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Monday Morning Update 1/4/21

January 3, 2021 News 2 Comments

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Hospitals were required to publicly post their negotiation insurer rates and list of shoppable services on January 1, so I checked websites of the country’s five largest health systems.

Issues: (a) the lists aren’t necessarily easy to find; (b) they involve huge downloads; and (c) they aren’t really worth much to consumers who don’t have a choice or who wouldn’t understand what they are looking at.

It’s still a federal requirement, though, so here’s what I found:

  • Cleveland Clinic – has posted its list in downloadable format.
  • Mayo Clinic – no list found.
  • Cedars-Sinai Medical Center –no list found.
  • New York-Presbyterian Hospital – has posted its list in downloadable format, at least for Hudson Valley Hospital.
  • Massachusetts General Hospital – has posted its list in downloadable format.

Reader Comments

From Ragged Glory: “Re: LRGHealthcare. Something is fishy about the bankrupt system saying it is spending 9% of annual revenue on Cerner. I suspect that’s posturing for the public and for the bankruptcy court. The system’s annual report suggests that Cerner costs are less than 1% of reported gross revenue and 2% of net revenue. Clearly they are using creative math to pressure Cerner to lower the costs and trying to blame others for their own decision-making, perhaps also hoping the bankruptcy judge will make Cerner lower their fees.” I agree that the number seems suspicious. The health system’s interim budget, as filed with the bankruptcy court, projects $11 million in income for January 2021 and a Cerner expense of $131,000, which is just over 1% of the total (and a much smaller percentage of its revenue for the salad days of 2019). The health system blames its financial woes on incompetent prior leadership that made bad strategic decisions and piled up debt, so either they were tardy in parting ways with underperforming executives or they’re just trying to protect their own future employability.

From Talk Talk: “Re: interviews. I would like to see more provider interviews.” So would I, but it’s tough to find interesting folks who can spare the time and who have their employer’s permission to be quoted. In their absence, I interview CEOs, mostly those of Platinum-level sponsors since I like to learn more about them, but sometimes CEOs of other companies provided that their LinkedIn interests me enough to want to spend the time with them. I look for deep industry experience, a sense of humor, and non-healthcare accomplishments, with bonus points for weird former jobs, military service, or notable volunteer work. My interviews mostly cover non-company topics, so interviewees need to be interesting on their own beyond their job title.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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The most recent medical encounter reported by poll respondents was usually an in-person visit, during which the physician most often wore a white coat, while most video visit doctors wore street clothes. Folks who haven’t worked in hospitals would be surprised at the clinician caste couture, where rules that may or may not be spelled out explicitly dictate the style and length of lab coat, the presence of reference materials and tools in the brimming pockets of residents and their absence in those of attendings, and in many cases of a medical inferiority complex, the prominent draping of a stethoscope that hasn’t been used in decades over a crisply pressed white coat, often brandished by doctors whose specialty is non-clinical or whose education was extraterritorial.

New poll to your right or here: How is your health now compared to a year ago?

I’m feeling the loss, maybe in a good way, of a post-New Year’s Day without having the HIMSS conference suddenly looming. Monday would usually commence the Super Bowl-like madhouse that reaches its crescendo with the opening keynote, but I don’t know what to expect this year. I’m not even feeling inspired to do the HISsies awards.

Thanks to the following companies for supporting HIStalk. Click a logo for more information.

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A generous donation from reader Natalie, with matching funds from my Anonymous Vendor Executive and other sources applied, fully funded these Donors Choose teacher grant requests:

  • An IPad for use as a document camera for remote learning for Ms. Y’s middle school class in Chula Vista, CA.
  • Electronic content and headsets for the advanced placement psychology class of Ms. B in Davenport, IA.
  • Hands-on math and letters materials for the pre-school class of Ms. R in Seabrook, NJ.
  • Math manipulatives for Ms. W’s elementary school class in Lindon, UT.

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Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor Divurgent. The Virginia Beach, VA-based company has for 13 years helped its clients improve operational effectiveness, financial performance, and customer experience by using data-infused, flexible, and scalable solutions that demonstrate and quantify value. Specific offerings include implementation and support, technology and infrastructure, data engagement and process improvement, IT security and strategy, and customer management. The company is privately owned and self-funded, which allows it to make the best decisions for clients rather than shareholders. The company received A grades in all customer experience pillars  in KLAS’s 2020 report on implementation leadership and 100% “would buy again.” It was also recently named as #3 on Modern Healthcare’s “Best Places to Work in Healthcare” for 2020. Thanks to Divurgent for supporting HIStalk. 

Listening: Metallica rocking “Enter Sandman” in front of 1.6 million concertgoers live in Moscow in 1991 as the Soviet Union was sagging with its last breath into history’s ash heap, with Red Army soldiers in uniform among the endless throngs of people who were cheering four thoroughly American headbangers whose miles-long view to the horizon was nothing but moshing Soviets.


Webinars

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

Shares in the Global X Telemedicine and Digital Health ETF (EDOC) rose 4.1% in the past month versus the Nasdaq’s 4.4% gain and the S&P 500’s 2.6% increase. EDOC is up 23.7% since its July 30 inception.


People

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Renee Broadbent, MBA (Wolf & Company) joins Soho Health as VP of IT.

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Abingdon-Jefferson Health promotes interim president / COO and former CIO Alison Ferren, MBA to the permanent role.


COVID-19

US COVID-19 deaths are approaching 350,000 as the case count passes 20 million, both representing around 25% of the global total. Hospitals reported housing a record 125,544 COVID-19 inpatients on Sunday, even with seven states failing to report any data at all and another seven states not reporting hospitalizations.

IHME predicts 567,000 US COVID-19 deaths by April 1, with hospital bed demand peaking on January 16 at 185,000.

CDC reports indicate that poorly planned and executed logistics are hampering COVID-19 vaccination as they did distribution of PPE and tests, with just 12.4 million doses distributed and only 2.8 million of those administered even though the December vaccine release was expected for months and the easiest-to-reach populations—captive nursing home residents and hospital workers – are going first. Reaching herd immunity will take 10 years at that rate. The logjam also raises the question of whether hospitals have the urgency, efficiency, and excess capacity to lead vaccination efforts.

The UK will allow “mix and match” use of two different COVID-19 vaccines for the two-shot regimen if someone’s first injection is not known or the product isn’t available, a practice that has not been studied and that is therefore of unknown effectiveness. A US vaccine expert says that British officials have abandoned science and “are just trying to guess their way out of a mess.”

Eighty percent of the COVID-19 antibody doses that the federal government sent to hospitals are sitting on the shelf, as some hospitals decline their allotments and others are too busy to offer the outpatient treatments. Experts feared that after President Trump was given the drug and touted it that demand would far outstrip supply, but effectiveness data is nearly non-existent and many doctors question its value.

A London infectious disease modeler warns of the exponential risk of mutated coronavirus strains that are more infectious. A typical city in Europe would see COVID-19 deaths rise from 129 per month to 193 if the fatality rate were to jump 50%, but that same 50% increase in transmissibility would cause 978 deaths. It would be much worse in the US unless the B117 variant turns out to be rare here, making increased mitigation measures and rapid vaccination as critical as they are unlikely.

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In England, Royal London Hospital warns that it can no longer provide high-standard critical care, as it is overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients and ambulances line up outside with more. Meanwhile, the city’s St. Thomas’s Hospital is surrounded by maskless New Year’s Eve revelers chanting “COVID is a hoax.”

State and local jails and prisons are closing and transferring inmates elsewhere as COVID-19 leaves too few healthy guards to staff them, with experts warning that transferring residents increases outbreaks, as does overcrowding. Nearly 100,000 correctional officers have tested positive for COVID-19 and 170 have died.

Officials of the Parker, Colorado Republican party post the names and home addresses of local public health employees in its “Revolt Against Shutdowns” efforts, warning the employees that “patriots are going to show you the error of your ways” and “we’ll see how strong they are at their homes.”

The West Virginia National Guard, which was running a vaccination clinic at a county health department, injects 42 people with antibody treatment instead of Moderna’s vaccine.

Maricopa County, AZ blames vaccine rollout delays on the state’s vaccine management system, which it says didn’t email people to schedule their vaccination appointments, sent them to sites outside the county, has no text messaging option, locked people out who tried to use their Cox email address, and failed to show certain locations. The state says its system works but had an interoperability problem with the county’s pre-screening tool and the statewide system, also noting that Banner Health and Honor Health decided to use their own systems instead of the state system.

An employee of Kaiser Permanente San Jose Medical Center who wore an inflatable costume on Christmas to cheer up patients is believed to have created an outbreak in which 43 ED employees have tested positive.


Other

Another bit of Internet history goes away, as Adobe disables any remaining installations of its long-retired, always-updating Flash browser plug-in.

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I dunno, HIMSS – these don’t sound like “open-source initiatives” to me.


Sponsor Updates

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

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News 12/30/20

December 29, 2020 News 1 Comment

Top News

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A federal appeals court upholds hospital price transparency rules that will go into effect Friday.

The court rejected a lawsuit that was brought by the American Hospital Association to keep hospital-insurer negotiated rates secret.

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Hospitals must post their standard charges on a public-facing website, both as a machine-readable file of all hospital charges and a consumer-friendly display of 300 “shoppable services.” Both must include the discounted cash price, payer-specific negotiated charges, and de-identified minimum and maximum negotiated charges.

HHS says it will monitor and enforce the requirements starting Friday, and non-compliant hospitals can be issued a warning notice, required to develop a corrective action plan, or have a civil monetary penalty imposed.


Webinars

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


Sales

  • Syracuse Orthopedic Associates chooses Emerge’s platform to create dashboards using structured and scanned data from its Allscripts TouchWorks EHR.

People

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Kaleb Huhl, MBA (Curaspan) joins Olio as VP of sales.

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HIMSS hires Julius Bogdan, MBA, MGM (SCL Health) as VP/GM of analytics for North America.


Government and Politics

The Defense Health Agency awards Cherokee Nation Operational Solutions a one-year, $42 million contract to support DoD’s MHS Genesis rollout of Cerner.


COVID-19

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US hospitals reported 124,696 COVID-19 inpatients on Tuesday, another record high.

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CDC reports that 2.1 million Americans have received their first of two COVID-19 vaccine shots, far short of Operation Warp Speed’s goal of 20 million vaccinated citizens by December 31. California was allocated 1.7 million doses, of which it has received 438,000 and administered just 70,000. HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in October that 100 million doses would be available by December 31, but the actual number is at 11.5 million. States have received minimal money and help from the federal government to address the “last mile” of getting injections into arms, and some state health departments see their role as making sure hospitals and clinics get vaccine doses and figure out on their own how to get them administered. HHS disputed the vaccination numbers in a tweet storm Tuesday following exasperated tweets from Ashish Jha, MD, MPH, dean of Brown School of Public Health, saying that data reporting is lagging and that it will ship 20 million first doses by Friday and hold another 20 million for the second round of injections.

Hospitals in England report record hospitalizations even with aggressive mitigation measures in place, as a more contagious coronavirus variant has also pushed case counts to record levels. The first known US case of the mutated virus was discovered Tuesday in Colorado.

Russia admits that 186,000 of its citizens have died of COVID-19, triple the number that has been officially reported, based on excessive death counts. The country has been criticized for counting only deaths in which an autopsy confirms that the virus was the main cause. The new estimate places Russia behind only the US (335,000) and Brazil (192,000) in coronavirus deaths.

TSA screened 1.3 million air travelers on Sunday, the highest count since the pandemic began and the sixth day in the past 10 that traveler volume exceeded 1 million.

Five LA-area hospitals declare internal disasters, including implementing patient diversion, due to overloaded patient room oxygen pipes that are pumping the high volumes – up to 10 times the normal flow – that COVID-19 patients require.

The Atlantic interviews 30 experts about how the pandemic’s second year could play out in 2021:

  • Understaffed public health departments will need to get people vaccinated despite low budgets, lack of a national strategy, and rampant disinformation that may increase the significant percentage of vaccine-hesitant people even more.
  • The uneven deployment of vaccines due to states that are working from their own priority rules and resource availability could delay herd immunity and introduce risk in traveling between areas with high and low immunity levels.
  • The vaccine’s impact could be blunted if states relax mitigation measures or if those people who have been vaccinated mistakenly believe those practices no longer apply to them.
  • The questions of how long immunity lasts and whether the vaccine will protect against mutated strains will begin to be answered, but could trigger another cycle of urgent vaccine development and deployment.
  • A weakened healthcare system and its depleted clinician ranks will be difficult to restore to normal levels given the years of study that are required and the US’s anti-immigration policies, making it even harder for aging people, those with chronic diseases, those with mental health needs, and a new population of COVID long-haulers to find care.
  • The country will need to learn from its mistakes in many ways — including preparing for the next pandemic, funding public health, and addressing social determinants that go beyond vaccine availability –- in a divisive environment where consensus is unattainable on even identifying the problems, much less their potential solutions.

Advocate Aurora Health throws out 500 doses of COVID-19 vaccine after an employee removes it from the pharmacy refrigerator to get something else, then forgets to put it back within the allowed 12-hour post-refrigeration window. Meanwhile, eight home care workers in Germany are given entire vials of five vaccine doses as a single shot due to human error.


Other

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Concord Hospital (NH) will acquire bankrupt two-hospital LRGHealthcare (NH) for $30 million. LRGHealthcare blames its financial woes on excessive investment in inpatient services as demand was shifting to outpatient as well as its “massively expensive” EHR, on which it was spending 9% of total organizational revenue each year to run its two hospitals that have a combined 162 licensed beds. The Concord paper reports that LRGH runs Cerner, paying $342,000 per month as its 75% share in a services agreement with Speare Memorial Hospital. Concord Hospital also runs Cerner.

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Michele Kang, MPPM, founder and CEO of health and human services software vendor Cognosante, buys a stake in the Washington Spirit professional women’s soccer team.


Contacts

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

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Monday Morning Update 12/28/20

December 27, 2020 News No Comments

Top News

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Service sector business software vendor EverCommerce acquires Updox, which offers healthcare solutions for faxing, electronic forms, video chat, and secure messaging.

Updox had raised $16.7 million in debt financing and in a May 2017 Series B round.

Other EverCommerce healthcare brands include AlertMD (charge capture and messaging), CollaborateMD (medical practice billing software), AllMeds (EHR/PM), and ISalus (EHR).


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Most poll respondents are anxious to be vaccinated against COVID-19 at their first opportunity.

New poll to your right or here, inspired by Dr. Jayne’s comments: What was the physician wearing as their outermost layer during your most recent visit?

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I didn’t post a Christmas day edition of Weekender where I provide a Donors Choose update, so here ‘tis. Readers funded the teacher grant request of Ms. V in New Mexico, who asked for a library of 18 books for her elementary school class. She reported in July, “A couple of the photos I posted are of the last day I was with my students this school year. They had earned a reading celebration and we turned our classroom into a huge reading fort (and they got to wear their pajamas). We read ALL day! Thank you so much giving my students wonderful books! They will be enjoyed by 100’s of students for years to come!”

Speaking of Donors Choose, reader Vicki’s generous contribution, when amplified by matching funds including those provided by my Anonymous Vendor Executive, fully paid for these teacher projects:

  • A second monitor for online teaching of Ms. S’s elementary school class in Los Angeles, CA.
  • Robotics and coding learning tools for Mrs. P’s K-5 girls’ coding program in New Orleans, LA.
  • Headphones for the remote learners of Ms. S’s elementary school class in Irving, TX.
  • Distance learning materials for Ms. S’s second grade class in Henderson, NV.

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Meanwhile, for one more Donors Choose uplift in a thankfully ending year that could use it, here’s what Ms. S had to say upon hearing last week that HIStalk readers had funded her project with matching funds from my Anonymous Vendor Executive and San Diego Gas & Electric.

