Recent Articles:

Weekender 3/20/20

March 20, 2020 Weekender No Comments

weekender 


Weekly News Recap

  • Hospitals ask the federal government for a $100 billion bailout to offset their costs of diagnosing and treating COVID-19.
  • COVID-19 predictions and recommended federal government actions dominated the news.
  • HHS announces that it will allow physicians to practice across state lines, although individual states must waive their own requirements.
  • HHS OCR relaxes its requirements on the use of consumer video technologies such as Skype and FaceTime for offering telehealth services.
  • Telemedicine companies struggle with a high volume of demand that strains their infrastructure and provider availability.
  • WebMD acquires StayWell.
  • Epic cancels its XGM conference.
  • Cerner asks all employees who are able to work from home to do so.

Best Reader Comments

We are a hospital with numerous clinics making about $350 million per year in gross revenue with an average profit margin of 1.3% over the last 10 years. Our best estimate is that we will lose $10 million per month that this continues. That doesn’t even take into account our cash reserves that keep us afloat, which are being decimated in the market. We absolutely will see hospitals go bankrupt and/or be acquired this year without a bailout. (Bobby Bailout)

[COVID-19 testing data]. Epic has released functionality (COVID-19 Pulse Dashboard) that will aggregate de-identified data across their organizations. Considering they boast that their organizations cover half the US population, I would think they should be able to get some good aggregated data soon. Hopefully they do a good job of collecting the right metrics and cooperating with research institutions to help bring out some of this data. I hope Cerner is also looking to or already is doing something similar considering they also have a large share of US population. (AC)

I will think twice before ever booking our hotel rooms through OnPeak again. If we would have booked through the hotel directly, we would have been able to cancel with no fees. If you book with OnPeak/HIMSS, you lose your shirt. For what? A small room discount? Live and learn. (Jennifer)

On the practice side, most places have a little door barricade set up. People get a symptom check in the barricade one by one before they get in the waiting room area. People are told to call for instructions before approaching the clinic. On the hospital side, most of the clinical folks I’ve talked to have been told not to talk about internal details with the public. (What)


Watercooler Talk Tidbits

image

Readers funded the Donors Choose teacher grant request of Ms. P in California, who asked for robotics programming blocks for her kindergarten class. She reports, “The Cubelet blocks were exactly what I needed to connect computer science principles to solving real world problems. Our first experiment with the Cubelets was a simple challenge, to connect the blocks so their robot would move around the table and then stop. The kids were so excited to work together, every member of the group was trying different combinations and excitedly chiming in suggestions. I listened to these five year olds problem solve and collaborate and thought, ‘Wow. These are exactly the 21st Century skills that they need to be practicing.’ Thank you so much for giving us these high interest, durable robot blocks. You’ve made my class very happy, and given me a tool I will be using frequently in the future.”

Carnival offers the federal government use of some of its cruise ships as temporary healthcare facilities for non-coronavirus patients in major coastal cities, potentially freeing up hospital beds for treating COVID-19.

image

China exonerates a Wuhan doctor it had reprimanded for warning about the coronavirus outbreak in an almost unheard-of admission by the Communist Party that it made a mistake. The party apologized to the family of Dr. Li Wenliang, who died of COVID-19. The government’s treatment of the doctor stirred uncommon public anger, with complaints that it was hiding outbreaks, punishing journalists, and valuing its own image over public safety. Several citizen journalists and critics were arrested and some disappeared after sharing information online about the outbreak. Insiders also claim that Wuhan’s claim of zero new cases is untrue because the local government suspended testing and discharged quarantined, symptomatic patients early to make President Xi Jinping look good during his scheduled visit there.

Italy presses 10,000 final-year medical school students into COVID-19 service, waiving the final exams normally required to put them on the front lines nine months early.

A California private practice doctor offers appointment-only drive-up coronavirus testing outside his office, with cash prices starting at $200. He has performed 40 tests, received eight results, and identified one positive patient. Mask shortages have forced him to buy from Craigslist scalpers.

image

Ten conferences that have been cancelled at the Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center have hit the area with a $363 million economic impact. HIMSS is mentioned as working by mid-February to arrange on-site medical services to convince exhibitors not to pull out. The local paper intercepted emails from HIMSS in which it expressed dissatisfaction with the Visit Orlando convention bureau, which it said was not supporting the conference by agreeing to distributing attendee health information at local hotels. The photo above was taken on Wednesday, March 4, the day before HIMSS20 was cancelled.

image

Fox’s “The Resident” TV drama, which is filmed in Atlanta, donates masks, gowns, and other supplies to Grady Hospital. “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Station 19” have donated masks and gloves to a Los Angeles fire station.


In Case You Missed It


Get Involved


125x125_2nd_Circle

Morning Headlines 3/20/20

March 19, 2020 Headlines 2 Comments

Hospitals ask for $100 billion coronavirus bailout

The American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, and American Nurses Association ask the federal government for $100 billion to offset COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment.

Ransomware Gangs to Stop Attacking Health Orgs During Pandemic

Several ransomware hacker groups say they will refrain from attacking healthcare organizations during the pandemic.

Surge in patients overwhelms telehealth services amid coronavirus pandemic

Telehealth services are being overwhelmed with a surge in patients that is stressing their technology and their supply of physicians.

Local medical tech startup shuts down operations

Medical credentialing-as-a-service startup MedSpoke closes, citing recent changes to its client base.

News 3/20/20

March 19, 2020 News 7 Comments

Top News

image

The American Hospital Association, American Medical Association, and American Nurses Association jump on the federal government bailout train by asking for $100 billion to offset COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment.

Hospitals say they will lose revenue from delaying elective procedures and will spend more on training, supplies, and employee childcare.

The letter to Congress didn’t mention that insurers, including the federal government in the form of Medicare and Medicaid, will pay hospitals and doctors for providing care to COVID-19 patients.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

image

I’ve added a “comments” link to the bottom of every HIStalk post, a much-requested feature that allows reading or adding comments without scrolling back up.

Unrelated, outside of social distancing: need something interesting to eat with your canned soup? I made what I will modestly call “good” baguettes that were easy (no kneading), quick, and required just flour, water, salt, and yeast. They passed Mrs. H’s test of being crusty on the outside and soft (but not spongy) in the inside. You might as well have something homey while at home and make it smell good besides.


Webinars

March 25 (Wednesday) 1 ET: “Streamlining Your Surgical Workflows for Better Financial Outcomes.” Sponsor: Intelligent Medical Objects. Presenters: David Bocanegra, RN, nurse informaticist, IMO; Alex Dawson, product manager, IMO. Health systems that struggle with coordinating operating rooms and scheduling surgeries can increase their profitability with tools that allow for optimal reimbursement. This webinar will identify practices to optimize OR workflows and provider reimbursement, discuss how changes to perioperative management of procedures can support increased profitability, and explore factors that can impede perioperative workflow practices.

March 26 (Thursday) 12:30 ET. “How to Use Automation to Reduce ‘My EHR is Slow’ Complaints.” Sponsor: Goliath Technologies. A common challenge is that a clinician is ready to work, but their technology is not. EHRs can be slow, logins not working, or printers and scanners are offline. Troubleshooting these end user tickets quickly is nearly impossible, especially in complex environments that might include Citrix or VMware Horizon. This webinar will present real-world examples of how leading health systems are using purpose-built technology with embedded automation and intelligence to proactively anticipate, troubleshoot, and prevent end user performance issue across their IT infrastructure and EHRs.

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


Sales

  • Nebraska Health Information Initiative selects NextGate’s enterprise master patient index.
  • The Cardiovascular Center of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean will implement Medsphere’s CareVue EHR.
  • Topeka, KS-based HIE Konza will use Diameter Health’s data normalization and enhancement software to deliver de-duplicated CCDs to its members.

People

image image image

MDLive names Chairman Charles Jones CEO, Christopher Shirley (Catasys) CFO, and Andy Copilevitz (Walgreens) COO.

image

University of Washington Medicine pathology professor Stephen Schwartz, MD, PhD died Wednesday of COVID-19.


Announcements and Implementations

Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters (VA) implements analytics and data management software from Dimensional Insight.

Cobre Valley Regional Medical Center (AZ) rolls out Meditech Expanse, with consulting help from Engage.

image

Health Catalyst will make available COVID-19 patient and staff tracking, public health surveillance, and staff augmentation support capabilities.

Jump Technologies makes its inventory management software available to hospitals for free for a limited time.

SNAGHTML10d5802d

Dina offers COVID-19 rapid response tools, including self-assessment of quarantined patients, remote monitoring of discharged and isolated patients and healthcare workers, patient self-assessment, and checking the health of staff members daily with text-based remote screening questions. 

Blue Shield of California offers its network hospitals a customizable COVID-19 Screener and Emergency Response Assistant for consumers. Mobile device or hospital website users answer questions whose answers direct them to the most appropriate medical setting. Blue Shield is covering the cost of implementation, which takes 48 hours, and three months of updates. The tool was developed by Gyant, which offers digital front door and patient engagement technology.

Allscripts announces its COVID-19 response, which includes a fast-tracked telehealth implementation plan for FollowMy Health, rollout of an EHR-agnostic automated triage tool, and employee travel restrictions.

Registry reporting vendor Iron Bridge offers free access to system to allow hospitals and labs to report COVID-19 cases to the CDC faster.

Verge Health offers free access to its Compliance Rounding solution that helps hospitals complete the COVID-19 CMS Infection Prevention Worksheet and CDC Hospital Preparedness Assessment

CompuGroup Medical offers free provider use of CGM ELVI Telemedicine, which allows them to collect patient information, share information, and provide care from anywhere.


Government and Politics

HHS will allow physicians to practice across state lines in an effort to prevent staffing shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic.

HHS asks for $21 million in additional 2020 funding for ONC to “support the emergency expansion of a patient lookup system to aid patients and COVID-19 medical response” via an online database.


