrees warmer. I get the feeling that the US economy is about to rebound vigorously, although national debt, lingering and structural unemployment, political divisiveness, and income inequality are sobering long-term issues that could have major geopolitical ramifications.

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I started subscribing in 2017 to a little-known app called Texture, which was like the Netflix of magazines. Apple bought the company a few months later, subscriptions automatically lapsed while Apple retooled their acquisition, and I lost interest and didn’t sign up under the newly christened Apple News+. I discovered this weekend that Mrs. HIStalk had subscribed on her own, mostly to read The Atlantic, and I Googled to find that her $9.95 per month subscription can be shared by up to six family members under Apple’s Family Sharing (which also includes Apple’s music, TV, games, and ICloud storage subscriptions – am I the only person who didn’t know about this?) I’m back in, and minor quibbles aside about lost features (easy back-issue searching, such as for Consumer Reports), it’s better now. Included are a bunch of expensive national newspapers, like the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle; the Wall Street Journal (!!); Business Insider; PCMag; National Geographic; Consumer Reports; and 300 magazines with a nice mix of travel, food, sports, and vacuous celebrity updates. Like Texture before it, you can follow specific publications or topics, but it also brings up articles it thinks you’ll like based on your perusal habits, giving you an endlessly scrolling page of reading material that beats the heck out of killing time on Facebook looking at feta pasta recipes and faked prank videos.


Webinars

None scheduled soon. Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre to present your own.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Health Catalyst reports Q4 results: revenue up 22%, EPS –$0.16 versus -$0.21, beating estimates for both. HCAT shares are up 69% in the past 12 months versus the Nasdaq’s 54% gain, valuing the company at $2.1 billion.

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From the Allscripts earnings call:

  • Paul Black chose the perhaps unfortunate term of “infectious enthusiasm” to describe the company’s success in 2020.
  • The company will continue to encourage on-premise clients to move to its Azure-powered hosting services.
  • The Veradigm EHR and linked claims data-selling business was discussed at some length, with the company noting that while most of its data comes from the ambulatory EHRs of customers, that’s the most important to drug companies since that’s where most prescribing happens.
  • CEO Paul Black reiterated that it sold EPSi and CarePort Health in Q4 because those businesses “were not receiving the appropriate valuation under Allscripts ownership.”
  • Black says he does not see the just-formed Truveta organization, which includes big Allscripts client Northwell, as affecting its Veradigm business.
  • President and CFO Rick Poulton says that the company’s “extensive data rights” from its ambulatory EHR customers give Veradigm an advantage over competitors who are chasing that “in vogue” business model.
  • Allscripts expects the fragmented US EHR market to consolidate and the company expects to be a net winner in system replacement, while “outside the US is still a lot of greenfield.”
  • Black said, in response to an analyst’s question, that client feedback on Sunrise 20.0 has been “universally positive,” but declined to specifically answer another question about the number of Sunrise clients.

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Humana will offer its Medicare Advantage customers who are patients of Mercy access to the health system’s Mercy Virtual telehealth service. Also included in the agreement is a value-based care component, where Humana will pay Mercy based on outcomes instead of fee-for-service.

TriNetX appoints four new members to its board following October’s acquisition of a majority stake in October 2020, including former Pfizer Chairman and CEO Ian Read as chair.


COVID-19

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FDA issues its Emergency Use Authorization to the COVID-19 vaccine of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen subsidiary, a single-shot product that requires simple refrigeration instead of the two-shot, freezer-stored vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. The boost in vaccine supply to 20 million doses per week, along with the new vaccine’s simple storage requirements, could add up to 25% to US vaccination capacity almost immediately. Mostly missed by the press – the first two vaccines were tested before coronavirus variants surfaced, so their efficacy against them is unknown, but the J&J vaccine were tested later and was proven to be effective against those variants (suggesting that the other two vaccines probably are also effective).

CDC reports that 73 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered out of 96 million distributed (76%), with 19% of the adult US population having received at least one dose. The pace could soon reach 3 million doses per day.

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A KFF poll finds that the percentage of Americans who plan to wait and see before being vaccinated has dropped from 39% in December to 22% now. The 15% who say they won’t get it under any circumstances remains unchanged. Groups with the highest resistance to being vaccinated are Republicans and rural residents, while 25% of non-healthcare essential workers and 14% of healthcare workers fall into the “wait and see” category.

The state of California declines to renew its coronavirus mobile testing contract with Alphabet-owned Verily, which the federal and state government touted last year as a high tech approach to help Americans find COVID-19 testing. The state says the program, which cost $63 million and was operated entirely by subcontractors, didn’t serve poor areas of the state. Optum/UHG-owned OptumServe is now operating state vaccine clinics, but one county had already cancelled its contract with OptumServe, saying that its testing clinics were poorly run, performed only a few dozen tests in each 12-hour session, spent a lot of money sending negative tests results by FedEx next-day delivery instead of electronically, and were staffed by employees who were “coughing violently” and not wearing PPE.


Other

A two-year study finds that Medicare’s PAMA decision support requirement for ordering expensive advanced imaging exams – as implemented with Change Healthcare / National Decision Support Company CareSelect – improved ordering appropriateness. The authors note the limitations of their study – inappropriate use could have been reduced by other simultaneous changes, users can game CDS by choosing an invalid ordering reason, and the lack of pre-CDS implementation data – but their next step will be to have experts determine order appropriateness by reviewing EHR and imaging data.

A few Epic employees told the Madison paper that the company has told employees to stop holding discussion groups related to diversity, equity, and inclusion on company time and has eliminated a training session on identifying white privilege. The article notes that Epic, with $2.9 billion in annual revenue and 10,000 employees, is unusual for not having a chief diversity officer or other executive to manage equity and inclusion and instead created a a diversity council made up of five employees who still work in their full-time jobs.

A Florida pediatrician who was arrested on child pornography charges asks the court to let him conduct telehealth visits. He initially told investigators that he thought he was downloading photos of older girls, but finally agreed with a detective’s observation that a pediatrician should be able to recognize pre-pubescent children.


Sponsor Updates

  • Meditech launches a Telemetry Appropriateness Toolkit in its Expanse EHR.
  • PatientPing publishes a new case study, “How Kintegra Health is improving transitions of care and succeeding in value-based care programs through real-time ADT notifications.”
  • PeriGen’s innovative perinatal technology supports the US Surgeon General’s call to action to improve maternal health.
  • The Ethisphere Institute recognizes Premier as “One of the World’s Most Ethical Companies” for the 14th year in a row.
  • Pure Storage announces fourth quarter and full year fiscal 2021 financial results.
  • Sectra publishes a new e-book, “The radiologist’s handbook for future excellence 2021: Key technologies to amplify success.”
  • Krames publishes a new infographic, “Easy telehealth tips to drive positive patient experience.”
  • Vocera releases a new podcast, “The Burden and Joy of Caregiving During the Pandemic.”

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

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News 2/26/21

February 25, 2021 News 1 Comment

Top News

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Population health management technology vendor Innovaccer raises $105 million in a Series D funding round, increasing its total to $225 million and valuing the company at $1.3 billion.

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The company’s co-founders are Abhinav Shashank (CEO), Sandeep Gupta (COO), and Kanav Hasija (chief customer officer).


Reader Comments

From Inquiring Minds Wanna Know: “Re: Olive Health. No HCIT firm in recent years has gotten more favorable press. Not Catalyst, Zocdoc, or any of 10 other ‘show ponies’ trotted out by leading healthcare PE outfits like Francisco Partners or Vista Equity. Is it enormous budget or a new healthcare PR firm?” The company has wrapped what seems like mundane technology in a thick layer of trendy buzzwords and Silicon Valley brashness for a business whose first funding round (of $450 million total through a Series F) was a Series A in 2013. I’m surprised that the company hasn’t arranged a quick IPO or SPAC merger to take advantage of a frothy stock market, but until that happens, the only folks who can pore over its financials are the investors who have driven its valuation to $1.5 billion. I will say this, having had many HIStalk sponsors over the years whose renewed PR efforts were followed shortly after by being favorably acquired: it’s worth the effort to get a company’s message – whether pointless buzz or meaty news — out to gain and retain the attention of prospects and investors, especially the latter when those SPACs are desperately looking for acquisitions. I am uncomfortable with companies and people that promote themselves shamelessly, but I begrudgingly acknowledge that it’s hard to be successful if nobody has heard of you. Any press, good or bad, is better than no press.

From RTW: “Re: COVID-19. The biggest need is to reopen travel and offices, agreed?” No. The biggest need is to reopen schools, whose closing was scantily supported by evidence in the first place. The economy, our future economic prospects, and the mental health of citizens will suffer as long as parents are forced to stay home with their kids who are receiving an inferior online education and missing important social services and developmental opportunities with effects that won’t be obvious for years. Some parents would rather keep their kids at home, which is fine, but most would welcome that aspect of returning to semi-normal rather than expanding restaurant and bar capacity and allowing bigger sports crowds. Much has changed and been learned in the pandemic’s first year.

From Google Clusters: “Re: Google Care Studio. Recall that Epic stopped working with Google Cloud a year ago over privacy concerns.” Epic announced in January 2020 that it was calling off further integration with Google Cloud and instead would focus on Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure because of customer interest. Google was at that time facing privacy criticism from its deal with Ascension to develop EHR search and aggregation tools in a project that was named Care Studio this week, but I don’t recall that Epic specifically mentioned privacy concerns in its decision. Cerner also passed on Google despite a rumored incentive in the tens of millions of dollars, going with AWS instead.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor Experian Health. The company collaborates with more than 3,400 hospitals and 7,300 other healthcare organizations representing 500,000-plus providers — almost 60% of the market — to provide data-driven platforms to empower its clients to make smarter business decisions, boast a better bottom line, and foster stronger patient relationships. Its industry-leading solutions include revenue cycle management, identity management, patient engagement, and care management. Thanks to Experian Health for supporting HIStalk.


Webinars

None scheduled soon. Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre to present your own.

Here’s the recording of Wednesday’s webinar, “Maximizing the Value of Digital Initiatives with Enterprise Provider Data Management,” sponsored by Phynd.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Allscripts reports Q4 results: revenue down 7%, adjusted EPS $0.29 versus $0.17, beating earnings estimates but falling short on revenue.

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Healthcare Bluebook acquires the quality division of Quantros.

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Redox raises $45 million in a Series D funding round, increasing its total to $95 million.

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Digital prescription support vendor Medisafe raises $30 million in a Series C funding round, increasing its total to $52 million.

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Teladoc Health reports Q4 results: revenue up 151%, EPS –$3.07 versus –$0.26, beating revenue expectations but falling short on earnings that were affected by acquisition and share payout costs from its $18.5 billion acquisition of Livongo in October 2020. Teladoc said in the earnings call that it provided 10.5 million virtual visits for the year and brought on 15 million new paid members. Share price dropped 14% Thursday, valuing the company at $32 billion. TDOC shares are up 123% in the past 12 months versus the Nasdaq’s 42% gain.

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EHR prescription messaging platform vendor OptimizeRx reports Q4 results: revenue up 123%, adjusted EPS $0.20 versus $0.07, beating Wall Street expectations for both. OPRX shares have risen 420% in the past 12 months versus the Nasdaq’s 42% gain, valuing the company at $930 million.


People

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Kate Barimani (The Advisory Board Company) joins analytics vendor Covera Health as VP of provider partnerships.

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Industry long-timer Brian Graves (Hospital IQ) joins Optum as VP of provider solution sales.

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Workforce management platform vendor IntelyCare hires David Burke, MBA (QPID Health) as CFO.

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Montgomery County Memorial Hospital (IA) promotes Ron Kloewer, MHA to CEO. He was CIO for 28 years before being promoted to COO in November 2020 and tapped to replace the retiring CEO next month.


Announcements and Implementations

HIMSS announces that its membership has grown by 20,000 in the past six months to 100,000.

InterSystems releases an enhancement to its TrakCare health information system that will allow UK sites to schedule COVID-19 vaccinations.

Microsoft’s April update for Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare – when was released in the fall – will include a patient self-scheduling solution for Microsoft Dynamics 365, the ability to schedule and launch Microsoft Teams virtual visits from within Epic, home health and remote patient monitoring features for Dynamics 365 and Teams, and additional Azure API for FHIR capabilities for Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare tools.


Government and Politics

A Georgia man is sentenced to six months in federal prison for falsely claiming that his former girlfriend – a hospital nurse – violated HIPAA by emailing pictures of trauma patients outside the hospital.


COVID-19

CDC reports that 66 million of 89 million COVID-19 vaccines distributed have been administered (75%). About 6% of Americans have been given both doses.

A physician-epidemiologist says that COVID-19 shaved just five days off average US life expectancy in 2020, not the one-year number that CDC published last week. Public experts use life expectancy projections that assume no change from one year to another, which have been shown to distort the impact of events that affect mortality for only a brief part of the average lifetime, such as pandemics and wars. In other words, losing a full year of life expectancy would require the same number of pandemic deaths every year for the rest of someone’s life, when in fact life expectancy will almost certainly rebound to that of previous years once the pandemic is over.

FDA’s vaccine advisory committee finds that J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine offers high efficacy across all demographics, based on the company’s study data. The J&J vaccine will likely earn FDA’s emergency use authorization in the next few days. All major vaccines (J&J, Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax, and Sputnik) offer 100% protection against death or hospitalization (hat tip on that to @EricTopol), so take whatever one you can get.

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US nursing home deaths from COVID-19 have fallen by 65% in the past two months as 4.5 million residents and employees have received at least one dose of the vaccine. The drop-off is even more pronounced than of the population in general.

Washington State Department of Health cuts off COVID-19 vaccine shipments to publicly traded concierge medicine provider One Medical after complaints that it provided doses to its own executives and customers who were not eligible under local guidelines. The company also offers the vaccine to all of its employees regardless of their risk factors or exposure. Doctors report that young patients with no health issues were able to sign up for a trial membership and then book a vaccination appointment even though health workers were being waitlisted, with the company responding that upgrading its systems to screen appointments was too hard and that it won’t question someone’s declaration that they are eligible.

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The Ad Council looks at COVID-19 messaging for its upcoming pro-vaccination campaign, saying that positive messages (acknowledging hesitancy concerns, vaccination as a pathway to regaining human connection, protecting family, and acknowledging personal choice) will work better than negative messages (fear tactics, referring to “the right thing to do,” overpromising, and emphasizing “back to normal” that most people won’t experience). Most interesting to me is the level of trust people place in various messengers.


Other

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ECRI’s health IT patient safety workgroup publishes a white paper on reducing alert fatigue. One of its recommendations is a standard set of metrics for monitoring and optimization:

  • How many alerts fired and who received them? This would be reported as the number of alerts per 100 orders or per encounter, broken out by department, specialty, and the type of user who received the alert.
  • Did the alert fire appropriately?
  • What did the alert recipient do? That includes think time, rates of acceptance or override, override reasons, and clinician comments.
  • What impact did the alert have on recipients?

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A Cleveland TV station profiles Peggy and Bill Schneck, who met as 17-year-old service workers at Cleveland Clinic in 1975 and were married four years later. He studied IT and is a Cleveland Clinic systems analyst, while she became an RN and is now a nursing informatics instructor.


Sponsor Updates

  • Everbridge VP of Global Account Management & Customer Success MJ McCarthy wins a 2021 Stevie Award in the category of Worldwide Sales Executive of the Year.
  • Meditech publishes a new success story, “Med Center Health’s vaccination process supports high volume and eliminates waste.”

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

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News 2/24/21

February 23, 2021 News 4 Comments

Top News

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Google Health expands the pilot of its EHR search and data presentation tool, which it has named Care Studio.

The system provides a centralized view and search capability of patient information that is stored one or more EHRs.

Ascension was the pilot site, for which Google earned the attention of Congress a year ago for how the company intends to use and protect patient information. Google has made assurances that it does not own patient data, doesn’t sell it, and won’t use it for advertising purposes.

Clinicians from unnamed sites in Nashville, TN and Jacksonville, FL will use an early release of Care Studio and provide feedback about its usability, usefulness, and workflow integration.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor RCxRules. The Burlington, VT-based company, founded in 2010, helps healthcare organizations succeed with both value-based care and fee-for-service billing models. Its unique, predictive rules engine ensures compliance with healthcare’s complex regulatory and reimbursement rules. Integrating with leading EMRs and PM systems, RCxRules software addresses issues before they affect revenue, delivering claims with the most accurate financial and HCC data — every time, guaranteed. Thanks to RCxRules for supporting HIStalk.


Listening: a grab bag of obscure 1960s psychedelia, which is mostly new to me. The naively optimistic flower children who formed forgotten bands 50-plus years ago are now dying off without fanfare. Little-known groups I’ve discovered: The Fallen Angels, Kaleidoscope, and The Peanut Butter Conspiracy (in addition to one of my all-time favorites and not obscure at all The Love). I am contemplating a foray into collecting LPs and 45s for the first time since I suspect a lot of this trippy vinyl is moldering in basement junk boxes and deserves better. It is sweetly sad to think of someone’s great-grandma passing away in her 80s without her family knowing that, if only for a few weeks, she was a sun-drenched Renaissance faire goddess with flowers in her hair, whose heartfelt, unskilled folkie crooning soundtracked the personal summer of love for thousands or millions of people who are struggling, as she did, to reconcile the sunny days of youthful exuberance and seeming immortality with the realization that the clock is running out. “Legacy” is an uncomfortable topic for me since I envy artists whose work will continue to be discovered and appreciated by new generations.

I ran across the best acronym-based group name ever, the Paediatric International Patient Safety and Quality Community, aka PIPSQC (“pipsqueak.”)

Odd grammatical quirk, almost entirely heard in 20-somethings: pointlessly expanding “thank you” to “thank you so much.”


Webinars

February 24 (Wednesday) 1 ET. “Maximizing the Value of Digital Initiatives with Enterprise Provider Data Management.” Sponsor: Phynd Technologies. Presenters: Tom White, founder and CEO, Phynd Technologies; Adam Cherrington, research director, KLAS Research. Health systems can derive great business value and competitive advantage by centrally managing their provider data. A clear roadmap and management solution can solve problems with fragmented data, workflows, and patient experiences and support operational efficiency and delivery of a remarkable patient experience. The presenters will describe common pitfalls in managing enterprise information and digital strategy in silos, how to align stakeholders to maximize the value of digital initiatives, and how leading health systems are using best-of-breed strategies to evolve provider data management.