Lorre stayed busy pre-holiday, bringing three new sponsors on board on Wednesday 12/23 alone in what is normally a glacially slow time of year. Her thesis is that companies are anxious to get their 2021 marketing plans going, especially with the delay in the traditionally early HIMSS conference. Contact her if you have 2020 marketing budget that needs to be quickly rehomed in return for a full year of benefits.


Webinars

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


Sales

  • Cerner announces four new rural hospital clients of CommunityWorks.

People

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Arkansas Children’s Hospital promotes interim SVP/CIO Erin Parker, MBA to the permanent role.

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UTHealth School of Biomedical Informatics Professor Lex Frieden, MA is named the 2020 Katie Beckett award recipient for his lifelong work in disability advocacy, which includes playing key roles in development and passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.


COVID-19

The COVID Tracking Project warns that COVID-19 tests, cases, and deaths will be underreported through the second week of January, when everybody gets back to normal work schedules. The only reliable daily stats will be hospitalizations, which are reported without interruption since hospitals don’t close for holidays. That number stood Saturday at 117,344, down slightly from Friday. One out of every 1,000 Americans has now died of COVID-19.

IHME’s latest COVID-19 model projects that US deaths will reach 567,000 by April 1 or 731,000 if states ease their mitigation mandates, estimating that planned vaccination timelines will save 33,000 lives. US deaths are at 332,000.

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COVID-overwhelmed hospitals in Los Angeles County, CA are running out of oxygen and other supplies and their ambulance-arrived patients are waiting curbside for up to eight hours before being brought into overcrowded EDs. Southern California’s ICU capacity is at 0%, with peak, post-holiday travel hospital demand still likely a month away. 

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Huntington Hospital (CA) alerts patients and families that it may begin rationing care in allocating scarce ventilators, ICU beds, and clinical staff to patients who are more likely to survive, as directed by a team that includes doctors, a community member, and a bioethicist. The hospital reminds the public that those resources are shared by patients with all medical needs, not just COVID-19.

Florida’s Department of Corrections removes daily prison-level COVID-19 case counts and testing numbers from its public dashboard right after two big outbreaks that involved more than 400 inmates. The department says it changed the dashboard because the information it contained was cumulative from the beginning of the pandemic and therefore was not helpful in monitoring new information, but didn’t explain why prison-level reporting was eliminated.

New York hospitals apologize for their vaccination teams giving COVID-19 vaccine to anyone who joined the line instead of limiting doses those workers who were on the high-priority list as was planned, eliciting protests from employees who observed that the queue included people who have been working from home and doctors who falsely claimed that they perform COVID-related procedures. According to one doctor, ”Clearly, we’re ready to mow each other down for it.”

The suddenly worrisome new coronavirus variants are likely already circulating in the US, going undetected since this country is #43 in the world’s percentage of cases that are analyzed genetically. The strain was discovered in Britain, which has sequenced 160,000 samples versus 51,000 here, and appears to be more contagious, including in children. Japan has barred entry to all foreigners through the end of January after the variant was discovered travelers from Britain.

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The Washington Post describes conditions in a $31 million field hospital that was created in the former headquarters of a bank in Rhode Island. Most of the nurses are working under short-term agency contracts, IVs are delivered by gravity drip instead of electronic pumps, EHRs are not available, and patients summon help by ringing a bedside metal bell instead of pressing a call button. The hospital is run by Care New England Health System, whose nearby Kent Hospital is reporting that ED patients are waiting 2-3 days for a bed.

AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine may earn UK approval this week as the company says that new data shows its product, like those of Pfizer and Moderna, is 95% effective. Initial trial results were clouded by underdosing of some patients due to a University of Oxford mistake in analyzing the strength of a vaccine batch. Epidemiologists question what the new data could be given that the trials are completed and no new signups are likely when competing vaccines are available instead of a test dose that has a 50% chance of being a placebo.


Other

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Sumner Regional Medical Center (TN) goes back to paper when the Nashville RV explosion on Christmas morning caused connectivity disruption.

A Connecticut OB-GYN practice pays $2 million to settle malpractice charges brought by a woman whose daughter was born with cystic fibrosis even though the practice told her that her genetic tests – including one for CF – were normal. The physician found that the test had never been ordered, which the plaintiff’s attorney believes was due to the difficulty involved in accessing lab results through the practice’s new EHR. 

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England’s Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals creatively used their Vocera devices to make calls to Santa on behalf of their young ED patients on Christmas day, which were answered and followed with presents dispatched.


Contacts

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

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News 12/23/20

December 22, 2020 News 2 Comments

Top News

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Medicaid technology vendor Gainwell Technologies will acquire publicly traded HMS, which offers cost and outcomes systems, for $3.4 billion in cash.

Gainwell is backed by private investment firm Veritas Capital, which says it will optimize HMS’s solutions with those of Cotiviti, another of its investments.


Reader Comments

From Writer Blocked: “Re: Readers Write articles. Why do you allow only a single author?” This question has come up several times in the past couple of weeks, oddly. Answer: those are supposed to be personal opinion pieces of about 800 words, so they should not require enlisting a helper. On that topic, I really wish vendor authors would write their own imperfect but honest and insightful articles instead of outsourcing the job to PR companies whose only attainable goal (since they are not health IT experts) is marketing disguised as shallowly presented thought leadership. That’s a failing of the vendor, not their PR firm. I also draw a firm line on interviews — I only interview CEOs, I don’t provide a list of questions in advance since it’s a dynamic conversation, nobody else can be on the call because I’m not interested in what the handlers say and I know they’ll say it anyway, and I don’t provide a draft before the interview runs because the marketing people will form a committee to edit the life out of it. My co-existence with marketing and PR people is comfortable since most of the experienced ones know how I work, respect the process, and add value in making the connection and letting me do what I’ve been doing for nearly 18 years. Other sites provide examples of what happens when you cozy up with advertisers and send readers fleeing for the exit.

From No-Fly Zone: “Re: travel. A friend’s daughter has received a job offer from a children’s hospital that is requiring an on-site interview, which is a 1,500-mile flight, to complete the I-9 employment eligibility verification process. The HR department recommends making the trip immediately and won’t allow using a remote I-9 service. Who is flying for work these days, how is it in the middle seat, and what precautions are people taking?” Readers are welcome to weigh in. ICE has relaxed the Form I-9 document examination requirements through December 31 under some situations, but it’s up to the employer and hospital HR departments are notoriously unwilling to deviate from the rule book (maybe ask the hiring manager to intervene with HR – that has always worked for me). I wouldn’t be afraid to fly regardless of the “middle seats open” claim (that’s just a PR illusion since you’re still crammed in with strangers with spitting distance regardless) as long as the airline enforces mask-wearing. The plane’s ventilation system is probably most important of all, but you have no way to evaluate that. All things considered, a direct flight on Southwest would be my top choice. Bottom line for me is if the job is important and the hospital is unyielding, I would take the flight instead of waiting, even though I can’t imagine why a hospital with half a brain about COVID-19 wants remote job candidates fresh off a plane running around a campus they’ll never see again.

From Breach Victim: “Re: Mednax. Just reported a breach of 22,000 patients in July, of which my son was one. He was seen 12 hour after his birth for a total of five minutes by a hospitalist that we found out afterward was contracted through a private physician group that uses Mednax. Our insurer denied the payment, so the five minutes cost $500 out of pocket, and now we have the security breach. Is the hospital liable for any of this?” I’m guessing no since is unfortunately common for hospitals to outsource key services to companies that bill separately, without the patient’s advance knowledge, and without accepting insurance (how is “hospitalist” not a core business of a “hospital?”) The hospital wasn’t a Mednax client, so like your ridiculous bill, they will disavow any knowledge of what the contractors they hired did while rendering services within their building. I would be tempted to sue both the hospital and the practice just because this is litigious America, hungry plaintiff lawyers work cheap, and the hospital should feel some heat that goes beyond paying “consumerism” lip service.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

My Christmas wish, beyond seeing COVID-19 go away, is this — please stop saying “build out” instead of just “build,” which expresses precisely the same thought in half the number of syllables (bonus – it also separates you from the big hat, no cattle posers and lingo-flingers who use the term despite never having “built out” anything in their lives). No word or phrase grates on me more, except perhaps faking heartfeltness by leading off a sentence with the superfluous “Please know,” as in, “Please know we in management wish you and yours the best even though we marched you off our property to join the newly unemployed on Christmas Eve.” Remove “please know” and it says exactly the same thing.

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Generous donations from HIStalk readers Ben, Michael, Steve, and Dennis – with matching funds from my Anonymous Vendor Executive and other sources – fully funded these Donors Choose teacher requests this morning:

  • STEM kits for Ms. B’s special education class in Buckeye, AZ.
  • An Apple TV for the seventh-grade science class of Ms. S in El Cajon, CA
  • Journal-writing and emotional support supplies for Ms. S’s first grade class in New York, NY.
  • Student of the week prizes for the all-remote learners in Ms. V’s middle school class in San Luis, AZ.
  • Headphones with microphones for remote learning students of Mr. P in Los Angeles, CA.
  • Hands-on games for the virtual pre-kindergarten students of Ms. A in Mount Hope, WV.
  • A document camera and speakers for the remote learning third grade class of Ms. M in Houston, TX.
  • STEM kits for after-hours classes of Ms. M in Mobile, AL.
  • Home learning kits for the remote learning elementary school class of Ms. G in Buffalo, NY.
  • Digital resources for the remote learning kindergarten class of Ms. L in Chicago, IL.
  • Home learning kits for Ms. R’s kindergarten class in Somerton, AZ.
  • An all-in-one HP computer for the high school senior International Baccalaureate class of Ms. G in Houston, TX.

I’m probably one of few people who mentally celebrate December 21, which I can accept as the first day of winter (not my favorite season) only because that also means that every day gets longer from now through June 20. I’ll get another psychological pick-me-up on March 14, when Daylight Saving Time restarts and it gets dark later. Example: the sun sets in Boston today at a ridiculous 4:15 p.m. EST, that won’t happen until 6:50 p.m. EDT on March 14, and our nearest star will remain visible until 8:25 p.m. EDT on June 20. DST may be an irrational policy, but I like it. I would not like living at extreme northern latitudes, however, where the sun never rises in early winter but then never sets in early summer.


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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Population health technology vendor Azara Healthcare merges with the population health division of SPH Analytics. The business will operate as Azara Healthcare, with Jeff Brandes continuing as CEO and Kevin Weinstein, MBA from SPH Analytics assuming the president / chief growth officer role. SPH Analytics will remain a minority shareholder and active business partner of Azara Healthcare and will continue its focus on healthcare consumer experience measurement.


Sales

  • West Virginia OrthoNeuro chooses Emerge ChartGenie to convert its legacy EHR data to Athenahealth.
  • Avita Health system will use Dimensional Insight’s Diver Platform to gain insights from Epic.

People

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Bob Allen (TransUnion) joins NView Health as VP of strategic partnerships.


Announcements and Implementations

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A newly updated KLAS report on EHR interoperability finds that “deep interoperability” (access to outside data, easy location of patient records, visibility of outside data within EHR workflow, and positive impact on patient care) has improved considerably since 2017 except in the most important “impact on care” category. Epic is the clear leader in record-sharing, while Cerner is improving significantly and EClinicalWorks is doing well but isn’t proactive. Little progress has been seen for Meditech, Greenway Health, and Allscripts. Cerner has the highest adoption rate of APIs, especially FHIR ones, while Epic is being selective on which vendors it will work with and is less focused on APIs. 

The VA uses InterSystems HealthShare to identify its need for COVID-19 vaccine by filing case count data with CDC. The VA also uses the data platform to monitor case spikes, testing volumes, and COVID-related resource availability.

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Verily Life Sciences announces Verily Patch, which alerts the user via its Bluetooth-connected mobile app if their temperature rises beyond the threshold they set. The continuous monitoring patch, which is being marketed under FDA’s relaxed requirements for thermometers during the pandemic, lasts 90 days and is offered only to participants in specific programs.


Government and Politics

Politico reports that the American Hospital Association has filed an emergency motion to prevent the federal government from implementing price transparency rules that take effect January 1.

HHS OCR imposes a $36,000 HIPAA settlement on a Georgia primary care doctor who ignored a patient’s request for copies of their medical record, received technical assistance from OCR in response to the patient’s complaint, and then again failed to provide copies. The patient finally got their records 13 months after filing their original complaint.


COVID-19

A record 115,351 people were hospital inpatients with COVID-19 in the US on Monday. The death count rose to 320,000.

Mass General Brigham apologizes to its employees after a crush of sign-ups for receiving COVID-19 vaccine takes down its appointment system. Meanwhile, only 600 of Howard University Hospital’s 1,900 have signed up to receive its 725 doses, with the CEO saying that they know about the US Public Health Service’s Tuskegee studies of 1932 to 1972, in which hundreds of black men with syphilis were left untreated just to see what would happen.

California is reaching out to foreign countries in hopes of finding 3,000 temporary ICU-trained nurses as the supply of travel nurses dries up due to nationwide COVID-19 demand. The state has 18,359 confirmed COVID-19 patients hospitalized, and its prediction model forecasts that the number could swell to 100,000 hospitalized patients in the next few weeks. COVID-19 patients are occupying 3,600 California ICU beds and Los Angeles County says it has just 30 beds available.

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A Southern California hospitalist reports battlefield conditions from his hospital.

A study finds that COVID-19 mortality rates vary significantly by hospital even as overall hospital mortality declines, mostly driven by their level of being overwhelmed by high community case rates. In other words, flattening the curve works, and our current inability to accomplish that portends higher hospital death rates.

A New York Times poll of experts finds that while people who have received COVID-19 vaccine will be safer, they still need to continue most precautions until 70% herd immunity is reached since 95% vaccine effectiveness still leaves a decent chance of being infected with all the virus that is circulating. Two-thirds of epidemiologists say they won’t change their behavior until herd immunity is reached, although they say small-scale socializing is OK as long as all participants have been vaccinated. Once herd immunity is reached, public gatherings, eating indoors at restaurants, and taking public transportation should be safe. This coming summer should be much better, although next winter’s “flu season” will turn into “flu and COVID season” as indoor gatherings create outbreaks.  

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Stanford Medical Center initially blamed mistakes in “a very complex algorithm” and artificial intelligence for excluding most medical residents and fellows from the first wave of COVID-19 vaccinations, but the algorithm was actually just a simple rules-based formula that looks at and the prevalence of COVID-19 testing, positive results, and active infection for each employee’s job role. House staff who deliver direct COVID-19 care apparently fell out of the top risk tiers because they are in the lower-risk age band of 25-65, COVID prevalence didn’t take into account those employees who were infected by patients instead of in the community, and residents didn’t earn priority points for their work area because they don’t have a permanent assignment. An internal Stanford email says that program heads, department chairs, attending physicians, and nurses were not involved in designing the formula. Residents protested publicly after finding out that only seven of the 1,300 of them earned a spot in the first 5,000 employees to be offered vaccination.

A Tennessee hospital whose nurse manager fainted on camera from a longstanding vagal condition just after receiving COVID-19 vaccine last week posts a time-stamped current photo of her in hopes of squelching conspiracy theorists from spreading rumors on social media that she had died immediately.


Other

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The bankruptcy reorganization plan of Astria Health (WA) gets closer to approval as the health system resolves objections from Cerner, which wanted $10.7 million to be set aside to cover its overdue bills for software and revenue cycle management services. The health system says it did not plan to pay Cerner because problems with its billing system and RCM services cost it $150 million.

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University of Vermont Health Network admits that its month-long computer downtime and return to paper charting was caused by ransomware. Officials say they were never contacted about paying a ransom, however, although the malware provided contact instructions that the health system assumed was for demanding payment. The health system has still not restored 20% of its systems from the October incident, which is still being investigated by the FBI.