COVID-19

image

Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD provides thoughts on COVID-19:

  • Therapeutic response involves three efforts: developing a vaccine (which he thinks will take two years), trying existing antivirals, and developing an antibody that can be given as a monthly injection to protect frontline healthcare workers and high-risk people.
  • He expects the epidemic to peak in late April and early May, with hopes that it will have run its course by July and will leave enough people who have recovered from it to create herd immunity. His biggest fear is that it will come roaring back in September and cause another epidemic that will last all winter.
  • Point-of-care diagnostics similar to the flu swab are needed to allow doctors to quickly quarantine people who are infected instead of waiting 24-48 hours (he says that test can be developed within three months). Then roll out widespread surveillance testing to see how the virus is circulating. He says the nation’s posture is not sustainable unless such surveillance can be put in place while waiting for a vaccine to be developed.

image

Former National Coordinator and Aledade founder and CEO Farzad Mostashari, MD – who has strong syndromic surveillance experience — identifies issues with COVID-19 data collection and analysis, likening the current state of testing to giving a haphazard set of people a new drug, collecting information sloppily, and then trying to use that information to determine whether it works:

  • The public health value of counting positive tests is minimal without understand each individual’s condition, their source of exposure, and how they compare to those whose tests are negative.
  • The preliminary data that is being reported to the CDC is frequently missing hospitalization status, ICU admission status, death, and age. CDC does not know the denominator of how many people have been tested.
  • Labs should be required to submit aggregate information on every test they perform, not just those with positive results.
  • Sentinel testing needs to be performed.
  • A serosurvey is needed, where a random sample of households in a large city is tested and surveyed to understand the fatality and infection rates.
  • ED visits for cough, fever, and flu-like symptoms need to be studied to determine how many are COVID-19 related.

image

Bill Gates address coronavirus in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything,” where he observes about COVID-19:

  • US testing is disorganized. The federal government needs to provide a questionnaire website for consumers that prioritizes the testing, such as making sure that healthcare workers and the elderly are tested first. 
  • Labs that perform COVID-19 testing need to be connected to a national tracking system.
  • Gates and his researchers feel that the Imperial College models are too negative given that China’s shutdown reduced case numbers that showed little rebound. The Imperial College models were based on influenza.
  • He expects treatments for COVID-19 to be available before a vaccine, which would keep people out of ICUs and off ventilators. The Gates Foundation is funding research on bringing all industry capabilities into play.
  • The Foundation is working on a plan to send test kits to people at their homes to try to offset the US’s disorganized testing.
  • He expects individuals to be assigned digital certificates to show that they have recovered, or when a vaccination is available, that they have received it.

Mitre urges the federal government to take immediate action to halt the short doubling time of new COVID-19 cases in the US:

  • Close all schools.
  • Give businesses incentives for allowing working from home.
  • Shut down all places of social gathering, including restaurants, bars, theaters, concerts, and sporting events.
  • Provide home food supplies to everyone who needs them.
  • Seal the US borders to all forms of traffic and transport.

Cerner temporarily closes its Realization campus after an employee tests presumptively positive for COVID-19.  The company had already announced a work-from-home policy for most employees.

National medical group Mednax comes under fire for telling clinicians that if they require a two-week quarantine following coronavirus exposure, they must use their sick leave or PTO.

image

First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University and Alibaba Health publish a 60-page, detailed COVID-19 prevention and treatment handbook that accumulates information gained from China’s outbreak.

image

Healthcare workers at Providence St. Joseph Health in Washington fashion face shields out of supplies from craft stores and Home Depot, including marine-grade vinyl, industrial tape, foam, and elastic. The health system is evaluating the quality of material used for surgical tray liners in case they need to repurpose them for masks.

YMCAs in Memphis, TN convert into childcare facilities for healthcare workers and first responders.

US funeral homes are asking families to scale back or postpone funeral services, limit attendees, and conduct services virtually to comply with federal guidelines that limit gatherings of more than 10 people. The funeral homes are also increasing worker protection since nobody knows now long the coronavirus can live on the tissue of the deceased.

image

Pulizter-winning cartoonist Mike Luckovich of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution posted this work.


Privacy and Security

Government officials in Massachusetts warn the public, particularly seniors, of COVID-19 testing scams: “Testing can only be ordered by a treating physician. We have heard about teams in white coats going door-to-door offering virus testing. This is NOT a valid offer. What they are really interested in is robbing the elderly or stealing their identity. And we have heard reports of callers pretending to be a nurse offering test results once they get a credit card number. These kinds of calls are also not for real.”

image

Several ransomware hacker groups say they will refrain from attacking healthcare organizations during the pandemic.


Other

Telehealth services are being overwhelmed with a surge in patients that is stressing their technology and their supply of physicians. Cleveland Clinic reports a fifteen-fold increase in telehealth visits and is doing phone consults and recorded video visits to try to keep up. University of Pennsylvania has increased telehealth staffing from six to 60, but is running days behind, while Jefferson Health is receiving 20 times the number of virtual visits and is scrambling to enlist more doctors.

ProPublica looks at the role medical conferences have played in spreading COVID-19.

The New York Times calls the Zoom videoconferencing service “where we work, go to school, and party these days.” People are convening virtual birthday parties and cannabis hangouts, teens are referring to themselves as “Zoomers,” college students are using it for blind dates, it’s being used for virtual college graduations, and experts worry that it will turn into a Facebook-like cesspool of live online mass shootings and child porn that will force the company to moderate content. Zoom’s soaring share price values the company at $29 billion.


Sponsor Updates

  • Kyruus incorporates Gyant’s chat-based virtual assistant into its patient-provider routing and scheduling software.
  • Intelligent Medical Objects will release free COVID-19 terminology content and value sets to customers on March 26.
  • Omni-HealthData adds enhanced social determinants of health data to its health information management software.

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

125x125_2nd_Circle

Readers Write: COVID-19: You Aren’t Ready

March 19, 2020 Readers Write No Comments

COVID-19: You Aren’t Ready
By Jeremy Harper

Jeremy Harper, MBI is chief research information officer of Regenstrief Institute of Indianapolis, IN. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his personally and are not necessarily representative of current or former employers.

image

Chief research information officer means that I design systems to connect clinicians, research, and IT for a living. I’m paid to think outside the box. 

I’ve been tracking coronavirus since mid-January. I want to acknowledge as I write this that as of March 19, 2020 we have about 10,000 individuals in the US who have been identified with this disease. We are not at a crises today, but we might be in a week. About 3,000 new cases were identified yesterday.

Our health systems are built upon a tower of electronic assumptions for patient care, triage, and scheduling. If you review the CDC pandemic preparation documentation, we are focused on minimization of the event in lowering the curve. I’m calling on the IT and informatics Industry to look beyond minimization to what happens if we fail. We are not ready.

A crises of this magnitude brings us back to a simpler time, one that requires a massive streamlining. We’re seeing vendors begin to release capabilities for streamlined remote visits, but we need to be prepared internally for our health system operations.

We can’t just focus on how our back office connects remotely, because if the worst happens, our health administration will be ignored in favor of saving lives. We’re going to be rushing to convert swaths of our hospital beds to ICU beds like Italy has done, or creating new hospitals like China did. We are going to see all those beautiful individual rooms that have been built at hospitals over the past 30 years doubled up. 

This will be a new health system in a matter of days, and we have not designed our systems to deal with this. As an executive consultant, I’ve participated in pandemic preparedness and emergency drills in numerous health systems. We are suddenly faced with a situation that has the potential to dwarf the worst-case scenarios we have envisioned.

Almost every report that you have spent years building will suddenly become useless. They will be repurposed for decisions they weren’t intended to support. AI/ML won’t solve this one for you, because this is something new, something that will break every model we have worked to build.

Think about your automated systems to alert clinicians to close charts. If people are dying in the hallways, it doesn’t matter. Closing charts, filling in discrete fields (this one kills me as a researcher — we need discrete data desperately to identify best practices), and most clinical decision support suddenly go out the window.

I’ll take a personal example of what we’re about to face on the clinical and administrative front. My father had an esophagectomy about five months ago. They caught the cancer early. He was asymptomatic, aside from a cancer that was going to kill him. His 10-hour “elective” surgery might not be taking place or might be delayed right now as health systems gear up for COVID-19. He has had strictures (throat closing off) since the surgery. He has already been informed that they might cancel his next appointment (where they put him under and stretch his throat) depending on patient load due to COVID-19.

If we see mass cancellations of these an other “elective” process items, then we’re going to need better reports that prioritize patient rescheduling that is based on acuity rather than who gets on the phone and connects first, or who knows how to manipulate the scheduling system the best. This isn’t Ebola, where simple screening questions and changing our triage process will cut it.

What you can do now:

  • Start building reports to support your providers in triage to get the right people to the front of the line.
  • Identify how we’re going to support a world where we might ask the public to donate CPAP/BIPAPs to keep people breathing through the disease.
  • Stop assuming that you are dealing with a “business as usual, just remote” situation, and use this time to prepare for a world where the EMR is low on the priority list.
  • Work with researchers to identify the data we need to get treatment recommendations out to the world quickly.
  • Use your time and expertise to help groups in need.
  • Figure out your best practices and start telling people about the changes you are making.

I have a full-time job. I do executive consulting on the side. I have a beautiful three-year-old and a wife I love. I know how hard it is to find more time during an “all hands on deck” situation. We are all in this together. Let’s be ready.

Health System Frontline Reports and Tips – Coronavirus Response

March 19, 2020 News No Comments

A large Midwest health system with a medical school:

Optional daily huddle from noon to 1 p.m. Monday thru Friday. We are all working remotely and can’t walk to desks to have a conversation, but have new challenges. A dedicated time to discuss any concerns has helped many times.

Continuity of command structure. Statistics show that as much as 30% absence rates could be realized. We have been asked to document our command structure at least three levels deep.


A Boston health system:

A patient does not exist in Epic until they have a visit or a bed. With new tents being added, lobbies being bedded, and new ICU beds being planned, Epic builders and managers, physicians, and leadership are working overtime getting it all built.

The command center has been fully operational for nearly two weeks.

Telemedicine visits were built and rolled out in record time, hundreds and hundreds of them Monday.

I am not sure anyone outside of the Epic world understands how much work this takes,  but it has all come together safely with the hope of improving the health of well-being of our providers and patients. I’m sure Epic was busy themselves supporting us and all the other hospitals (and my Epic contact was working at home, btw).

Keep on keeping on. Endless time at home nowadays to work, work, work.


Small, rural health system in the Pacific Northwest:

Agility matters. Stay hyper-informed about what is going on locally and nationally. Literally try to guess what is going to happen next and keep planning for worst-case scenarios, which so far have been proven to be the case every time.

Keep it simple. A quickly deployed 60-70% solution is better than nothing at all. Suboptimal is the new normal.