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Tech-enabled insurance startup Oscar Health plans to raise over $1 billion through its IPO, scheduled to take place next week. Like competitor Clover Health, the Alphabet-backed company has yet to show a profit, despite having raised $1.6 billion since launching in 2012. Analysts, however, are quick to predict a $6.7 billion valuation.

Precision medicine technology vendor Tempus will collaborate with Texas Oncology-owned Precision Health Informatics to advance clinical research and personalize patient care. Both are for-profit companies.


Sales

  • Jackson Hospital and Clinic (AL) will implement CPSI subsidiary TruBridge’s RCM software and services.
  • Mercy Iowa City selects Spok Go clinical communications software.

Announcements and Implementations

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Southeast Health (AL) implements Epic.

RxRevu develops SwiftMx, giving providers access to medical price transparency and coverage information via EHRs from vendors like Cerner.

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General Leonard Wood Army Community Hospital (MO) employees prepare to go live on Cerner as part of the DoD’s MHS Genesis Cerner roll out.

CommonSpirit Health uses VeeMed’s tele-ICU physician services across its Dignity Health and Catholic Health hospitals.

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Jupiter Medical Center implements Artifact Health’s mobile app for physician queries.

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A new KLAS report looks at the EHR experience of medium to large home health agencies, finding that MatrixCare Home Health leads the market, while Epic Dorothy follows closely as used mostly by health system-owned agencies. Homecare Homebase is widely used, but receives the lowest rating for quality of support. WellSky’s customers report lower satisfaction as the company grows and acquires, while users of Netsmart’s acquired products (Homecare Advisor and Homecare) say development has slowed as the company focuses on its MyUnity Enterprise platform.

DirectTrust publishes an implementation guide for sending ADT event notifications via the Direct Standard.


Government and Politics

TeleICU provider RemoteICU sues HHS for not allowing US-licensed physicians who live outside the US to bill Medicare for telehealth services.

In Canada, New Brunswick’s auditor general says that the province’s EHR rollout failed, where $21 million was spent on a system that fewer than half its physicians are using and that does not integrate with hospital systems. The New Brunswick Medical Society partnered with private company Accreon to create Velante to sell the software, then kept pumping money into the failing program and adding switchover subsidies until the exclusive deal ended in 2019. Velante is closing and the software vendor, Intrahealth Canada, will take over support.


COVID-19

J&J says it will ship 20 million doses of its single-shot vaccine in the US by the end of March if it receives FDA’s emergency use authorization, earlier than expected.


Other

HIMSS said early this month that it would provide more information on HIMSS21 on February 19. I didn’t see any specific announcement, but the FAQ now says that registration will open in early March. HIMSS will also run an extra-cost, single-day “CIO Summit” that will be followed by a “curated CIO experience” now that CHIME has pulled out. Exhibitor count is at 410 versus 1,300 at HIMSS19.

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St. Margaret’s Health-Spring Valley (IL) reverts to paper-based processes after its IT team discovers a data breach, forcing it to shut down all of its Web-based systems.

An AMA article touts the use of Xcertia app development guidelines — developed by AMA, HIMSS, and other groups — even though the Xcertia project was shut down in August 2020. HIMSS said at the time that the effort would continue with oversight by a HIMSS work group.


Sponsor Updates

  • AdvancedMD shares the product enhancements that will be made available during its Winter 2021 Release.
  • Black Book Market Research includes Impact Advisors among the top-rated RCM services and optimization consultants.
  • Cone Health (NC) expands its use of PatientPing’s real-time event notification software to include community providers.
  • PeriGen affirms that its technology supports the US Surgeon General’s call to action to improve management of maternal health.  
  • CereCore relocates its Nashville headquarters to, in the near future, better accommodate its workforce and partners.
  • Cerner releases a new podcast, “How diverse, community-based hospitals are a lifeline to saving clinical research.”
  • The Chartis Group publishes a new brief, “Partner with Purpose: How to Build a Winning Playbook to Guide Health System Partnership Strategy.”
  • Columbus CEO includes CoverMyMeds Senior Manager of Employee Engagement Lachandra Baker in its Future 50 initiative.
  • Wolters Kluwer Health highlights the top four challenges facing CMS Administrator nominee Chiquita Brooks-LaSure.
  • Quil becomes a HealthShare Exchange MarketStreet partner.
  • Medical Marketing & Media includes OptimizeRx SVP and Principal of Agency Channels Angelo Campano to its “40 Under 40” list.

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

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Monday Morning Update 2/22/21

February 21, 2021 News 2 Comments

Top News

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The Wall Street Journal reports that IBM is considering selling IBM Watson Health.

Observers estimate that IBM Watson Health has $1 billion in annual revenue, but loses money.

The grab bag of acquired businesses that may be sold off to private equity or in one or more SPAC mergers include Merge Healthcare, Phytel, and Truven Health Analytics. IBM spent billions on the acquisitions that one of its former executives called a “bet the ranch” move that followed Watson’s game show win on “Jeopardy!”

IBM’s new CEO hopes to catch up to rivals in cloud computing after IBM paid $34 billion to acquire Red Hat in mid-2019.


Reader Comments

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From Jeff: “Re: Change Healthcare acquisition by UHG/OptumInsight. Ronald Hirsch, MD of R1 RCM says consensus is that UHG will modify the criteria to their advantage, resulting in fewer patients meeting criteria for inpatient admission and therefore being held in an outpatient observation status.”

From GeddyAlexNeil: “Re: Change Healthcare acquisition by UHG/OptumInsight. I’ve worked at Optum, McKesson, and GE. This combination seems either brilliant or a total mismatch. In the Bill Miller era when I worked there, Optum was generally pretty good in their acquisition hit rate (Catarmaran, Alere, Humedica, and MedExpress). There’s also been some that at the time were well thought out, but the market shifted and/or they miscalculated (Picis). My opinion was they they have a thoughtful approach and historically done a good job integrating the new company into the fold, unlike McKesson. New leadership is here, however. Change is a behemoth saddled with the likes of HealthQuest (yes, it is still around at Emory and AU Medical Center), but first and foremost, it is almost impossible to send a claim today that doesn’t travel through the Change clearinghouse at some point. There has to be value that Optum sees in owning the EDI infrastructure that is Change. The Optum as we know it today was built on the back of the clinical services in the fringe (homecare, urgent care) and the PBM business. This was Ingenix, the code book company and the company whose electronic version of codes were built under the hood of every EMR/PM system in the country before it was Optum. Above all else, Optum is the sister company of one of the top payers that providers love to hate. And if I’m not mistaken, Optum is now larger than its insurer sister by several billion. Optum also represents a disproportionally large percentage of UHS quarterly earnings.”

From The Nazz: “Re: apps are dead. I would say at least that modern web technology makes possible to deliver the same functionality via a web page.” I’ve ditched other apps than the Washington Post one. Accuweather inexplicably decided to make its app landscape mode only on the IPad, so I replaced it with The Weather Channel but really don’t need either. I use Amazon’s website over the app at times since the IPad app won’t let you buy Kindle books. I like the Kindle app for reading books, the Walmart app for online grocery ordering, Waze for driving, and the Sonos app for playing music literally every day, but it’s a bunch of seldom-used icons after those. I think people are right that patients don’t need or want specific apps – MyChart is amazing on the browser and I’m fine with the Walgreens web page instead of their app. All I need is password management and rarely speech recognition and IOS provides those (LastPass is great on the desktop, but speech recognition isn’t as convenient there).


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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External electronic records weren’t reviewed in just over half the most recent encounters of poll respondents, although they would not have been useful in about two-thirds of those visits anyway.

New poll to your right or here: Which of your local care providers has earned your most positive brand perception? How that brand perception was created – by experience or otherwise – is up to you, as is the distinction among types of services offered. It would probably be the hospital-owned practices for me even though I’m happy with my direct primary care physician as well — it’s just that the former has spent a lot more energy and money to create a brand image than my one-woman physician practice.


Webinars

February 24 (Wednesday) 1 ET. “Maximizing the Value of Digital Initiatives with Enterprise Provider Data Management.” Sponsor: Phynd Technologies. Presenters: Tom White, founder and CEO, Phynd Technologies; Adam Cherrington, research director, KLAS Research. Health systems can derive great business value and competitive advantage by centrally managing their provider data. A clear roadmap and management solution can solve problems with fragmented data, workflows, and patient experiences and support operational efficiency and delivery of a remarkable patient experience. The presenters will describe common pitfalls in managing enterprise information and digital strategy in silos, how to align stakeholders to maximize the value of digital initiatives, and how leading health systems are using best-of-breed strategies to evolve provider data management.

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

Business Insider reports that Walmart has changed its 2018 plan to spend $3 billion to open 4,000 clinics by 2029, with new company teams now focusing on e-commerce as it has opened just 20 clinics in more of an experiment than a commitment.

Spok reports Q4 results: revenue down 5%, EPS $-$2.44 versus -$0.50.

Just-formed, Columbus-based Medicaid Managed Care insurer Circulo raises $50 million in funding and announces that it will use software from Olive and share its CEO Sean Lane.


Sales

  • Mon Health System (WV) chooses PatientMatters IntelliAdvisor consulting services to direct its pre-access service center.

People

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Seattle Children’s promotes Eric Tham, MD, MS to interim SVP of its research institute.

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WellStar Health System hires Hank Capps, MD (Novant Health) as EVP / chief information and digital officer.


Announcements and Implementations

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A KLAS review of ERP implementation firms finds that among software vendors, Workday offers strong software knowledge but falls short on guidance, while Infor’s improvements have significantly improved the client experience. The large number of recent Workday implementations has led to shortage of experienced resources across all firms, including Workday itself. Among consulting firms, Accenture and Huron stand out, while Deloitte and KPMG get mixed reviews from customers. Less-complex implementations are managed well by Avaap, Bails, and ROI Healthcare Solutions, while Chartis Group and Impact Advisors are newer to ERP work but are showing early success. Healthcare IT Leaders earns the highest score of ERP staffing firms.


COVID-19

US COVID-19 deaths will cross the 500,000 mark early this week. All major metrics are sharply down. The count of hospitalized patients dropped below 59,000, about the same as at the worst point in the spring and summer surges.

Researchers find from re-examining  originally submitted FDA vaccine data that both the Pfizer and Moderna products have first-dose efficacy of 92%, suggesting that the best use of the available vaccine supply would be to get first doses into as many people as possible, then worry about second doses later, to cut the time to reach herd immunity in half.

New research published in The Lance finds that the Oxford / AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is more effective when the second dose is given 12 or more weeks after the first dose versus the usual four weeks.

Israel rolls out its “green passport” program in which gyms, theaters, hotels, concert halls, and synagogues will partially reopen only to people who have either been vaccinated for COVID-19 or who have recovered from previous infection and thus are not eligible to receive the vaccine. People can download the Health Ministry’s app, then create passport certificate with a QR code. The data sources will apparently be the Health Ministry’s vaccination records and treatment records from the country’s HMOs.

A nine-month follow-up study of COVID-19 patients, most of them with mild disease, finds that 30% had persistent symptoms, most commonly fatigue and loss of sense of smell or taste.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH says that schools can safely open regardless of the degree of community spread of coronavirus as long as they require masks and distancing among students and staff.


Other

An AMIA study finds that its 2009 policy meeting underestimated the degree of EHR-caused burnout while overestimating the impact of HITECH-powered identify theft and fraud alerting. Most of the recommendations from that meeting have resulted in little, if any, action.

Adventist Health says its CommonWell to Carequality connection has allowed it to exchange patient information with 340 health systems, sending 8 million documents and receiving 44 million.


Sponsor Updates

  • CareSignal publishes a case study titled “Remote Monitoring to Support Members’ Chronic and Behavioral Health.”
  • OptimizeRx will present at the virtual SVB Leerink 10th Annual Global Healthcare Conference February 25.
  • Nordic publishes a new white paper, “2021 E/M Updates: EHR Workflow and Operational Considerations.”
  • PatientPing’s national network of ACOs earns over $260 million in savings under the Next Generation ACO model.
  • Pure Storage updates its flagship Purity software for FlashBlade and FlashArray to accelerate Windows applications, deliver ransomware protection across file, block, and native cloud-based apps; and make hybrid storage for departmental and data center workloads obsolete with a third-generation FlashArray//C all-QLC platform.
  • Redox releases a new podcast, “The PCC Takeover.”
  • Health Catalyst seeks speaker and showcase proposals for its virtual Healthcare Analytics Summit September 21-23.
  • ReMedi Health Solutions works with the Houston Food Bank to provide over 2,000 meals to the Houston community.
  • Sectra publishes a new case study, “One for all – native support for automated breast ultrasound in Sectra’s expanded breast imaging PACS.”
  • TriNetX publishes a new case study, “TriNetX Helps Cuyahoga County’s MetroHealth System in Ohio Strive for Clinical Research Leadership Through Data Sharing.”
  • Sam Hupert, MD CEO of Visage Imaging parent company Pro Medicus, shares his thoughts on the company’s 2020-21 final results.

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

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News 2/19/21

February 18, 2021 News 3 Comments

Top News

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Imaging vendor Intelerad acquires Lumedx, which offers cardiovascular information systems and analytics. 


Reader Comments

From Editorial Ed: “Re: job seekers. You should publish every week or two a list of people who let you know that they are out of work and looking for health IT jobs. Just use a table format limiting it to name, last job and company, position being sought, and a link to their LinkedIn profile.” I’m not opposed to the idea, although I have a lot of readers and it might get out of hand.

From Pondering Partnership: “Re: Change Healthcare – Optum Insight merger. Would like to see a survey of your readers about whether they see this as positive or negative, why, and whether they will stop doing business with either company.” I got no responses when I asked previously, so here’s one last chance for customers of either company to weigh in by contacting me with their anonymous thoughts.  


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor Healthcare IT Leaders. The Alpharetta, GA-based company is a national leader in IT workforce solutions, connecting healthcare organizations with experienced technology talent for implementation services, project management, consulting, and full-time hiring. Areas of focus include EMR, ERP, WFM, RCM, and CRM. KLAS #1 rated for Business Services (Best in KLAS 2020) and highly-KLAS rated for HIT implementation and staffing, the company has ranked on the Inc. 5000 five consecutive years and has been named a Best Place to Work by the Atlanta Business Chronicle and one of America’s Best Professional Recruiting Firms by Forbes. Its COVID-19 practice, Healthy Returns, offers comprehensive onsite COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and vaccination support. Thanks to Healthcare IT Leaders for supporting HIStalk.


My latest widespread but puzzling new conversational grammar quirk: people who say something like “customers ask what does our product do” instead of “customers ask what our product does.” I started hearing that kind of sentence construction recently and it has spread to probably 80% of such usage. 


Webinars

February 24 (Wednesday) 1 ET. “Maximizing the Value of Digital Initiatives with Enterprise Provider Data Management.” Sponsor: Phynd Technologies. Presenters: Tom White, founder and CEO, Phynd Technologies; Adam Cherrington, research director, KLAS Research. Health systems can derive great business value and competitive advantage by centrally managing their provider data. A clear roadmap and management solution can solve problems with fragmented data, workflows, and patient experiences and support operational efficiency and delivery of a remarkable patient experience. The presenters will describe common pitfalls in managing enterprise information and digital strategy in silos, how to align stakeholders to maximize the value of digital initiatives, and how leading health systems are using best-of-breed strategies to evolve provider data management.

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

Cancer care management software vendor Carevive raises $18 million in a Series C funding round. 


Sales

  • Several counties in Florida go live on Everbridge’s vaccine distribution solution and the state of West Virginia will use the system to coordinate vaccinations through a pharmacy chain.
  • Nine hospitals choose CloudWave’s Opsus Cloud for hosting and disaster recovery services, while another 10 have engaged the company to build local data center cloud edge platforms.
  • Tift Regional Medical Center (GA) chooses Wolters Kluwer Health’s POC Advisor for sepsis detection and treatment.

People

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Nathaniel Weiss, former CEO of LiveProcess and Standard Molecular, launches VelloHealth, which offers real-time care coordination software for serious mental illness.

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Gretchen Tegethoff, MSIST (CoverMyMeds) joins Ellkay as regional vice president of strategic relationships.

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Paul Ricci — who retired from Nuance in 2018 and then took an interim CEO role at SOC Telemed until the company went public via a SPAC in October 2020 – is named CEO of behavioral health EHR vendor Qualifacts. He replaces David Klements, who remains on the board.

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Law firm McGuireWoods expands its digital health team by hiring three partners: Jonathan Ishee, JD, MPH, MS (Vorys, Sater, Seymour, and Pease); Janice Walker-Suchyta, JD (Seyfarth Shaw); and Andrea Linna, JD (Honigman). McGuireWoods deals with corporate transactions and private equity deals. Ishee earned an MS in health informatics in 2004 and is an assistant professor of biomedical informatics at UTHealth in Houston.

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Cardiologist, inventor, and Nobel Peace Prize antiwar activist Bernard Lown, MD dies at 99. He co-invented the defibrillator, created one of the first cardiac ICUs, formed a non-profit group that launched a satellite to deliver medical training to doctors in Africa and Asia, and created the Lown Institute that ranks hospitals on their civic leadership, inclusivity, avoidance of overuse, and pay equity.


Announcements and Implementations

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Capsule Technologies releases its Generation 3 Vitals Plus patient monitoring and clinical documentation solution in its Medical Device Information Platform. It allows hospitals to perform continuous monitoring and remote clinical surveillance outside the ICU. Philips acquired Capsule last month for $635 million.

TriNetX adds COVID-19 vaccination data to its platform and real-world data set, which will allow researchers to perform their own studies of de-identified EHR patient data to look at comorbidities, reinfection, and outcomes.

CarePort will use the provider directory of MedAllies to allow users to comply with CMS’s ADT notification Condition of Participation.

Particle Health announces a FHIR API that will allow developers to create products that can search the information of 270 million patients.

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Amwell releases Hospital TV 100, a kit that turns existing hospital TVs into telehealth endpoints. Intermountain Healthcare has deployed 1,200 of the units.

The Consumer Technology Association launches an ANSI-accredited standard for the use of AI in healthcare, which consists only of definitions for a few dozen terms such as “algorithm” and “big data” as agreed on by 50 big-name organizations and companies.


COVID-19

CDC reports that 56 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered of 72 million delivered (78%) and 15 million people have received both doses.

CDC will spend $200 million to increase the number of coronavirus samples that are genetically sequenced as surveillance for the spread of variants.

Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD predicts a less-active COVID-19 spring and summer because infections and vaccinations have raised protective immunity to 40%.