Contacts

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

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Monday Morning Update 12/21/20

December 20, 2020 News 3 Comments

Top News

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Imaging worklow vendor Intelerad acquires Digisonics, which sells cardiovascular and OB/GYN information systems.


Reader Comments

From Money Heist: “Re: investment. Why the sudden overabundance of investment news in HIStalk? Are your interests changing?” Health IT investment activity is soaring, especially with the sudden popularity of backdoor IPOs via special purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) that are required to complete a deal within two years or give investors their money back. Accordingly, acquisition prices are way up and expectations from folks who paid high per-share prices will follow, meaning it’s important to see how customers and competitors are affected by these financial gyrations. There’s only so much to say about the Big Three inpatient EHR vendors now that the HITECH land grab is over (unless they make an acquisition, of course), so the industry is focused on new sectors and new players, especially those that aim to pick the deep pockets of insurers, pharma, drug store chains, and even masses of consumers who are happy to lay out cash for whatever prescriptions, diagnostics, and treatments they want in bypassing the usual gatekeepers. Healthcare is, unfortunately, almost entirely driven by profits, the actions of big companies, and the heavy involvement of government as an insurer, provider, and legislator — the rest of us, including patients, are just gawking bystanders. 


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Many poll respondents say that their job represents a big part of their identity and life satisfaction, which I guess is a good news-bad news sort of situation where they are happy with the work that contributes so heavily to the perceived quality of their existence, but that perhaps dangerously makes them dependent on an employer whose goodwill is situational (my personal experience is that a new boss, company sale, financial stumble, or backstabbing colleagues can end those happy workdays quickly). Look down the road as well to unintentional unemployment or retirement, when the well-meaning but misguided question of “What do you do?” (meaning, “to whom do you sell time and for doing what as your primary identity?”) has no easy, pat answer.

New poll to your right or here: What are your COVID-19 vaccination plans?

I’m fascinated by the argument over whether someone who has earned a non-medical doctorate should use the title of “Dr.” and in what setting. Even with medical doctors it’s not cut and dried — UK doctors earn an MBBS, which is a professional bachelor’s degree that is equivalent to MD, and I’ve heard that they called generalists “Dr.” and specialists “Mr.,” although I’m too lazy to look that up. I say we stop calling everyone Dr. as part of their name since that term is vague (I’m thinking of those chiropractors who place “Dr.” in front of their name instead of “DC” after it in their ads, hoping for some beneficial confusion.) Meanwhile, I’ll defer to the AP Stylebook, which says to use Dr. in the first reference to someone who holds specific medical degrees such dentistry, allopathic or osteopathic medicine, podiatry, or veterinary medicine – notice that list does not include pharmacists, doctorate-level nurses, physical therapists, or PhDs. Actually, I’m not sure that we even need any titles as part of names in our stridently informal society, especially with the gender-signifying issues that result – does someone really need to be Mr. Smith instead of just John? Meanwhile, feel free to address me as Reverend Doctor HIStalk since I bought those credentials from the Universal Life Church with college work-study money in hoping to created a higher-power aura that women would find irresistible (pretty much like a lot of people who wave their “Dr.” titles in the faces of strangers, in fact).


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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Tenet Healthcare will sell 87 of its CareSpot and MedPost urgent care centers to FastMed Urgent Care for $80 million as it refocuses on the 45 ambulatory surgery centers that it is buying for $1.1 billion. North Carolina-based FastMed operates 104 locations in Arizona, North Carolina, and Texas. Googling suggests that CareSpot and MedPost use NextGen, while FastMed announced in January 2020 that it was implementing Epic in all of its locations.

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In Canada, Telus Health acquires virtual care provider EQ Care.


Sales

  • The State of Virginia will spend $10 million in federal coronavirus aid money to implement Unite Us to connect the EHRs of health systems and medical practices to manage social services referrals.
  • Highmark Health chooses Google Cloud in a six-year deal to develop Highmark’s Living Health Model, described by Highmark marketing committees who flung buzzwords like a zoo monkey’s feces until this vague “Curated Design” description earned the most colored sticky dots: “Our new design will have health care operating differently — better. It will become an experience that is simple, easy, and streamlined for all parties.” Highmark says it is changing a broken healthcare system (in which it profitably participates with $20 billion in annual revenue and an $8 million CEO) because of its sudden realization that “it’s the right thing to do.” Remind me to check back in a couple of years to see if Highmark makes good on its promise that its relationship with Google will end healthcare-related stress, confusion, fragmentation, reactive processes, complexity, and high cost.
  • NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board join the TriNetX global health research network, which has presented 7,800 clinical trials opportunities to 170 healthcare organizations in 30 countries. 
  • Ochsner Health chooses Loyal for patient self-scheduling and website live chat. 

People

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Jason Dvorak (Hillrom) joins Lohman Technologies as president.


Government and Politics

HHS OCR publishes guidance on how HIPAA allows covered entities and business associates to disclose PHI via HIEs for public health activities. High points:

  • Covered entities can send patient data to HIEs when disclosure is required by law, such as sending infectious disease lab testing data.
  • Covered entities can assume that whatever information the public health agency requests is minimum necessary, such as the Common Clinical Data Set, without making their own determination. CDC’s request for COVID-19 patient data via Electronic Case Reporting and state influenza reports are examples. 
  • Covered entities may disclose bulk PHI to public health agencies via an HIE without individual patient approval as long as they verify that the agency has permission to collect the data.
  • OCR will not impose penalties on business associates or covered entities that transmit PHI for public health activities, regardless of whether their business associate agreement specifically permits such disclosure.
  • Covered entities must provide requesting individuals with an accounting of disclosures that includes public health reporting.

COVID-19

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Friday set a US COVID-19 hospitalization record of 114,751 and another 2,751 deaths. Tennessee has the world’s worst infection rate per capita at 1,300 per million residents and rising, joining California as the only state whose rate exceeds 1,000. Tennessee announced Saturday tat it has passed 6,000 deaths, has 2,893 people hospitalized, and is showing a test positivity rate of 30%. COVID Tracking Project keeps having to make up new colors in extending beyond red to illustrate the uncontrolled US coronavirus spread. 

A newspaper investigation concludes that Florida stopped reporting backlogged deaths from October 24 to November 17, creating big drop in the death count right before and after the election. Governor Ron DeSantis has changed the reporting requirements multiple times and is accused by fired state COVID-19 data scientist Rebekah Jones of falsifying the numbers to support the state’s aggressive reopening, which he denies.  

FDA issues its Emergency Use Authorization to Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, with the first doses to be administered Monday.

A CDC panel recommends that people over 74 years of age and 30 million frontline essential workers get COVID-19 vaccine first, with Monday’s expected approval of those recommendations being sent to states as guidance. CDC says that 556,000 people in the US got their first shot in the past week.

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Stanford Medicine medical residents and fellows protest at being mostly left out of its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, as only seven of the 1,300 made the list even though many of them are frontline COVID-19 caregivers. The health system and medical school apologized, explaining that their algorithm prioritized recipients based on work unit and age, but nobody noticed that house staff were skipped over because they don’t have an assigned location that indicates their involvement with COVID-19 patients. Stanford University is of course a globally recognized Silicon Valley center for AI excellence, but perhaps its humans – especially the non-executive ones — needed to be more involved in double-checking how its AI evaluates equitable access. 

In the UK, Boris Johnson imposes a full emergency lockdown of London and southeast England following the rapid spread of a new COVID-19 strain that is responsible for 60% of new infections, which doubled in London in the past week. The new strain is no deadlier and offers no new vaccine resistance and is therefore curious but not alarming to epidemiologists, but it does appear to be more contagious.

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A United Airlines passenger with COVID-19 symptoms dies on a flight from Orlando to Los Angeles, which his wife says he was able to board because he lied that he was symptom-free on the passenger declaration form. Three fellow passengers performed CPR for an hour until the flight landed in New Orleans after being diverted, and one of them is now experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.


Other

University Hospital (GA) says that hackers are attempting to penetrate its Epic MyChart system 550 times each day, while its email security system is rejecting 20% of incoming email due to security threats.

Seattle-area drugstore chain Bartell Drugs will pay $800,000 to settle DOJ charges that it failed to implement a computer system to verify prescriber licensure, which allowed pharmacists to fill 400 opioid prescriptions that were issued by doctors whose licenses had been suspended, some of whom had been sanctioned or indicted for federal violations. The chain is being sold to Rite Aid for $95 million.


Sponsor Updates

  • Pivot Point Consulting releases its new Quarterly Pivot report, focusing on trends to watch in Q1 2021.
  • Pure Storage makes available Pure as-a-Service in the AWS Marketplace, and launches its Cloud Block Store Efficiency Guarantee to improve cloud economics.
  • Zynx Health publishes a review of COVID-19 vaccine administration guidelines as the FDA authorizes emergency use of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Meditech customer Sunderland Royal Hospital becomes the first hospital in the North of England to earn HIMSS Stage 7 recognition.

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

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News 12/18/20

December 17, 2020 News No Comments

Top News

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Cerner will acquire the healthcare division of Kantar Group for $375 million in cash, hoping to expand its clinical research capabilities by selling real-world evidence to drug companies. 

Cerner says that Kantar Health’s annual revenue is more than $150 million.


Reader Comments

From Mark: “Re: Donors Choose. Remind me how I can donate.” Thanks for asking – I’m not comfortable asking for donations, but I’ll happily accept them and find matching money, including a guaranteed dollar-for-dollar match from my Anonymous Vendor Executive (you’ve seen me mention AVE’s matching for years, so imagine how much money they have provided to make this possible while insisting on anonymity). Instructions:

  1. Purchase a gift card in the amount you’d like to donate.
  2. Send the gift card by the email option to mr_histalk@histalk.com (that’s my Donors Choose account).
  3. I’ll be notified of your donation and you can print your own receipt from Donors Choose for tax purposes.
  4. I’ll pool the money, apply all matching funds I can get, and publicly report here which projects I funded, including teacher follow-up messages and photos.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

My Gmail account was among the many that failed sporadically in the past few days, so if you sent me something and are wondering if I received it, feel free to resend. I also realized today that Gmail lost POP3 sync three days ago, probably due to the same outage, so it wasn’t catching up.

IPhone tip: if your charging cord seems loose or doesn’t connect reliably when you plug it into the phone’s jack, it is almost certainly a dirty port instead of a damaged one (especially if you carry your phone in your pocket). Just use a wooden toothpick to clean the schmutz out the port and be amazed by: (a) how solidly your cord now connects; and (b) how much stuff was impacted in that tiny space.

I checked the HIMSS21 exhibitor floor plan and it’s light on booths, with just 383 companies coming up in the exhibitor list versus the usual 1,300 or so. Quite a few booths are simply marked “on hold” and are presumably spoken for, some of those being big spaces right by Epic’s. The industry usually hits frantic activity levels right after New Year’s with the realization that the HIMSS conference is not far away, but I assume it will be eerily quiet this coming January.


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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Healthcare interoperability technology vendor Diameter Health raises $18 million in a Series B funding round, increasing its total to $30 million.

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Business Insider reports that Amazon will expand its employee-only Amazon Care pilot project for online visits to other large employers. BI says that Amazon hasn’t had any luck hiring salespeople, including three it was recruiting from Doctor on Demand, and implies that effectiveness has been limited because of internal competition between Amazon Care and its Haven joint venture.

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Curai Health, which offers an $8 per month chatbot-powered primary care service that is available only in California, raises a $27.5 million Series B funding round, increasing its total to $57 million.

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H1, whose platform allows drug companies and health systems to target influential physicians, raises $58 million in a Series B funding round, increasing its total to $71 million.

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Kyruus acquires the HealthSparq business of Cambia Health Solutions, which offers insurers provider search, cost estimates, reviews, appointment scheduling, and member behavior rewards.


Sales

  • Hendrick Health will deploy 2bPrecise for its cancer care precision medicine program.
  • State of Franklin Healthcare Associates chooses Emerge to optimize its Allscripts Professional EHR with solutions for search, population health management and emergency access.
  • Mount Sinai Health System will implement remote patient monitoring technology from Current Health for the at-home recovery of its cancer patients.
  • The VA will implement MDClone’s data discovery platform.

People

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UC Davis Health hires Ashish Atreja, MD, MPH (Mount Sinai Health System) as chief information and digital health officer.

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David Miller, MHSA (HCCIO Consulting) joins Bahrain’s American Mission Hospital as CIO.

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SOC Telemed promotes Hai Tran, MBA to president / COO and hires Chris Knibb (Agilis Systems) as CFO.


Announcements and Implementations

Alder Hey Children’s Hospital becomes the first hospital in England to allow NHS 111 operators to schedule patient appointments in a hospital’s EHR, in their case Meditech. The CareConnect-compliant solution also allows the operators to add their own caller notes in Meditech and supports the NHS’s support of NHS 111 as the first line of defense for managing ED capacity as COVID-19 demands increase.

Allscripts announces Sunrise 20.0, which includes the option for Microsoft Azure hosting.

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Clinical surveillance platform vendor VigiLanz launches software to manage hospital mass COVID-19 and flu vaccinations, available at no cost to customers.

Black Book announces its top-ranked vendors in RCM software and services. Software winners include Optum, Waystar, AdvancedMD, Hayes, and Avadyne, while its top outsourcing companies are Optum360, Parallon, Ensemble Health Partners, R1 RCM, and Athenahealth.

Wolters Kluwer Health launches Reference Data Management for Claims Processing, a Health Language solution to help health plans keep claims processing systems updated.

Payments solution vendor Sphere acquires Health IPass, which offers patient engagement and RCM technology.

Home health, hospice, and palliative care EHR vendor MatrixCare adds voice recognition technology for provider documentation.

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A new KLAS report on patient accounting solutions finds that Epic leads with the most functional solution, Meditech’s product is seen as sturdy and reliable and has the highest customer satisfaction, Cerner’s customers are “deeply discouraged” as promised improvements haven’t materialized, and the patient accounting solution of Allscripts is “not ready for prime time” despite sales rep promises.


COVID-19

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Wednesday’s COVID-19 records include 113,069 Americans hospitalized and 3,400 new deaths. The overall US death count is now at 308,000, exceeding the country’s combat deaths in World War II.

Moderna’s vaccine got a 20-0 thumbs-up from FDA’s external advisory panel, making it likely that FDA will grant Emergency Use Authorization Friday to bring a second vaccine to market. 

Pfizer will remotely disable the GPS-connected temperature monitoring sensors that are embedded in its vaccine shipping packages once they have been delivered, leaving providers unable to determine if the doses have thawed during storage at their own sites. Operation Warp Speed paid a company $25 million to develop a temperature monitoring system, which the contract says will be turned off by Pfizer upon delivery and then turned back on by the federal government for monitoring. HHS has not disclosed how that monitoring handoff will occur.

A San Diego judge grants an injunction that prohibits the county from shutting down strip clubs under new stay-at-home orders, also giving restaurants (with uncertain authority) the green light to reopen. The judge says that no evidence exists that restaurants that operate under health and safety restrictions increase COVID-19 spread. He also ruled that strip clubs and restaurants “enliven the spirits of the community” and provide income to employers and employees.

Orange County, CA suspends ED diversion, noting that every hospital is over capacity due to COVID-19 and ambulances would have no available EDs for emergency patients.

Pharmacists discover that Pfizer vaccine vials contain enough overfill to squeeze a sixth or even a seventh dose from a five-dose vial, with FDA giving its approval to use all full doses from a single vial but warning against combining the contents of multiple vials.

The New York Times notes that some of the people who were spreading election misinformation online have moved on to publishing lies about COVID-19 vaccine on social media, including conspiracy theories about government surveillance, implanted microchips, and their belief that Bill Gates created the virus and is profiting from it. Experts say that purveyors of political misinformation are choosing other controversial topics to keep themselves in the limelight with the same audience.