Focus on telehealth. Our system has a limited number of providers who cover wide geographic areas. The fact that some of them are either infected or self-quarantined means we have to figure out how to get them to be able to have access to patients from wherever they’re located.

Expect and plan for a big support overhead with telehealth and work from home from all levels of IT. Set expectations on support levels, be transparent in how you’re prioritizing support, and be evangelical about focusing on providers and patients.

Expect all of your technology partners to be fairly overwhelmed. If you are looking for hardware, you are going to have to be creative in your sourcing. Don’t be too proud to reinstall decommissioned hardware or to move things around between environments to the most critical areas such as networking or desktop provisioning/support. Also, look to the cloud.

Stay engaged with your clinical and operational leadership. Force your way into any and all planning and response meetings, ask for a seat on all incident response teams, and continually give risk assessments and rational resource constraints.

Dust off your disaster plans and business continuity plans. They can be a great guide for remote workforce management. Keep your CISO and compliance officer close at hand. Don’t do anything stupid in your rush to facilitate what your clinical and operations leadership needs to accomplish.


We have been a user of Webex for years. Didn’t realize we had a limit of 200 users until we started doing town halls for staff. Have asked Cisco to expand to 1,000 users, which should be enough.


North Carolina health system spanning urban and rural areas:

Big investment in telehealth capability – network upgrades, training Investments in telework for non-essential personnel. Dashboards to track cases in house, pending tests, supply projections, vent availability.


Bay Area system:

It’s a strange mix of prepared process and optimistic feeling. We’re doing everything right – ramping up work from home, limiting visitor access, etc. But there’s still a general business-as-usual vibe from everyone that feels almost a little surreal for me. I get that it’s a lot better than blind panic, but it still makes me wonder how well everyone is going to mentally adjust in a few days when it gets really bad. Still, I’m happy to be somewhere that started taking precautions very early.

This is not the time to be particular about work from home. Everyone who can should, with as little “proving” and red tape as possible. Just do it! Maybe people will be less productive — there’s a pandemic on, that’s what happens. For essentials who need to be in, try to at least spread out the load so the density is lessened.

Make sure you know what your reporting looks like when you exceed bed capacity NOW, instead of learning as it happens. Be prepared for helpdesk to be a pinch poin, and try to find ways to lessen their burden by socializing fixes to common problems.


National hospital system:

This past weekend, we conducted an IT checkout process for 300+ employees to ensure staff who we are sending home were well prepared. Lots of them were familiar with email access, but less so with a soft phone Avaya routing of their desktop phone to their computer (avoids using a second port off your switch when forwarding phones directly) and various other IT tips. This avoided a flood of calls to the IT help desk, letting us take calls from our hospitals as normal.

From a cleaning perspective, we are just now purchasing relatively inexpensive dry hydrogen peroxide cleaning devices that can clean airborne and surface viruses and other contaminants. This should allow us to have increased safety in rooms vacated by patients positive with the virus.


EPtalk by Dr. Jayne 3/19/20

March 19, 2020 Dr. Jayne No Comments

clip_image002 

I was back in the clinical trenches today. At least in the urgent care world, it was eerily calm at times, although we did see some big rushes at the beginning of the day. People are getting the message to stay home, although some ventured out.

I want to offer some advice for those of you who need to seek medical care. First, this is not a time to take the family. If you need someone to drive you, great, but have them wait outside and not enter the facility. I saw two families today with multiple children in tow, but multiple parents. It would have been better if the second parent, who didn’t participate in the visit at all, remained in the car with the siblings.

Second, look out for your healthcare workers. If you see that something has gone wrong with their personal protective equipment, say something. Although I’m sure the worker in the picture above knows that their forearms are exposed, therefore defeating the point of a gown, maybe they would have done something different if a patient or co-worker had said something.

Third, please do not question why your provider is wearing a mask. We have our reasons, and some are personal health issues. We might also be protecting you from our cough or sneezing since it’s also allergy season. We are healthcare providers and you need to trust us to make decisions for our health and yours. I have had colleagues at other facilities that have been told they can’t wear masks because they’re “panic-inducing” for patients.

Many of your healthcare workers are terrified. If they wear the one crummy mask they have access to and have been wearing every day for a week, give them a break. Maybe they’re just scared because physicians in our area have already been infected.

Last, please think before you complain about wait times. You never know when the team is tied up transferring a critical patient to the hospital or doing another critical task, like starting the autoclave so we can get more instruments sterilized. For those patients who are coming in apologizing for being sick, it’s OK and you don’t need to apologize. That’s what we’re here for.

I was excited to hear announcements that licensure requirements for telehealth are going to be relaxed. The reality, though, is that it is on a state-by-state basis, and not all the states are playing along. I can see patients in Florida and North Carolina as well as the states where I have licenses, but we’re a long way from letting available physicians flex to cover the areas with the most need.

Most of the telehealth visits I’ve done in my off hours have been for routine things. Patients either don’t want to risk going to a physician’s office or the offices are overwhelmed and not keeping up with phone volumes. I handled some medication refills along with sinus infections, urinary tract infections, and pinkeye. These are routine things in primary care and I’m glad to be part of the solution as clinics struggle to cope with their new normal.

CMS has also relaxed telehealth rules for Medicare and Medicaid as far as which visits providers can bill. Medicaid is still subject to state regulation, so that might take time, just as with the state license issue. New federal policies also let clinicians use technology beyond established telehealth platforms, such as Apple’s FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Skype, and more .

clip_image004

Speaking of virtual care, I practiced some virtual self-care this week as my cello instructor moved my lessons online. I had to run a cable from my laptop to the router to make it work and we experienced some distortion of the sound when I was too close to the microphone, but it worked out well. I only started playing last summer, so I smiled when I saw this article about two young cellists who played a socially distant concert on the porch of their elderly neighbor. The article mentions that their repertoire included Suzuki Book 1 and Book 2. I’m just finishing the latter, so perhaps it’s time for a concert.

From Cultural Afficionado: “Re: Google Arts & Culture. I was led there by an article about virtual tours of museums around the world for folks who are self-quarantining (is that a proper verb?) While looking over the rest of the site, I found a ‘Spotlight on Shoes’ section that included this story, ‘Amazing Shoes of Turin.’ Enjoy, and thanks for your contributions to HIStalk!” I’ve been enjoying all kinds of virtual adventures as I force myself to take frequent breaks away from scientific articles and other reports about COVID-19. My favorite video is the one of the penguins at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, who were allowed to roam the building after it closed to visitors. We need a little levity in times like these, and penguins always get the job done.

From Homeward Bound: “Re: telecommuting. I work for a health plan with about 2,000 employees. The organization had very little telecommuting before this outbreak. This crisis has forced a huge amount of scrambling to get hardware to people who need it, and more importantly, get management to figure out how to manage people they don’t see on a daily basis. It will be very bumpy for the time that everyone is working remotely. Work will get done, but not as much as usual. It will be interesting to see whether the old-school leadership tries to put the genie back in the bottle once we don’t all have to be remote. The lack of telecommuting has been a real negative for recruiting for a long time.” I hope managers are keeping an eye on productivity because they might be surprised. Of course it varies from employee to employee, but some of us get much more done in a non face-to-face situation. I’m sure others have trouble focusing or maintaining the self-discipline needed to work remotely. Lack of childcare is another factor in this situation compared to other work from home efforts, so if productivity dips, I hope they don’t judge too harshly.

It’s time to announce the results of my virtual Shoe-A-Palooza and Sock-It-To-Me competitions. A single champion dominated in both categories — Dr. Nick van Terheyden. In his submission, he notes: “My Scottish Leather Ghillie Brogues. Not for the whole show, but for my now-cancelled Whisky Tasting at the NextGate booth on Tuesday.”

clip_image006

There’s a potential 18-month trajectory for the COVID-19 crisis, so let’s hope we get to see that ensemble at HIMSS21.

Email Dr. Jayne.

Morning Headlines 3/19/20

March 18, 2020 Headlines No Comments

RubiconMD Raises Another $18M to Connect Primary Care Physicians to Specialists

E-consult software vendor RubiconMD raises $18 million in a Series C funding round led by Deerfield Management.

Trump administration will allow doctors to practice across state lines to address pandemic

HHS will allow physicians to practice across state lines in an effort to prevent staffing shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A new app would say if you’ve crossed paths with someone who is infected

MIT and Harvard researchers develop an open-source app that tracks the movements of users and alerts them if they come near someone who has self-reported testing positive for the coronavirus.

HIStalk Interviews Jeffrey Wessler, MD, CEO, Heartbeat Health

March 18, 2020 Interviews No Comments

Jeffrey Wessler, MD, MPH is a practicing cardiologist, assistant clinical professor of medicine at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, and founder and CEO of Heartbeat Health of New York, NY.

image

Tell me about yourself and the company.

I’m a cardiologist by training. I started Heartbeat Health three years ago with goal of bringing a virtual care model to cardiovascular disease. Virtual care has evolved from telemedicine only as a platform, then urgent care chatbots, then some of the singular disease verticals such as diabetes. Now with Heartbeat Health, we have a chance to take on some serious disease processes, such as cardiovascular disease.

Little of a cardiology practice’s work is preventative, right?

That’s right. The majority of cardiovascular care happens after patients get sick. They get referred into the system after they have had a heart attack, uncontrolled blood pressure, or resistant symptoms. That made sense 20 years ago, when we really did need to focus our resources on treating those who had advanced disease.

But we’ve gotten pretty good at that as a field now. The advanced treatments are amazing and they work really well. The next phase, and where the ball is now, is now to keep people out of that advanced disease, emphasizing early disease management and prevention. That is the huge missing component with the care system.

Standalone healthcare apps tend to move the overall needle very little, so you have integrated your platform with your cardiology practice that provides the hands-on component. How do you see the company scaling?

What makes cardiology different than, say, weight loss management or exercise management is that these are really sick patients who need physical care. It’s this hybrid model of virtual when you can, digital when you can, but then get patients to the right care at the right time when they need it. 

By that, I mean the physical care environment for diagnostic testing, in-person evaluation, and hospitalization if needed. Being able to navigate between those two settings is really not done in the market right now. That’s our sweet spot — how to get people to the right place when they need it and everything else managed via the app.

You are offering services to employers and individuals. From the individual’s perspective, how would that work for someone who doesn’t live in New York City?