Overall US life expectancy dropped by a full year in the first half of 2020, while that of the black population was reduced by 2.7 years. The life expectancy of black Americans is now six years less than that of whites.

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The Los Angeles Times features its owner – billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, whose NantWorks conglomerate owns ImmunoBio, which is developing a coronavirus vaccine – as the host of a video series that covers COVID-19. One of his interviewees is a South African geneticist who is an ImmuneBio partner, which was not disclosed in the discussion, as they discussed the logistical shortcomings of existing vaccines. NantWorks also owns health IT vendor NantHealth.

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KHN reports the plight of the rural 25-bed St. James Parish Hospital in Louisiana, which does not have an ICU and at times cannot find a hospital closer than 600 miles away that will accept a transfer. The hospital has seen 70% of its employees decline COVID-19 vaccination

Johnson & Johnson, the world’s largest healthcare company, will have only a few million COVID-19 vaccine doses available in the next few weeks when FDA could approve its use. The US government paid the company $1 billion to develop the vaccine in exchange for 100 million doses after having given it $456 million in March, but J&J says that most of the promised first-half doses won’t be available until June. The company’s vaccine requires one dose instead of two and can be stored in refrigerators rather than in freezers.

Mount Sinai Health System (NY) halts its use of convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 patients, saying that it has shown no clinical benefit in repeated clinical trials.

The state of Iowa cancels its contract with Microsoft for a COVID-19 vaccination appointment system, deciding that it would be to hard to combine the several existing systems that are being used by health departments and pharmacies.

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A man in England is offered COVID-19 vaccine early after his doctor’s office enters his height incorrectly as 6.2 centimeters instead of 6 feet 2 inches.


Other

France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, announces a $600 million program to improve cybersecurity in the public and private sector, saying that two recent hospital ransomware attacks show how serious the threat is.

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The CEO of Medicare Advantage insurer Clover Health – which is facing reviews by the Department of Justice and the SEC as well as short-seller pressure – unleashes a profanity-filled tirade against a Forbes reporter who wrote an article whose headline he didn’t like. Vivek Garipalli became a paper billionaire when Clover went public via a SPAC last month, valuing the company at nearly $4 billion. Clover offers physicians its Clover Assistant to manage patient care, paying them a fee of $200 every time the software is used during a patient visit. The money-losing company, which operates in some counties of seven states, did not report prior to going public that it is the subject of a Department of Justice False Claims Act investigation for improperly inducing patient referrals. Clover’s board includes folks who have a health IT connection – Flatiron Health co-founder and former CEO Nathaniel Turner and former Allscripts and Livongo executive Lee Shapiro.

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Kaiser Family Foundation uses Epic Health Research Network to find that hospital admissions dropped to a low of 69% of expected admissions in the first week of April 2020, but have remained at above 90% since June 2020, leaving the full-year reduction in admissions at 8.5%. Non-COVID-19 hospitalizations started dropping again with November 2020’s COVID-19 surge, suggesting that people are deferring or forgoing care, possibly because of hospital capacity constraints. Fewer care-seekers boosted the gross margins of insurers, as their medical loss ratios were lower. 

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In observation of the death of Bernard Lown, MD this week, here are the Lown Institute’s 2020 Shkreli Awards from last month for egregious healthcare profiteering and dysfunction, in the spirit of pharma bro and federal inmate Martin Shkreli:

  1. Private equity-owned physician staffing companies spent millions to squash surprise billing legislation while cutting physician pay and accepting $60 million in CARES Act interest-free loans.
  2. Hucksters, some of them physicians, pushed fake COVID-19 cures.
  3. Connecticut internet Steven Murphy, MD offered to run public COVID-19 testing sites for several towns, then billed the insurance of patients for large panels of tests for other infections at an estimated cost of up to $2,000 per person.
  4. Hospitals punished their clinicians who wore masks, claiming they didn’t need them and would scare patients.
  5. Brigham and Women’s CEO Elizabeth Nabel, MD wrote an op-ed defending high drug prices while not disclosing that Moderna paid her nearly $500,000 in 2019 for serving on it board, after which she sold $8.5 million of the vaccine maker’s stock.
  6. Executives of the four big drug companies that developed COVID-19 vaccines declined to participate in a WHO program to share information to develop and distribute treatments, vaccines, and diagnostics.
  7. Nursing homes failed to protect their residents from COVID-19.
  8. Four California health systems refused to accept transfers of poorly insured COVID-19 patients even though they had available beds.
  9. Moderna, which had 100% of its $1 billion in COVID-19 vaccine development costs covered by the US government, set the highest price of all companies that offer a vaccine.
  10. FEMA’s PPE task force airlifted PPE in from other countries, but instead of distributing it to states, gave it to six private medical supply companies to sell to the highest bidders.

Sponsor Updates

  • OmniSys uses Virtustream’s Enterprise Cloud and XStreamCare Services to ensure its pharmacy customers can meet the demands of COVID-19 vaccine management.
  • WellSpan Health (PA) expands its Nuance Dragon Ambient Experience deployment to improve care access and patient and provider experiences.
  • SymphonyRM names former Intermountain Healthcare CIO Marc Probst to its board.
  • Healthcare Growth Partners advised Symplr on its acquisition of Phynd Technologies, which closed earlier this week.
  • In the UK, InterSystems makes COVID-19 vaccination appointment scheduling available through its TrakCare system.
  • Loyale Healthcare publishes a new industry analysis, “Growth in Healthcare Spending will Decelerate Post-COVID: How Hospitals Should Plan.”
  • Meditech publishes a new case study, “NMC Health decreases antibiotic use through Meditech’s Antimicrobial Stewardship Toolkit.”

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

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News 2/17/21

February 16, 2021 News 9 Comments

Top News

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Online scheduling and telehealth vendor Zocdoc receives $150 million in growth financing from Francisco Partners.

The company says that its pricing change two years ago – from a flat per-provider subscription to a per-booking model that angered some doctors who had to pay more and who expressed concern about possible kickback implications – has grown its network by 50% in some states.

Zocdoc has raised $376 million through a Series D round.

Co-founder and former CEO Cyrus Massoumi sued the company last fall, claiming that three officers – two of whom he says he was going to replace – conspired to orchestrate his ouster after eight years. He said in the lawsuit that the company was in steep decline, couldn’t raise further capital, and had resorted to taking on debt at high interest rates. The lawsuit was dismissed by a New York court that said the suit would need to be filed in Delaware instead.


Reader Comments

From Data Broker Not Broke: “Re: Truveta selling anonymized patient data to drug companies and researchers. Is that ethical?” Not in my opinion, especially since those patients get nothing in return and can’t opt out. The hospitals that collect their information as a by-product of selling them medical care don’t even have to let them know beforehand because of HIPAA’s covered entity-friendly “treatment, payment, and operations” terms. Facebook, Google, and other sites violate our privacy in mostly harmless ways and they at least give us their product free in return (try asking those 14 Truveta health systems for some medical freebies). Unlike those apps, though, the information is anonymized and is not used to display something to its owner, so it’s not really visible. We will all be paying in other ways – the deep-pockets drug company customers who are writing the checks to Truveta members will simply jack up their drug prices a little bit more or pocket the higher margins of not having to spend as much on clinical studies. We might as well acknowledge that the wholesome-sounding “medical research” is really just product R&D for drug and device companies, often funded by taxpayers and given to those companies at no cost to sell expensively back to us.

From Huckleberry: “Re: Clubhouse app as an audio-only social network. Have you tried it?” I have not tried it or found reasons to even though I know it’s the latest shiny object. It seems that many platforms initially succeed because early adopters who have a lot of expertise and insight develop a quick following, but then everybody and his imitative brother piles on to fill the endless space with junk just because they can, causing the best of them to move on to seek better company. We’ve seen it with blogs, vlogs, Facebook, Twitter, Medium, podcasts, newsletters, vanity book publishers, YouTube, Google Hangouts, Periscope, and more, where the platform’s best and worst feature is that it democratizes content creation. I expect Clubhouse will get its 15 minutes before it becomes yet another low-value wasteland. Online text is the only medium that allows me to consume it my way – skim quickly or study slowly and click original source links that will be missing in every other format. As to Clubhouse, I don’t know of many folks who could hold my attention for more than a couple of minutes as they babble away in real time. The most interesting people aren’t wasting their time pontificating incessantly to the masses.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor Sectra. With more than 30 years of innovation and approaching 2,000 installations worldwide, Sectra is a leading global provider of imaging IT solutions that support healthcare in achieving patient-centric care. Sectra offers an enterprise imaging solution comprising PACS for imaging-intense departments (radiology, pathology, cardiology, orthopedics), VNA, and share and collaborate solutions. The company is leading the way in digital pathology with multiple, fully digital installations throughout the world. Sectra is top-ranked in “Best in KLAS” and #1 in customer satisfaction in US, Canada, and Europe PACS. Thanks to Sectra for supporting HIStalk.


Something jogged my memory of Bats Global Markets, a Kansas City-based stock exchange that was started by former Cerner employee Dave Cummings in 2005. I wrote about it many years ago and I see that it was acquired in early 2017 for $3.2 billion. Cummings remains sole owner of Tradebot, a high-frequency stock trading platform he started in 1999 that at one point was making him $140 million a year in profit. The company holds shares for an average of 11 seconds, had at one point enjoyed a four-year run of positive daily profits on trades, and accounts for 5% of all US stock trades. Cummings has credited his success to the mentorship of Neal Patterson, former chairman and CEO of Cerner. My keyboard’s zero key probably doesn’t have enough click life left to express his net worth. 


Webinars

February 24 (Wednesday) 1 ET. “Maximizing the Value of Digital Initiatives with Enterprise Provider Data Management.” Sponsor: Phynd Technologies. Presenters: Tom White, founder and CEO, Phynd Technologies; Adam Cherrington, research director, KLAS Research. Health systems can derive great business value and competitive advantage by centrally managing their provider data. A clear roadmap and management solution can solve problems with fragmented data, workflows, and patient experiences and support operational efficiency and delivery of a remarkable patient experience. The presenters will describe common pitfalls in managing enterprise information and digital strategy in silos, how to align stakeholders to maximize the value of digital initiatives, and how leading health systems are using best-of-breed strategies to evolve provider data management.

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

Canada-based CloudMD will acquire online eyeglass, contact lens, and online vision test vendor VisionPros for up to $80 million in cash, shares, and performance earn out.

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Population health management platform vendor Innovaccer is rumored to be arranging funding that will value the company at more than $1 billion.


People

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Dental software vendor Henry Schein One promotes former telemedicine executive Mike Baird, MBA to CEO.

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CompuGroup Medical US names industry long-timer Derek Pickell as CEO. He comes from EMDs, which CGM acquired in late December 2020 for $240 million, and replaces Benedikt Brueckle, who is now CFO.

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Michael Campana (Conduent) joins Health Triangle as VP of marketing.


Announcements and Implementations

Sutter Health will eliminate 277 jobs, most of them in IT.


COVID-19

In Israel, a study of 600,000 people who have received two doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine finds a 94% drop in symptomatic infections and a 92% reduction in severe illness. The study was the first to show a high level of vaccine efficacy specifically in people 70 and over.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo admits for the first time that the state’s nursing home COVID-19 death counts were underreported by 40% by omitting long-term care residents who died in hospitals. Cuomo says he delayed giving the information to state legislators for fear it would trigger a federal civil rights investigation.

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The remote, 2.2 million population Brazilian city of Manaus has seen COVID-19 consume nearly all of its hospital and ICU beds and depleted oxygen supplies, with dozens of Brazilians dying of asphyxiation over two days in January alone. Few planes there can transport oxygen, so it must be shipped in a week-long boat trip up the Amazon River. Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro, who has said that COVID-19 is a “measly cold” and a media hoax intended to harm him politically, says it isn’t the federal government’s job to send oxygen to Manaus. Brazil’s COVID-19 death count is at 240,000, second globally only the US’s 486,000.

A Virtua Health spokesperson clarifies reports that bugs in its COVID-19 vaccine self-scheduling system created many duplicate appointments. The scheduling system did not have a defect — it just failed to prevent people from making multiple appointments. The 70% number doesn’t refer to the number of duplicates of the 300,000 total appointments, but rather that of those duplicate appointments it contained, 70% were created  in error because users weren’t sure how to schedule both first- and second-dose appointments or didn’t wait for the confirmation email before scheduling again, allowing 5,000 appointment slots to be opened after calling each of those users to verify their intentions.

Walmart begins scheduling COVID-19 vaccination appointments at some of its stores.

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X Prize founder and entrepreneur Peter Diamandis, MD, MS says he “screwed up” by holding an illegal in-person California summit last month for several dozen wealthy executives who paid more than $30,000 each, saying they would be safe from COVID-19 because of mandatory pre-event and then daily testing and onsite vitamins and doctors. Three weeks later, at least 24 attendees of Abundance 360, including Diamandis himself, have tested positive. Diamandis, who co-founded coronavirus vaccine company Covaxx, admits that he didn’t force attendees to wear masks, but claims the event wasn’t actually a conference but rather a broadcast with a small live audience since most attendees were virtual. Zero of the 35 audiovisual production staff, all of whom wore masks, tested positive.  


Other

Two hospitals in France are hit by ransomware in a single week, while a third cut off network connections to one of its IT suppliers that had been attacked.


Sponsor Updates

  • Beyond profiles Goliath Technologies as a “Top 5 Citrix Solutions Provider, 2021.”
  • Black Book Market Research includes Impact Advisors on its list of top-rated RCM advisory firms.
  • Cerner will sponsor and present virtually at Health Datapalooza February 16-18.
  • The local business paper interviews Diameter Health CEO Eric Rosow.
  • Elsevier advances nursing education by offering innovative virtual reality healthcare simulations to schools across North America.

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

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Monday Morning Update 2/15/21

February 14, 2021 News No Comments

Top News

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A new GAO report recommends that the VA stop its implementation of Cerner until all known critical issues have been addressed.

The VA agrees in principle, but says it won’t stop the rollout and instead will test and mitigate risks.

Most of the GAO’s data came from work performed last fall. VA has since closed most of the high-severity issues that GAO noted. Just 55 of the previous nearly 400 issues remain open.The VA says it will have all issues resolved by January 2022.

Next up for go-live is Puget Sound Health Care System in Q4 2021. 


Reader Comments

From DAX Facts: “Re: Nuance’s DAX ambient clinical intelligence. Users have told me that their hospitals are finding it hard to generate ROI because just freeing up physician time doesn’t necessarily result in more visits or revenue. What are your thoughts on how much value DAX adds and how that will be reflected in its pricing?” I’ve been wondering that myself, especially after last week’s Nuance earnings call in which DAX consumed a lot of company and analyst discussion that I assume reflects financial expectations. DAX customers mentioned in the earnings include Duke Health, San Joaquin Hospital, Mercy Health, Rush, WellSpan, Connecticut Children’s, and Cooper Health. I would be interested in firsthand experience at a macro level, i.e. how do physicians like it and is the expectation that it will pay for itself? Let me know and I’ll keep you and your organization anonymous, of course. I’ll also add that hospitals aren’t good at turning newfound employee free time into anything more than a less-stressful workday, which offers some burnout benefits but doesn’t excite CFOs who have to write the checks.

From Damocles: “Re: Cerner’s bankrupt client who owes $63 million in an arbitration judgment. You are correct that it was Belbadi Enterprises. Cerner is still pursuing taking possession of a Vancouver, WA property that was held by a subsidiary by way of the company’s former CEO. Cerner hired forensic accountants and investigators who found that the company moved money back and forth with that subsidiary, even though Vandevco / Belbadi claimed that no tie exists. Also stiffed were consulting firms who were hired to install Cerner for the UAE’s Ministry of Health and Populations, which were left with unpaid bills when MOHP signed a direct contract with Cerner and cut Belbadi out of the deal. I’m sure it’s a sensitive issue since Belbadi is still an active entity in the UAE and the former CEO is a member of one of the ruling families, even though he lined his pockets with money that should have gone to Cerner and other vendors.” It’s good to be king, or in this case, brother of your country’s minister of justice and the 10th richest UAE citizen.

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From IHeartHIStalk: “Re: counterfeit N95 masks from China. Meanwhile, small US manufacturers can’t find mask buyers.” The New York Times profiles DemeTech, a family-run Miami business that invested tens of millions of dollars in mask manufacturing equipment and spent nine months earning federal approval to sell N95 masks, but now the owner can’t find buyers for the 30 million masks he has in inventory and he is laying off employees. Despite vows to “buy American,” health systems, medical supply distributors, and state governments don’t want to change their buying habits or spend a bit more on masks that are made in this country. Manufacturers are also being hurt by Facebook and Google advertising bans that were intended to thwart mask profiteers. Big players like 3M and Honeywell, spurred by the Defense Production act, are selling 120 million masks each month, mostly to distributors that resell to hospitals who need more than twice that number.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Poll respondents would be most concerned about credit card or payment information in the event their medical records were disclosed. The good news there is: (a) I would hope that most PM/EHR systems don’t retain credit card information or store it via a payment processor’s secure system; and (b) you can always cancel a credit card and start over with no repercussions, unlike having your medical information disclosed to the world. Behind credit card information is behavioral information, and far behind that is a list of social habits. After that, most people don’t really care.

New poll to your right or here: In your most recent physician or hospital encounter, were your electronic records from one or more other providers reviewed?

I dropped by Walgreens Friday to procure vital medical supplies (Valentine’s Day cards, candy, and stuffed animals) and saw that they are giving COVID-19 vaccine shots by appointment. It was a bit jarring after reading and writing so much about the vaccine over many months to see unexcited employees calling people up from their waiting area chairs to get their injection. Chain drugstores are all about the foot traffic that generates high-margin impulse sales (like Valentine’s Day cards, candy, and stuffed animals) and COVID-19 vaccinations will see dozens of millions of people traipsing through their aisles to the back of the store in two visits. Sometimes a business’s biggest challenge, and a profitable one if they can pull it off, is to get people into their store for the first time.

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Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor Gyant (pronounced “giant.”) The San Francisco-based company’s empathic, intuitive virtual assistant guides patients through the complexity of their digital healthcare journeys, driving more meaningful patient-doctor engagement. It reduces clinical strain and support staff overhead, improves outcomes, and exceeds patient expectations. The company’s conversational AI learning loop handholds patients from the virtual front door through their entire clinical journey by integrating deeply into EHR workflows and driving higher levels of efficiency that improve patient outcomes and make them feel truly valued. Thanks to Gyant for supporting HIStalk.