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FDA gives Emergency Use Authorization to an a no-prescription, at-home quick test for COVID-19. Australia-based Ellume, which developed the test with a $30 million NIH grant, plans to deliver 20 million of the $30 tests in the first half of 2021. FDA recommends that symptom-free people who test positive confirm their results by taking a different kind of test.

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UCI School of Medicine’s Center for Artificial Intelligence in Diagnostic Medicine creates an online tool to predict if a COVID-19 inpatient will need ventilator support or admission to the ICU.


Sponsor Updates

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  • Jvion donates toys to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
  • Fortified Health Security publishes the “2021 Horizon Report,” highlighting COVID-19’s impact on healthcare’s cybersecurity infrastructure in 2020 and what’s to come in 2021.
  • Glytec publishes the results of a new study, “Association Between Achieving Inpatient Glycemic Control and Clinical Outcomes in Hospitalized Patients with COVID-19: A Multicenter, Retrospective Hospital-Based Analysis.”
  • Investor Refinery Ventures profiles Halo Health.
  • Healthcare Triangle releases a new case study, “Fort Madison Improves Resiliency of Meditech EHR Through HTI’s Backup and Disaster Recovery Powered by AWS.”
  • Healthwise donates to the Wassmuth Center for Human Rights after the vandalism of its Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial.
  • Imprivata joins Google’s Modern Computing Alliance.
  • Meditech adds a new FAQs page to its COVID-19 vaccine guidance.
  • Home care software vendor Axxess offers its customers integration with the Surescripts health information network.
  • PerfectServe announces that its Optimized Provider Scheduling, powered by Lightning Bolt,  is available on Epic App Orchard.
  • England’s Chelsea and Westminster Hospital adds patient-friendly discharge reports to its Lumeon-powered postnatal digital solution.

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

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News 12/16/20

December 15, 2020 News No Comments

Top News

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Sonoma Valley Hospital (CA) notifies 67,000 patients of an October 11 ransomware attack that may have compromised patient information.

The breach, which forced the hospital to take its computer system offline for several days, is SVH’s second cybersecurity incident in less than two years. Hackers hijacked the hospital’s website in August 2019, forcing it to change its domain.


Reader Comments

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From Frankly Speaking: “Re: Tim Kelsey. Has left HIMSS after one year to take up a CEO post of a boutique agency in Sydney, Australia. He was SVP of international analytics after leaving the Australian Digital Health Agency with a few loose ends. His deputy at ADHA, Ronan O’Connor, joined him at HIMSS in October and now his boss has moved on.” Kelsey’s LinkedIn says he left HIMSS this month to become  CEO of Pacific Knowledge Systems.


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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Precision medicine, analytics, and data-licensing company Tempus will use a $200 million investment to expand its work beyond cancer to infectious diseases, depression, and cardiology. The Chicago-based company has raised over $1 billion and achieved an $8 billion valuation.


Sales

  • Crook County Medical Services District (WY) selects EHR and RCM software and services from CPSI and its TruBridge subsidiary.
  • HealtheConnect Alaska will implement real-time care transition and coordination software from Collective Medical.
  • One Health Solutions will use Get Real Health’s patient engagement software as part of its health program for several coal mining communities in Pennsylvania.

People

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Provation names Bill Franck (Elsevier) chief sales officer.


Announcements and Implementations

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Dina develops a post-acute care bed availability service to help case managers find PAC facilities that have room for COVID-19 patients.

Audacious Inquiry adds patient medication history data from Surescripts to its PULSE Enterprise platform, which gives providers access to medical information for patients in times of emergency.

Chi Arthritis & Rheumatology goes live on Saykara’s mobile voice assistant, increasing patient capacity by 15% and eliminating after-hours charting.


COVID-19

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Another COVID-19 hospitalization record was set Monday at 110,549 inpatients. Arizona and Nevada have the highest hospitalizations per million residents.

A new poll finds that nearly 25% of Americans probably or definitely won’t take a COVID-19 vaccine, with the highest percentage of skeptics being Republicans (42%), those aged 30-49 (36%), rural residents (35%), and black adults (35%). One-third of essential workers say they will pass on being vaccinated, as do 29% of people who work in healthcare delivery. The biggest concerns are side effects, lack of trust that the government will ensure safety and effectiveness, the vaccine’s newness, and the role of politics in their development.

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FDA’s review of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine finds it to be protective, according to data distributed Tuesday, with FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization of the second vaccine expected Friday and injections to begin on Monday. The Moderna vaccine’s efficacy rate was 94.5% with the usual expected but not dangerous side effects. The trials data also showed that the vaccine group had two-thirds fewer virus-positive nasal swabs, suggesting that it prevents some asymptomatic infections after just one dose. The data also noted that zero of 3,500 vaccine group patients who were over age 65 became infected, a performance similar to that of the Pfizer vaccine that gives hope that the products can stop long-term care deaths quickly.

The federal government has contracted for 300 million doses of the two vaccine products through Q2, which with the two-shot regimen is enough for less than half of Americans.

Two dozen companies are working on at-home rapid tests for COVID-19, many of them connected to smartphone apps that provide instructions and data reporting, but FDA requires them to be sold only with a prescription.

Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb says that while recent COVID-19 case spikes haven’t been as dramatic as he expected, the case peak won’t occur for three more weeks, while the highest pressure on health system and patient deaths won’t be seen until the end of January.

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Google offers an end-of-year update on the adoption of the exposure notifications system it developed with Apple earlier this year, touting the fact that more than 50 countries, states, and regions have rolled it out as part of their public health apps. Adoption in the US is likely not as high as public health officials would like, with only Colorado (20%) and Washington, DC (53%) meriting mentions. Uptake in the UK has reached 40%.

DocASAP announces GA of its COVID-19 Vaccination Coordination Solution, including online appointment scheduling and reminders, pre-appointment messaging, and post-appointment wellness tracking.

Walgreens and CVS will require long-term care residents in Washington to sign a paper consent form and provide photocopies of their insurance cards before their employees administer COVID-19 vaccines. They will also make just three trips to each facility in a two-month period, making it more likely they will miss employees who are not at work.


Other

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San Antonio’s city government will use telemedicine to triage some 911 callers, making sure that an ambulance is truly needed before dispatching one. The rollout uses technology from UK-based GoodSAM, which allows callers to share their location and live video without installing an app. The company uses AI to measure heart rate from the video at what it says is a 92% accuracy rate.

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The University of Kentucky profiles UK HealthCare’s Enhanced Care through Advanced Technology Intensive Care Unit, which acts as a remote patient monitoring command center for 168 beds across two of the health system’s hospitals. ECAT ICU nurses use six or seven stations with eight monitors each to help bedside nurses stay abreast of vital signs and lab results, and help to perform urgent assessments based on real-time data.


Sponsor Updates

  • Cerner releases a new podcast, “One year later: Fighting COVID-19 in Asia.”
  • Good Morning America features Change Healthcare in a segment on COVID-19 vaccination passport apps.
  • Ellkay VP of Interoperability Solutions G.P. Singh joins the Carequality Advisory Committee.
  • Lumeon’s COVID-19 Remote Home Monitoring Solution earns a best new healthcare and medical product in the 2020 Best in Biz North America Awards.
  • PM360 magazine recognizes OptimizeRx’s TelaRep virtual communication solution as one of the most innovative product for life sciences.

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 12/14/20

December 13, 2020 News 1 Comment

Top News

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CMS announces a rule that requires Medicaid managed care and insurers that sell products on the Exchanges to facilitate the exchange of patient data between payers.

The rule would require payers to create a FHIR-based API so that providers can determine the documentation that a particular insurer requires and also manage their prior authorization requests.

The PA requirement also requires insurers to respond more quickly, to provide specific reasons for any denial, and to publish metrics to show how many procedures they are authorizing and denying.  


Reader Comments

From Award Cleaver: “Re: Most Wired and HIMSS EMRAM. You haven’t been posting the winners, like us.” I’m skeptical of “awards” that lazily measure tools rather than results in hopes of milking sales of those tools to the benefit of the awarder. The ultimate award is improving quality and lowering cost, and if you can do that with index cards instead of AI, then good for you even if that won’t win you an IT cheerleader’s award. I hire a plumber because their reviews say they do good work at a fair price, not because they bought a cool IPad for creating estimates.

From Bias Boy: “Re: healthcare bias. Doesn’t that exist when solutions like contact tracing assume that people have cell phones?” Yes, and many other technology biases are inadvertently created by privileged developers who can’t conceive of people who don’t have cell phones, who use Android instead of Apple, who don’t have access to broadband, or who have physical or cognitive limitations that limit their technology use. However, the notion of “equity” in any form, including and perhaps especially health, is a goal that sometimes can’t be quickly met in trying to advance the majority.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Most poll respondents grade their preferred local hospital well in being patient-friendly, trustworthy, and effective.

New poll to your right or here: How important is your job in your overall life?

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I was searching my Gmail account every day for an important email that I was expecting, worried it would go to spam and get missed, when I thought of a two-minute solution – I set up a Gmail forwarding address to my cell carrier’s text messaging service (which is in the form of phonenumber@txt.att.net for ATT or phonenumber@vtext.com for Verizon), created a Gmail filter to look for the particular word or sender I was expecting, then set the filter to forward a copy of those emails to the texting address. Result: those important emails will send an immediate text message to my phone.

Listening: Octavision, shockingly precise prog metal rock (even more note-for-note perfect than Rush) that features guitarist Hovak Alaverdyan and one of the world’s best bassists in Victor Wooten, a five-time Grammy winner and founding member of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones. Their new album sounds good if you like their sort of music as I do.


Webinars

December 15 (Tuesday) 1 ET. “Highlights from the 2021 CPT Code Set Update.” Sponsor: Intelligent Medical Objects. Presenters: June Bronnert, MSHI, RHIA, senior director of global clinical services, IMO; Shelly Jude, RHIA, RHIT, mapping manager, IMO. Top coding professionals will highlight the most important changes to the Current Procedural Terminology code set that take effect on January 1, including crucial additions, deletions, and revisions; how to communicate Official Coding Guidelines changes to the healthcare team; and a description of the impact that the code set update could have on practice.

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


People

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PerfectServe promotes Kelly Conklin, MSN to chief clinical officer / VP of account management and Mary Piepenbrink, RN, MBA to SVP/GM of Optimized Scheduling. 


Announcements and Implementations

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DarwinAI and Red Hat work with Boston Children’s Hospital to develop a deep neural network chest X-ray AI tool for COVID-19 diagnosis, notable in that it (a) employs “explainable” algorithms instead of being deployed as an opaque and potentially unreliable black box, and (b) has been released as open source.

Thailand’s universal healthcare program will require Bangkok-area patients to present a smart ID cart to receive services, which will help prevent fraud in verifying that patients are covered and to allow their medical records to be shared among providers.


COVID-19

States reported a record 108,847 COVID-19 inpatients on Saturday and another 2,477 deaths, increasing the US death total to just under 300,000.

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Shipments of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine began early Sunday following Friday’s FDA Emergency Use Authorization, moving the focus from science to the unprecedented logistical and marketing challenge of getting doses delivered and administered.

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Major airlines will soon roll out apps to check the COVID-19 test and vaccination status of passengers, likely followed by employers, college campuses, sports venues, and cruise ships. CommonPass, developed by the non-profit Commons Project, was quickly developed to check the negative test result status of truckers in Africa and is being tested by airlines to guide passengers to testing locations and then verify the resulting confirmation code. 

In Sweden, 500 specialty nurses are quitting each month even as ICU beds fill, with hospitals in Stockholm asking for military help and moving pediatric nurses to cover ICUs. Nurse there cite low pay and a lack of time off as their reason for leaving.

Another group of scientists questions the “hygiene theater” of businesses that are spending big money to perform deep-cleaning even though zero COVID-19 cases have been documented from surface spread. They remind that shared air, not shared surfaces, is the problem.


Sponsor Updates

  • OpenText donates $1 million to food banks around the world.
  • OptimizeRx CEO William Febbo spoke at the Bank of America 4th Annual HCIT and Digital Health Symposium.
  • Nordic releases a new video featuring Scripps Health, “How to implement a successful Community Connect program.”
  • Premier names St. Luke’s University Health Network the winner of its 2020 Richard A. Norling Premier Alliance Excellence Award.
  • Redox releases a new podcast, “Reproduction & Pediatrics pt 1: Dr. Elina Berglund, CEO of Natural Cycles.”

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

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News 12/11/20

December 10, 2020 News 2 Comments

Top News

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Amazon announces HealthLake, an API-driven, HIPAA-eligible, petabyte-scale AWS Cloud service for storing, transforming, querying, and analyzing health data.

It supports ingestion of FHIR-formatted data and provides natural language processing of unstructured data for querying and searching.

Early adopters include Cerner, Orion Health, and Konica Minolta.

Amazon estimates that a large hospital that stores 1 TB of patient data, runs 13,500 FHIR queries per hour, and applies NLP to 5 million characters of text would incur charges of $500 per month.


Reader Comments

From John Barleycorn: “Re: ActionOI. Vizient bought the workforce productivity benchmarking tool from IBM Watson Health a few months ago and has now cut off access to consulting firms. Just about every process improvement consulting firm – Huron, Deloitte, Accenture, Kaufman, etc. – used either ActionOI or Premier’s benchmarking package. I’m guessing that Vizient doesn’t want third-party firms profiting from their benchmarking and would rather sell the tool directly to hospitals.” Unverified. IBM Watson Health acquired Truven Health Analytics for $2.6 billion in April 2016, then in May 2020 announced a “partnership” in which it turfed ActionOI, CareDiscovery, and Market Expert to Vizient to offer clients a transition path to Vizient Operational Data Base.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor ReMedi Health Solutions. The Houston-based, clinically-driven healthcare IT advisory firm is committed to improving the future of healthcare. It provides EHR solutions that support enhanced patient care, efficient clinical workflows, and improved financial and operational performance for healthcare providers. The company believes in leading with empathy. Its deep knowledge of healthcare systems, workflows, and technology has helped it improve physician buy-in, patient care, and engagement significantly. ReMedi assists its clients with all aspects of EHR, from system selection and data migration to go-live, and provides valuable insights into trends and changes emerging from new regulations and industry best practices. The company was founded in 2017 by Texas native and physician informaticist Sonny Hyare, MD. Thanks to ReMedi Health Solutions for supporting HIStalk.


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Unrelated to anything except maybe in a COVID Christmas stretch, but perhaps you need a current and future Zoom break. Mrs. HIStalk came running in with catalog that had come in the mail for her, gleefully describing how I would love it (the address label started with “For the master bathroom of:”) Thus began my two-hour, sophomorically giggling immersion into the warped world of Shinesty, which is what could result if writers for “The Onion” bought a manufacturer of bizarre Christmas pajamas, semi-profane underwear, and wild party suits. I’ve yet to decide whether I require “Weekend in Boca” Hammer pants or a Jesus-adorned “Santa is Fake News” sweater, but meanwhile, the catalog has earned a permanent spot within impulsive reach.

Listening: new from Toronto-based U.S. Girls, throwback, experimental pop with some disco thrown in by what is really just a single performer with some backers. Bands have usually ended up being ephemeral, fluid gatherings, so I guess I’m OK with one-off collaborations even as I wonder how the resulting musical diaspora can string together financially successful careers.


Webinars

December 15 (Tuesday) 1 ET. “Highlights from the 2021 CPT Code Set Update.” Sponsor: Intelligent Medical Objects. Presenters: June Bronnert, MSHI, RHIA, senior director of global clinical services, IMO; Shelly Jude, RHIA, RHIT, mapping manager, IMO. Top coding professionals will highlight the most important changes to the Current Procedural Terminology code set that take effect on January 1, including crucial additions, deletions, and revisions; how to communicate Official Coding Guidelines changes to the healthcare team; and a description of the impact that the code set update could have on practice.