The best way to think of the New York office is as the test kitchen or the R&D lab for our clinical experience. But across the country, you would download the app, go through the risk assessment and data collection phase, undergo a tele-visit to speak with the doc and discuss the specific results — what the risk factors are, what they mean, and what the necessary next steps are. Then we would get you to a Heartbeat preferred partner who can do a stress test or arrhythmia monitoring as needed, then get that information back into the app for ongoing management.

The physical care happens very successfully in cardiology across the country. It’s just that too often, the wrong patients are getting to those doctors. By that, I mean not necessarily the right time or the right level of patient getting to the right specialist. That’s where we step in and say, it doesn’t matter where you are — California, Nebraska, Florida – the key step that we do is getting your data, interpreting it, organizing it, and then telling you and showing you where to go.

Do cardiology practices see Heartbeat Health as a competitor or a potential partner?

As a cardiologist, I’ve given a lot of thought to this. My goal is to become a partner for the highest quality cardiologists across the country. I have incredible respect and admiration for the level of work that’s being done. I want to make their practice habits better, faster, and easier, to trim some of the inefficiencies and administrative burden of what happens when you get the wrong patient and have to figure out parts of the care model that you’re not necessarily best at. Let’s focus you to get exactly who you want to be as a cardiologist and get you to do your best care. In that sense, I think Heartbeat really is a friend and a partner rather than taking business from them. We’re helping to augment their practices.

Will you integrate wearables, EKG, and monitoring solutions?

We are leaning heavily into the wearables and the device landscape. This is such an exciting part of the field right now. We have all of these consumer devices — the Apple Watch, AliveCor, Omron blood pressure cuffs – and cardiologists don’t really know what to do with that information yet. There are now hundreds of thousands of patients with Apple EKGs who are asking, what does this information mean?

This plays a role in how we find the high-risk individuals based on those wearables, identify what that information means for their care pathway, and determine when it’s relevant. This is a layer of service that is being provided on top of the devices to cut out some of the unnecessary data, focus on the relevant and important ones, and then use it to help people and help patients get into the right care.

Atrial fibrillation is probably the highest profile cardiac condition now that consumer devices like the Apple Watch and AliveCor issue warnings to users. How do you manage those newly worried consumers?

This is a very hot topic right now. You are wise to be identifying it as a real issue. The first answer is, we don’t know yet what to do with asymptomatic patients who are being diagnosed with AFib because of an Apple Watch or an AliveCor. All of the guidelines for stroke prevention and heart rate and rhythm control have been done in patients in whom we know that the atrial fibrillation is causing problems. That is mainly symptomatic patients, those with elevated stroke risk due to age or comorbid conditions, high blood pressure, diabetes, and prior strokes. These patients are fundamentally different than an otherwise healthy person who is being diagnosed with AFib through a screening device.

This group needs to studied rigorously, and Apple is working on that. They just launched their first important study, the Heartline study, which is focused on older adults wearing Apple watches and what to do with those who are diagnosed with AFib.

But our best guess of what to do with the younger population is to take the arrhythmia or the AFib that is diagnosed by the Apple Watch and use it to focus on modifiable risk factor controls. Make sure blood pressure stays controlled, make sure cholesterol stays controlled, make sure these patients are exercising and eating well so they don’t develop diabetes. In that sense, use AFib more or less like a elevated risk factor that gives us indication of a higher risk of cardiovascular events or heart disease, but one that we can work hard on reducing if we can control everything else that’s modifiable.

Health apps often fail to change user behavior and are abandoned quickly once the novelty wears off. Do you have an advantage in having self-selected people with cardiology concerns, or do you need to use psychology to keep them interested?

I am a huge skeptic of behavior change apps. I think they have proven time and time again that they can work for very short periods of time, but have no sustained, long-term results.

My hypothesis, and where Heartbeat stands in this challenging landscape, is that it is important to establish a care environment. In particular, a patient-doctor relationship, in which an expert in the field with clinical experience can discuss one-on-one with a patient – face-to-face in our case — what your specific risk factors are, what they mean, why they affect the heart, and based on thousands of patients before you, what happens if left uncontrolled.

The tele-visit sets the stage for downstream adherence, engagement, and going to follow-up appointments and diagnostics. It’s a relationship-based intervention, not dissimilar to coaching, but we think of it as clinical coaching. Patients are more likely to do something and to follow through into care when the doctor explains the importance or the relevance of this condition rather than just an app popping up and saying that it’s time to stand up, go for a run, and eat well.

How does the model work from an insurance perspective?

By being an enterprise-based business model where the self-insured employer or the payer is sponsoring this as a benefit, we refer to people within that network. The advantage of that is that we can focus on finding providers that are doing high-quality care. For us, that means following evidence based-guidelines. Not using the diagnostics that will net them the most fee-for-service money, but the ones that are appropriate based on conditions and risk factors. In doing so, this is the classic value-based play to the payer. We can improve outcomes at a reduced cost, and therefore by starting with Heartbeat, we can guarantee a value-based process, lower events at lower costs.

Will be be a challenge to accumulate enough outcomes evidence to get employers to have confidence that their cost of offering the service will be offset by benefits?

Wellness interventions are in a rocky territory right now. Most people are getting wise to the fact that they don’t really provide clinical benefit. We take that head on by saying, if you want to provide clinical benefit, go after the people that you can demonstrate clinical outcomes on.

Our first layer is to identify those high-risk patients. This is the hot-spotting concept. It has come under fire a little bit lately because the data is not necessarily bearing out what everyone thought would be the case. But for cardiovascular disease, if you take high-risk people and those with comorbid conditions and elevated cardiovascular risk if not early disease, those are 100% the people who are leaving to the cost centers of these healthcare employers and payers with heart attacks, arrhythmias, heart failures, hypertensive crises, and ED visits for chest pain. These are very predictable numbers. If you can get ahead of it and get these patients early care, we can predictably reduce those episodes. That comes with really tremendous cost savings.

Do you have any final thoughts?

The landscape of digital health is changing. We have landed at a place where wellness and digital solutions are coming under fire. The disease-specific ones are starting to work, mostly in the diabetes prevention space, but we are left with this next era of digital management, which is, what do we do when patients actually get sick and need, quote, “traditional healthcare?”

This is the area that I’m incredibly excited about and that Heartbeat Health is taking on. When patients move from digital-only solutions into the traditional care system as they’re getting sicker, how can we get in there and try to halt the disease progression process, provide some online app-based and virtual touches to early care and early progressive management so that we can prevent these outcomes? This will be the next decade of digital healthcare, using it to manage those patients who need it the most.

Morning Headlines 3/18/20

March 17, 2020 Headlines No Comments

Notification of Enforcement Discretion for telehealth remote communications during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency

HHS OCR will not assess penalties on providers who use non-compliant communication technologies to provide telehealth services during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

As Coronavirus Spreads, a Telemedicine Company Raises $60M

AmWell raises $60 million in equity, according to a recent SEC filing.

Medicare Telemedicine Health Care Provider Fact Sheet

CMS issues a fact sheet on how Medicare will pay for virtual services during the pandemic.

LOINC Prerelease Terms

LOINC publishes codes for COVID-19 lab testing.

News 3/18/20

March 17, 2020 News 1 Comment

Top News

SNAGHTML6f4ec04

HHS OCR won’t assess penalties on providers who use non-HIPAA compliant communication technologies to provide telehealth services during the COVID-19 public health emergency. This relaxation of rules applies to all healthcare services, not just those that are related to COVID-19.

Providers can use any form of personal audio or video communication, such as FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, and Skype.

Telehealth services may not be delivered via public-facing apps like Facebook Live, Twitch, and TikTok.


Reader Comments

From Convener: “Re: conference bridges. Is anyone reporting that they are giving busy signals?” The free services like the one I use – which make money by charging AT&T using a “last mile” telecommunications loophole that AT&T hates passionately – have complained that AT&T has blocked their customers from using the conferencing services following an FCC rule change. I haven’t heard anything otherwise. The demands placed on videoconferencing services for online meetings and education must be incredible, leading to rampant (but unfounded so far) speculation that they will “break the Internet,” along with heavy use of streaming video and audio by folks newly assigned to work from home. Microsoft Teams went offline for several hours on Europe’s first work-from-home day.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

image

Poll respondents said they want to see more COVID-19 news and reports from the field on HIStalk. I’ll tread lightly in covering just the most important items.

image

I’ll add the COVID-19 items as a separate section and continue soliciting reports from the field, as on my open survey. It would be great to get provider entries that could benefit a lot of patients and healthcare workers.

I was thinking as I saw photos of under-40 folks packing bars, concerts, and beaches that perhaps they are frustratingly uninformed or irresponsible, but then I went to the dark side and pictured them convening  “boomer remover” gatherings to exploit their lower coronavirus mortality risk to extract revenge on their elders for mismanaging their economic or environmental futures. I bet Stephen King is working on that novel as we speak.


Webinars

March 25 (Wednesday) 1 ET: “Streamlining Your Surgical Workflows for Better Financial Outcomes.” Sponsor: Intelligent Medical Objects. Presenters: David Bocanegra, RN, nurse informaticist, IMO; Alex Dawson, product manager, IMO. Health systems that struggle with coordinating operating rooms and scheduling surgeries can increase their profitability with tools that allow for optimal reimbursement. This webinar will identify practices to optimize OR workflows and provider reimbursement, discuss how changes to perioperative management of procedures can support increased profitability, and explore factors that can impede perioperative workflow practices.

March 26 (Thursday) 12:30 ET. “How to Use Automation to Reduce ‘My EHR is Slow’ Complaints.” Sponsor: Goliath Technologies. A common challenge is that a clinician is ready to work, but their technology is not. EHRs can be slow, logins not working, or printers and scanners are offline. Troubleshooting these end user tickets quickly is nearly impossible, especially in complex environments that might include Citrix or VMware Horizon. This webinar will present real-world examples of how leading health systems are using purpose-built technology with embedded automation and intelligence to proactively anticipate, troubleshoot, and prevent end user performance issue across their IT infrastructure and EHRs.