Here’s a Gyant explainer video I found on YouTube.

Thanks to the following companies that recently supported HIStalk. Click a logo for more information.

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Listening: new from reader-recommended Starcrawler, some LA teen punk rockers who sound kind of like L7 meets the New York Dolls and Iggy and the Stooges. That’s a lot of musicality and 1970s influence from kids who are barely old enough to drive. Their live shows are apparently pretty nuts.


Webinars

February 24 (Wednesday) 1 ET. “Maximizing the Value of Digital Initiatives with Enterprise Provider Data Management.” Sponsor: Phynd Technologies. Presenters: Tom White, founder and CEO, Phynd Technologies; Adam Cherrington, research director, KLAS Research. Health systems can derive great business value and competitive advantage by centrally managing their provider data. A clear roadmap and management solution can solve problems with fragmented data, workflows, and patient experiences and support operational efficiency and delivery of a remarkable patient experience. The presenters will describe common pitfalls in managing enterprise information and digital strategy in silos, how to align stakeholders to maximize the value of digital initiatives, and how leading health systems are using best-of-breed strategies to evolve provider data management.

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Continuous glucose monitoring device vendor Dexcom launches a venture capital fund that will identify and invest in opportunities to supplement its core business. The fund will focus on sensing technology, analytics, remote patient monitoring, and population health management.

Vocera announces Q4 results: revenue up 14%, adjusted EPS $0.28 versus $0.15, beating Wall Street expectations for both. Shares jumped 25% Friday following the announcement, with VCRA shares up 76% in the past 12 months versus the Dow’s 6% gain, valuing the company at $1.7 billion. Vocera said in the earnings call that Q4 bookings were the highest in the company’s history as COVID-19 has elevated hospital priority for communication and workflow solutions that keep employees safe.    


Announcements and Implementations

Well Health announces that its COVID Vaccination Self-Scheduling is available to providers through self-scheduling partners. The system allows scheduling both appointments, maximizes doses through appointment optimization, follows up for second doses, and provides secure message to patients regardless of whether they are registered in the EHR.


Government and Politics

HHS OCR settles its 16th HIPAA Right of Access case, with Sharp HealthCare paying $70,000 for taking seven months to send an electronic copy of a patient’s records to a third party. OCR originally closed the case after giving Sharp technical assistance, but the patient filed a second complaint two months later when the records had still not been sent.


COVID-19

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US COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue their steep downward trend, with just 69,000 hospitalized patient versus nearly double that number just a few weeks ago. Still, the numbers are higher now than in the spring and summer surges.

CDC reports that 51 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered of the 70 million distributed (72%), split nearly evenly between the Pfizer and Moderna products. 

UK scientists find that the B117 coronavirus variant is not only more infectious, which was previously documented, but it also appears to be 30% to 70% more lethal given limited study so far. If that finding holds after further research, spread of the variant could disproportionally increase hospitalizations and deaths even beyond just causing a higher number of infections. In Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador is already seeing a B117-fueled outbreak and has escalated mitigation measures.

New Jersey’s vaccine hotline stops booking appointments after callers report that they were given incorrect information. The state says it will provide extra training for the hotline’s 2,000 agents and is working out software problems with vendor Microsoft. The state had weeks of outages with its online registration system, warning that Microsoft’s Vaccine Management system may never work. The state says Microsoft doesn’t have enough support people and some of them are offshore and thus unavailable during US working hours.

In yet another example of COVID-19 vaccination software shortcomings, FDA is still trying to bring up its BEST system for monitoring vaccine side effects using real-world evidence. BEST will eventually be able to review the medical records of 100 million people in real time, but it relies on EHR and claims data that aren’t always filed for no-charge vaccinations. The system is also so new that FDA hasn’t yet calculated the rates of background problems with people who haven’t received the vaccine, so they can’t easily identify unusual events. For now, the federal government is using several other systems that don’t share information, including the 30-year-old FDA/CDC VAERS system for self-reported vaccine problems.

Virtua Health finds a bug in its vaccination self-scheduling system when it notices that 70% of its 300,000 appointments are duplicates, requiring 10,000 phone calls to work out the duplications but freeing up 5,000 open slots by doing so. They didn’t indicate the software they use, but the signup form uses Epic MyChart. UPDATE: A Virtua Health spokesperson clarifies that the scheduling system did not have a bug, it just didn’t prevent people from making multiple appointments. The 70% number doesn’t refer to the number of duplicates of the 300,000 total appointments, but rather that of those duplicates, 70% of them were made in error due because users weren’t sure how to schedule both first- and second-dose appointments or didn’t wait for the confirmation email before scheduling again.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s top aide admits that the state withheld data about COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes because it feared an investigation by the federal Justice Department. The state’s nursing homes have had 15,000 COVID-19 deaths, nearly double the previously reported total, which the state did not confirm until faced with a court order. Cuomo issued an executive order in March 2020 that required nursing homes to readmit their residents following their hospitalization for COVID-19 treatment, but state health officials have claimed – without providing details – that the high rate of nursing home deaths was caused by infected employees and not the residents themselves.

The federal government has not developed a plan to allocate COVID-19 vaccine for the 6,000-employee US Public Health Service, telling them that they should visit military treatment facilities that are sometimes turning them away in confusion about whether they are eligible (all of them are, per the Pentagon’s priority list). Public Health Service officers are being deployed to deliver care to COVID-19 patients and to work on mass vaccination programs.

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The Atlantic explains how the small, poor country of Bhutan controlled coronavirus so well that it has recorded just one COVID-19 death:

  • The country can’t afford to run an expensive US-style health system, so it focuses instead on public health and prevention.
  • Within two weeks of China’s first report to the WHO of an unknown pneumonia outbreak, Bhutan drafted an emergency plan and started screening people at airports.
  • With six hours of discovering its first confirmed COVID-19 case in early March – an American tourist – the Yale-educated epidemiologist who is its health minister had 300 possible contacts traced and quarantined.
  • The government issued clear daily updates.
  • Bhutan banned tourists, closed schools and public institutions, closed entertainment venues, and urged mask-wearing and distancing.
  • The government paid for hotel accommodations and meals for those who were quarantined.
  • The first positive case outside of quarantine triggered a national three-week lockdown in which the government delivered food and medicine to every household.
  • The king’s relief fund provided financial assistance to those who had lost income, created a national registry for vulnerable citizens, and sent packages of medical items to every resident over 60.

Other

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Stanford researchers find that higher-ranked children’s hospitals that have their own EHR instead of sharing one with an adult hospital perform better in rankings. I can offer many reasons for this correlation that go beyond the article’s suggestion that these hospitals don’t treat children as “small adults” or that their systems are all that different given that they use the same couple of vendors. I’m also skeptical that EHR’s configuration and use has a measurable effect on objective quality measures (did those hospitals show improvement after they implemented their systems?) I would also question whether rankings derived from self-reported US News & World Report surveys are reflective of quality. Maybe the most important unanswered question is whether children’s hospitals that deploy their own standalone EHRs are able to configure them differently (or are more likely to do so) than those that follow broader rules because they share a system with an adult hospital. That would make a better study – take a few ordering pathways that peds hospitals do differently (medication dose range checking, growth charts, use of patient identifiers, etc.) and see if they are implemented differently in standalone versus shared EHRs, and if they are, determine whether that’s because of EHR limitations or corporate choice.

Informatics experts in Switzerland say there’s no such thing as “your electronic medical record” there, as some clinics are still using paper records and fax machines and the system is fragmented by having both government-run and private systems. Cantons even used fax machines to send COVID-19 case information to the federal government for tracking. Data stored in silos, the experts say, will stand in the way of using promising AI applications.


Sponsor Updates

  • OptimizeRx announces the pricing of the previously announced underwritten public offering of 1,325,000 shares of its common stock at $49.50 per share.
  • Cerner supports mass COVID-19 vaccinations around the world.
  • Redox releases a new podcast, “From Buzzword to Buzzer-Beater: How SDOH stands to take COVID head on.”
  • TriNetX will work with German hospital organization VUD to build a collaborative network of university hospitals and medical schools as part of the TriNetX global health research network.
  • Well Health makes COVID-19 vaccination self-scheduling capabilities available through multiple industry-leading partners.

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

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News 2/12/21

February 11, 2021 News 5 Comments

Top News

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Providence and several other big health systems form Truveta, a Seattle-based startup that will provide its hospital owners, drug companies, and researchers with anonymized patient data for approved research projects.

The company notes that its information spans health systems and thus, unlike that offered by insurance companies, does not disproportionately represent white and insured patients. 

Truveta, which is run by former Microsoft executive Terry Myerson, has hired 53 employees.

As with all such companies, patients do not share in the profit of having their information sold or used and are not required by HIPAA to be notified of the arrangement.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

I ran across the latest HIMSS tax filings, for the year ending June 30, 2019, and provided a brief summary. The version that includes the first half of 2020 – and thus some of the HIMSS20 damage – will be posted in July.

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Thanks to PatientKeeper for quickly snapping up the top-of-page banner spot for a long-term run. They have been an HIStalk sponsor since June 2008.

Listening: new from Jagwar Twin, the solo project of singer-songwriter Roy English. It’s modern, mostly upbeat pop with a hip hop edge, without the usual one-track collaborations, overreliance on computers, and profanity. I also ran across some amazing 1960s soul (from the viral hits chart of Portugal, for some reason) of Memphis-born soul singer-songwriter William Bell, who recorded for the legendary Stax Records, got drafted into the Army for a two-year hitch, had a couple of hits and awards, and is still playing at 81 years of age. His is the joyous, gospel-influenced music that could only come from America. I don’t recall ever hearing his stuff, but it is remarkable.


Webinars

February 24 (Wednesday) 1 ET. “Maximizing the Value of Digital Initiatives with Enterprise Provider Data Management.” Sponsor: Phynd Technologies. Presenters: Tom White, founder and CEO, Phynd Technologies; Adam Cherrington, research director, KLAS Research. Health systems can derive great business value and competitive advantage by centrally managing their provider data. A clear roadmap and management solution can solve problems with fragmented data, workflows, and patient experiences and support operational efficiency and delivery of a remarkable patient experience. The presenters will describe common pitfalls in managing enterprise information and digital strategy in silos, how to align stakeholders to maximize the value of digital initiatives, and how leading health systems are using best-of-breed strategies to evolve provider data management.

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Value-based care coordination and payments vendor Signify Health prices its IPO at a valuation of $5.3 billion. The company’s CEO is Kyle Armbrester, MBA, who along with several of his executive team peers, used to work for Athenahealth.

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Cerner reports Q4 earnings: revenue down 3%, adjusted EPS $0.78 versus $0.75, meeting earnings expectations and exceeding on revenue. CERN shares dropped slightly on the news and down 1% over the past 12 months versus the Nasdaq’s 46% gain, valuing the company at $24 billion. From the earnings call:

  • The company says it has reduced annualized operating expenses by $300 million in the past two years and has reduced its product set from 25,000 features to 400 products.
  • Cerner expects to create a $1 billion health network business by 2025.
  • Asked by an analyst how the company can simultaneously address losing market share to Epic as well as convincing customers to choose Cerner in innovative areas where it competes with new companies, President Don Trigg says Cerner was built to work on the current business as well as to identify new growth opportunities that may be adjacencies or new markets. They are looking at new buyer types beyond providers, such as payer, employer, government, and pharma.
  • Trigg said in response to a question about how it will work with pharma contract research organizations following its acquisition of Kantar Health that Cerner’s differentiators are data as well as access to patients and providers. The acquisition allows linking data to support capabilities needed for late-stage drug trials.
  • Cerner expects the acquired Kantar Health to generate about $150 million in revenue for 2021 even with COVID-19 slowdowns.
  • The company may divest a limited number of assets in 2021, but is mostly interested in acquisitions.
  • Health systems that participate in Cerner’s Learning Health Network share the revenue that Cerner earns from drug companies.
  • Cerner’s federal business generates $1 billion per year and is growing at a mid-teens percentage rate. It sees opportunity in contracting with new agency work, especially on the network side, and the company will become more efficient with its experience as a prime contractor.
  • The company took a $20 million charge that was due to an entity in the Middle East declaring bankruptcy. That entity wasn’t named, but I assume it was Belbadi Enterprises, a sole proprietorship that was formed by Abu Dhabi’s former health minister that signed a deal in 2008 to provide Cerner to UAE hospitals. Cerner was awarded $62 million, but was never paid, and then failed in its attempt to seize Oregon real estate that was owned by a related company.

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CPSI announces Q4 results: revenue down 5%, EPS $0.22 versus $0.78, missing Wall Street expectations for both and sending shares down 11%. CPSI shares are up 25% in the past 12 months versus the Nasdaq’s 46% gain, valuing the company at $446 million. The company said in the earnings call that it has hired an advisor to review its business in hopes of increasing shareholder value. It also said in an SEC filing that it will reduce its workforce by 1%, or 21 employees.


Sales

  • Nuvance Health chooses SymphonyRM for data science-powered consumer engagement, including Next Best Actions, outreach and consumer preference management, and market analytics.
  • In England, West Hertfordshire NHS Trust signs a 10-year, $41 million contract for Cerner.
  • Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration will deploy the PULSE (Patient Unified Lookup System for Emergencies) Enterprise platform of Audacious Inquiry for public assistance around COVID-19 and hurricanes.
  • Community Health Network selects Jvion’s CORE (Care Optimization and Recommendation Enhancement) to allow care navigators to reach out to vulnerable ACO members who are deferring care during the pandemic.
  • Saint Peter’s University Hospital (NJ) will implement CarePort Interop, an event notification system from WellSky-owned CarePort that supports compliance with new CMS Condition of Participation requirements.

People

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Mary Lantin, MPH (Optum) joins Diameter Health as president/COO.

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Innovaccer hires industry long-timer John Pigott (Allscripts) as management director of its payer and life sciences sales team.

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Aver hires Michael Johnson (Rx30) as chief revenue officer.

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EFamilyCare, which offers family caregivers virtual support from experts to reduce hospitalizations, promotes Naveen Kathuria, JD to CEO.


Announcements and Implementations

The HCI Group earns Meditech UK Ready implementation certification.

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FDA issues 510(K) clearance to B-Secur’s ECG algorithm library for signal conditioning, heart rate, and arrhythmia analysis. The Northern Ireland-based company’s technology can be licensed by medical technology vendors and is approved for home and healthcare environments.

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Well Health and Twilio partner to offer providers two patient engagement options, particularly around COVID-19 vaccination – supporting providers who want to built custom workflows using Twilio’s SMS and voice delivery APIs and those who would prefer to roll out Well’s Health pre-built platform that supports bidirectional texting, email, telephone, and live chat in 19 languages.

Smarter Health, which sells a payer-provider data integration platform in Southeast Asia, will offer data analytics from Health Catalyst.

Arkansas State Hospital goes live on Medsphere’s CareVue Cloud EHR and RCM Cloud.

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A new KLAS report on clinical documentation improvement finds that Iodine, ChartWise, and Optum lead in performance, while 3M 360 Encompass is often considered because of its strong technology but service and support lags and customers complain about being nickeled and dimed.


Government and Politics

Renown Health (NV) will pay $75,000 to settle HIPAA Right of Access charges that it took 11 months to send an electronic copy of a patient’s records to her attorney.


COVID-19

CDC reports that 45 million doses of the 66 million COVID-19 vaccine doses that have been distributed have been administered (68%). Anthony Fauci, MD predicts that an increased supply of vaccine will allow any American to get a shot who wants one by April, but logistical limits will make achieving herd immunity unlikely before late summer. A new poll finds that one-third of Americans definitely or probably won’t get the vaccine, which predicts both an epidemiologic challenge as well as a shift from a shortage of supply to a deficiency of demand.

FDA issues emergency use authorization to a combination of two Eli Lilly monoclonal antibodies (bamlanivimab and etesevimab) for the treatment of COVID-19 in patients who are over 65 or who have other medical conditions, where risk of hospitalization and death can be reduced by 70%. Also new in COVID-19 treatment: the RECOVERY study finds that tocilizumab reduces mortality, inpatient stay length, and a need for ventilation of patients who are hypoxic and have inflammation.

Volunteer technologists have quickly developed vaccination appointment websites that centralize information from multiple sites in each state, but the beneficiaries are usually tech-savvy people who have time on their hands to cruise for appointments, not necessarily disadvantaged groups who have the highest need. Some of the sites don’t take into account eligibility differences between a state and individual counties, such as in California where the state’s 65-year-old threshold is overridden by the 75-year cutoff of some counties, leading people to show up at sites with their system-generated appointment and barcode in hand only to be turned away because they don’t meet county criteria.

The federal government says that a flood of fake 3M N95 masks from China is the most consistent COVID-19 scam, as hospitals have in some cases distributed the counterfeit masks to frontline workers. 3M says that 10 million counterfeit masks have been seized and it has fielded 10,500 authenticity questions. On the other hand, testing has found that the fake masks actually work about as well as the real thing, even though they are harder to breathe through and seal-and-fit isn’t always adequate.

Overrun hospitals in Mexico are sending COVID-19 patients home, where they are likely to die because their families can’t get oxygen tanks. A national shortage has caused the price to jump to $800 for the smallest tank (10 times the US price) and criminal groups are hijacking trucks carrying the tanks and stealing them at gunpoint from hospitals that are then sold by uncertified profiteers from their cars. Desperate family members are also paying thousands of dollars for oxygen concentrators that don’t necessarily work.

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India will use Co-WIN to manage its efforts to inoculate 300 million people for COVID-19 by August, which has no ability to extract high-priority people from a list based on age and comorbidities. Epidemiologists say that the only surefire way to hit the numbers target is to go door to door and sign high-risk people up. They also question whether Co-WIN will be used to collect private health data since signing up for a shot automatically creates a national health ID that is supposed to be voluntary.


Other

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The IT director of 15-bed critical access hospital Syringa Hospital (ID) urges its board to stick with Cerner instead of following its plan to use Epic from Kootenai Health. The hospital says it is switching to gain cost savings and better connectivity to other Epic hospitals, but the IT director says it would “really grieve me” to re-do the work and warns that not all information will convert. She adds that Epic isn’t in the top five EHRs for small hospitals. A board member said she appreciates the input, but the IT director’s view is slanted because “that’s her baby,” adding that the board expected the hospital’s leadership to come to them with a recommendation and instead they were divided.