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Baxter International has reportedly offered to acquire medication management technology vendor Omnicell for more than $5 billion. OMCL share price jumped on the news, up 44% in the past year versus the Nasdaq’s 46% increase.

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Consumer telehealth vendor Ro acquires Richmond-based Workpath, which offers an API-powered platform for dispatching workers to provide in-home blood draws and nurse visits.

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Capacity management, access management, and analytics software vendor LeanTaaS raises $130 million in a Series D funding round, increasing its total to $250 million. CEO Mohan Giridharadas, MS, MBA founded the company in 2010 after 18 years at McKinsey & Company.

CitiusTech acquires healthcare management firm FluidEdge Consulting. 


Sales

  • Hi-Bridge HIE chooses NextGen Health Data hub as its HIE platform.

People

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Novant Health promotes Angela Yochem, MS to EVP / chief transformation and digital officer, expanding her CDO/CTO role to include transformation and growth initiatives.


Announcements and Implementations

HIMSS launches its Office of Scientific Research, which will offer digital health vendors help with creating evidence of the effectiveness of their products and to share best practices.

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Google announces Health Studies, a clinical trials recruitment app for Android devices. The first study involves COVID-19 related respiratory illnesses and is being conducted by Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital.

Credit card services company Alliance Data donates $2 million to Nationwide Children’s Hospital (OH) for development of a database to support its community children’s program, allowing the hospital to track infant mortality, kindergarten readiness, high school graduation, teen pregnancy, obesity, suicide, preventive health, and child mortality.

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CPSI will offer its customers a COVID-19 Vaccination Assistant chatbot that was developed by QliqSoft, hoping to automate education and follow-up to overcome vaccine hesitancy. 

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Phynd announces Epic App Orchard availability of Provider Data Connect, which allows Epic users to enroll providers and keep their data synchronized with Phynd Provider Data Management.

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Banner Health is using Cerner integration with Xealth to allow providers to order digital content and services from a single location in Millennium.

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A KLAS report on outsourced coding finds high client satisfaction with Himagine and AGS Health, while internal changes and expansion have caused a 40-point drop in customer satisfaction for NThrive.

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Runnymede Healthcare Centre goes live with Meditech Expanse following an eight-month implementation involving its relationship with Humber River Hospital, North America’s first fully digital hospital.

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Scanwell Health, which sells direct-to-consumer home lab tests, lists its urinary tract infection kit for sale on Amazon. Consumers pay $15 for three tests (with free Prime shipping), read the test strip on the company’s app, then get same-day prescriptions via a $25 telehealth visit that is provided by Lemonaid Health. The urine test detects leukocytes and nitrites. The company is working with Lemonaid on a home blood test for COVID-19 antibodies.

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Atropos Health launches itself with a “digital physician consult service” that mines EHR information for real-world evidence from similar patients to provide recommendations. The product uses Green Button technology that was developed at Stanford Medicine to form its Clinical Informatics Consult service.


Government and Politics

HHS OCR publishes draft changes to HIPAA, including:

  • Patients would be allowed to take notes, photos, and videos of their records when inspecting them in person.
  • The time for a covered entity to respond to a patient’s request for their records would be shortened from 30 days to 15, with the possibility of one 15-day extension.
  • Patients could request a covered entity to send an electronic copy of their information to third parties.
  • Covered entities would not be allowed to charge patients for viewing their information in person or online, but could charge patients their cost to make and mail paper copies. Copies made for third parties could be charged only to cover the labor involved.
  • Covered entities would not be allowed to require patients to comply with unreasonable identity verification measures, such as requiring their records requests to be notarized, making them prove their identity in person when it could be done electronically, or requiring patients to use the covered entity’s online portal.
  • Healthcare operations would be expanded to include care coordination and case management by health plans, at both the individual and population level.
  • Covered entities would not need to decide which information is minimum necessary when the request comes from a provider or health plan for care coordination and case management.
  • Covered entities would be allowed to disclose PHI to social services and community agencies for care coordination and case management.
  • Permissible disclosure would be expanded in cases of substance abuse, serious mental illness, and emergencies. 
  • Providers would not be required to get a patient’s signed acknowledgment that they received a Notice of Privacy Practices.

COVID-19

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Wednesday’s state data showed another record day, with 210,000 new cases, 106,688 COVID-19 patients in hospital beds, and the highest-ever single day death count of 3,054.

China’s civil aviation authority recommends that airline flight attendants avoid COVID-19 exposure in onboard restrooms by wearing diapers.

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Florida state police raided the home of fired former state COVID-19 data scientist Rebekah Jones at gunpoint this week in investigating what the Department of Health says was unauthorized use of an emergency group text system, but Ars Technica finds that the system is not secured, uses a single username and password for all users, discloses those login credentials in a publicly searchable manual on DOH’s website, and will broadcast any message that is sent to a specific email address that is also listed in the manual.


Other

University of Vermont Health Network says its weeks-long, malware-caused downtime will cost it at least $63 million in lost revenue and additional expense.

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The federal government’s cybersecurity agency advises users of GE Healthcare’s radiology equipment to change the widely published default password to protect their systems and networks from hackers, scoring the vulnerability at 9.8 on a scale of 10. A security firm also recommends restricting the Internet support ports to listen-only mode.

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The Washington Post’s review of Amazon’s Halo Band concludes that not only is it “the most invasive tech we’ve ever tested” in using nude photos and microphone voice analysis to assess health status, it also “makes the absolute least use of it” in doing a better job sending data to Amazon than helping users get healthy. The paper warns that Amazon’s intention for the “half-baked product” is to capture user health information for training its algorithms to eventually disrupt medicine.

Plastic surgeons report an uptake in their Botox and cosmetic surgery business that could either be from pent-up demand, the perceived benefit of recovering unseen at home, or a “Zoom boom” in which housebound employees don’t like the way their webcam accents their chin, jaw, and neck on Zoom calls.


Sponsor Updates

  • Healthcare Tech Outlook recognizes Lumeon as a Top 10 Surgery Solution Provider for its pathway engine that uses EHR data to personalize the care experience.  
  • Wolters Kluwer Health integrates Tabula Rasa Healthcare’s DoseMeRx with its Sentri7 Antimicrobial Stewardship solution.
  • Meditech offers Expanse customers High Availability Snapshot to give them immediate access to patient data during unexpected downtimes.
  • Saykara wins a Stratus Award for Kara, its AI-powered voice assistant that automates clinical charting.

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

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News 12/9/20

December 8, 2020 News 5 Comments

Top News

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Canada-based long-term and post-acute care software vendor PointClickCare will acquire care transition notification startup Collective Medical for $650 million.

The companies have been partners for a little over a year.

The deal marks PointClickCare’s third acquisition in two years. It acquired Co-Pilot analytics from Consonus Healthcare in May and LTC EHR vendor QuickMar last year.

Salt Lake City-based Collective Medical, whose product is used in 20% of US hospitals, was valued at $170 million in its most recent funding round in 2017.

I interviewed Collective Medical CEO Chris Klomp a few months ago.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

Today I learned about the “Texas sharpshooter fallacy,” in which an armchair expert mistakes a random clustering of data points as being indicative of a trend. The title refers to someone who shoots a bunch of random bullets at a blank wall, then paints a target around the tightest grouping to claim expert marksmanship. As with the cherry-picking sharpshooter, data similarities are stressed and exceptions are ignored. The most recent offenses involve COVID-19 and the election.  


Webinars

December 15 (Tuesday) 1 ET. “Highlights from the 2021 CPT Code Set Update.” Sponsor: Intelligent Medical Objects. Presenters: June Bronnert, MSHI, RHIA, senior director of global clinical services, IMO; Shelly Jude, RHIA, RHIT, mapping manager, IMO. Top coding professionals will highlight the most important changes to the Current Procedural Terminology code set that take effect on January 1, including crucial additions, deletions, and revisions; how to communicate Official Coding Guidelines changes to the healthcare team; and a description of the impact that the code set update could have on practice.

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Talkspace considers putting itself up for sale, leading analysts to speculate that an acquisition could value the online therapy app startup at $1 billion. It has raised $107 million since launching in 2012, and made its first acquisition — a couples therapy app — last year.

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Verily co-founder Tom Stanis launches Story Health with $4 million in seed funding. The startup has developed software to enhance patient care between office visits, including virtual programs and analytics.

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Cerner invests in Elligo Health Research and will use its technology to offer clinical trial opportunities to providers and patients. Allscripts has offered Elligo’s services since 2017. The company was awarded an FDA grant in October 2019 to work on real-world data harmonization for 21st Century Cures Act data sharing use cases.

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I listened to the business overview by UnitedHealth Group CEO Dave Wichman at the company’s virtual investor conference, assuming that the strategy of a company that has a $330 billion market cap, that expects $277 billion in 2021 revenue, and that has penetrated every aspect of healthcare and insurance is worth hearing. Clearly UHG is targeting every profitable aspect of healthcare in a way that will turn the hospital industry on its ear and is leading the charge with its high-growth Optum business. UHG  says it has 3.6 million customers covered by some degree of value-based care in 44 states and is pushing hard to move surgeries from expensive hospitals to ambulatory surgery centers. Points:

  • Nearly every aspect of UHG’s strategy involves consumer technology, data, and AI, all of which it expects to lower costs, provide a better experience for patients and physicians, and expand affordable access. Wichman says that no country’s health system was strong enough to respond to COVID, but technology, information, and systems are now capable of showing how healthcare can evolve.
  • An individual’s entire health history will live in the cloud, will be constantly updated by real-time systems, and will be backed by an AI-powered care team that will offer both virtual and face-to-face services in which evidence-based medicine will guide next-best-action and care plans.
  • Everything will be on demand, such as flu meds stored in a remotely controlled lockbox, home IVs, and virtual help for stress.
  • Doctors will be paid in real time for following science, while patients will be rewarded for their healthy behaviors.
  • The company’s growth pillar 1 is to reinvent healthcare delivery via high-performing local medical practices that are paid for value-based care and backed by national support such as a digital clinical home, virtual primary care, analytics-supported telemedicine visits with your own doctor, house calls for seniors, home infusions, retail pharmacy, and digital pharmacy powered by analytics.
  • Growth pillar 2 is pharmacy services, especially specialty pharmacy and direct-to-consumer offerings. The company has introduced daily dose packaging (similar to Amazon PillPack), home infusion, the Optum Store, digital pharmacy, and the opening of 60 retail dispensing sites.
  • Growth pillar 3 is consumer-centered benefits, with wider choices and digital therapeutics and coaching for diabetes (again seemingly aiming at Telehealth’s Livongo business).
  • Growth pillar 4 involves insights — digital scheduling, health record scaling, development of proprietary telemedicine, and use of AI in practice. The company has invested in 30 startups, most of them related to technology.
  • Growth pillar 5 is health fin tech, such as digital payment and authentication for rewarding consumers and high-performing clinicians.

Sales

  • Hampton Regional Medical Center (SC) will use consulting services from Engage for its Meditech Expanse implementation.
  • Thriving Mind South Florida selects Netsmart’s CareManager population health software.

People

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Eagle Telemedicine promotes Jason Povio to president and COO.

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Richmond University Medical Center (NY) names Tom Pagano (Johnson County Community College) VP of IT and support services.

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Johns Hopkins Health System names interim Sibley Memorial Hospital President and COO Hasan Zia, MD, MBA to the permanent role. He is an informaticist who served as Sibley’s CMIO from 2011 to 2015 and led its Epic implementation.


Announcements and Implementations

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Epic’s Care Everywhere reached 221 million health record exchanges in October 2020, up 40% from the same period a year ago.

A Black Book survey names The HCI Group as the top rated health IT consulting firm for system-wide technology, innovation, and organizational digitalization strategy.

Avera Health goes live with Meditech’s Google Cloud-powered High Availability SnapShot to give clinicians access to patient data via a web browser during unexpected downtime.


COVID-19

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In the UK, a 90-year-old grandmother gets the first shot of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. In the US, Pfizer’s vaccine cleared FDA’s safety and efficacy review on Tuesday, and if the company’s data is accepted in Thursday’s advisory committee review, the first doses could be administered by this weekend.

Monday continued the trend of every day setting new US COVID-19 records, with 180,000 new cases, 102,000 Americans in the hospital, and 2,204 seven-day average deaths.

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HHS publishes COVID-19 hospital capacity data at the facility level on a weekly basis dating back to August 1. Previous data sets were compiled by state. A group of data journalists, data scientists, and healthcare system researchers who have reviewed the data have put together a FAQ.

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California Governor Gavin Newsom announces that CA Notify — an app-based, COVID-19 exposure-tracking tool — will launch statewide later this week. The app was developed using technology from Google and Apple and was piloted at the University of California. Several regions across California have imposed stay-at-home orders through the holidays in an effort to alleviate virus spread. The state reached a single-day record of 34,000 new cases on Monday.

Meanwhile, a New York Times review notes that US consumers and state governments have shown little interest in using the Google-Apple COVID-19 smartphone exposure notification app that California is launching statewide. Only 13 states have developed their mandatory public health add-on to the app (it has since been made optional) and most of those states are seeing single-digit percentages of residents using them. Experts also note that people are loading the app to receive warnings of their exposure to infected others, but then refuse to allow the app to notify their fellow users when they themselves test positive.

COVID-19 vaccines have not been tested to see if they prevent transmission of coronavirus, meaning that people who have been vaccinated still need to wear masks because they could still be contagious. Nobody knows whether enough antibodies will circulate to the nasal mucosa to prevent its growth there, which is why some respiratory virus vaccines work better as nasal sprays. 

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Pfizer board member and former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD says in a USA Today interview that:

  • The hardest 4-6 weeks of the pandemic are ahead of us, with COVID019 hospitalizations expected to peak in mid-January at up to 175,000 and 50,000 in the ICU.
  • US deaths will reach 400,000 by the end of January during the infection’s final surge, with the situation improving in February and March as the virus will “largely collapse” and its major spread will end.
  • Flu rates will likely drop sharply because the mitigation steps for COVID-19 are more effective in flu.
  • Vaccine distribution will seem slow to people who are anxiously awaiting it, but supplies will be adequate by March to make it available to most people.
  • Gottlieb urges the US to “get as many shots in arms as possible” in using available supplies immediately instead of holding the required second doses for January, when the virus will begin to decline.
  • The vaccine will be effective if 50% of people get it instead of the previously accepted 70-80%, especially if follow-up studies find that it prevents viral spread.
  • The summer’s big spread was surprising to experts, who didn’t predict that Southerners would congregate indoors under air conditioning or that the Sturgis motorcycle rally would be allowed to proceed and spread virus all over the Midwest.
  • The federal government didn’t take an active role in the production of monoclonal antibodies, so supplies will be rationed and not widely available in the foreseeable future, a lesson that should be learned for future health issues.

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The CDC’s text messaging system that COVID-19 vaccine recipients can voluntarily use to report side effects — which was developed by Oracle and HHS as part of Operation Warp Speed — contains security vulnerabilities, experts say. Anyone who gets the QR code that is contained in the patient immunization kit – such as when it is discarded — can file false reports to the V-safe system that would need to be evaluated. The federal government issued a $2.3 million contract to an IT company to process the incoming reports.

Experts warn that otherwise careful workplaces are exposing their employees by allowing them to socialize and eat together in break rooms, as happened in Mayo Clinic.

More than half of surveyed Fire Department of New York union members say they will not get a COVID-19 vaccine if the department offers one, even though their jobs make them 15 times more likely to be infected.