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

I’m studiously avoiding watching the stock market, especially when it comes to my 401(k), but here’s how some publicly traded health IT-related stocks have performed over the past month, compared to the big market indices (at Tuesday morning’s market pre-open):

  1. Teladoc (up 4%)
  2. Premier (up 3%)
  3. NantHealth (down 18%)
  4. Vocera (down 18%)
  5. Cerner (down 21%)
  6. Livongo (down 26%)
  7. McKesson (down 28%)
  8. Nasdaq composite (down 29%)
  9. S&P 500 (down 29%)
  10. Dow Jones Industrial Average (down 31%) 
  11. CPSI (down 32%)
  12. Nuance (down 35%)
  13. Inovalon (down 35%)
  14. Allscripts (down 41%)
  15. Health Catalyst (down 43%)
  16. Castlight Health (down 44%)
  17. Change Healthcare (down 45%)
  18. NextGen Healthcare (down 53%)
  19. Evolent Health (down 68%)

An investor’s New York Times opinion piece predicts big problems for companies that piled up debt when borrowing was cheap, with the pandemic-demolished sectors of auto, hospitality, and transportation being the worst offenders. The author also says that companies that have been taken private by private equity firms carry debt averaging six times their earnings, leading to “zombie” companies that don’t generate enough profit to pay even the interest alone.  


Announcements and Implementations

image

LOINC publishes codes for COVID-19 lab testing.

image

OptimizeRx launches a free consumer text message alert program that delivers CDC-issued COVID-19 information to any SMS-enabled device. Text VIRUS to 55150.

Collective Medical offers free use of its ADT-based collaboration network through the end of 2020 to help with COVID-19 response. Healthcare organizations can go live on its lightweight solution in less than one week without cost or obligation for the rest of the year. It offers frontline providers quick identification of high-risk patients.

Asparia develops a COVID-19 tool for Epic App Orchard that contains three elements: a chatbot appointment scheduler, a patient questionnaire that alerts staff of possible infection risk, and enhanced appointment reminders that can extend character limits to allow including enhanced education and instruction. The app won’t be listed on App Orchard for several weeks, but can be requested through Epic or Asparia.

T-System will provide free influenza and COVID-19 T Sheets to providers that include point-of-care documentation, diagnosis, and treatment tools that incorporate the latest CDC guidelines. Templates are available for ED, pediatric ED, and urgent care.

Bluetree publishes a COVID-19 resource page that includes ideas for leading remote projects, developing reporting functionality, and clinical decision support build workflow.

Healthwise creates a Coronavirus Resource Center of consumer-friendly educational information and care instructions that are free to all.

Meditech offers Expanse Ambulatory customers use of its Scheduled Virtual Visits functionality for six months at no charge.

image

The White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy joins Microsoft, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and other groups to create a COVID-19 open research dataset of scholarly literature. The groups have issued a challenge for AI experts to develop text and data mining techniques to help scientists answer high-priority COVID-19 questions.


Government and Politics

image

CMS issues a fact sheet on how Medicare will pay for virtual services during the pandemic. Medicare can pay for office, hospital and other visits via telehealth, unlike previously when those visits were covered only for patients in rural areas. Payment will be the same as for in-person visits.

Hackers attack HHS’s computer network in what insiders say was an attempt to undermine the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. It appears to have been a distributed denial of service attacked that was quickly stopped.


COVID-19 News

image

England’s Imperial College COVID-19 response team self-publishes a paper whose impact is reverberating around the US and UK, with the White House getting an early look a week ago that may have influenced its 180-degree turnaround in how the pandemic is viewed and managed. The team describes two strategies for the two countries: mitigation (flattening the curve to reduce peak healthcare system demand) and suppression (reversing growth and case numbers in an indefinite program will awaiting development of a vaccine). Summary points:

  • Mitigation, such as home isolation of suspected cases and social distancing of high-risk people – is not preferred. It could reduce peak healthcare demand by two-thirds and cut deaths in half, but would still result in hundreds of thousands of deaths and overwhelmed hospitals, particularly in terms of ICU beds.
  • Suppression, as was practiced in China, requires social distancing of the entire population, home isolation of cases, and household quarantines, possibly supplemented with closing all schools. The practice would need to continue until a vaccine can be developed and produced in adequate quantity to treat the entire population, which could take 18 months or more. A compromise may be to regionally relax and tighten social distancing based on public surveillance case numbers.
  • In the absence of any action, the computer model suggests that peak US deaths will occur in June, 81% of the population will be infected, and 2.2 million people will die (not counting those whose deaths from other causes are related to overwhelmed hospitals). ICU bed capacity will be exhausted by the second week of April and demand will peak at 30 times the available number of ICU beds.
  • A strong surge is likely again in the fall, so action now is urgent.

The government of Spain temporarily nationalizes all of the country’s hospitals and private health providers.

image

A hospital in northern Italy whose supplier ran out of oxygen mask valves uses 3D printing to create its own. The original is on the left, the 3D printed version is on the right.

A Premier survey of 179 skilled nursing / assisted living facilities finds that two-thirds of them can’t get personal protective equipment such as masks and face shields. Distributors have addressed shortages by allowing customers to buy quantities consistent with their historic usage to prevent hoarding, but many senior living facilities have never needed any until now and thus can’t get any.

Positive news:

  • Scientists across the world are anecdotally reporting preliminary, sporadic success in treating COVID-19 with old drugs that were developed for something else. That’s a common story in pharma, and while individual patient impact may be limited, such treatment carries minimal risk and – like the HIV/AIDS fight in the 1980s and cancer today – provides encouragement that progress can be made even in the absence of guaranteed prevention or a complete cure.
  • Regeneron says it plans to start widespread testing of an antibody treatment by summer. Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD urges a “Manhattan-style project” to accelerate the rollout of this and similar antivirals that could be first used to protect healthcare workers and high-risk people.
  • China and South Korea are reporting greatly diminished numbers of new cases, although their success is attributed to widespread testing and social limitation that was not done in the US.
  • High-throughput testing systems are coming online in the US, with the new rate-limiting item being the supply chain for reagents and swabs.
  • The US Army’s advanced medical technology group publishes a pre-solicitation notice for developing COVID-19 testing technology, studying repurposed drugs that could offer effective treatment, creating AI models that can track spread, and implementing patient monitoring technologies.
  • Scott Gottlieb concludes, “We’ll remember spring of 2020 as a very hard time. It’ll change the way we do things, but it will end either by nature or at hand of our technology. We’ll get through this together.”

Other

image

I ran across the COVID-19 online screening tool of Medical City Healthcare (TX), which offers a slick questionnaire powered by Zipnosis. I intentionally answered just enough questions positively to make my diagnosis uncertain, after which it offered one-click access to a free online virtual visit for screening. Medical City Virtual Care offers visits for minor conditions such as pink eye, lower back pain, diarrhea, and yeast infection for $45. I saw it from the consumer’s point of view and was impressed.

image

Nashville-based Center for Medical Interoperability was awarded a $3 million grant from the CDC last year to extract EHR information from hospitals that would allow CDC to monitor the inventory and demand for personal protective equipment, but hospitals haven’t been willing participants. According to Melanie Thomas, CIO of pilot site Nashville General Hospital, “It’s difficult and scary sometimes to share data and equipment, especially with your competitors, because you want to have the advantage.” She says it’s easier for her taxpayer-funded hospital to share information because they don’t have the money to stockpile masks and gowns anyway. CDC has added $600,000 to the project’s funding and is hoping for an accelerated go-live schedule starting in May, with participation optional.

image

Cerner announces the actions it is taking in response to COVID-19, including creation of a client update web page:

  • Employees who jobs allow them to work from home are asked to do so from March 16-30, with extensions possible.
  • Offices will remain open for employees who need to be physically present, but social distancing strategies will be implemented.
  • No non-critical and international travel is allowed.
  • Employees who are returning from high-risk locations or cruises are required to work from home for two weeks.
  • Critical travel will continue for clients who want Cerner people on site, but higher-risk employees (over 60, immunocompromised, those with chronic conditions, and those exposed to high-risk others) have been asked to avoid travel.
  • A COVID-19 update has been pushed to Millennium clients, while Soarian clients already have strong communicable disease screening tools.
  • Ready-to-use, staffed telehealth services will be offered to clients via Amwell.

image

The local paper profiles Sentara Healthcare professional development specialist Heike Nicks, MSN, RN, who worked with IT and nursing employees to automate the process of screening newborns for inherited disease, including sending blood samples to the state lab and getting results back within five days. She got the idea from a commercial product, but Sentara ended up enhancing its EHR to collect the needed information and to process secure messages.

Newport, OR’s police department urges residents to stop calling 911 when they run out of toilet paper. The department added a lengthy, humorous list of alternatives.


Sponsor Updates

  • Integration technology vendor Summit Healthcare partners with data management vendor BridgeHead Software to offer healthcare data extraction and consolidation services.
  • The Jacksonville Business Journal profiles The HCI Group’s hiring and expansion plans.
  • KLAS recognizes Imprivata as one of the 2019 “Revenue Cycle Unicorns” in its latest performance report.
  • Omni-HealthData parent company Information Builders embraces FHIR to harness and harmonize data across healthcare systems.
  • OptimizeRx offers a free interactive text message alert program that delivers COVID-19 information issued by the CDC.
  • Netsmart postpones its Connections 2020 event originally scheduled for March 29-April 1 in Denver.
  • Avaya offers complimentary work-from-anywhere contact center solutions to help address COVID-19 challenges.
  • CompuGroup Medical offers its CGM ELVI Telemedicine service for free to medical providers.

Blog Posts


button


Contacts

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

125x125_2nd_Circle

Morning Headlines 3/17/20

March 16, 2020 Headlines No Comments

Alphabet’s Verily launches a limited coronavirus screening website

Verily pilots a COVID-19 resource, screening, and testing website for Google account holders in the San Francisco Bay Area who agree to sharing some of their data with the company.

Cyber-Attack Hits U.S. Health Agency Amid Covid-19 Outbreak

HHS recovers from a Sunday cyberattack in which its servers were overloaded with hits over the course of several hours.

Tempus Announces $100 Million in Series G Financing

Cancer-focused precision medicine company Tempus will use a $100 million investment to expand into new consumer markets and offerings for diabetes, depression, and cardiology.

Telemedicine companies are struggling to serve ‘extreme volumes’ of patients as coronavirus calls surge

Patients face virtual care delays as telemedicine companies experience IT glitches and staffing shortages due to COVID-19-related visits.

With launch of COVID-19 data hub, the White House issues a ‘call to action’ for AI researchers

The federal government releases the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset, a machine-readable collection of constantly updated scientific literature that health officials hope AI researchers will use to uncover new insights into COVID-19’s incubation, treatment, symptoms, and prevention.