Sponsor Updates

  • Altruista Health adds evidence-based medical content from Healthwise to its GuidingCare care management and population health software.
  • Change Healthcare has joined the Health Evolution Forum as a leadership partner.
  • The Chartis Center for Rural Health publishes a new report, “Crises Collide: The COVID-19 Pandemic and the Rural Health Safety Net.”
  • Over the past 12 months, Glytec’s FDA-cleared EGMS software has been used in an additional 6,500 beds and is now partnering with over 300 healthcare facilities across the country.
  • The HCI Group launches a new podcast, “DGTL Voices with Ed Marx.”
  • LexisNexis Risk Solutions announces its “Top 100 Hospice and Home Health Agencies Rankings for 2020.”
  • NextGate achieves HITRUST CSF Certification to further mitigate risk in third-party privacy, security, and compliance.

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

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HIMSS Financial Highlights

February 11, 2021 News No Comments

This information is from the 2018 Form 990 of HIMSS, which covers the tax year ending June 30, 2019. The 2019 form, which will include the first half of 2020 when HIMSS20 was cancelled, will be filed in July 2021.


Income and Expense

Total revenue: $112 million (up 18% from the previous year)
Total expenses: $91 million (down 5.5% from the previous year)
Revenue less expenses: $21.2 million (versus a $1.2 million loss the previous year)


Program Service Revenue

Conferences: $42.8 million
Corporate sponsorships: $13.1 million
Membership: $12.9 million
Advertising and media: $10.0 million (classified as unrelated business revenue)
Analytics and maturity models: $3.0 million


Revenue from Related Organizations

HIMSS Media: $13.2 million
HIMSS Analytics: $3.0 million
Personal Connected Health Alliance: $2.6 million
HIMSS Europe: $1.6 million

HIMSS also reported taxable partnerships through its Healthbox consulting firm. 


Major Expenses

Conferences: $15.9 million
IT: $6.4 million
Occupancy: $2.2 million
Travel: $4.1 million


Highest Compensated Employees

Steve Lieber, former president and CEO: $2,666,485 (retired December 2017)
Hal Wolf, president and CEO: $1,291,414
Carla Smith, EVP: $671,788 (resigned November 2018)
Bruce Steinberg, managing director, international: $548,909
John Whelan, EVP, HIMSS Media: $426,732
Blain Newton, EVP, HIMSS Analytics: $451,265
Stephen Wretling, chief technology and innovation officer: $393,866
Patricia Mechael, EVP, Personal Connected Health Alliance: $355,787 (six months)

Total salaries and wages: $38 million for 459 employees, plus $4.1 million in pension plans and other employee benefits.


News 2/10/21

February 9, 2021 News No Comments

Top News

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Nuance acquires Saykara, a developer of automated charting software.

Saykara founder and CEO Harjinder Sandhu, PhD was an executive in Nuance’s healthcare research and development division before co-founding automated patient engagement company Twistle in 2011 and Saykara in 2015.

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Nuance will assign Saykara’s 30 employees to its Dragon Ambient Experience (DAX) team. A stock analyst asked Nuance how they would keep Sandhu since “he keeps leaving and developing more stuff you guys are buying” (he was a co-founder of Nuance acquisition MedRemote as well). Nuance CEO Mark Benjamin says the opportunity with the acquisition was to combine the scientists of both companies.

I interviewed Harjinder Sandhu this past October, when I asked him how he would compare Saykara’s Kara to Nuance’s DAX.


Reader Comments

From Equity Management Person: “Re: SPACs. Here are some counterpoints.” Thanks for providing an expert’s point of view in response to my cheap-seats comment about the SPAC phenomenon. EMP makes these points:

  • SPACs have two years to consummate a deal per their IPO documents. 
  • As a result, It’s a target-rich environment and a lot of SPACS are doing value-creating transactions.
  • An inherent backstop exists to prevent SPACs from rushing into bad deals. They have to convince sophisticated institutional sponsors who have veto rights that the deal is a good one. Those investors get their initial investment back if the company fails to close a deal.
  • SPACs are technically equivalent to IPOs except that the SPAC sponsor takes a lot of the fees than investment banks would take during a formal IPO underwriting.
  • It’s an interesting question why SPACS are suddenly so popular, but target companies are deliberately selecting that route given other options (IPOs, direct listings, and strategic sales), so SPACs offer what those companies think is the most attractive package of valuation, governance, and deal certainty.
  • SPACs are unlikely to be stranded because of a lack of follow-on capital and investor interest. The sponsor is a a core institutional block holder who is invested in the success of the company. The company will have greater access to capital and better long-term outcomes than being let go into a market without any backers except investment banks, which offer little credibility to institutional investors by their association and research overage.

From Dry Heat: “Re: Super Bowl commercials. You should have a similar contest for health IT vendor ads.” I’m not sure that companies in our industry have the media savvy or cash to produce jaw-dropping ads given their niche B2B audience, but an ad contest for HIMSS conference week would be fun in the presence of adequate enthusiasm, even in the form of creative video messages rather than “commercials.” My favorite Super Bowl commercial is “Terry Tate: Office Linebacker,“ but it’s also an illustration of entertainment versus commercial success — Reebok ended it fairly quickly despite endless watercooler buzz because the connection to the company was subtle and sales were mostly unaffected. Reebok shoe competitor K-Swiss later produced the most profanely funny and Tate-like video I’ve seen (NSFW and definitely don’t click if you don’t know for sure that you like the always-offensive and profane “Eastside & Down.”) K-Swiss was brave for featuring Kenny Powers, MFCEO, but buzz aside, they sold the money-hemorrhaging company to a Korea-based outfit shortly after.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor ChartSpan. The Greenville, SC-based company is the largest managed service provider of chronic care management (CCM) programs in the United States. It provides turnkey managed care coordination and compliance programs for doctors, clinics, and health systems. ChartSpan manages patient care coordination and value-based programs for more than 100 of the most successful practices and health systems in the United States. In addition, ChartSpan offers a SaaS-based Annual Wellness Visit program that allows practices to maximize their AWV capture rate by simplifying the AWV process. Through these offerings, ChartSpan is able to help practices increase their reimbursements while improving patient outcomes. Thanks to ChartSpan for supporting HIStalk. 

Here’s a good “what we do” intro video from ChartSpan that also defines the value of chronic care management.

I subscribed to the online edition of the AP Stylebook since I refer to it often in choosing to follow most (but not all) of its own standards. Below are some I follow except when I slip up:

  • Spell out numbers from one to nine but use numerals for anything 10 and above. Exceptions: spell out any number used as the first word of a sentence (“Ninety tourists visited”) and if the number precedes a unit of measure that doesn’t refer to time (“he made a 6-foot putt” but “a six-month delay.”)
  • Regardless of how a company stylizes its own name, do not use all-capital letters unless they are pronounced individually (“IBM” is correct, “MEDITECH” is not, and “EPIC” is a figment of your imagination because even they can’t understand why people all-caps their name); do not use symbols (“MModal,” not “M*Modal”); and capitalize the first letter (“Athenahealth” rather than “athenahealth.”)
  • Periods and commas always go inside quotation marks.
  • Capitalize job titles only if they are formally assigned and are included right before the person’s name. It is “Epic President Carl Dvorak,” but “Carl Dvorak, president of Epic.”
  • Use “health care” instead of “healthcare” even though the latter is in the dictionary. (I’m an AP outlaw in this issue mostly because of laziness in knowing I have to type it out many times each day).
  • Don’t use copyright or trademark symbols — they are just for the company’s marketing materials.
  • Plurals of words of any size require adding only an S with no apostrophe (“it will be in the low 20s,” “this is a meeting of CIOs”) except for those of one letter (“he earned four A’s”).
  • Use “coronavirus” to refer to the virus and “COVID-19” as the disease it causes. Do not shorten to “COVID” or use “Covid.”

I noticed that the Walgreens website wasn’t working this morning, which from Googling seems to have been the case for a couple of days.


Webinars

February 24 (Wednesday) 1 ET. “Maximizing the Value of Digital Initiatives with Enterprise Provider Data Management.” Sponsor: Phynd Technologies. Presenters: Tom White, founder and CEO, Phynd Technologies; Adam Cherrington, research director, KLAS Research. Health systems can derive great business value and competitive advantage by centrally managing their provider data. A clear roadmap and management solution can solve problems with fragmented data, workflows, and patient experiences and support operational efficiency and delivery of a remarkable patient experience. The presenters will describe common pitfalls in managing enterprise information and digital strategy in silos, how to align stakeholders to maximize the value of digital initiatives, and how leading health systems are using best-of-breed strategies to evolve provider data management.

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

Talent solutions company Ettain Group acquires INT Technologies, a veteran-owned staffing and consulting company that serves a variety of industries including healthcare.

Sitka raises $14 million in a Series A funding round, increasing its total to $22 million. The company offers PCPs the ability to virtually consult with specialists using its VConsult software.

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Paging Weird News Andy: microbial sciences company Seed Health acquires Auggi, whose AI technology analyzes pictures of bowel movements to assess gastrointestinal health. Auggi also offers an app for use in clinical trials, while Seed will launch a consumer app this year.

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Nuance announces Q1 results: revenue down 4%, adjusted EPS $0.20 versus $0.22, beating Wall Street expectations for both. The company said in the earnings call that revenue for Dragon Medical and Dragon Ambient Experience (DAX) rose 22% over Q1 of last year, with DAX contributing $10 to 20 million in annual recurring revenue and customers expanding their implementation to additional medical specialties.


Sales

  • Bayhealth (DE) will implement Infor’s CloudSuite Healthcare, Clinical Bridge, D/EPM, and True Cost technologies.
  • The Center for Human Development (MA) selects Netsmart’s CareFabric software to unify workflows across its 80 programs and services.
  • Summit Healthcare announces that nine health systems have contracted for Summit Scripting Toolkit, its robotic process automation platform.

People

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Jeff McHugh (R1 RCM) joins Innovaccer as regional VP of sales.

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Bret Cottick (Olive) joins Medical Informatics Corp. as national VP of sales.


Announcements and Implementations

Beauregard Health System (LA) goes live on Meditech Expanse with consulting help from Engage.

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Wake Forest Baptist Health (NC) implements RxRevu’s SwiftRx Direct real-time prescription benefit software.

Blessing Health System (IL) develops a home-based care program for COVID-19 patients using remote patient monitoring and telemedicine software from Cloud Dx.

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The 377th Medical Group at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico will go live on Cerner Millenium in April as part of the DoD’s continued rollout of MHS Genesis.

True Health (FL) leverages Emerge’s ChartGenie and ChartScout technologies in its conversion to Athenahealth.


COVID-19

All US COVID-19 measures are trending down significantly to early fall 2020 levels, with the hospitalization number slipping to around 80,000. US deaths are at 465,000, 20% of the world’s total. CDC reports that 42 million of 59 million distributed vaccine doses have been administered (71%).

The hottest topic among epidemiologists – should the 90 million Americans who have already had COVID-19 receive just one dose of vaccine? Consensus seems to be yes given the performance of the vaccines in clinical studies and the need to maximize the use of a limited supplies of vaccines.

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Another software developer takes it upon themselves to create an easy-to-use COVID-19 vaccination sign-up site. Huge Ma, a 31-year-old Airbnb software engineer, spends five days developing TurboVax, which compiles all available New York City appointments from the several signup systems and locations. Others have developed similar sites in New York and elsewhere. A Manhattan clinical psychologist who realized that none of her elderly relatives could have made their own appointments by finding the sites and booking a time slot online before someone grabs them concludes, “The system is set up to be a technology race between 25-year-olds and 85-year-olds. That’s not a race, that’s elder neglect.”


Other

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A security researcher’s analysis of 30 popular health apps (they weren’t named) finds problems:

  • 50% of the apps store sensitive patient information.
  • 100% of API endpoints were subject to BOLA attacks (broken object-level authorization) that can allow access to full patient records.
  • 50% of the apps allowed clinicians to access to records of any patient by changing the URL that is passed in the “GET” command.
  • 100% of the apps failed to implement certificate pinning to prevent person-in-the-middle attacks.
  • 77% of the apps used hard-coded API keys that never expire and 7% use hard-coded names and passwords.
  • 50% of APIs did not authenticate requests with tokens.

Imagine if this were a hospital: a remote hacker gains access to a Florida city’s water treatment system and increases the amount of sodium hydroxide to dangerous levels, which was luckily noticed and quickly reversed by a supervisor who happened to observe the change happening on his computer screen. The city has disabled the remote access function that the hacker used.

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Another news item that may bear healthcare lessons, especially about consumer usability and how medical apps are supported. The family of a 20-year-old student sues trading firm Robinhood after he kills himself upon seeing his account balance reach a $730,000 loss. Alex Kearns, who tried unsuccessfully to reach someone at the company several times before taking his own life, didn’t actually owe $730,000 – he didn’t realize that Robinhood’s on-screen balance didn’t include the value of his unexercised options, which would have given him an overall $16,000 profit. The last words of his suicide note, in which he said he had “no clue” about what he was doing, were, “How was a 20-year-old with no income able to get assigned almost $1 million worth of leverage?” The company says it has improved its user interface, added help desk staff, and started asking new users about their finances and trading experience.


Sponsor Updates

  • Ettain Group wins ClearlyRated’s Best of Staffing Client and Talent Diamond Awards for the 10th consecutive year.
  • Cerner staffers help vaccinate 2,300 people at its headquarters in Kansas City, MO.
  • Spok makes its Spok Go clinical workflow automation tool available in Australia.
  • The local paper profiles consulting firm Divurgent and the ways in which it has helped support hospitals during the pandemic.
  • AdvancedMD will cover half of the dues for 40 new members of the Association of Independent Doctors.
  • Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise hosts its first global virtual conference for partners.
  • Central Logic saw record-breaking growth, awareness, and momentum in 2020 as health systems have increased their focus on “operating as one.”
  • Collective Medical joins the Healthix Vendor Interoperability Program.
  • The State of California-Emergency Medical Services Authority selects Elsevier to deliver a COVID-19 online learning program for nurses.
  • Ellkay will present during the virtual HIMSS Central & North Florida Chapter event on February 17.
  • Emerge hires Jake Harvey (Salesforce) as customer experience manager.
  • Nine Summit Healthcare customers sign on for the company’s Scripting Toolkit and Robotic Process Automation platform.
  • CityMD (NY) improves its Net Promoter Score after implementing patient engagement software, including virtual line capabilities, from Experity.
  • CarePort customer John Muir Health (CA) adds Connect and Insight capabilities to better track and manage patients across care settings.
  • Emanate Health (CA) works with Meditech Professional Services to develop disease investigation and contact tracing dashboards in its Meditech Expanse EHR.

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

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Monday Morning Update 2/8/21

February 7, 2021 News 1 Comment

Top News

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Duke University spinout Clinetic, whose software monitors EHR activity to identify patients for clinical trials or to suggest next step sin their care, raises $6.4 million in equity.

CEO Thomas Kaminski was previously SVP of corporate strategy for LabCorp, board chair Allan Kirk, MD, PhD is surgeon-in-chief of Duke University Health System, and board member Rob Califf, MD is former FDA commissioner.

Founder Erich Huang, MD, PhD is Duke Health’s chief data officer and directs its health data science center and data science accelerator.


Reader Comments

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From Frumious Bandersnatch: “Re: your HIStalk mug from 2014. I love it! So sorry I missed that HIMSS since it would have been worth the trip. I realized today that I have been following you for many years now – glad you’re still here.” HIMSS conferences blur together, but I have the advantage of being able to refer back to my super-detailed HIStalk write-ups to remember what happened way back then. Memorable events of HIMSS14 (daily details here, here, here, here, and here) include:

  • The opening reception was hard to find in the bowels of the Hyatt Regency across the street, signs were wrong, bar lines were long even with drink tickets, and racket in the airplane hangar-like space was deafening.
  • Hillary Clinton said nothing interesting in her keynote, which cost HIMSS $200K-plus.
  • This was our first year hiring Party on the Moon as the HIStalkapalooza band. They turned it into a dance that brought even wall-hugging IT nerds onto the floor.
  • I enjoy irony, so I assigned Lorre to accept HIStalk’s Industry Pioneer Award from Sunquest CEO Richard Atkin, who had recently fired her after her 16-year executive career there. You might enjoy Lorre’s description of how that felt and what she thought of HIMSS14.
  • This was our first time exhibiting, where we tried to be upbeat about the tiny, remote space that my $6,000 bought us and its uneasy adjacency to the back-of-hall bathrooms. Still, we had a lot of visitors and celebrity booth-greeters disproportionate to our cemetery plot sized booth.
  • Not only was I cranky about lugging mugs around that few folks wanted, I also spent too much on having two designs of lanyard pins made, which were “limited edition” in that: (a) I never did them again; and (b) demand for them was truly limited. I dread running across a box of these in a closet somewhere, although I think I tossed them.

From Carl SPACkler: “Re: SPACS. Good for the industry or no?” It’s hard to say, but a ton of health IT SPACs are out there and they are required by law to spend their money on acquisitions within several months, which means that many of them will end up with subpar, overly expensive dance partners that had little reason to become publicly traded and that will fail to attract ongoing investment afterward. It feels to me like everybody is desperate to get a deal done before the bubble bursts. Having your long-term vendor or employer go public is like having your significant other join a cult. It could be a rough ride for hastily acquired companies that needed more time to prepare for their financial close-ups.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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I will urge the significant number of folks who haven’t completed a living will and medical power of attorney to do it right now, then store the papers somewhere they can be easily located in a moment of need. You don’t need to spend money or hire a lawyer if that’s a barrier – you can download free, state-specific forms that you can complete in maybe five minutes and then you are set for life (or death). There’s no reason to put family members through the anguish of what you would want when it’s so easy to just tell them.

New poll to your right or here: What part of your medical record would you be most angry at having disclosed publicly? Some folks will indignantly say they need an “all of the above” option, but that’s not the point – it’s what single part of your chart is most sensitive to you. I guess mine would be credit card information since that’s the only item that would inconvenience me — the rest simply identifies me as boringly mortal like everybody else, should strangers actually care.


Webinars

February 24 (Wednesday) 1 ET. “Maximizing the Value of Digital Initiatives with Enterprise Provider Data Management.” Sponsor: Phynd Technologies. Presenters: Tom White, founder and CEO, Phynd Technologies; Adam Cherrington, research director, KLAS Research. Health systems can derive great business value and competitive advantage by centrally managing their provider data. A clear roadmap and management solution can solve problems with fragmented data, workflows, and patient experiences and support operational efficiency and delivery of a remarkable patient experience. The presenters will describe common pitfalls in managing enterprise information and digital strategy in silos, how to align stakeholders to maximize the value of digital initiatives, and how leading health systems are using best-of-breed strategies to evolve provider data management.