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Florida state police raid the Tallahassee home of Rebekah Jones, a former state data scientist who was fired in May for insubordination following what she says was her refusal to manipulate data to make Florida’s COVID-19 dashboard data look more favorable for reopening as Governor Ron DeSantis was urging. The state’s health department says someone using the Comcast IP address of Jones logged in to its emergency messaging system on November 10 to send messages that were critical of the state’s response. Ten armed FDLE agents entered her home and, according to Jones, pointed pistols at her husband and two children before seizing her computer equipment.  The incident was recorded on her home’s security camera. The state FDLE says that Jones refused to open the door and that weapons were not pointed at anyone.


Other

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Greater Baltimore Medical Center deals with a ransomware attack that forced it to take down several of its IT systems on Sunday. Reports suggest the ransom note came through a fax machine (!!), demanded a response within three days, and provided contact information using the Dark Web.


Sponsor Updates

  • Access releases a new Access Points Podcast, “Blending in with a New Team.”
  • IDC MarketScape includes Arcadia in the Leader category in population health analytics in its “US Population Health Analytics 2020 Vendor Assessment.”
  • OptimizeRx integrates Komodo Health’s Healthcare Map with its digital health savings and educational content software to enhance clinical decision-making at the point of care.
  • CareSignal develops AI to improve patient engagement.
  • New England Venture Capital Association names Kyruus the winner of its 2020 Powerhouse Healthcare Company Award.
  • Cerner releases a new podcast, “The value of preparing for innovation.”
  • Team members from The Chartis Group share “Lessons from the Pandemic.”
  • Clinical Architecture releases a new Informonster Podcast, “The Impact of Logica and How the Healthcare IT Industry Can Come Together, Part 1.”
  • Dimensional Insight publishes a new white paper, “Staying Ahead of COVID-19 with a Data-Driven Response.”
  • Ellkay exhibits at the virtual Node.Health Digital Medicine Conference through December 11.
  • Black Book gives several HIStalk sponsors top consulting rankings, including Bluetree (Epic implementations), Hayes (RCM optimization, hospitals), Impact Advisors (enterprise resource planning), and The Chartis Group (value-based care transformation and strategy, hospitals).

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 12/7/20

December 6, 2020 News 2 Comments

Top News

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The non-profit Commons Project has connected its CommonHealth app to 230 health systems, allowing the majority of Americans who use Android devices to use Apple Health-like functionality to obtain their health records from connected providers.

The Commons Project says it will integrate with 110 more health systems this month and has already connected to LabCorp.

The app’s developers were UCSF, Cornell Tech, and Sage Bionetworks.

The Commons Project also offers a COVID risk questionnaire and the CommonPass passport-like app to prove COVID-19 testing and vaccination status.


Reader Comments

From Unplanned Demise: “Re: NTT Data. The company previously bought the Meditech hosting business of Dell (formerly Perot and JJWild), which has 100 hosted customers. It is down to about 40 customers, and I think most of us have received contract termination letters that blame the pandemic and its economic impact. I suspect that the reality is that NTT Data is anxious to get out of the Meditech business and go after larger, better-funded health systems and the pandemic gives them a convenient excuse.” Unverified. NTT Data is publicly traded, and if its Meditech hosting business really has dropped off that sharply, then they probably are doing the right thing from a business perspective to redirect energy to seek growth elsewhere. The only reason companies stick around in situations like this is if they don’t want to disappoint customers who might buy something else. The corporate Pacmanning (thanks to the reader from whom I stole that term) looks like this: Perot Systems acquired Meditech-focused services organization JJWild for $89 million in 2007, Dell acquired Perot in 2009 for $3.9 billion, and NTT Data bought Perot from Dell in 2016 for $3.1 billion. Paging Vince Ciotti: I don’t know what happened to the original J. J. Wild (senior and junior — the former founded the company in 1956 and the latter took over in 1975) or what business JJWild was in back in the 1950s.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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HIMSS, CHIME, and AMIA are the membership organizations to which poll respondents most commonly belong, although #1 among the options is “none of the above.” I gather from the CHIME count that I have more provider IT C-level executives as readers than I assumed, but I might need to reach out more to nurse informaticists to “unlock readership” (making fun yet again of the aspirational yet stupid business phrase “unlock revenue.”) 

New poll to your right or here: What grade would you give your preferred local hospital on being patient-friendly, trustworthy, and effective? I was thinking about this after hearing from a friend who said they received marvelous care during their heart surgery, but they learned to wave a cheery, roving hospitalist away from their door several times per day since every one of her 15-second “hey, how are you doing?” greetings was, in his previous visit, recorded as another out-of-network professional encounter that ended up totaling thousands of dollars that insurance wouldn’t cover. I can understand community-based doctors billing the patient for in-hospital care, but permanently assigned hospitalists cranking out their own bills for their private equity-owned employer seems to stretch the definition of  hospital (is it just a clean hotel with bad food that, like a Mexican beach, fails to discourage persistent peddlers who keep casting a shadow over you while you’re trying to snooze in the sand?)

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

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Reader Bill sent me a Donors Choose gift card, which with matching funds from my Anonymous Vendor Executive and other sources, fully funded these teacher requests:

  • Digital resources for online learning for Ms. S’s elementary school class in Sacaton, AZ.
  • Two monitors for online teaching for Mr. B’s high school class in Melvindale, MI.
  • Online and hands-on math supplies for Ms. F’s elementary school class in Stonewall, OK.
  • A math fluency kit for Ms. E’s elementary school class in Madison, FL.
  • A library of books and science and math activity kits for Ms. R’s middle school class in Mobile, AL.

Webinars

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

Shares in the Global X Telemedicine & Digital Health exchange-traded fund rose 7.3% in the past month, about the same as the Nasdaq and S&P 500 indices.

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Former VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD and health IT consulting firm Healthium announce a joint venture to enable health IT innovation between United Arab Emirates and Israel. The organization will connect companies with US counterparts for partnerships, with particular interest in AI, behavioral care, COVID-19 response, interoperability, digital health, EHR support, population health, analytics, and telehealth.

A. G. Breitenstein, MPH, JD — who founded analytics company Humedica and sold it to UnitedHealth Group for an unreported amount in 2013 — launches Folx Health, which will offer telehealth-prescribed, cash-only “queer and trans healthcare delivered on our terms” hormone therapy, STI testing, and meds for HIV prophylaxis and erectile dysfunction.


People

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Tenet Healthcare hires J. Roger Davis (Revint Solutions) as president and CEO of its Conifer Health Solutions business.

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John Hallock (Livongo) joins Crossover Health as SVP of corporate communications.

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Jeff Fuller, MBA (UNC Health) joins CipherHealth as VP of data and analytics.


Announcements and Implementations

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Vanderbilt Health adds an End of Life Care Plan feature to Epic, which prompts its MyChart users to download a generic advance directive, customize it as needed, sign it in front of witnesses or a notary, and then upload it. Care teams will also be prompted by Epic to ask inpatients and outpatients if they have completed their documents so they can either steer them to MyChart or help them scan and upload.


COVID-19

The US saw 225,000 new COVID-19 cases on Friday and 101,000 infected Americans were occupying hospital beds, both all-time highs that are increasing. The South’s seven-day case average has exceeded that of the Midwest for the first time in months as cooler weather pushes south. The seven-day average death count rose to a record 2,123 per day and is moving sharply upward due to Thanksgiving travel and gatherings. COVID-19 was the leading cause of death in the US last week as the total death toll reached 281,000.

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The COVID Tracking Project says that the operations and capacity data that hospitals are reporting to the federal government’s HHS Protect / TeleTracking system has stabilized and now mostly matches state-reported information once data definition differences and reporting lag times are considered. It says that states aren’t consistent in their reporting – some report hospitalizations of only confirmed COVID-19 cases while others include suspected cases, some report numbers without defining what they mean, and others use non-standard definitions.

NIH says that a new name and billing codes should be assigned to treat “COVID long-haulers” who experience a syndrome of breathing, heart, fatigue, and brain fog problems long after they have “recovered” from their initial infection. In a stark example of the issue, the topic was examined in an NIH meeting in which four patients were scheduled to speak, but two of them couldn’t participate because they were hospitalized. Johns Hopkins says that more than half of its COVID-recovered patients experience some degree of cognitive impairment in the first three months.

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CDC will issue paper vaccination cards to remind people which COVID-19 vaccine they have received and when their next dose is due. An Operation Warp Speed display shows that each vaccination kit will include the vaccine, a face shield, a mask, alcohol preps, a syringe, an instruction sheet, and the vaccination card.

CDC analysis finds that, adjusted for age, Hispanic and black Americans  are dying at nearly three times the rate of whites. American Indians and Alaska Natives die at 2.6 times the rate of whites.

The Chicago Department of Public Health and Rush University Medical Center launch a COVID-19 tracking hub to which all 28 area hospitals have agreed to contribute lab test results, CCDA information from Epic-using sites, and capacity information. The system will provide management dashboards to hospital and civic leaders as well as information for researchers. They hope to secure a federal grant to enhance reporting and to develop a COVID-19 immunization registry.


Other

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Sanford Health and Intermountain Healthcare cancel their proposed merger a week after Sanford Health fired its CEO for emailing employees to declare that he would not be wearing a mask because he believed himself immune from COVID-19 after recovering from it.

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Epic describes how its user experience designers created a new look for MyChart, including displaying health history as a news feed, providing easy jumps to most-used actions, highlighting announcements, and offering week-to-week pregnancy updates. My only previous experience with MyChart was an obviously incompetent implementation by a hospital whose mediocrity was evident in every aspect, but a recent visit with a physician who works for a much better health system showed MyChart’s full power in a clean, intuitive layout – I could schedule and reschedule appointments, view a health calendar with reminders, review my doctor’s bio and send them a message, complete a pre-visit questionnaire, handle billing and payments, and review the full notes of my visit afterward (the health system has rolled out OpenNotes). I also gave approval to match me with clinical studies and was invited to participate in one, while the Share Everywhere option lets me give access to anyone I choose with a custom-generated access code. I don’t know if this is the new version, but it’s pretty cool and highly useful regardless.


Sponsor Updates

  • Ellkay makes its Expert Exchange Series of 30-minute discussions featuring high-profit health system IT executives available online.
  • Southern Illinois Healthcare begins validating automated testing scripts for the acute/inpatient setting as part of its continued Test Automation as a Service work with Santa Rosa Consulting.
  • CareSignal CEO Blake Marggraff provides a video overview of the company’s deviceless remote patient monitoring to the Innovation Challenge Virtual Showcase.
  • Zynx Health updates and expands its free-of-charge COVID-19 clinical decision support.

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

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News 12/4/20

December 3, 2020 News 4 Comments

Top News

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AI solutions vendor Olive acquires Verata Health, which offers an AI-powered prior authorization solution.

Verata’s 60 employees will join the 400-plus headcount of Olive.


Reader Comments

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From Motion Detector: “Re: CHIME. What the heck was Russ Branzell doing pitching Imprivata’s acquisition of FairWarning as the ‘real answer’ for healthcare security?” CHIME and HIMSS usually manage to keep a public straight face while pleasuring their vendor underwriters privately, so it’s jarring to see Russ’s laudatory quote in the press release’s second paragraph. Privacy and security vendors who, unlike their competitor Imprivata, didn’t earn CHIME’s endorsement as the market’s “real answer” have reason to take umbrage. I guess richly compensated membership organization CEOs have been forced, in the absence of conference revenue, to brandish their “will work for food” signs more forcefully. The third paragraph was another questionably appropriate quote from a KLAS VP, but at least his cheerleading was masked as a general market observation instead of genuflecting to specific companies.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

I’m curious how the government and COVID-19 vaccine vendors will track the performance and side effects of the available products after their administration, especially since vaccine administration records will be scattered all over the place. Hospital folks, care to elaborate what you’re planning in terms of recording vaccine administration (your own or as reported by the patient or other providers) that can be tied later to outcomes? It would be helpful to know how many of those folks end up with COVID-19 despite being vaccinated or experience other problems. I expect it will be helpful in encouraging folks to get vaccinated early on to be able to quickly report that few significant issues with it have surfaced.

I’m getting sick of the overused term “unlock revenue,” but I’ll accept the word “wantrepreneur,” which describes those self-promoters whose vast business insight never seems to materialize into an actual successful business.


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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McKesson launches Ontada, which will (as I’m inferring from its PR puffery) sell drug companies real-world patient data from its IKnowMed oncology EHR and Clear Value Plus cancer pathways system. The company unwisely lets the marketing VP laboriously explain the company’s brand and contorted name development (O means having no beginning or end, ON is derived from oncology even though the O was already used, and TADA is an anagram for data – I guess they ruled out NODATA). Your body, like mine, is surely luxuriating in that “every part of our visual identity was chosen to make people feel at ease, confident, hopeful, and energized.”

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Imprivata acquires threat detection platform vendor FairWarning.

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Home care provider MedArrive announces its launch with a $4.5 million seed funding round. The company will attempt to bridge the virtual care gap by partnering with health systems to send virtually physician-supervised EMTs and paramedics into patient homes to draw blood, administer vaccinations or medications, and perform urgent care services. Co-founder and CEO Dan Trigub previously led healthcare operations for Uber and Lyft.

Virginia’s VCU Health System lays off 635 employees as it outsources revenue cycle management, although 90% of the workers have been hired by the outsourcer, Ensemble Health Partners. VCU Health says the decision wasn’t triggered by a 2019 investigative report in which it was found to be using aggressive collection methods against patients, including seizing their homes and paychecks.


Sales

  • Campbell University and Wayne HealthCare choose Emerge’s ChartGenie service to convert their existing existing EHR data to Athenahealth and to provide ongoing access to those systems afterward.
  • Health and wellness concierge monitoring vendor MonitorMe chooses Cumberland to optimize its Athenahealth platform.
  • Lake of the Woods District Hospital chooses Vocera’s intelligent communications solutions that include its Smartbadge and Vina smartphone app.

People

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Halo Health hires Julia Goebel (Benefitexpress) as VP of marketing.

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Anthony Belthrop (PeopleFluent) joins MDLive as CISO.

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Experity hires Brian Wilson, MBA (Ascentis) as chief customer officer.


Announcements and Implementations

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Meditech announces a Google Cloud-hosted platform that includes Expanse Now, High Availability SnapShot, and Virtual Care.

First Databank updates its COVID-19 Medical Supply Guide with 1,300 test kits, PPE, and disinfectants. The guide is provided to health systems at no charge.

Google announces its Healthcare Interoperability Readiness Program, which includes an implementation plan for FHIR API development, Google Apigee API management, the Google Cloud Healthcare API, and interoperability resources.


Government and Politics

CMS will continue to pay for certain telehealth services after the pandemic’s end, most notably those for nursing home residents in rural areas. CMS notes, however, that Medicare does not have the authority to pay for telehealth services outside of rural areas or to patients in their homes.


COVID-19

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Wednesday’s COVID Tracking Project report finds another record-setting day, with 196,000 new US cases reported and over 100,000 people hospitalized with COVID-19. Daily deaths rose to 2,733, just shy of the all-time record set on May 7 and exceeding the body count on December 7, 1941 while falling just short of the toll of September 11, 2001.

The White House coronavirus task force warns that the post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 spread will overwhelm hospitals, compromising care for all patients. It also urges public health officials in states that don’t have mandatory mask policies to bypass their elected leaders and warn residents directly that they should avoid indoor spaces where people aren’t wearing masks.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says the city will run out of hospital beds in the next three weeks, urging residents to “cancel everything.”

CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD says that today’s COVID-19 death count of 274,000 will rise to 450,000 by February if Americans keep refusing to wear masks. He also expressed disappointment that New York closed its schools again given that few clusters of infection have been traced to schools.

The American Ambulance System says the US 911 system is stretched and “likely to break” in its request for relief funds from HHS.