What Are Your Health System’s Coronavirus Reports and Tips?

March 16, 2020 News No Comments

image

The US healthcare system is reacting to the coronavirus threat. For those who work in health systems, what have you learned, what IT advice can you share, and what are you seeing from the front lines?

Curbside Consult with Dr. Jayne 3/16/20

March 16, 2020 Dr. Jayne 4 Comments

Mr. H recently published a reader comment that asked for more COVID-19 news that isn’t necessarily healthcare IT specific. While he waits for responses to his poll about the issue, I’m going to go with the leading response and share some reports from the field.

The American Medical Association recently published “A physician’s guide to COVID-19” that I will use it as the framework for some comments. Before I begin, please note that the comments below are not necessarily my own. Some have been culled from my personal Facebook feed, text messages, and chats with friends. All are presented anonymously. They are the words or thoughts of the individual physicians, nurses, medics, techs, and frontline folks and in no way reflect the opinions of their employers. Readers, please excuse my digression from the usual, because what we are experiencing right now is anything but usual.

Communicate your COVID-19 updates and details about your preparedness plan with both staff and patients.

  • OMG, the president of our medical group just went on TV and bragged about our testing capabilities at the same time an email went out to the staff that said that we were not telling the public we could test. #cluster
  • TV reporter knew more about hospital plan than MDs did.
  • Admin is more focused on updating the EHR (which they did without telling us, then had to roll it back, then updated again without so much as an email). Makes us feel unstable and vulnerable and we don’t need that right now.

Take measures to keep “Persons Under Investigation” (PUI) and others with suspected COVID-19 symptoms separate from the rest of your patients.

  • We are a walk-in facility and we don’t know whether a person is high risk until they’re at the front desk with the receptionist. They are taken to the first available exam room and the door is marked with a Post-it to let people know they’re high risk. The medical assistant and physician who see the patient put their initials on the Post-it so that no one else inadvertently walks in. Anyone else think this crazy low tech? What if the sticky falls off?
  • Our office canceled all well visits and are seeing sick only. They have to call and be triaged by RN or provider. They wait in their cars and we text them when they can come in.
  • It’s still flu season. Who has symptoms that DON’T look like coronavirus?

The CDC recommends specific measures to minimize the spread of infection that include: proper use of PPE, including eye protection.

  • LOL! We haven’t reliably had masks in clinic since February. Admin seems to think that outpatient departments don’t see sick people. No gowns and no face shields, either. Other hospitals have drive-through testing clinics with nurses in full PPE reaching through car windows. We’re swabbing patients in our street clothes. No showers at work and nowhere to change. Most of us are stripping in our garages before going straight to a hot shower at home. I haven’t seen an N-95 mask since residency.
  • Why do nurses in China have three layers of protective gear but I can’t get a disposable gown?

Misinformation about COVID-19 is being shared across social medial and other platforms at alarming speed. Physicians have a duty to correct dangerous and misleading myths that could harm patients’ health. Read the biggest misconceptions.

  • I continue to encounter people who think this is all media hype or a political tool. Do they really think that millions of people in Italy give a damn if this makes Trump or anyone else look bad?
  • OMG. If I see one more post about “quarantine babies” nine months from now, I want to scream. As an OB/GYN, does anyone remember Zika Virus? We don’t know what this virus will do to a developing fetus. Use protection, people!

I worked today, and it was a rough one. Although patient volumes were (thankfully) down by about one-third, nearly every visit involved an in-depth discussion about risk factors for coronavirus infection. I had to counsel multiple patients that they should not go visit their grandparents or other elders, even if feeling well. Probably half of them seemed to take my advice, the other half plan to do it anyway.

People were still asking if they should take spring break trips, despite footage of the crushes of travelers at O’Hare and DFW airports all over the news. Friends texted from Colorado, miffed that the ski resorts were closed. I mentioned that hospitals there are communicating with physicians that they are past containment in the state, moving to a strategy of mitigation, where only hospitalized patients would be tested. It will just be assumed that symptomatic patients have it and need to be quarantined and managed at home if they are well enough. Patients are upset that elective procedures have been canceled, and apparently Sunday at the urgent care is the place they have chosen to try to get their issues addressed.

We’re still in early days with this pandemic in the US and the stress levels I’m seeing are off the charts. People are using humor to try to get through, but as a veteran of a Level 1 trauma ED, I can tell it’s a mask for some who are really scared. I’m in a lower acuity setting now, but I can’t imagine what this is going to look like over the next 30 days.

Workers in non-healthcare environments are also stressed, including supermarket employees and restaurant workers. Parents don’t know what they’re going to do for childcare when schools close. People living paycheck to paycheck don’t have the means to stock up on supplies. Han Solo would definitely have a bad feeling about this one. I’m sure we’ll all find our new normal, but it’s going to take some time.

I had intended to judge the results of the non-HIMSS shoe and sock contests tonight, but after I came home, worked through my well-planned decontamination routine, and then discovered my hot shower would be hampered by a broken shower head that was akin to standing under a garden hose, I was just done. I have plenty to be grateful for – I’m not working the intensive care unit, I’m not working a big-city trauma service, and at least part of the time I can work from home. I have plenty of non-perishable food and I know how to recognize good leaves and bad leaves in case I need to operate without toilet paper. My sense of humor is still intact, or at least I hope so.

What has changed in your life in a post-COVID world? Leave a comment or email me.

button

Email Dr. Jayne.

HIStalk Interviews Jay Desai, CEO, PatientPing

March 16, 2020 Interviews No Comments

Jay Desai, MBA is co-founder and CEO of PatientPing of Boston, MA.

image

Tell me about yourself and the company.

I’m CEO and co-founder of PatientPing. Prior to starting this company, I worked at Medicare at the Innovation Center and helped support many of the value-based care initiatives there – ACOs, bundled payments, and a number of the new payment models.

I started this company in September 2013. PatientPing is a care coordination platform. We have a number of products. Our flagship product, Pings, delivers real-time event notification when patients have admissions, discharges, and transfers at emergency rooms, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, home health agencies, and a number of other sites of care.

How widely are ADT notifications being used?

It has really matured as an industry and as a problem that is being solved across the country. For several types of organizations, ADT notifications are becoming a critical part of their infrastructure to do their work. Accountable care organizations, in particular, those that serve Medicare and Medicaid patients that have frequent visits to the emergency room or the hospital. On the Medicare side, skilled nursing facilities, home health agencies, and other post-acute care providers. I don’t know if I could say explicitly the majority, but a large number of ACOs are using event notifications to do their care coordination activities.

A lot of the opportunities for medical management, improvement of quality, and cost savings tends to be when patients are repeat visitors to the emergency room. That’s an opportunity to prevent a subsequent ED visit by engaging them in after-hours primary care, urgent care, and things like that. At least informing them that that’s available to them to avoid a future visit.

Then on the post-acute care side, there are opportunities to reduce skilled nursing length of stay and have patients treated in home care as opposed to skilled nursing. Those are cost savings opportunities in lower-acuity settings for patients to get the same amount of recovery or hopefully the same speed to recovery. Those alerts are important to be able to trigger those workflows that drive the care coordination that ultimately drives the outcomes.

That’s on the ACO side. More broadly than that, health plans are using notifications. Primary care groups often are doing it for their transition of care activities. Hospitals are using it for their readmission reduction activities. Bundled payment organizations are using it for some of their initiatives. But I think we’re seeing the most widespread adoption among ACOs.

How has your solution avoided being bogged down in the competitive, technical, and cost issues that have hampered interoperability in general?

The need was apparent to me seven or eight years ago. ACOs that we were supporting were very keen to know when their patients went to different providers. I wouldn’t say that it was widespread, commonly accepted, or appreciated that hospitals didn’t feel that it was competitive information that they were sharing, say, with a competitor hospital that had a value-based care program.

Say you’re a big health system within a region. Your patient goes to your #1 competitor within the region. Then that competitor has patients that come to your hospital. In the early days of trying to build this organization, it wasn’t the easiest conversation to convince both of them to share ADT feeds, even though it is just ADT feeds and it’s a pretty lightweight set of information. That kind of notification is already happening, often between hospitals and primary care providers. But it wasn’t that easy.

It has gotten easier over time, where people say, I’m OK with sharing ADT because I need to receive that information, recognizing that I probably need to give it up if I’m going to receive it. We’ve had this conversation with thousands of hospitals many, many, many times over the years. The industry has evolved to the place where there’s more comfort doing it.

Some groups in many parts of the country still aren’t that excited or comfortable with notifying the community PCP, their competitors’ PCPs, or value-based care organizations that they have one of their patients. But it’s a lot more common and folks are more willing to do it.

You had a limited rollout the last time we spoke three years ago. Now that you have established the network and created trust, will you wrap more services around that same connectivity that you use for Pings?

The business has matured quite a bit. We have ADT feeds from over 1,000 hospitals across the country of a denominator of 4,000 to 5,000. We have about 4,000 to 5,000 post-acute care providers that are providing us their ADTs, skilled nursing and home health. That’s the senders of ADT.

We have close to 1,000 provider organizations receiving electronic notifications. That includes ACOs, health plans, Federally Qualified Health Centers, and post-acute providers that have an interest in knowing when the patients go to those 1,000 hospitals and 4,000 to 5,000 post-acute providers. They represent over 10 million patients. The business has scaled quite a bit. We have encounters that are being tracked by providers across the country, at sites across the country. It’s kind of neat to see the network grow.

We think about the future as this. ADT is a really great data source. Every ADT is an opportunity to help a patient who is having an emergency room visit, is being hospitalized or discharged, or is being transitioned to a skilled nursing facility. Every one of those encounters is an opportunity to wrap around products and services to ensure that the care transition is happening more safely and smoothly.

As an example, a patient shows up in the ER. We may know that they have had several other ED visits, they may have had prior utilization of a skilled nursing facility, they’re currently on VNA, or they have an affiliation with an ACO care program. The care coordinator at the hospital or the emergency room is left with the decision of how to best support that transition of care. We think that with the historical context we have on that patient, some of the knowledge we know about their whereabouts, can support that care manager’s decision on what to do next. That could be supporting a care transition and linking that patient into the care program that is most beneficial to them. That could come through a range of products and services.

We are excited to be able to continue to make sure that every one of those admits and discharges and the subsequent care they receive is high quality and safe.