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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“Voice robotic process automation” vendor Infinitus comes out of stealth mode with a $21 million Series A funding round. The company’s technology asks machine-generated questions in phone calls, such as for public health outreach and insurer inquiries, then tailors further questions based on responses. Most of the folks involved come from Google or Rakuten, but the standout for me is operations guy Brad Holden, who earned a Carnegie Mellon degree in mechanical and biomedical engineering; enlisted in the US Marines as a platoon commander in Operation Enduring Freedom in Helmand, Afghanistan, where his platoon cleared routes of insurgents and IEDs; and then came home to earn a Harvard MBA.


People

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Patient engagement platform vendor PatientBond hires Justin Dearborn (ICM Partners) as CEO. He replaces Anurag Juneja, PhD, who will continue as president.


COVID-19

CDC’s vaccination stats: 41 million doses administered of 59 million distributed (69%). COVID-19 tests, cases, and hospitalizations are continuing their sharp trend downward, but deaths haven’t followed yet and are running more than 3,000 per day. COVID-19 cases in nursing homes are dropping off as vaccine rollout continues.

The more contagious B117 coronavirus variant is spreading in the US exactly as predicted, with cases doubling every 10 days on its way to becoming the dominant strain by March. Its spread makes the dialing back of mitigation measures by several states, such as expanding in-restaurant dining, appear unwise. It also increases the importance of getting people vaccinated quickly.

Johnson & Johnson requests FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine, although FDA’s advisory panel doesn’t meet to review its clinical data until February 26. Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD says he expects J&J’s vaccine, which requires just a single shot, to be distributed through pharmacies because it does not require special storage other than normal refrigeration, while Pfizer’s vaccine will probably be limited to big distribution centers because it requires ultra-cold freezers.

Experts remind that while some of the available coronavirus vaccines have higher efficacy rates than others, all of them are 100% effective at keeping recipients from becoming seriously ill or dying.

The Multi-State Partnership for Prevention accuses CDC of misrepresenting Deloitte’s employees as their own during a demonstration of MSPP’s PrepMod vaccination software. CDC then gave Deloitte a $44 million, no-bid contract to develop a system that ended up working up much like PrepMod. The owner and only principal of the for-profit affiliate of MSPP that developed PrepMod has filed a cease and desist notice, pending a lawsuit, claiming that Deloitte stole her intellectual property and then tried to hire her to help it copy its functionality. Ten states are using the Deloitte VAMS system, which was free to them, while 28 have bought PrepMod. Another developer of vaccine information systems confirms that his company and his competitors were asked to participate in meetings with CDC and Deloitte, but then were shut out of bidding when Deloitte was contracted directly.

The White House invokes the Defense Production Act to manufacture 61 million at-home or point-of-care coronavirus tests by summer. It will also use DPA to increase the manufacturing of surgical gloves and two components that are used in Pfizer’s vaccine packaging.

Boulder Medical Center (CO) cancels the COVID-19 vaccination appointment of a 72-year-old cancer survivor because of an unpaid $244 hospital balance.

CDC confirms that US flu activity is basically zero, easing fears of a “twindemic.”


Other

Hackers post patient information from Leon Medical Centers (FL) and Nocona General Hospital (TX) on the dark web.

Henry Ford Health System researchers find that the IPhone 12’s charging magnets can disrupt implanted cardiac defibrillators, leading Apple to issue a warning that users should keep the products 6 inches away from medical devices at all times at 12 inches away when the devices are charging.

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Olivia Adams, a 28-year-old software developer who is on maternity leave from Athenahealth, develops a COVID-19 vaccination sign-up website for those residents of Massachusetts who are 75 and older. She coded a site that scrapes information from a bunch of individual sites and displays available appointments in a central location. She said it was challenging because nobody asked the developers of the individual sites to make them interoperable.


Sponsor Updates

  • Clinical Architecture publishes a new case study, “The Joint Commission Experience with Symedical.”
  • Nuance has been recognized for the fourth consecutive year as the highest-rated vendor in Opus Research’s “Decision Maker’s Guide to Enterprise Intelligent Assistants.”
  • Nordic, for the third year in a row, is the only firm with a rating higher than 90 across seven or more “Best in KLAS” categories.
  • Premier encourages nonprofit community programs that provide healthcare to underserved populations to apply for its $100,000 Monroe E. Trout Premier Cares Award by March 9.
  • Pure Storage announces the new FlashBlade for Azure Stack Hub integration that delivers unified fast file and object capabilities for hybrid-cloud architectures.
  • Spirion announces that The Tolly Group, an independent testing lab, has benchmarked its effectiveness in discovering personal, sensitive, and regulated data at 98.5% accuracy.

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

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News 2/5/21

February 4, 2021 News 7 Comments

Top News

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Netsmart acquires GPM, which offers a community-based long-term and post-acute care mobile EHR and care coordination platform.


Reader Comments

From Curious Jorge: “Re: reader survey. I appreciate the offer of a $50 gift card for completing your reader survey! However, you have awesomely enhanced my IT and informatics experience for years, so I should be sending you a gift card and a huge thank you! Please donate the card to your favorite charity.” CJ is a physician informaticist who completed my reader survey and was randomly drawn as a gift card winner. Their gracious deferral of the prize allowed me to fully fund – with matching money from my Anonymous Vendor Executive and other sources — the Donors Choose teacher grant request of Ms. R in Sebastian, FL, who asked for a library of 30 take-home math and science books for her second-grade class. She sent a note saying, “Your kindness and generosity is warmly welcomed and greatly appreciated! It has been one of the most unusual and interesting school years I’ve had, so your donation to our project is an absolute bright spot that we really needed. The future scientists of the world will be so happy!”

From Journo June: “Re: journalist. Do you consider what you do as being one?” Not for most of what I do. I’ve explained to Katie the Intern that I see those who write health IT stuff as falling into three camps: (a) journalists interview actual sources and follow established technical and ethical standards to create original news, which I do when the situation warrants; (b) writers have a level of health IT education and leadership experience that gives their news callouts and opinions credibility; and (c) typists paraphrase the writing of others without even understanding it themselves, adding zero value except to give bored readers a redundant copy of useless material to waste time on. My example of the latter is those lame “best hamburgers in all 50 states” articles in which a junior nobody uses Yelp and Google to crib public comments and photos in dutifully cranking out worthless clickbait. Finding health IT typists would not be an onerous challenge.

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From Code Slinger: “Re: programming. Should I be ashamed to admit that most of my health IT programming years involved dead languages like RPG and COBOL?” Absolutely not. Those are just the paintbrushes that your employer made you use. Unless you coded to someone else’s spec only, you are still an artist who understands logical thinking, user behavior, the use of brilliant algorithms to address real-life uncertainty, and how to visualize an alternate universe inside your head and turn it into reality. Programmers might have rolled their eyes at my self-taught, kludgy coding back in the day, but I made those bits and bytes howl in giving life to the software figments of my imagination. The most valuable skill isn’t knowing how you make the computer do what you want, but rather defining what you want it to do.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor Ettain Health, offering healthcare IT talent and consulting solutions. Services include IT strategy, vendor selection, pre-implementation planning, system design and build, training, activation and go-live support, help desk, and system optimization, as well as IT outsourcing and application management. Additionally, in response to COVID-19, Ettain Health delivers customized on-site and remote support services including vaccination rollout assistance to provide scheduling and registration through any EHR, training, project management, help desk, and portal support. Ettain Health is a division of talent solutions company Ettain Group, which has 21 US locations and annual revenue of $500 million, deep experience in Epic, Cerner, Meditech (including Expanse consulting certification), and other EHRs. It has a 25-year history of delivering talent solutions, employs more than 400 full-time health IT consultants, and has completed more than 500 EHR implementation projects. Thanks to Ettain Health for supporting HIStalk.

Listening: new from Lucero, country-tinged, heartfelt jangle rock from Memphis that kind of reminds me of Deer Tick because of the singer’s gravelly voice. Despite some 1980s influence, I wouldn’t call it either retro or trendy, just a distinctly American blend from a hard-working, middle-aged band that has been plugging away for 20+ years. I’m not a fan of country, but this is OK since they don’t wear silly cowboy hats and they aren’t bro-country working class posers who add exactly one pedal steel lick to a soulless, corporately written bubblegum pop song so they don’t have to compete on the actual pop charts. People who don’t roll their eyes at musicians wearing cowboy hats indoors must also think that AC/DC’s 65-year-old Angus Young spends his days in a uniforms-required prep school.

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HIMSS14 will always be the “Year of Those Darned Mugs” for me because I overbought the giveaways and we kept moving heavy cases of them from one place to another in trying to entice people to take them. I was interviewing CloudWave President Erik Littlejohn today and he said, “You won’t remember this, but maybe seven years ago at HIMSS you had all those mugs to move …” and I knew exactly where he was going with that story. Three guys from our exhibit hall booth neighbor Park Place International volunteered to help Lorre haul in three heavy boxes full of mugs from her car that was parked in an OCCC garage that seemed like a mile away. Not only did they lug them in on their shoulders, they did it wearing their all-black booth finery under the punishing Florida sun. Erik was one of them. Above is the Darned Mug that sits on my desk, and all memories about it are bad except for those guys from Park Place (now CloudWave). Meanwhile, while we’re looking back, do you see any familiar reveler faces in the HIStalkpalooza 2014 video?


Webinars

February 24 (Wednesday) 1 ET. “Maximizing the Value of Digital Initiatives with Enterprise Provider Data Management.” Sponsor: Phynd Technologies. Presenters: Tom White, founder and CEO, Phynd Technologies; Adam Cherrington, research director, KLAS Research. Health systems can derive great business value and competitive advantage by centrally managing their provider data. A clear roadmap and management solution can solve problems with fragmented data, workflows, and patient experiences and support operational efficiency and delivery of a remarkable patient experience. The presenters will describe common pitfalls in managing enterprise information and digital strategy in silos, how to align stakeholders to maximize the value of digital initiatives, and how leading health systems are using best-of-breed strategies to evolve provider data management.

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

Nordic acquires Bails & Associates, which provides ERP consulting with specialization in Infor.

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Patient experience platform vendor NexHealth acquires digital forms company Enlive. NexHealth’s EHR-integrated offerings include online scheduling, patient communications, telehealth, and virtual waiting rooms.

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New Zealand-based cancer screening software vendor Volpara Health acquires CRA Health, a Boston-based Mass General spinoff that offers EHR-integrated breast cancer risk assessment and recommendations, for $18 million.

Change Healthcare announces Q3 results: revenue down 3%, adjusted EPS $0.34 versus $0.33, beating earnings estimates but falling short on revenue. The company’s $13 billion acquisition by Optum is expected to close in the second half of 2021.

Medical research data management platform data vendor Flywheel raises $15 million in a Series B funding round. I’m fascinated that CEO Jim Olson’s education involves math and religion, and companies he has run include online gambling, supportive medical care, a family of youth ministries, and career exploration for young adults.

Consumer genetic testing company 23andMe will go public in merging with a Richard Branson-run SPAC in a deal that values the company at $3.5 billion.


Sales

  • Community Health Network (IN) chooses Jvion’s prescriptive AI to identity ACO members who are risk of deteriorating due to pandemic-deferred care.

People

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Carevive hires Bruno Lempernesse (Medidata) as CEO. He replaces founder Madelyn Herzfeld, RN, who moves to board vice chair.

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Quil hires Kim McEwen, MA (Livongo) as VP of client delivery and Ashley Stevens (Imprivata, above) as VP of provider sales.


Announcements and Implementations

Mayo Clinic will work with Spok to enhance its Spok Go communications platform, including critical test results reporting, family and patient engagement, task management, and medical device integration.

Relatient announces a patient self-scheduling tool for COVID-19 vaccine appointments.

LexisNexis Health Care develops a streamlined onboarding process for Epic’s MyChart, which uses the company’s Instant Verify and Instant ID Q&A for identity validation, to expedite vaccination appointment scheduling. 

Israel-based CLEW Medical earns FDA’s 510(k) clearance for its hemodynamic instability prediction solution for ICU patients.

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Saudi Arabia’s health minister reviews the progress of the Epic implementation at King Fahd Medical Center, noting that the implementation was completed on schedule despite COVID-related challenges. 

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KLAS’s non-US Best in KLAS report finds that telehealth has been massively expanded globally during COVID-19, but patients would also like to see consolidated patient portals, provider communication, and self-scheduling. Top ranked in the acute care EHR category are:

  • InterSystems TrakCare (Asia / Oceania)
  • Epic (Canada)
  • Epic (Europe)
  • MV Soul (Latin America)
  • Cerner (Middle East / Africa)

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A KLAS Arch Collaborative report on large-practice ambulatory clinician EHR training finds that Epic and NextGen Healthcare lead on training quality; Epic, Meditech, and NextGen have the highest satisfaction with EHR personalization; and Athenahealth, Cerner, and Epic are strong at identifying users who need extra help. Most organizations say the EHR supports patient-centered care, with that list topped by Meditech Expanse, Epic, and NextGen. 


COVID-19

CDC reports that 33.9 million of the 56 million COVID-19 vaccine doses that have been distributed have been administered (61%).

A new Census Bureau survey finds that only 51% of unvaccinated Americans will “definitely get” COVID-19 vaccine. Herd immunity is not guaranteed when 24% of people say they probably or definitely won’t take the shot, not even counting those who want it but may not end up getting it.

Physicians who have been performing fast-result COVID-19 testing in their practices are eliminating that service since insurers sometimes pay them less than half of the test’s cost. Federal law requires insurers to cover the cost so that testing is free to patients, but does not define how reimbursement is calculated and doctors are prohibited from billing the difference to patients.

Newly elected Missouri state representative and medical clinic operator Patrica Derges is indicted on 20 counts for selling patients fake stem cell treatments after claiming on local TV that they cure COVID-19. She is licensed as an assistant physician, having graduated from a Caribbean medical school without being chosen for a residency.


Other

AMIA opens a CEO search a year after the resignation of Doug Fridsma, MD, PhD. EVP/COO Karen Greenwood has been serving as interim.

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A reader says this story has Weird News Andy written all over it. A man falls asleep listening to music on his AirPods, then wakes up with a dry throat and just one AirPod. An emergency endoscopy turns up the second one, which he had swallowed. 


Sponsor Updates

  • CHIME names Capsule CEO Hemant Goel a Healthcare Hero for outstanding service during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Kyruus announces significant core business momentum in 2020 as it accelerates expansion into the payer market.
  • Everbridge announces that the State of West Virginia has administered nearly 100% of first-round doses using the company’s Vaccine Distribution software to schedule COVID-19 vaccinations.
  • The Race to Value Podcast features The HCI Group Chief Digital Officer Ed Marx.
  • Medicomp Systems CMO Jay Anders will present at Health Datapalooza February 18.
  • NextGate receives the United Kingdom National Cyber Security Centre’s Cyber Essentials certification.

Bog Posts


Contacts

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

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News 2/3/21

February 2, 2021 News 5 Comments

Top News

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HIMSS confirms that HIMSS21 remains on schedule for August 9-13 in Las Vegas, but announces that it will also include a virtual component.

HIMSS will determine later — based on vaccination rates, infection rates, and federal guidelines – whether it will need to cancel in-person activities in Las Vegas.

The next HIMSS21 update will be published on February 19, which will include announcement of the date on which registration will open.


Reader Comments

From Just_a_CIO: “Re: HIMSS and CHIME. Getting a divorce, as quietly announced a while ago but in a more formal letter from CHIME this week. This likely further dooms HIMSS to the boat show only role and maybe gives CHIME a chance to get back to its roots with a more educational / peer-to-peer event. Vendors will always play a role since someone needs to pay to put these things on, but it seems CHIME has a better shot at striking the right balance as a smaller, more focused conference. What do you think?” CHIME confirms that it won’t be participating in HIMSS21, as the organizations “have decided to explore different directions in how we serve and grow our memberships.” CHIME will offer broadcast events in April and June and presumably others to follow, and had already announced that the Fall Forum in October will also offer a hybrid model. Here are my random thoughts as the reader requested:

  • Certainly CHIME is better scaled to survive on the proceeds of running a smaller conference, although it was beginning to show signs of HIMSS-like dollar sign eyes. It’s a good time to refocus.
  • Nearly all member organizations walk an ethical tightrope in deciding how hard to milk the willingness of sellers to pay for exposure to buyers in the “ladies drink free” model. Perhaps it’s a bit cleaner for CHIME since vendors can’t be members.
  • I often question why hospital executives can’t perform their job duties without heading off to luxury resorts for networking and education. I’ve only ever worked in healthcare, so I don’t know if it’s common for C-level executives in other industries to rely on ideas from peers in other companies, to expect their vendors to educate them, or to wander back and forth between customer and vendor jobs.
  • I’ve always been uncomfortable with cocooning CIOs off in their own track at the HIMSS conference. All events should be open to all attendees except for those that require extra payment (well, I don’t really like those either, but I digress). Exhibitors need to come to terms with the idea that most of the people who visit booths don’t have titles that suggest decision-maker, yet they have every right to be welcomed and in fact often actually do have influence beyond their job titles.
  • I’m not really fooling myself that I yearn for a quieter, more educational conference even though I don’t go to the parties. Boat show or not, you’ll usually find me in the exhibit hall, where the collective energy, fun, noise, and elbows-flying capitalism is more interesting than most of the educational sessions, which often end up being run by the same vendors anyway.
  • Now that I’ve said a lot without really saying anything, I’ll ask CHIME members, HIMSS members, vendors, and whoever cares – what do you like or not like about CHIME’s break from the HIMSS conference?

From Masshopper: “Re: VPay. Have heard that Optum is acquiring the company, adding to its healthcare payments and clearinghouse capabilities that it gained with the purchase of Change Healthcare last month.” I haven’t heard anything.

From Toothpick It: “Re: Olive’s new PR. What exactly is ‘AI cybernetics?’” I don’t think the term “cybernetics” is used much these days, but it involves feedback loops, which one could argue that in the absence of connections to physical devices like an artificial pancreas or something, simply means computer programming or scripting. Olive’s latest announcement says its product is being used by 675 US hospitals to deliver $100 million in efficiencies (that’s around $150,000 per hospital). It tripled headcount to 550 “Olivians” in the past year and will double it again in 2021 in a distributed work model it calls “The Grid.” You have to think that some science fiction nerds are involved.