IBM’s cybersecurity operation warns that unknown hackers are launching malware attacks on the “cold chain” of refrigerated vaccine distribution, urging those who are involved in shipping, storing, refrigerating, and delivering COVID-19 vaccines to beef up their security. Many of the attempts involve emails impersonating an executive of a China-based biomedical firm whose contract attachment steals user credentials.

CDC recommends that Americans who ignore its advice to avoid travel get tested for coronavirus 1-3 days before departing and again 3-5 days after returning, the first time CDC has recommended testing for domestic travelers. CDC also recommends that travelers quarantine themselves for 7-10 days (depending on whether they are tested with a negative result) instead of their previously recommended 14-day quarantine period.

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The mayor of Austin, TX becomes the latest public official to be caught ignoring their own dire warnings about travel, masks, and restaurants. Steve Adler broadcast his stay-home plea from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where he had just arrived via private jet for a vacation following his daughter’s 20-guest, mask-free wedding ceremony in Austin, where a 10-person group limit was in effect. Once caught, he followed the political playbook in expressing profound remorse at his rare lapse in judgment and insisting that now that he has seen the COVID light, he wouldn’t do it today. Denver’s mayor recorded a similar “don’t travel” pre-Thanksgiving warning, then immediately caught a plane to Mississippi for some family time.


Other

Mental health EHR/PM vendor NTreatment exposes patient information in failing to secure its Microsoft Azure cloud storage with a password. Grammar joke: perhaps the company will NTreat its customers for forgiveness.


Sponsor Updates

  • The local paper profiles Sansum Clinic’s use of Well Health’s patient engagement and messaging software.
  • OptimizeRx enhances its digital health and communications platform with AI for more precise patient support.
  • Concierge telemedicine company MonitorMe selects Cumberland Consulting Group to optimize its Athenahealth software.
  • First Databank updates its COVID-19 Medical Supply Guide with more than 1,300 products to help in the fight against the pandemic.
  • Fortified Health Security Director of Cybersecurity Operations Preston Duren discusses healthcare IoT on “Between Two Servers.”
  • Healthcare Triangle becomes a partner in Google Cloud’s Healthcare Interoperability Readiness Program.
  • Healthwise wins six Digital Health Awards in the Health Information Resource Center Fall 2020 competition.
  • InterSystems publishes a new white paper, “AI in Healthcare: Early Stage with Steady March to Maturity.”
  • Jvion shares predictions on trends driving clinical AI adoption in 2021.
  • Kyruus wins the Powerhouse Healthcare Company of the Year award from the New England Venture Capital Association.
  • Lumeon releases a new video, “Current Challenges Facing Patient Access Departments.”

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

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Morning Headlines 12/3/20

December 2, 2020 News No Comments

Imprivata Acquires FairWarning to Expand Digital Identity Platform

Digital health security vendor Imprivata acquires FairWarning, a data privacy and insider threat detection company based in Clearwater, FL.

DuvaSawko Completes Strategic Merger with abeo

RCM outsourcing business DuvaSawko merges with Abeo Management, which offers outsourced RCM and practice management services to anesthesia practices.

Startup Virta Health Valued at $1 Billion In Fundraise

Diabetes-focused remote patient monitoring startup Virta Health raises $65 million in a Series D funding round that brings its total raised to $231 million and valuation to $1.1 billion.

News 12/2/20

December 1, 2020 News 3 Comments

Top News

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ONC, HL7, and other participants announce Project US@, which hopes to publish a healthcare standard for representing patient addresses sometime next year.

The project will review the US Postal Service Postal Addressing Standards, but says those can’t be adopted directly because they include both “preferred” and “acceptable” spellings and abbreviations and also require manual reconciliation with reference files.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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No, Politico, Vice-President Pence did not say that the “calvary” was coming, unless he was referencing religion or geography and you forgot to capitalize.


Webinars

December 3 (Thursday) noon ET. “Why Patient-Centered Billing: How University Physicians’ Association Increased Revenue and Reduced Days to Pay.” Sponsor: Relatient. Presenter: Christy Bailey, VP, University Physicians’ Association. Financial recovery calls for a better patient financial experience as providers drive revenue, engage patients, and reduce costs and bad debt. The presenter will talk about patients as payers and how delivering a financial experience that meets their expectations can improve the financial outcomes of providers, hospitals, and health systems.

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Virtual healthcare collaboration and delivery company Andor Health announces a Series A funding round from Microsoft’s M12 venture fund. CEO Raj Toleti’s health IT leadership experience includes stints at early patient kiosk company Galvanon (acquired by NCR), PatientPoint, and HealthGrid, which he co-founded and later sold to Allscripts.

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Workforce solutions company HealthStream acquires Change Healthcare’s capacity management business, including its Ansos staff scheduling software, for $67.5 million in cash. Ninety Change employees will join HealthStream’s Workforce Solutions business, which includes its previous acquisitions ShiftWizard and NurseGrid.

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Healthcare process automation vendor Olive achieves a $1.5 billion valuation after announcing a $225 million financing round.

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Salesforce acquires Slack for $27.7 billion. 


Sales

  • Med Smart Wellness Centers will implement EHR and billing software from AdvancedMD at its first facility in Aventura, FL.

People

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Spok names Kristen Lalowski, RN (MDLive) chief product officer.

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Cheryl Pegus, MD (Cambia Health Solutions) will join Walmart as EVP of health and wellness.

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Apervita hires David Yakimischak (ConnectiveRx) as CTO.

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Eric Nilsson (The SSI Group) joins Medstreaming as CTO.


Announcements and Implementations

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Agfa Healthcare announces GA of Rubee for AI, specialty-specific AI software for enterprise imaging.

The Vascular Institute of Chattanooga (TN) implements Saykara’s voice-enabled, mobile AI assistant for clinical charting.


COVID-19

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A record 96,039 Americans were in the hospital with COVID-19 on Monday even as “data wobbles” that were caused by delayed reporting over Thanksgiving and the weekend will likely cause a spike in testing, case, and death counts during this week’s data submission catch-up. Total US COVID-19 deaths are at 269,000. Experts are questioning whether the decrease in week-ago new cases versus new hospitalizations as a percentage means that hospitals are sending people home who would have been sick enough to admit before beds became scarce.

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Controversial White House coronavirus advisor and radiologist Scott Atlas, MD resigns his temporary position after four months, declaring in his resignation letter that his entire focus was to save lives using the latest science and evidence without political consideration. 

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A CDC advisory committee met Tuesday afternoon to determine which groups will be the first to receive a coronavirus vaccine. Meanwhile, analysis of 534,000 COVID-19 Medicare claims finds that the most significant risk factors for over-65 coronavirus deaths are advanced age (over 85 years of age), male sex, and non-white race. Leading comorbidities are sickle cell disease, chronic kidney disease, leukemias and lymphomas, heart failure, and diabetes. Authors of the pre-print research suggest that CDC consider these factors in its prioritization.

CDC will reportedly reduce its recommended 10-day isolation period for people with known COVID-19 infection to five days, reflecting new analysis that suggests that most spread occurs from two days before symptom onset to five days after. The reduced isolation would make it more likely that infected people will comply.

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Carnegie Mellon University’s Delphi Research Group enhances its COVIDcast real-time, community-level COVID-19 indicators with de-identified claims data from Change Healthcare.

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A CDC analysis finds that COVID-19 hospital information from the HHS Protect system sharply diverges from other hospital data sources that are used by many states, potentially giving government health officials and hospital personnel inaccurate estimates of disease burden and resource availability. One official has said HHS data is of poor quality, inconsistent with state reports, and presented with slipshod analysis. Responsibility for COVID-19 hospital data was abruptly transitioned from the CDC to HHS in July, with data collection handled by TeleTracking and database management by Palantir. 


Other

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Alphabet’s DeepMind says it has developed an AI system that has solved the “protein folding problem” decades ahead of expectations, which will allow faster drug development and use of existing drugs to treat new viruses and diseases. The company has not said how it will share its findings.

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The Association of Health Care Journalists calls HIMSS an “industry trade group,” which made me recall the quick correction that HIMSS issued years ago when I called out that its own press released identified it as such (correctly, I would argue) for the first time.


Sponsor Updates

  • Bluetree hires Christal Kozloski to direct its new Payer Solutions portfolio.
  • Frost & Sullivan recognizes Change Healthcare with its 2020 North American Cloud-Based Enterprise Imaging Customer Value Leadership Award.
  • CI Security will exhibit at the Atlanta Virtual Cybersecurity Summit December 2-3.
  • Digital.com includes AdvancedMD, Cerner, and EClinicalWorks among the best medical billing companies of 2020.
  • Diameter Health will host its second annual customer forum virtually December 3-4.
  • Engage publishes a new case study, “Engage’s ‘Army of Experts’ Provides Integrated Hosting and Consulting Services for Meditech Implementation at San Luis Valley Health.”
  • Lumeon makes its patient appointment reminders, and virtual care and telehealth solutions available in the Epic App Orchard.
  • The EverCare Group implements Wolters Kluwer Health’s UpToDate Advanced clinical decision support software at its hospitals in Africa and India.
  • Summit Healthcare expands its integration partnership with EMPI vendor NextGate to include real-time patient identification across its network of hospital systems.

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 11/30/20

November 29, 2020 News No Comments

Top News

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University of Vermont Health Network restores access to Epic at all locations nearly a month after malware took its systems down and forced recordkeeping back to paper.

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Epic MyChart was brought back online Friday, although new signups are not yet allowed and some test results will be presented as scanned documents. EpicCare Link was also restored, which gives community providers read-only access to the information of shared patients.

The health system says that bills, statements, and payment processing are delayed. Patient charges incurred since the October 28 downtime began have not been posted.

A New York Times article looks at the patient impact of the system downtime – cancer patients were sent away, staff used paper and their own memories to reconstruct chemotherapy protocols, and patients were not contacted to reschedule appointments for cancelled critical visits and imaging studies.


Reader Comments

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From WARN Actor: “Re: Providence Portland. Filed a WARN Act notice that it will lay off 183 employees in transitioning work to a third-party vendor. Wonder who the vendor is?” The affected positions all involve billing and coding and are located in the Portland Office Park. Christmastime layoffs always seem insensitive, but it sounds like almost all of those affected will be offered positions with the unnamed vendor.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Thanks to readers who anonymously shared their total company compensation for 2020. I’m not much of a money-motivated guy, so my only reaction is to hope that every reader has enough income and assets to climb past the bottom two levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (physiological and safety) to move more importantly to the three higher ones (love/belonging, esteem, and self-actualization).

New poll to your right or here: Of which groups are you a member?


Webinars

December 3 (Thursday) noon ET. “Why Patient-Centered Billing: How University Physicians’ Association Increased Revenue and Reduced Days to Pay.” Sponsor: Relatient. Presenter: Christy Bailey, VP, University Physicians’ Association. Financial recovery calls for a better patient financial experience as providers drive revenue, engage patients, and reduce costs and bad debt. The presenter will talk about patients as payers and how delivering a financial experience that meets their expectations can improve the financial outcomes of providers, hospitals, and health systems.

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


People

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Reed Gardner, PhD, health informatics pioneer and professor emeritus of the biomedical informatics department of University of Utah, died last week at 83 of injuries he sustained in a fall.


COVID-19

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US hospitalizations for COVID-19 are at 92,000 as hospitals report a lack of beds and clinicians to staff them. The daily death count threatens to break its mid-April record as new cases approach 200,000 per day and lack of Thanksgiving precautions is likely to create a big upswing in the next two weeks.

State and local health officials are streamline or abandoning COVID-19 contact tracing efforts because while it would have been helpful in stemming outbreaks early in the pandemic, the virus is now spreading freely and there’s little to learn or gain when almost any group setting will include one or more infected people.

Stat reports that health systems are using AI to assign COVID-19 risk scores despite lack of proof that they correlate to real-world outcomes or that their training was broad enough to be generalizable. Stanford Health Care has developed its own model and is testing it against Epic’s free tool.

Anthony Fauci, MD says on a Sunday news program to “close the bars and keep the schools open,” noting that spread from and among children is not a significant issue.

In Brazil, the medical information of 16 million COVID-19 patients is exposed when a hospital employee uploads a worksheet containing login credentials to the country’s two coronavirus government databases to GitHub. The employee says he uploaded the file while working on a computer modeling project and forgot to take it back down.

Britain may begin mass COVID-19 vaccinations early this week as the country’s regulators are fast-tracking emergency approval of Pfizer’s product and potentially its homegrown AstraZeneca vaccine whose testing was flawed. The British government has pre-ordered 355 million doses of seven vaccine products. Its “Union unit” that fights UK breakup proposals, such as Scottish independence, is demanding that vials of the AstraZeneca vaccine bear the Union Jack, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson insists that nothing like that is being considered.

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The mayor of Longmont, CO backs away from his plan to make it illegal for the city’s two hospitals or other healthcare providers to provide services to COVID-19 patients who live in a county or city whose government refuses to comply with the state’s emergency orders, such as Weld County. Weld County’s commissioners have said they will ignore the state department of health’s Level Red restrictions and will leave it up to residents to do whatever they think is best, also noting that the case numbers are rising despite previous mandates.

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Sanford Health fires CEO Kelly Krabbenhoft following his email to employees in which he said he would not wear a mask because he believes himself to be immune following his coronavirus recovery.

All three quarterbacks of the Denver Broncos have been quarantined for five days following coronavirus exposure, forcing the team to start a wide receiver who last played quarterback in college. Meanwhile, the San Francisco 49ers are struggling to find alternatives for upcoming scheduled home games that won’t be allowed under new state restrictions.

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Sixty Air Force nurses spent Thanksgiving working at staff-stretched hospitals in North Dakota. Captain Ronald Golemboski, a nurse from the 96th Medical Group from Eglin Air Force Base who served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, summarizes, “It’s always hard. But as members of the Department of Defense, we’re tasked to fight all enemies, and that’s whoever and wherever they may be, including this virus.”


Other

A technologist says that videogame publishers are moving away from publishing apps – and the control and revenue they cede to app store owners Google and Apple – and instead are using advanced browser functionality. Apps won over websites in the early days because they were superior, but increasingly sophisticated browser capabilities paired with cloud computing would allow developers to release a single product version that would work on any device without being beholden to app stores.

In India, a hospital turns in a medical resident for hiring a nurse to impersonate him in making his hospital rounds and signing his timesheets, where the imposter wore a face mask to avoid detection.

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Practice Fusion founder and former CEO Ryan Howard pens an article titled “How to Prevent Your Company from Being Used for Evil From a Founder Who’s Been There,” making these points:

  • He says he was never contacted by the Department of Justice with regard to the opioid kickback scandal that cost Practice Fusion’s acquirer Allscripts $145 million to settle and he had no contact with opioid manufacturers while he was CEO.  He created the company to “drive better health and save lives” and “to make the world a healthier place,” so he was devastated to see his life’s work corrupted by the company after they fired him in 2015.
  • Companies should be operated as a B Corp to align purpose with profit.
  • Founder board seats should be made irrevocable, independent seats should have term limits to make it easier to get rid of board members who don’t follow the company’s core values, and common board seats should be pre-allocated to eventual investors.
  • Employees should commit to a code of ethics.
  • Capital should be raised from impact-driven funds that have a social impact focus.

Sponsor Updates

  • Gartner recognizes Everbridge in its “2020 Market Guide for Crisis/Emergency Management and COVID-19 Safe Return to Work Solutions.”
  • Fortified Health Security hosts a virtual food drive to support Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee.
  • Priority Health expands its partnership with MDLive to offer out-of-state behavioral health coverage to its members.
  • Alcidion Group expands its reseller agreement with NextGate beyond Australia and New Zealand to include the UK and Ireland.
  • Nuance integrates interoperability standards from the RSNA and ACR Common Data Elements Steering Subcommittee into its PowerScribe One radiology workflow and reporting software.
  • OptimizeRx hires Ivan Zivkovic (Multicom) as senior java engineer.
  • The International Medical Center in Saudi Arabia will implement the TrakCare EHR from InterSystems across its hospitals and clinics.
  • Premier President Michael Alkire helps to raise $368,405 for cancer support nonprofit Family Reach.
  • Pure Storage expands its Service Catalog, offering transparent pricing for on-premises and hybrid cloud storage delivered as-a-Service.
  • India-based Narayana Health joins the TriNetX network.
  • WebPT honors Spear Physical and Occupational Therapy with its 2020 Ascend Practice of the Year Award and SymFit Physical Therapy and Fitness as the winner of the Innovator of the Year Award.

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

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News 11/25/20

November 24, 2020 News 1 Comment

Top News

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Germany-based health IT company CompuGroup Medical will acquire ambulatory-focused health IT vendor EMDs for $240 million.

CGM paid a similar amount earlier this year to acquire Cerner products that are marketed in Germany and Spain.

EMDs, which acquired competitor Aprima nearly two years ago, employs 1,400 people in the US and India to serve 60,000 practice-based end users.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor Lumeon. The Boston-based company helps health systems take control of their care delivery processes by orchestrating and automating care journeys to operate with predictability and efficiency. It acts as the auto-pilot for healthcare delivery in coordinating teams, communications, tasks, and decisions to deliver superior outcomes at a lower cost, optimize resource utilization, and increase revenue. Lumeon’s solutions are enabled by their cloud-based care pathway management (CPM) platform. Capitalizing on the patient’s electronic health record (EHR), health systems can start simply with immediate benefits and evolve to orchestrate their entire care process. More than 70 progressive health systems across 12 countries have deployed Lumeon’s multi-award-winning platform. Thanks to Lumeon for supporting HIStalk.

I found this Lumeon explainer video on YouTube.

Listening: the new studio album from AC/DC, which won’t change your mind about the band either way since its sound is so predictable that it could be generated by AI. The accomplishment here is perseverance rather than boundary-pushing, but that alone is remarkable enough given the recent loss of Malcolm Young to dementia and then death, the dismissal of Brian Young due to hearing loss, the home imprisonment of drummer Phil Rudd for attempted drug-related murder for hire, the resignation of bass player Cliff Williams, and the presence of “where’s all me mates gone” 65-year-old schoolboy uniform-wearing Angus Young as the only remaining original member until recently. Johnson is back at 73 years of age after successful hearing treatment, Rudd returns post-incarceration, and Williams is back as a tribute to Malcolm Young, restoring to 60% the count of current members who were heard on 1979’s “Highway to Hell.” AC/DC’s recent business plan has been releasing a loss-leader album of songs that are indistinguishable from their hits, then cranking up the touring cash machine for fans who are happy to expensively relive their youth’s soundtrack of “Back in Black” and “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” for the thousandth time. Monetization will thus be a race between COVID limitations and the bandmates’ advancing years, but at least they’ve put out their first studio album in six years and it holds the #1 spot on Billboard’s chart, only their third album to summit that commercial apex (“Back in Black” was a curve-flattened release, selling 25 million copies, but over such a long period that it peaked at #4).


Webinars

December 3 (Thursday) noon ET. “Why Patient-Centered Billing: How University Physicians’ Association Increased Revenue and Reduced Days to Pay.” Sponsor: Relatient. Presenter: Christy Bailey, VP, University Physicians’ Association. Financial recovery calls for a better patient financial experience as providers drive revenue, engage patients, and reduce costs and bad debt. The presenter will talk about patients as payers and how delivering a financial experience that meets their expectations can improve the financial outcomes of providers, hospitals, and health systems.

December 3 (Thursday) noon ET. “Unlocking the Power of Data: How HIEs Can Better Support Their Participants.” Sponsor: Intelligent Medical Objects. Presenters: Jaime Bland, DNP, RN, CEO, NEHII; Naresh Sundar Rajan, PhD, CTO, NEHII; Matt Cardwell, PhD, VP of client services, IMO; John Laursen, VP of business development, IMO. HIEs need accurate, actionable, and normalized EHR data to unlock its analytic power to support alerting, regulatory reporting, interoperability, and clinical surveillance. The presenters will describe how to interpret the descriptions and standard code sets that health system partners send, how leading HIEs use normalized data to improve their client and community offerings, and how a new normalization approach may provide operational savings.

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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AI-powered predictive data modeling vendor ClosedLoop.ai raises $11 million in a Series A funding round. Co-founder and CTO Dave DeCaprio helped lead MIT’s Human Genome Project before stints at GNS Healthcare and Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine.

Special purpose acquisition company GigCapital2 will merge with Cloudbreak Health and UpHealth Holdings to create a digital health management company that will be valued at $1.35 billion. The SPAC raised $150 million during its 2019 IPO and plans to raise another $160 million to finance the deal.

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Digital patient communications company Well Health raises $45 million in a Series C financing round, bringing its total funding to $75 million.


Sales

  • Union Hospital (IN) selects Masimo’s SafetyNet patient management system to help discharged COVID-19 patients recover at home.

People

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Dana Safran (Haven) joins Well Health as SVP of value-based care and population health.

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University of Utah School of Medicine hires Yves Lussier, MD (University of Arizona) as chair of biomedical informatics.

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Sarah Sample-Reif (Incredible Health) joins Zivaro as chief strategy officer.


Announcements and Implementations

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Philips announces a vendor-neutral Radiology Operations Command Center that uses telepresence to conduct imaging operations virtually.

In England, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust goes live on Agfa HealthCare’s enterprise imaging software.

Campbell University (NC) and Wayne HealthCare (OH) implement Emerge’s ChartGenie data-conversion technology as they respectively prepare to implement Athenahealth’s EHR early next year.

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Kettering Health Network (OH) adds CenterX’s real-time prescription benefit and electronic prior authorization capabilities to its e-prescribing workflows within Epic.

A Lumeon survey of patient access executives finds that patient experience and access to care will be their most important differentiators in 2021, while more than half believe that fragmented processes and technology – such as the 72% of providers that still manually call waitlisted patients to fill cancelled appointments — prevent them from meeting their patient access goals


COVID-19

The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients hit another record Monday at 85,836. The COVID Tracking Project warns that states probably won’t file complete reports until next week and thus numbers will be underreported as they were over Labor Day. It’s fascinating that a pandemic that has killed 258,000 Americans still doesn’t warrant state employees working weekends and holidays.

Experts say that CDC’s warning last week that small gatherings involving non-cohabitants are responsible for a lot of COVID-19 spread is not supported with data, but has been repeated enough times to convince states to limit such gatherings, perhaps illogically. US contact tracing has been overwhelmed with non-participation and overly wide coronavirus spread, but where state data is available, the leading sources of infection spread remain long-term care facilities, food processing plants, prisons, healthcare settings, restaurants, and bars. The New York Times notes that while Minnesota’s governor has banned people from different households from meeting indoors or outdoors, the state still allows churches, funeral homes, and wedding venues to hold indoor gatherings of up to 250 people. A Vermont ban of neighbors walking together distanced and masked while restaurants remain open for indoor dining is “bizarre,” says an infectious disease modeler who notes, “I can get together with nine of my best friends and sit around a table at a restaurant, so why can’t I do that in my house?”

Urban hospitals are being overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients from rural areas in which masking orders are either absent or ignored, with the head of Kansas City’s health department saying that it’s unfair for city residents to be denied an ICU bed that is occupied by a resident of a county that goes mostly maskless.


Other

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Federal prosecutors seek a judge’s approval to use texts and other digital exchanges between Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes and former president Sunny Balwani to help prove that the pair – who were once romantically linked – knew that the company’s technology was not as groundbreaking as they led investors to believe. Messages refer to terrible validation reports, the “painful” FDA approval process, and one of their labs being a “disaster zone.” The delayed trial will take place in March.


Sponsor Updates

  • Unite.ai features Saykara founder and CEO Harjinder Sandhu.
  • Change Healthcare will participate in a fireside chat during the Guggenheim Digital Health Virtual Summit December 8.
  • Clinical Architecture releases a new podcast, “Healthcare Terminology Standardization and Normalization.”
  • InterSystems releases HealthShare 2020.2 with expanded HL7 FHIR API capabilities

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 11/23/20

November 22, 2020 News No Comments

Top News

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University of Vermont Health Network begins restoring access to Epic beyond a read-only view at inpatient and ambulatory sites of UVM Medical Center. The health system says that effort will require several days, with other sites to follow.

The health system will need to back-enter data nearly 30 days’ worth of manually recorded data. UVM systems have been down since October 28.

The IT team will focus on restoring MyChart once they have brought Epic back up.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Poll respondents are optimistic about their job prospects for the next year, with 80% of them expecting to hold the same or better job and 80% of those assuming they will be working for the same employer.

New poll to your right or here, and of course your answers are not trackable or identifiable: How much total compensation will you receive from your primary employer in 2020?

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Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor Emerge. The Dallas-based company’s solutions empower healthcare professionals with superior medical data intelligence, resulting in enhanced workflows, increased efficiency, and higher quality of care. ChartScout, launched by SSO from the EHR, removes the barriers between caregivers and EHR data by accessing data from structured, free-text, and scanned image data, providing an intuitive patient chart search and visualization and personalized dashboards to facilitate patient overview and management by showing care gaps, calculations, scores, and decision support. ChartPop provides a tailored, cross-sectional view of the active patient population to create pursuit lists, fill gaps in care, and work toward better population management. The ChartGenie data conversion service provides a seamless transition between an old EHR to a new one and/or into Emerge’s cloud. A subscription also provides access to the data from both systems into a single synthetic patient view using ChartScout and ChartPop, removing data siloes and the need for toggling between EHRs. Thanks to Emerge for supporting HIStalk.


Webinars

December 3 (Thursday) noon ET. “Why Patient-Centered Billing: How University Physicians’ Association Increased Revenue and Reduced Days to Pay.” Sponsor: Relatient. Presenter: Christy Bailey, VP, University Physicians’ Association. Financial recovery calls for a better patient financial experience as providers drive revenue, engage patients, and reduce costs and bad debt. The presenter will talk about patients as payers and how delivering a financial experience that meets their expectations can improve the financial outcomes of providers, hospitals, and health systems.

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Phone-connected ultrasound transducer manufacturer Butterfly IQ will go public on the NYSE in a merger with a special purpose acquisition company that values the company at $1.5 billion.


Announcements and Implementations

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Drug company Bayer will support five startups as part of its G4A Digital Health Partnerships Program. The initial class of early-stage companies are Caria (evidence-based menopause support), Elly Health (audio chronic condition education), Decipher Biosciences (genomic testing), Sweetch (data-powered disease management recommendations), and MyOnCare (patient and care team communication).


Government and Politics

The VA will expand its 5G testing to sites in Florida and Seattle following its initial work in its Palo Alto hospital, looking at technologies such Microsoft HoloLens for surgical navigation and adding telemetry monitoring to new areas of hospitals.


COVID-19

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COVID-19 tests, new cases, and hospitalized patients set records Friday, with 82,000 hospital inpatients straining capacity in many areas.

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About 1,000 hospitals have reported critical staffing shortages to HHS, although not all hospitals are submitting staffing data to the abruptly implemented HHS Protect reporting system. Hospitals note that while it’s easy to add beds, shortages of skilled personnel will force them to prioritize who receives care.

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Henry Ford Health System has had 169 employees test positive for COVID-19 in the past week, straining the five-hospital system as 19% of 900 workers were found to have coronavirus.

St. Louis hospitals say that state reports showing hospitals with plenty of available regular and ICU beds are dangerously misleading to the public, as the information that is reported to the federal government looks at beds that are licensed, not those that are staffed for appropriate COVID-19 care.

The government says that shipments of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could start December 11, the day after FDA’s vaccine advisory committee meeting, assuming its data review is positive.

Operation Warp Speed scientific advisor Mocef Slaoui, PhD tells CNN that he expects US life to return to somewhat normal by May as a significant portion of the population will either have received a vaccine or recovered from previous infection with some degree of immunity, slowing coronavirus spread.

WHO recommends against using remdesivir to treat COVID-19 after an expert panel’s review of studies finds that it does not improve any important patient outcome, including the rate of ventilation and death. FDA gave the Gilead drug fast, full approval in October despite modest results from questionably rigorous studies.

Updated CDC guidance says that most COVID-19 infections are spread by people who do not have symptoms, making mitigation measures even more important.

Most health systems that were polled by Premier say they aren’t ready to receive and manage the administration of COVID-19 vaccines. Issues:

  • Pfizer’s vaccine requires storage at –70 degrees Celsius, which will require procurement of large ultra-cold freezers in each health system market or location and development of dry ice policies and procedures.
  • Some health systems have been designated as state vaccine distribution hubs and will need to track location, quantity, and storage temperatures in real time.
  • CDC has not yet announced how populations will be prioritized to get the vaccine.
  • Healthcare workers who will get the vaccine early will need to be pre-scheduled for staggered appointments to avoid potential coronavirus exposure while waiting in lines.
  • IT systems will need to be evaluated to capture and report vaccine storage, vaccinations administered, doses on hand, and participation in training programs, with all of the information ideally linked to the health system’s EHR.
  • Appointments for the second dose of the two-dose regimen should be made during the first-dose visit, followed by reminders to the phone number and email address captured at that time, to make sure patients receive the second dose.

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The Texas National Guard sends 36 troops to El Paso to help overworked morgue personnel deal with the large number bodies of coronavirus victims and setting up a new central morgue expansion.


Other

Expert authors say in a Harvard Business Review article that telehealth has great promise, but unintended consequences include exacerbating disparities in access and challenging clinicians with video fatigue, longer work days, and a blurring of work-life boundaries. They also note that virtual visits can increase healthcare spending via new utilization. They use HITECH experience with EHRs to suggest facilitating equitable access by offering digital help and language interpretation, engaging patients and their families, scheduling provider virtual visits in specific sessions instead of on top of a full workday, and integrated telemedicine platforms (especially those offered by for-profit telehealth services) with EHRs for continuity of care.

A Singapore doctor search and patient review website raises the ire of country’s medical and dental membership organization, whose practitioner information the company apparently scraped from its website without permission. The company says it will ignore the request of Academy of Medicine, Singapore to remove its details about practitioners and will also ignore any requests of AMS members who ask not to be listed.

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The Pro Football Hall of Fame honors Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, MD, who skipped the 2020 season as right guard for the Super Bowl champions Kansas City Chiefs to work as an orderly in a long-term care facility on the COVID-19 front lines.


Sponsor Updates

  • OptimizeRx hires Nick Hill (Passport) as director of project management.
  • PatientPing publishes a new Use Case Spotlight, “How Heartland Alliance Health Improves Patient Engagement and Care Coordination Outcomes for Vulnerable and High-risk Patients.”
  • Cerner appoints Major General Elder Granger, MD, US Army (retired) to its Board of Directors.
  • Pure Storage introduces the Pure Validated Design Program to simplify deployment of partner solutions.
  • Redox releases a new podcast, “No Beers, No Bars, just ELRs: Electronic Lab Reporting Requirements with Dr. Louise Laurent.”
  • Relatient and TriNetX ranks on the Deloitte Technology Fast 500.
  • SOC Telemed will present at the virtual Piper Sandler Healthcare Conference December 2.
  • Waystar publishes the results of a new study, “Consumer Attitudes Toward Medical Bills + the Price Transparency Rule.”
  • Well Health and Wolters Kluwer partner to embed EmmiEngage interactive multimedia programs on diabetes education into the Well platform.

Blog Posts


Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jenn, Dr. Jayne.
Get HIStalk updates.
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Contact us.

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