Webinars

February 24 (Wednesday) 1 ET. “Maximizing the Value of Digital Initiatives with Enterprise Provider Data Management.” Sponsor: Phynd Technologies. Presenters: Tom White, founder and CEO, Phynd Technologies; Adam Cherrington, research director, KLAS Research. Health systems can derive great business value and competitive advantage by centrally managing their provider data. A clear roadmap and management solution can solve problems with fragmented data, workflows, and patient experiences and support operational efficiency and delivery of a remarkable patient experience. The presenters will describe common pitfalls in managing enterprise information and digital strategy in silos, how to align stakeholders to maximize the value of digital initiatives, and how leading health systems are using best-of-breed strategies to evolve provider data management.

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Private equity firm Abry Partners acquires healthcare cloud and managed services vendor CloudWave through a majority investment.

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Hillrom purchases EarlySense’s contact-free, continuous-monitoring technology for $30 million. EarlySense CEO Matt Johnson says the company will now focus on its remote monitoring technology for the post-acute market. Hillrom announced several weeks ago that it will acquire Bardy Diagnostics for $375 million.

Zyter acquires population health software vendor Casenet from Centene, which had acquired the company in 2012.

Healthcare Growth Partners lists the transactions it closed in 2020. On the sell side: Firstsource acquired Patient Matters, Coronis Health acquired PMG, Intraprise Health acquired HIPAA One, Intelerad acquired Digisonics, Provation acquired EPreop, and EverCommerce acquired AlertMD. On the buy side, Ontellus acquired Intertel, Symplr acquired Wolters Kluser ComplyTrack, and Symplr acquired The Patient Safety Company.


Sales

  • In England, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust signs a $170 million, 15-year contract with Siemens Healthineers for the planning, installation, and maintenance of 222 pieces of imaging equipment.
  • MedStar Health and Intermountain Healthcare sign legacy PACS replacement contracts with Visage Imaging, which will deploy its product via Google Cloud. 

People

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Premier CEO Susan DeVore will retire effective May 1, 2021. She will be replaced by President Mike Alkire.

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Praveen Chopra (George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates) joins Gundersen Health System (WI) as CIO.


Announcements and Implementations

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Jackson Memorial Hospital (FL) implements Everbridge’s COVID-19 Shield: Vaccine Distribution software.

Divurgent develops a virtual patient support solution to help healthcare facilities handle call volumes related to COVID-19 vaccination scheduling.

Visage Imaging parent Pro Medicus Limited earns FDA clearance for its first AI algorithm, which assesses breast density from mammography studies.

Healthcare Triangle and CareTech Solutions partner to offer Meditech customers their cloud-based disaster recovery / backup solutions and secure hosting, respectively.

Allscripts-owned Veradigm signs a three-year deal giving ConnectiveRx exclusive rights to deliver electronic prescription coupons on Allscripts EHRs and Veradigm’s e-prescribing network.


COVID-19

The federal government says it will start delivering vaccine directly to 6,500 chain pharmacy stores starting next week to provide more vaccination sites. Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid are among the 21 chains involved.

Beaumont Health System (MI) temporarily shuts down its COVID-19 vaccine scheduling system after a user finds and shares an Epic loophole that allowed 2,700 ineligible patients to schedule appointments that were ultimately cancelled.

MIT Technology Review covers the many shortcomings of CDC’s $44 million VAMS vaccine management system — built by Deloitte under a no-bid contact — that South Carolina’s health department head “says has become a cuss word.” Nearly all states are passing on the free system and either building their own or paying for commercial systems, and people who are trying to use it to sign up for shots are so frequently unsuccessful that vaccine doses are going unused. The authors note that while it might seem questionable that Deloitte was given the no-bid contract despite a history of similar failures, CGI Federal has earned $5.6 billion in federal IT work since being fired for the Healthcare.gov debacle.

North Carolina upgrades its CVMS vaccine management system that one county health director says is a bigger problem than vaccine shortages. Clinics have found that it takes eight hours of data entry to record each one-hour administration of 200 vaccine doses, and that any data entry errors must be corrected at the state level.

Some California county and local health officials question the decision last week by Governor Gavin Newsom to turn COVID-19 vaccination over to Blue Shield of California, which was given an emergency, no-bid contract. Those officials note that Blue Shield has no history with a similarly sized project, the organization is a Newsom political donor, and it has minimal relationships with underserved communities. Blue Shield’s bar for success is low given that county efforts that have resulted in confusing appointment systems, shifting vaccine eligibility rules, long lines, and faulty data collection that has left the state unable to say exactly how many doses have been administered. Kaiser Permanente will run its own program for 9 million members and assist Blue Shield, but says slow vaccine shipments mean that at the current rate of vaccine deliveries, it will take four years to give just its own members their first doses.

Studies of Russia’s Sputnik COVID-19 vaccine find that it is 92% effective, with zero severe cases or deaths in the active group. Phase III results suggest that most of that effectiveness may occur after the first dose, with researchers now investigating a single-dose regimen. Mexico has already signed a contract for Sputnik and is expected to issue emergency use authorization almost immediately. The Russian government says that going through the US regulatory process isn’t a priority.

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Four hundred Cerner employees will help administer COVID-19 vaccines at company headquarters later this week as part of the Operation Safe coalition in North Kansas City, MO. The coalition, which includes local hospitals and governments, hopes to vaccinate up to 4,500 people every other week.

Nine top New York health officials have quit as Governor Andrew Cuomo addresses vaccination delays by taking control away from state and local public health officials and giving it to large health systems in declaring that he doesn’t trust government scientific experts. Those workers say Cuomo blindsided them with policy decisions and ignored their plans that had required years of preparation, instead relying on long-time advisors, consultants, and a lobbyist from Northwell Health to make decisions. A former New York City health official and epidemiologist says the government lost control of vaccination pacing early by giving most of its doses to hospitals, which they say lack the skills, experience, and perspective to manage a public health initiative.

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Meanwhile, Governor Cuomo says he may reopen indoor restaurant dining on Valentine’s Day even though per-capita case counts are 64% higher than when he halted indoor dining in December. The New York Times says that the graphs he used to illustrate a recent drop in test positivity rates are misleadingly optimistic in several ways.

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In England, World War II veteran Captain Sir Tom Moore, who raised dozens of millions of dollars for NHS last year by walking through his garden to observe his 100th birthday, dies of COVID-19.


Other

The New York Times finds that major health systems are declining to bill Medicaid for treatment of auto accident injuries and are instead placing liens on the accident settlements of patients for the full, undiscounted list prices of services rendered. Medicaid would have paid $2,500 for one patient’s treatment, but the hospital used a lien to go after $13,000. Hospitals are asking patients to sign waivers agreeing to not bill insurance, telling them their insurer shouldn’t have to pay for an accident someone else caused, failing to mention that signing means the patient themselves will pay the full price out of any settlement they receive. HFMA, in an apparent “if it’s not illegal it must be ethical” view, says it is reasonable for hospitals to seek payment from whoever will pay the most.


Best in KLAS

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KLAS announces “Best in KLAS Software & Services 2021,” which includes a change in which products in niche categories are awarded full “Best in KLAS” distinction rather than the previous “Category Leader.” Some of the winners are:

  • Epic, Galen Healthcare Solutions, and The Chartis Group are named as notable performers.
  • IBM Watson Health Merge PACS is named most-improved software product, while Athenahealth’s AthenaPractice EMR is tagged as most-improved physician practice product.
  • The top three highest-ranked software suites are Epic, Meditech Expanse, and Cerner.
  • Epic, Athenahealth, and NextGen Healthcare take the top three spots among physician practice vendors.
  • The top three IT services firms are Galen Healthcare, Prominence, and S&P Consultants.
  • Chartis Group, Accenture, and Guidehouse earned the top three spots in healthcare management consulting.

Some of the individual category winners:

Inpatient Clinical Care

  • Large-hospital acute care EMR: Epic
  • Small-hospital acute care EMR: Meditech Expanse.
  • Clinical decision support (care plans and order sets): Zynx Health.
  • Interoperability platform: InterSystems HealthShare

Ambulatory and Post-Acute Care

  • Large-practice ambulatory EMR: Epic
  • Medium-sized practice ambulatory EMR: NextGen Healthcare
  • Large-practice practice management: Epic
  • Medium-sized practice management: NextGen Healthcare
  • Small practice ambulatory PM/EHR: Kareo
  • Ambulatory specialty EHR: PCC (pediatrics)
  • Ambulatory care RCM services: R1 RCM
  • Behavioral health: Cerner
  • Claims and clearinghouse: Waystar
  • Small home health EHR: Meditech
  • Large home health EHR: MatrixCare
  • Long-term care: PointClickCare
  • Patient intake management: Phreesia

Financial, Revenue Cycle, and HIM

  • Business decision support: Strata Decision Technology
  • Charge master management: Vitalware by Health Catalyst
  • Claims management: Quadax
  • Clinical documentation improvement: ChartWise
  • Computer-assisted coding: Dolbey Fusion
  • ERP: Workday
    AI/data science solutions: Epic
  • Business intelligence and analytics: Dimensional Insight
  • Large-hospital patient accounting and management: Epic
  • Small-hospital patient accounting and management: Meditech Expanse
  • Patient financial engagement: Patientco
  • Quality management: Nuance Quality Solutions
  • Robotic process automation: Databound
  • Nurse and staff scheduling: Schedule360
  • Physician scheduling: QGenda
  • Front-end speech recognition: Nuance Dragon Medical One
  • Talent management: Workday
  • Time and attendance: API Healthcare

Value-Based Care

  • CRM: Salesforce
  • Digital rounding: GetWellNetwork
  • Interactive patient systems: PCare
  • Patient outreach: Well Health
  • Patient portal: Epic MyChart
  • Population health management: Innovaccer
  • Remote patient monitoring: Health Recovery Solutions
  • Videoconferencing: Microsoft Teams
  • Virtual care, non-EHR: Caregility

Security and Privacy

  • Access management: Identity Automation
  • Clinical communications: Telmediq by PerfectServe
  • Security and privacy consulting: Impact Advisors
  • Security and privacy managed services: CynergisTek

Services and Consulting

  • Application hosting: Epic
  • Clinical optimization: Chartis Group
  • Eligibility enrollment: Change Healthcare
  • Financial improvement consulting: Chartis Group
  • Go-live support: Engage
  • Healthcare management consulting: Chartis Group
  • Health IT advisory: Huntzinger Management Group
  • Large implementation leadership: Engage
  • Small implementation leadership: S&P Consultants
  • Staffing: Galen Healthcare
  • Outsourced coding; AGS Health
  • Revenue cycle optimization: Softek
  • Revenue cycle outsourcing: Ensemble Health Partners
  • Transcription services: AQuity
  • Value-based care consulting: ECG Management Consulting
  • Value-based care managed services: Arcadia

Sponsor Updates

  • Diana Nole, EVP and GM of Nuance’s Healthcare division, joins the Exactech Board of Directors.
  • Harris Healthcare migrates its Harris Flex EHR to the InterSystems Iris for Health data platform.
  • Healthcare Triangle offers customers its cloud-based disaster recovery and backup services along with Meditech-certified secure production hosting of EHR and enterprise applications from CareTech Solutions.
  • TMC names Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise’s Rainbow cloud-based communication platform a 2021 Remote Work Pioneer.
  • Artifact Health publishes a case study, “OU Health standardizes physician query workflow and achieves positive results.”
  • Change Healthcare publishes a new e-book, “Poised to Transform: AI in the Revenue Cycle – a Signature Research Study.”
  • The Chartis Group promotes Ben Perry to principal in its Strategy Practice.
  • Engage and Navin Haffty announce they have aligned sales forces to improve the client experience.
  • Swiss Re will leverage Diameter Health’s Fusion data-refinement technology to improve the speed and quality of their life insurance underwriting.

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

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HIMSS Confirms that HIMSS21 Remains On Track

February 2, 2021 News 1 Comment

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HIMSS announced in an exhibitor communication this morning that HIMSS21 remains on track for August 9-13 in Las Vegas. It will be a “completely reimagined hybrid event” that includes an online component.

HIMSS says registration timing is comparable with previous years, 11,000 HIMSS20 registrants can transfer their registration to HIMS21, and 10,000 hotel room dates have been reserved. It has received 700 session proposals, also comparable with past years.

Exhibitor count is at 400, about two-thirds the usual number in a comparable timeframe.

HIMSS says it will set a go/no go date for the in-person component closer to the conference date when the impact of vaccination rates, infection rates, and government health recommendations will be clearer.

HIMSS will provide its next HIMSS21 update on February 19, when the registration opening date will be announced.

HIMSS22 remains on schedule for March 2022 in Orlando.

Monday Morning Update 2/1/21

January 31, 2021 News 2 Comments

Top News

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Digital health company Sharecare acquires AI solutions vendor Doc.ai. Terms were not disclosed.

Doc.ai had raised $41 million in two seed funding rounds.

Reports from late last week indicated that the deal was underway and that the combined companies will be taken public via a SPAC transaction at a valuation of $4 billion.


Reader Comments

From Library Carrel: “Re: IMedX. The national provider of medical transcription services to hundreds of hospitals had a malware / ransomware attack bring down the entire IMedX Express platform. Hospitals have been down since Monday 1/25 with no projected resolution.” IMedX’s rarely used Twitter account and its webpage do not mention the outage, but BJC’s most recent update at this writing says that IMedX remains down, although it says it’s working with “a vendor” to resolve an IMEdX problem. I’ve seen no mention anywhere else, so I can’t say if this is just a BJC problem or if the issue is IMedX’s problem. I messaged IMedX via their client support contact form Saturday afternoon, but haven’t heard back. IMedX has a lot of customers, so I would be surprised if it’s a national outage that nobody has mentioned on Twitter or websites, which would then suggest that it’s something specific to BJC.

From Cron Job: “Re: Olive. You don’t usually take on a vendor unless their is snake oil involved. What gives with this firm? Of course the EHR vendors would be more than happy if we didn’t use this or any other AI tool since they will have a product ‘soon.’” I have made no comments about Olive, although I have run some that readers submitted. I don’t have an opinion on Olive, other than it’s interesting that they sold check-in kiosks and patient matching solutions under their previous name CrossChx through 2018, then sold that business off to focus on an abandoned internal project that used screen-scraping and macros, with the renamed company claiming to offer “the Internet of healthcare” that will eliminate $1 trillion of healthcare costs. It’s up to the customer to figure out if it offers more than just the usual scripting tool to control other applications and whether it provides ROI. KLAS did an emerging technology profile on the company in September 2019, which I don’t remember reading, so it would be interesting to see how they stack it up against RPA competitors and how customers feel it’s working for them.

From J U Stice: “Re: Darena Solutions. Their so-called free promotion for BlueButtonPro is not really free. They are waiving implementation and subscription fees until 12/31/22. How about a little transparency?” Their FAQ is pretty clear on the terms and it is indeed free, just for a limited period (but nearly two years is a long time in free health IT land). They are gambling that customers who have gone to the trouble to implement their solution will find it worth keeping once the free period runs out, not the first vendor to make that offer.

From Hidden: “Re: HIMSS21 call for speakers. Closed months ago. Looks like you are confusing the open call for proposals for the extra-cost pre-conference symposia.” You are correct, thanks. The HIMSS21 website contains a “Call for Proposals” menu item under “Program,” but that is indeed is for just topic-specific, extra-cost symposia and forums. The general call was open from early October until early November, and those links now jump to the optional events call for proposals.

From Booth Carpet Eye Watering: “Re: HIMSS21. I haven’t heard of some of the companies that are featured exhibitors.” Me neither. We all know Athenahealth, BD, Epic, InterSystems, and possibly Updox, but the names Bravado Health, Podium, Surgical Directions, and Tegria are new to me. I also noticed that Cerner, Meditech, Allscripts, McKesson, IBM, and Microsoft aren’t on the exhibitor list when checking booth locations for the biggest companies.

From Lissome Waif: “Re: Baylor Scott & White. Some of the contractors the employees will be moving to are Atos, Citius Tech, and Health Catalyst.” Unverified.

From SPACMan: “Re: SPACs. With the SPAC craze picking up steam, when will HIStalk get itself acquired by one?” I’m picturing “The Unincorporated Man” science fiction novel that I haven’t actually read, in which every citizen is incorporated at birth with shares sold on the open market (maybe to pay their exorbitant L&D hospital bill), after which the person spends their life trying to finance a share buy-back to gain their emancipation from their owners. I am money-unmotivated and would rebel at creative oversight, so HIStalk will one day have an initially puzzling, then concerning home page that isn’t changing, at which point you will know that I have lost interest or died. Maybe it’s not the most amazing art, but it’s my art, and it will stay that way.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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About 30% of the three-fourths of poll respondents who use Facebook have debated strangers on Facebook. Rob made a brilliant, pithy observation: “Pseudo-anonymous commenting systems offer the closest thing to public critique of mainstream viewpoints. Just because a great percentage of it it sounds Neanderthal-like does not mean it is bad — it just means you are noticing how dumb most people are for the first time.” I frequently wonder if Facebook users are representative of the percentage of people in real life who are angry, uninformed, or not terribly bright in general. I hold hope, without any evidence, that maybe Facebook just attracts and overrepresents people who have a lot of free time for reasons that appear obvious from their profiles.  

New poll to your right or here:  Which advance directive documents could your family or friends quickly find if you became medically unresponsive? The process takes quite a few steps: creating the documents, storing them somewhere accessible, making sure the people who will be watching over your care know that they exist and where to find them, and making sure those documents find their way to the hospital and chart. The next step is out of your hands – hoping staff remember don’t do something you don’t want, either from lack of coordination or their insistence on going all-in medically no matter the papers say.

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I can’t claim that the results of my HIMSS21 poll are statistically valid given small sample size and unvetted respondents, but for what it’s worth if anything since a reader asked me to run it, it’s nearly an even split among vendors who registered to exhibit at HIMSS20 who plan to have a booth at HIMSS21. Nearly two-thirds of individual HIMSS20 registrants say they won’t attend HIMSS21. The big challenge is that COVID is eating up the clock and available bandwidth and we just don’t know if conferences will return to their longstanding status as must-see TV. The folks who liked HIMSS conferences when crowds were thin, booths were modest, and the after-hours social calendar wasn’t 10-deep with events may see the unlikely return to what it used to be.

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Lorre wants me to tell you that she has a rare opening for the Top Spot Banner ad at the top of every HIStalk page. The previous occupant drew a few thousand clicks over a many-month run and the satisfaction of seeing their name first every time they read the site. Contact Lorre.

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Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor Ascom. The Morrisville, NC-based company – part of the global Ascom — is a communication solutions provider that focuses on mobile workflow to close digital information gaps to support making the best possible decisions. Hospital solutions to overcome poor communication include mobile workflow; noise reduction from device alerts; location services for finding staff, equipment, or patients; and staff security. Its Telligence system can function as a standalone nurse call system or a fully integrated, end-to-end patient response system that can provide access to key clinical content and capture information at the bedside, while TelliConnect Station supports automated staff check-in, efficient clinical workflows, quick charting, and medical device integration. The enterprise-grade, Android-powered Ascom Myco 3 smartphone is designed for healthcare professionals, equipped with a 5-inch Corning Gorilla Glass 3 display, noise and echo cancellation, barcode scanner, LED beacon, and a true hot-swap battery. Its Telecare IP supports senior living communities with caregiver contact, monitored active or passive check-ins, resident profiles, bed sensor integration, a help button, and wander management sensors that can automatically lock doors. Managing Director Kelly Feist, MBA is an industry long-timer who has held executive roles with Siemens, Eclipsys, Sunquest, and Philips. Thanks to Ascom for supporting HIStalk.

I found this brand new Ascom video on YouTube that provides an overview of how its solutions support a high-reliability ICU. It’s one of the most artistic, interesting product videos I’ve seen, a wordless model of “show, don’t tell” efficiency that says a lot in an entirely enjoyable 4.5 minutes. 


Webinars

February 24 (Wednesday) 1 ET. “Maximizing the Value of Digital Initiatives with Enterprise Provider Data Management.” Sponsor: Phynd Technologies. Presenters: Tom White, founder and CEO, Phynd Technologies; Adam Cherrington, research director, KLAS Research. Health systems can derive great business value and competitive advantage by centrally managing their provider data. A clear roadmap and management solution can solve problems with fragmented data, workflows, and patient experiences and support operational efficiency and delivery of a remarkable patient experience. The presenters will describe common pitfalls in managing enterprise information and digital strategy in silos, how to align stakeholders to maximize the value of digital initiatives, and how leading health systems are using best-of-breed strategies to evolve provider data management.

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

I accidentally ran across last week’s earnings call transcript of Roper Technologies, whose healthcare holdings include Sunquest and Strata Decision. I was surprised that while Strata got a brief mention in the Friday call for its acquisition of EPSi, Sunquest wasn’t mentioned. That seems surprising since they used to talk about it quite a bit.


People

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Mike Remmenga (CorroHealth) joins Central Logic as VP of client success.


Announcements and Implementations

Anthem launches Anthem Digital Incubator, which will help early-stage companies that are working on personalized healthcare apps. Participants will be able to use Anthem’s de-identified patient data to validate their technology. The Palo Alto-based organization will apparently report to VP of digital care delivery Kate Merton, who holds a PhD in pharmacology and toxicology and an MBA from Duke. 


COVID-19

US case counts continued their sharp decline over the weekend. However, a new IHME forecast predicts that under the best-case scenario, another 200,000 Americans will die of COVID-19 in the next three months. The current death toll stands at 439,000.

CDC reports that 29.6 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered of 50 million doses distributed (60%).

A CDC emergency order that takes effect Tuesday will require masks for passengers of airplanes, trains, subways, buses, taxis, and ride-shares. Transportation operators are assigned the responsibility of making passengers comply.

Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD says that we now have three effective COVID-19 vaccines, including the Johnson & Johnson one that will be available soon, but FDA needs to streamline the regulatory process so that they can be updated quickly to address new variants, similar to software updates.

CDC’s $44 million, Deloitte-developed VAMS vaccination management system is being used by just nine states, even though it’s free to them, and one of those is moving away from it and another is looking for a replacement. Riverside Health System said it abandoned the system within a week of starting employee vaccination clinics because it was slow and prone to crashing, leading them to use Epic instead.

Massachusetts legislators call for the state to create a single vaccine registration portal and a 24/7 hotline that supports multiple languages. The current system requires looking up locations on a website, then clicking to external websites to sign up and search for appointments. 

Florida will implement a statewide, ShareCare-powered vaccine appointment system in taking the program over from overwhelmed county public health departments. The state has also granted grocery story chain Publix – a donor to the governor’s political committee – exclusive rights to offer vaccinations in its pharmacies in some locations, raising concerns that the chain has few locations in poor areas. Florida’s surgeon general also issued an advisory that gives vaccination priority to state residents following a backlash from year-round residents who saw Northern tourists and visiting Canadians taking up all the available appointments.

New York City provides an example of the difficulty in ensuring vaccine equity. New York Presbyterian sets up a vaccination site in a Latino neighborhood, but white people traveled from other parts of the city and state and took most of the slots. A city councilman likens sign-up to “The Hunger Games,” where making an appointment requires a computer, Internet connectivity, and English speaking skills to navigate the required portal.

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The mass vaccination site at LA’s Dodger Stadium shuts down for an hour when anti-vaccine protesters who organized a “scamdemic protest” block the entrance, extending the already hours-long wait to be vaccinated.

Sheriff’s deputies secure Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center (WA) after anti-vaccine and COVID conspiracy theorists, some carrying weapons and gas masks, protest outside the ED that a 74-year-old woman inside was being medically kidnapped. She was being treated for a urinary tract infection and had asked to stay, but refused to be COVID tested or to wear a mask despite having a fever, so the hospital moved her to a quarantine area. Her daughter demanded to see her, refused to wear a mask, and then called 911 when she was not allowed in. A friend of the daughter live-streamed a call for supporters to overwhelm the sheriff’s office with calls demanding the woman’s discharge. Deputies pushed some protesters back out a door they had entered after it was opened to admit an unrelated person who was seeking care. The woman finally changed her mind and decided that she wanted to go home, so she was promptly discharged.


Sponsor Updates

  • The Sharp Index, in partnership with Medicomp Systems honor Saykara and Vocera with Sharp Index Awards in the category of “Best Health Tech Company to Reduce Physician Burnout.”
  • Arcadia announces that its healthcare customers have successfully begun nationwide, multilingual COVID-19 vaccination outreach campaigns using Arcadia’s analytics.
  • Nuance will participate in the virtual SVB Leerink Annual Global Healthcare Conference February 25-26, and in the virtual Morgan Stanley Technology, Media and Telecommunications March 1.
  • OptimizeRx names Nick Cassotis senior director of sales.
  • Netsmart releases a new CareThreads Podcast, “How Electronic Visit Verification Impacts Providers.”
  • CHIME names Nordic Chairman of the Board Bruce Cerullo a Healthcare Hero for his work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Redox releases a new podcast, “Reproduction & Pediatrics pt 3: Dama Dipayana Co-founder & CEO of Manatee.”
  • Visage Imaging will sponsor the AI Hackathon during the virtual SIO 2021 February 5.

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

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News 1/29/21

January 28, 2021 News 7 Comments

Top News

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Athenahealth will pay $18.25 million to settle federal False Claims Act allegations that it paid kickbacks to increase sales of its products from January 2014 through September 2020.

The federal government says the company’s marketing programs:

  • Provided prospects with all-expense-paid sporting, entertainment, and recreational events, including luxury trips to the Masters Tournament and Kentucky Derby.
  • Paid customers up to $3,000 for each new physician who signed up after being identified by the customer as a prospect.
  • Entered into deals with companies that were retiring their health IT products (SOAPware was the biggest such arrangement) to refer their users to Athenahealth.

Reader Comments

From Dirty Martini: “Re: Olive. I interview with them just over a year ago for a solution architect position, which reviews tasks that are candidates for automation and then translates the requirements from the customer to the development. Nothing about their services involved AI and customers could do everything they were proposing with standard Epic enterprise functionality. It’s interesting to see how much they’ve grown, but I’m not confident they have actual AI or will have it in the near future.”

From Dripping Faucet: “Re: Baylor Scott & White. Stay tuned for outsourcing and layoffs.” The health system announced Monday that it will outsource or reassign 1,700 employees in hoping to save $600 million over five years. Two-thirds of those affected will be transferred to third-party partners, while 650 jobs will be eliminated with the possibility of retraining for different positions. The health system didn’t announce those third-party partners, but employees reported that one of them is Atos.

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From Pondering Exhibitor: “Re: HIMSS21. Looks like there a lot of available spaces or those labeled ‘HIMSS’ on the show floor. Will you be doing an updated survey to ask vendors and attendees about their HIMSS21 plans? The deadline to cancel booth space is February 4.” That’s just a week away, so I’ll run a special poll now: For those who signed up for HIMSS20 as an attendee or exhibitor, what are your HIMSS21 plans? You can add a comment with an explanation of your decision after you vote. The floor plan shows 401 exhibitors, no keynotes have been announced, and the call for proposals runs until February 24, so it will be a leap of faith to commit without knowing who is presenting and exhibiting, not to mention that COVID limitations are hard to predict these days. I have heard nothing as a member or HIMSS20 registrant, but an exhibitor passed along a rumor today that HIMSS will make some kind announcement about HIMSS21 in the next three days, and given its quietness otherwise, it could be a significant one that will make my poll instantly obsolete.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor Quil. The Philadelphia-based company, which is a joint venture between Independence Health Group and Comcast, is the digital health platform that offers personalized and interactive health journeys to consumers and their caregivers. Quil is committed to educating and engaging consumers, leading to better health experiences and better outcomes, at a lower cost. Quil serves patients, members, and their caregivers in partnership with their healthcare providers and health plans nationally. Thanks to Quil for supporting HIStalk.


Webinars

February 24 (Wednesday) 1 ET. “Maximizing the Value of Digital Initiatives with Enterprise Provider Data Management.” Sponsor: Phynd Technologies. Presenters: Tom White, founder and CEO, Phynd Technologies; Adam Cherrington, research director, KLAS Research. Health systems can derive great business value and competitive advantage by centrally managing their provider data. A clear roadmap and management solution can solve problems with fragmented data, workflows, and patient experiences and support operational efficiency and delivery of a remarkable patient experience. The presenters will describe common pitfalls in managing enterprise information and digital strategy in silos, how to align stakeholders to maximize the value of digital initiatives, and how leading health systems are using best-of-breed strategies to evolve provider data management.

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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GetWellNetwork acquires consumer engagement software vendor Docent Health.

Emids acquires software development consulting firm Macadamian.

EHR-integrated patient-specific prescription pricing platform vendor RxRevu raises $7 million in a Series B funding round, increasing its total to $28 million.

Investors are reportedly discussing executing a deal in which consumer health information platform Sharecare would be merged with AI vendor Doc.ai with the combined companies then being taken public at a valuation of $4 billion.

SCP & CO Healthcare Acquisition Company, a health IT-focused SPAC, closes its initial offering for $230 million and will begin looking for one or more companies to absorb.

NextGen Healthcare reports Q3 results: revenue up 3%, adjusted EPS $0.26 versus $0.23, beating Wall Street expectations for both. NXGN shares are up 59% in the past year versus the Nasdaq’s 45% gain, valuing the company at $1.5 billion.

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The Cincinnati business paper profiles clinical collaboration platform vendor Halo Health,  which just announced new financing and the hiring of its first chief marketing officer and CTO.


Sales

  • The state of West Virginia will use Everbridge’s COVID-19 Shield Vaccine Distribution – an extension of its critical event management system —  to coordinate vaccine distribution and schedule appointments.
  • UNC Health chooses Medicom Health’s Epic-integrated Rx Savings Assistant solution to notify prescribers of pharma discounts and free trials for their patients.

People

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4Medica hires Cynthia McIntyre (IBM Watson Health) as SVP of sales and marketing.

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Children’s therapy provider The Theraplay Family of Companies names Fran Spivak, MS, RN (Strive Health) as VP of IT.

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Verily hires Preston Simons, MBA (Simons & Associates) as CIO.


Announcements and Implementations

Optimum Healthcare IT will offer its CareerPath health IT apprenticeship program at University of Colorado Denver, giving students three months of health IT training, then hiring them on after completion.

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Darena Solutions offers a free version of its BlueButtonPro solution for meeting Cures Act interoperability and patient access requirements.

A new KLAS report on quality management solutions — which includes quality and regulatory reporting, performance improvement and benchmarking, and patient safety and risk – finds that Naunce and Medisolv lead in overall performance, while Conduent users are dissatisfied and the company has backed away from its Juvo product and is again developing the Midas platform. IBM Watson Health has the lowest “would buy again” percentage as users report lack of innovation and the feeling that the company has forgotten them. Premier scores well for advanced users but is seen as being expensive, while Vizient users like its peer-hospital comparison but think the product is cumbersome.

A Black Book population health management poll of hospitals, practices, and payers finds that most expect to spend more for systems and integration, while one-third expect the government to offer incentives for providers who participate in information blocking rule fixes. Some of the PHM system vendors that score tops in customer satisfaction and loyalty are Azara Healthcare, Inovalon, I2I Population Health, Cerner, Datarobot, Casenet Trucare, and Epic MyChart.


Government and Politics

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Oki Mek, recently promoted to HHS’s first chief AI officer, shares its AI plan, in which it defines its role as an AI regulator, investor, convener, and catalyst.

The state of Oklahoma rejects a protest from non-profit HIE MyHealth Access Network, whose $19.9 million software bid for a statewide HIE was turned down in favor of $49.8 million offer from Orion Health.

CACI wins a $96 million US Army task order to test, train, and deploy its MC4 battlefield EHR.


COVID-19

CDC reports that 26 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered of 48 million distributed (54%).

A KHN report says that information about who has been given COVID-19 vaccine is only as good as the US’s 64 unconnected vaccine registries, which is to say not good at all since many immunization records are missing race, ethnicity, or occupation that might be useful in monitoring progress.

Seattle’s Overlake Medical Center & Clinics is chastised by the governor for emailing 100 big donors with a link to sign up for invitation-only COVID-19 vaccination even though its public-facing scheduling site showed no available appointments. The email said that the hospital had reserved 500 openings over a week and contained an access code for access. The hospital apologized and said the invitation was a quick fix that followed last week’s eligibility expansion to anyone 65 or over, with the demand that followed overloading its scheduling system. The hospital says it simply contacted the people whose email addresses were on file as an efficient way to open up slots that couldn’t be moved easily to the new scheduling system.

California will turn over its struggling COVID-19 vaccination program to Blue Shield of California, which will oversee distribution and most likely replace the state’s complex vaccine eligibility rules with age-based ones that aren’t dictated by where the individual lives or the jobs they hold. Governor Gavin Newsom had challenged state residents to hold him accountable for administering 1 million doses in 10 days, but two weeks later, found that coding errors and lags in reporting made it impossible to even know how many doses have been administered.

North Carolina’s state hospital association complains to the governor that the state’s Accenture-developed COVID Vaccine Management System is burdensome and ineffective, creating bottlenecks in vaccine delivery. The system, which will cost $7 million through May, does not provide vaccination scheduling or text message reminders as the state’s contract requires. One hospital says it takes 8.5 minutes to upload the data of a single patient, while another reports that a 1,000-shot clinic requires 5-6 nurses to perform data entry for two days afterward since the system requires entry of 14 fields that are required by the federal government and another seven that the state added.

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Salesforce announces Vaccine Cloud, which helps government agencies, healthcare organizations, and others deploy and manage their vaccine programs. Provider functionality includes inventory management, staff training, payment, and community communication for notifications and second-shot reminders.

The New York Times columnist Ezra Klein asks public health experts how to prepare for a 50% jump in COVID-19 contagiousness six weeks now because of the B117 variant, which could kill up to 300,000 more Americans:

  • Increase the use of genomic sequencing to see how and where the virus is mutating.
  • Don’t reopen restaurants and bars just because recent numbers are coming down.
  • Avoid total lockdowns and instead get the FDA to speed up approval of rapid, at-home tests.
  • CDC should give direct guidance on what kinds of masks to wear in various situations and the government should consider distributing high-quality masks.

Other

ECRI lists its top 10 health technology hazards for 2021:

  1. Managing medical devices that are marketed under FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization.
  2. Order entry mistakes caused by accepting partial names of drugs. ECRI recommends populating search fields only after the first five letters of the name have been entered.
  3. Revisit the quick rollout of telehealth to consider patient technology inequalities, user training, integration with other systems, and determining which patients are well suited for telehealth visits.
  4. Review imported N95 masks, especially KN95 masks from China, because they sometimes fail to provide the claimed level of protection.
  5. Avoid the use of consumer-grade monitoring devices in the acute care environment wherever possible, including pulse oximeters, blood pressure cuffs, and glucose monitors.
  6. Review the capabilities and use of UV disinfection devices, which are not usually regulated by FDA.
  7. Assess the capability of medical device vendors to manage the third-party software they use.
  8. Conduct a risk-benefit analysis of AI functionality to make sure that the data a system was trained on is representative of the organization’s population.
  9. Avoid remote operation of medical devices whenever possible in trying to conserve PPE, which can lead to less-frequent patient observation, placing devices where staff can’t see or hear them, and creating tripping hazards from hallway placement.
  10. Employ QA measures and clinician approval of 3D-printed devices.

Sponsor Updates

  • WellSky-owned CarePort’s Interop interoperability solution is made available in Epic App Orchard to satisfy CMS’s April 30, 2021 Conditions of Participation requirement that hospitals notify a patient’s other providers of ADT activity.
  • The HCI Group VP of Provider Delivery Will Conaway celebrates two years on the Forbes Technology Council.
  • MHS will integrate its CareProminence platform with the Healthwise Care Management Solution for health education.
  • LexisNexis Risk Solutions wins CyberSecured Awards from Security Today in the categories of fraud protection and threat intelligence.
  • Cerner receives a fourth consecutive perfect score in the yearly Corporate Equality Index.
  • Optimum Healthcare IT and the University of Colorado Denver partner to offer recent college graduates an apprenticeship pathway to high-paying healthcare IT jobs.
  • Ellkay features Meditech’s Helen Waters in its Women in Health IT series.

Blog Posts


Contacts

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Reader Comments

  • Woodstock Generation: Re: I’m happy to have anyone who keeps coming back. I officially retired on January 1, 2018, after spending over 4...
  • Witty: I recently had a frustrating experience while trying to resolve an electronic prescription renewal order for insulin (ty...
  • Scheduling: Bizarre, because Quest makes online self-scheduling rather easy...when they have appointments available....
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