What are hospitals required to do with notifications under the new CMS rule?

The CMS rule contains a number of provisions. The one that we’re focused on is the conditions of participation for electronic notification. They are requiring all hospitals, psych hospitals, and critical access hospitals that have a certified electronic medical record system to provide notification of admit, discharge, and transfer, at both the emergency room and the inpatient setting, to the patient’s care team. They are very specific in terms of what is considered the patient’s established care team. They are also very specific about the information that must be included in that notification.

One key provision is a six-month implementation timeline. Hospitals need to have a system to provide these notifications by September 9, 2020.

How would they meet the requirements without using PatientPing?

Hospitals will have two categories of notification recipients. One is the patient-identified practitioner. A patient comes to the hospital and says, “My doctor is Dr. Desai.” The hospital has the burden to send the notification to that particular provider. That typically happens through EHR workflows. The EHR will have an active directory where they can look up the email address or other provider contact information and then send the notification through.

That often happens at discharge through the transition of care document, the CCD. There are established workflows to send ADT alerts to the patient’s designated provider. Companies like ours don’t necessarily help with that. EHRs typically do a pretty good job with sending those notifications directly, as identified by the patient.

This rule includes a second category, recipients who have a need to receive the notifications for the purpose of treatment care coordination and quality improvement. They narrow it even further to say entities affiliated with the patient’s primary care practitioner as well as post-acute service providers and suppliers with whom the patient has an established care relationship. Entities affiliated with the patient’s primary care providers will include groups like their primary care practice. Their affiliated accountable care organization that is a function of their primary care relationship. It may include groups like their Federally Qualified Health Centers or the independent physician association that their primary care provider is a part of.

Hospitals will need the capability to deliver notifications to those groups. That is different than just sending a notification to the patient’s designated doctor. It’s more driven by a roster or a panel. If I’m the ACO, I may have a roster of patients and I want to watch the ADT notifications that are being rendered. I then want to do a match between those two and then send a notification.

To do that, a hospital probably will benefit from having essentially a router of those ADTs that can compare the list of patients against those ADT messages that are to be generated. They may need more than one router. They may send their data to their HIE that delivers data locally within their region. They may send their data to a national network like ours that provides notifications outside of their state. Or they may have their router point the data to wherever it needs to go. But there are a number of stakeholders that may be out there in the communities surrounding the hospital that have an interest in knowing when the patient shows up at that hospital, and they have a valid reason to do that.

This will be particularly relevant for some of the larger academic medical centers that are referral sites for many patients across the country. Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, and Hospital for Special Surgery receive patients from all over the country. There may be providers out there in the community who have an interest in knowing that the patient is presenting at that particular hospital. Service providers can help route that notification through to the various endpoints where it needs to go.

Do you have any final thoughts?

The CMS and ONC operability rules are totally groundbreaking. I’m excited about what they will do for patient care. CMS and ONC had a lot of hard decisions to make, and I’m impressed by their commitment to supporting patient care, care coordination, and quality improvement. Many hospitals have been thinking about this and putting solutions in place.

We think this will create a broader national framework under which this information is going to flow. We’re excited about that. We’re excited to support it and be part of the solution. Obviously we won’t be the only solution. We’re excited to be part of this solution and we think that there’s going to be a lot of good things that happen for patient care as a result.

We’ve been committed to this mission for a very long time. ACOs, provider groups, and health systems are doing a lot of really hard work to try to support patient care. Data is often at the center of that strategy, or is at least part of the strategy. Being able to facilitate these care transitions with more real-time data sharing across all the different places that patients might go will do a lot to support care. I’m excited to be part of the solution and the momentum that will come with it.

Morning Headlines 3/16/20

March 15, 2020 Headlines No Comments

New CPT code announced to report novel coronavirus test

The American Medical Association creates a CPT 2021 code for the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus, which will allow tracking of cases.

WebMD Acquires the StayWell Company

WebMD Health acquires Merck subsidiary The StayWell Company, which offers employee well-being, patient education, and patient engagement platforms.

Hartford HealthCare will bring 700 jobs to downtown Hartford and build new venture studio in $24 million renovation of office complex

Hartford Healthcare (CT) will spend $14 million to develop a new access center that will coordinate care and schedule appointments for patients across its 400 locations, pilot a telehealth urgent care clinic, and house an incubator space for healthcare startups. 

Epic Systems cancels spring XGM conference that draws thousands

Epic cancels its Experts Group Meeting (XGM) 2020, which was expected to draw 9,000 attendees to Epic’s Verona, WI campus April 27 – May 8.

Cerner employees to work remotely

Cerner tells employees who can do so to work remotely until March 30, adding that its offices will remain open with social-distancing policies to employees whose work requires them to be on site.

Monday Morning Update 3/16/20

March 15, 2020 News 27 Comments

Top News

image

The American Medical Association creates a CPT 2021 code for the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus, which will allow tracking of cases. The code is available for immediate use.

AMA has also published “A Physician’s Guide to COVID-19.”

CDC and AMA have published a video interview with a highly cited physician who heads a hospital’s anesthesia and ICU departments in northern Italy. The interview calls out the death rate they have seen in Italy, which is minimal for younger people, but jumps to 8% for those aged 60-69, 34% for those 70-79, 44% for 80-89, and a likely statistical aberration of just 9.3% for those patients over 90. The doctor’s takeaway message is to increase ICU and ventilator beds now.


Reader Comments

From Beyond the Pale: “Re: Epic’s announcement to employees. Here’s the full text. Epic’s failure to invest appropriately in collaboration tools and its reliance on physical proximity positions them poorly to work from home. I worked several years for Epic in a leadership role, where I ardently defended them, but this is disappointing to see.” The email says those employees who can report to work on campus should do so. If that isn’t possible, then work from home is allowed for the two weeks starting Monday, March 16, but customer issues, project readiness meetings, or internal meetings may require coming to campus. The message seems mixed – you can work from home if you can’t come to campus, but you might have to come to campus anyway.

image

From Joyous Boys: “Re: COVID-19. I would like to see you include more news about it that isn’t necessarily health IT specific.” Jenn told me she thinks it is a bit tone-deaf to stay in our non-COVID lane when we are pretty good at extracting truly insightful or newsworthy items. My counterpoint is that even though we stay on top of COVID-19 news that we could summarize efficiently, that kind of information is amply available elsewhere. I will let readers decide what if any changes are needed with a poll. HIStalk readership is high lately, so it’s good for me to understand what people are looking for. But as my life’s motto explains, I’m not looking for extra work.

image
image

From Top Gun: “Re: HIMSS20. HIMSS was to let us know in 14 days about hotel and registration refunds. My team made reservations through the HIMSS site, so I didn’t do anything while I waited to hear. Since then, HIMSS updated its FAQ to say – without notifying anyone – that it’s up to individual hotels whether to offer refunds. Now that we’ve waited, hotels won’t refund anyone, and registration has rolled over to HIMSS21. What if we can’t go or won’t have as many attendees? I want my money back. I already swallowed flight costs for several people, and now I have to swallow hotel and registration as well? Anyone else mentioned this? I’m considering protesting the charges on my credit card.” Above are the original and current versions of that FAQ. I don’t quite get the “14 working days” (why 2.8 weeks?), but HIMSS said in the original item that “an advisement will be sent” and the replacement wording says only that HIMSS won’t object if the hotel wants to refund your payment and the hotel should be called as soon as possible. You could protest the charges (hint: say “billing error”) and the charge will probably be reversed, but that will last only until the credit card folks contact OnPeak, which will claim it did everything correctly and get the charge reinstated. If you didn’t have travel insurance that covers cancellation, you may be out of luck, even if you’re contemplating suing since there’s probably a force majeure clause hiding somewhere. At least non-exhibitor attendees had a theoretical but heavily discouraged option to book lodging on their own – the HIMSS exhibitor contract requires them to pay for two OnPeak rooms per 100 square feet of booth space.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

image

It’s a bit surprising that one-third of poll respondents – presumably healthcare people — are making no effort to avoid crowds and unnecessary travel, but I’ll generously assume that early voters from a week ago – or about a year in COVID-19 news – have since changed their practices to those of the majority. Or perhaps low-risk people, those who are blessed with youth and vigorous immune systems, don’t understand that such restrictions are intended to prevent them from inadvertently killing Grandpa or Grandma by introducing them to their microorganism tenants. 

I can’t even comprehend that I should be fresh off a return from a HIMSS20 trip right about now. The conference was cancelled just 10 days ago as I write this, but it seems like it’s been a couple of months. Meanwhile, interest in our webinars has picked up as an alternative to the HIMSS that never was, so ask Lorre nicely and she will extend her previously offered webinar discount.

image

New poll to your right or here, for health system employees: what strategies have changed with COVID-19?

image

We ran a mention last week from the local paper that United Community & Family Services (CT) was moving to Epic from Greenway Health’s Prime Suite, which the paper said was necessary because Prime Suite is being discontinued. That article was incorrect, as Greenway very kindly let me know – Greenway is still investing in the development of Prime Suite and has no plans to discontinue it. Prime Suite had 48 software releases in 2019 and last year saw the introduction of Prime Suite Reporting 2019 and Prime Suite v18.00.01.00. Thanks to Greenway for just alerting me nicely instead of going nuclear with indignation for assuming the local reporting to be accurate.

image

I ran accidentally across a HIStalkapalooza video that recalled happier times when industry folks danced the night away, complete with fleeting thoughts that maybe I should do a scaled-back version at HIMSS21, assuming we emerge on the other side of COVID-19 and will need cheering up. Year-by-year highlights:

  • 2008, Orlando. A reception for 200 attendees in what was then the Peabody Hotel, with some outstanding food in an upscale setting. I was worried that nobody would want to attend, and figuring I should offer some kind of stage presentation, I quickly threw together the first HISsies voting to fill time.
  • 2009, Chicago. Trump Tower failed us a bit in being so expensive that we had to limit attendance, food cost was ridiculous so we could offer only a few passed snacks, and they neglected to provide a decent stage and sound system and thus few attendees could see or hear Jonathan Bush present the HISsies. But the view was fantastic and the attendees were fun.
  • 2010, Atlanta. We took over Max Lager’s pub, a bagpiper played outside, Judy Faulkner wore the “No Pie for Me” sash that I ordered to celebrate Neal Patterson’s pie-in-the-face HISsies win, Ross Martin did his “Meaningful Yoose Rap” live, and JB turned his allotted five minutes to present the HISsies into a long, crazy stage show on a day when ATHN shares had tanked.
  • 2011, Orlando. I first used the term “HIStalkapalooza” that year at BB King’s. JB did the awards again and we had a blues band.
  • 2012, Las Vegas. This is still my favorite because ESD sponsored the event and Brittanie Begeman was delightful to work with. We had last-minute panic when the venue we had booked closed its doors for good, leaving us to scramble to find a new place in First Food & Bar in the The Shops at the Palazzo (which is also closed now). See how many faces you recognize from the excellent video highlights reel. We had roses for the ladies, a DJ, the usual stage antics with JB as he drank a family-sized beer, two Elvis impersonators (a pro and Ross Martin as dueling Elvi), and probably the best food and drinks of any of the events. I watch that video every few weeks.
  • 2013, New Orleans. We headed to Rock ‘n’ Bowl, Ross and Kym Martin performed, JB’s performance was as wild as his shirt, we had a big-name zydeco band playing, and we ended with a bowling tournament. Video.
  • 2014, Orlando. Buses took folks to the House of Blues at Downtown Disney, we had the amazing Party on the Moon playing, and several entertainment booths were doing caricatures, magic tricks, and other fun stuff. Video.
  • 2015, Chicago. This was the first time we did the event on our own without allowing a single company to pay and thus call the shots to some degree. House of Blues Chicago was the best venue we’ve used with its opera boxes and lofty interior views. Party on the Moon was predictably outstanding and Judy Faulkner and Jonathan Bush presented each other with awards. Video.
  • 2016, Las Vegas. House of Blues hosted, JB did his Donald Trump imitation, and the band played on. Video.
  • 2017, Orlando. We ended the 10-year HIStalkapalooza run at House of Blues, whose box office got calls all week from folks thinking they could buy tickets and then trying to crash during the event when they heard the band rocking from outside. Party on the Moon, who loves our crowd, captured the final moment in the photo above as their set reached an explosive finish over the filled dance floor and the confetti blasted for the final time. Video.

Listening: new from reader-recommended Tame Impala. It’s a man rather than a band, following the modern configuration of one multi-instrumentalist guy recording the music tracks on his computer, making no money even with popularity since streaming pays next to nothing, and then grabbing some pick-up musicians to cash in by touring. He/they headlined Coachella last year with their brand of psychedelic music. I’m not sure how I feel about music being composed in computer-enhanced solitude since that sounds kind of deliberate and cold, but I like this OK and at least it doesn’t involve the “we’re a band” model of creativity by committee that usually isn’t sustainable.

The pandemic will get worse before it gets better, but imagine how it would be without the Internet and the ability it provides to to work from home, see patients remotely, inform the public, stash stay-at-home kids in front of streamed cartoons, and stay current on scientific developments. It has often brought out the worst in people (or perhaps just the worst of people), but let’s give some credit to Sir Tim Berners-Lee for inventing the World Wide Web in late 1990 that is benefitting the entire world now more than ever.


Webinars

March 25 (Wednesday) 1 ET: “Streamlining Your Surgical Workflows for Better Financial Outcomes.” Sponsor: Intelligent Medical Objects. Presenters: David Bocanegra, RN, nurse informaticist, IMO; Alex Dawson, product manager, IMO. Health systems that struggle with coordinating operating rooms and scheduling surgeries can increase their profitability with tools that allow for optimal reimbursement. This webinar will identify practices to optimize OR workflows and provider reimbursement, discuss how changes to perioperative management of procedures can support increased profitability, and explore factors that can impede perioperative workflow practices.

March 26 (Thursday) 12:30 ET. “How to Use Automation to Reduce ‘My EHR is Slow’ Complaints.” Sponsor: Goliath Technologies. A common challenge is that a clinician is ready to work, but their technology is not. EHRs can be slow, logins not working, or printers and scanners are offline. Troubleshooting these end user tickets quickly is nearly impossible, especially in complex environments that might include Citrix or VMware Horizon. This webinar will present real-world examples of how leading health systems are using purpose-built technology with embedded automation and intelligence to proactively anticipate, troubleshoot, and prevent end user performance issue across their IT infrastructure and EHRs.

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

image

WebMD Health acquires Merck subsidiary The StayWell Company, which offers employee well-being, patient education, and patient engagement platforms.


Announcements and Implementations

image

QliqSoft releases a white-labeled COVID-19 patient screening and education tool package for hospitals that will need to manage an expected surge of patients.

A Black Book survey finds that EHR interoperability remains a challenge for hospital network physician practices, half of hospitals aren’t using outside patient information, and some hospitals are waiting for their current vendors to release solutions before buying anything new.

Another Black Book survey of 3,000 hospital nurses finds that their nearly universal dissatisfaction with EHRs in 2014 has swung to the positive. Nurses say that a hospital’s choice of EHR is among their top three criteria for deciding where to work, and nearly all of them say that EHR expertise is a highly sought employment skill. The hospital nurses ranked Meditech as the #1 EHR for nurse functionality and usability.

image

DocClocker pitches its patient wait time app, saying it cuts down on potentially infectious patient waiting room time and allows them to make short-notice appointments for available slots. The company also offers a version for families waiting for OR updates, publishes current and average provider wait times, collects user reviews, and sends notifications of appointments and delays. 


Privacy and Security

image

CI Security polled security experts to come up with a list of items to help control security risks for healthcare workers who are telecommuting. It includes a work-from-home security assessment questionnaire. I was thinking as I read this that it would be awful to send employees home to prevent spread of a virus only to be hit hard with the computer kind as a result.


Other

Health systems are using technology to conserve resources that will be needed for treating COVID-19 patients:

  • Online questionnaires and chatbots to allow people to determine if they may have coronavirus infection, which helps keep the “worried well” from showing up for testing and treatment.
  • Virtual visits.
  • Thermometers and pulse oximeters for symptomatic patients to take home, with daily follow-up.
  • Videoconferencing and messaging systems to help coordinate efforts and for consulting with other facilities.

The CEO of a South Korea technology company says the country’s success in beating back coronavirus has been aided by the use of big data and AI:

  • The government’s platform stores the information of citizens and resident foreign nationals, integrates all government services with that system, and populates other AI-based apps.
  • A positive COVID-19 test sends notifications to everyone in the area with that person’s travel details, activities, and commute maps for the previous two weeks.
  • Government-run health services are notified of the person’s contracts to allow tracking and testing.
  • The country has offered drive-through COVID-19 testing for weeks. It has performed 250,000 tests versus just 22,000 in the US, at a rate of nearly 5,000 tests per million people there versus 65 here. 
  • The drive-through labs are powered by 5G, and drivers are notified of the nearest testing location.
  • When someone who lives or works in a large building tests positive, the government sets up temporary medical centers to test everyone.
  • Distribution of masks and other supplies is managed via AI-based regulation. Residents can buy two masks at a time using their ID cards. Price gouging has not occurred.
  • The government is running all offices digitally, with employees working from home. 

image

New York looks at a potential COVID-19 care demands for 170,000 hospital beds versus the 53,000 total and 19,000 available in the state, with Governor Andrew Cuomo saying that patients may need to be moved from the high-concentration lower part of the state to other areas. He is asking retired medical professionals to contact their old hospitals to see if they can help and deploying National Guard medics and medical students to pitch in. The Department of Health will monitor available beds, ventilator beds, and isolation units as well as ED activity.

I give this editorial recommendation a good chance of happening. A medical student and a physician epidemiologist urge the federal government to create a military-operated healthcare system for coronavirus to take the load off hospitals that are likely to be overwhelmed. They recommend that the US Public Health Service oversee the operation of setting up COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment centers outside of city centers, but easily accessible to them. The advantages are that the US military is very good at training and deploying people rapidly and they could oversee unused medical resources such as retired physicians and nurses, residents, and laypeople who could be quickly trained similar to emergency medical technicians. Such facilities could also innovate technology to provide ventilator support, which has been the most precious commodity worldwide.


Sponsor Updates

  • ACG Utah presents Health Catalyst with its 2019 Deal Maker of the Year Award.
  • Clinical Computer Systems, developer of the Obix Perinatal Data System, announces a reseller agreement with AlertWatch to distribute their maternal safety system.
  • PatientPing launches an educational website dedicated to CMS’s interoperability and patient access rule.
  • Pivot Point Consulting creates a checklist of key considerations for COVID-10 preparation and offers phone appointments to assist organizations with planning and configuration.
  • QliqSoft launches a COVID-19 virtual patient communication kit.
  • The CEO Forum Group features Waystar CEO Matt Hawkins in a radio interview.
  • Wolters Kluwer Health offers coronavirus tools and resources for clinicians and medical researchers.

Blog Posts


button


Contacts

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

125x125_2nd_Circle

HIStalk Interviews Eric Jordahl and Anu Singh, Managing Directors, Kaufman Hall

March 14, 2020 Interviews No Comments

Eric Jordahl and Anu Singh are managing directors over treasury and capital markets and mergers, acquisitions, and partnerships, respectively, at Kaufman Hall of Chicago, IL. 

image image

What are the most significant challenges hospitals will see as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic turmoil?

Anu

The problem is the time it takes away from more strategic and more management related tasks. The biggest challenge that executives are going to face is that the time, resources, and attention needed to deal with this will take them away from many other tasks. Prioritization of what is now strategic and what is most critical is going to have to get reshuffled. Time is a precious resource and we’re going to see it constrained even further.

Eric

I would agree with that. I focus on the treasury side of things, where it’s really all  about volatility. When you get into moments like this with a lot of volatility, it’s difficult to make solid decisions. Decision-making becomes an incredible challenge because it’s difficult to understand where markets are going, what good pricing looks like, and what good execution look like. Whether it’s the asset side of a balance sheet and the investments that hospital CFOs are worrying about, or the debt side that they’re worried about, volatility creates all sorts of challenges on either side of that balance sheet and makes decisions about what to do in the moment very, very difficult.

What will be the health system margin and cash flow impact of treating large numbers of patients?

Eric

There was a phenomenon in 2008 called deflating balance sheets. As the value of equity instruments went down on balance sheets and different things happened, client balance sheets got really strained. What was interesting, though, was that was across the whole universe of providers, especially with regard to credit positions, they weren’t really impacted by that event. Where things got dicey was when that whole-industry phenomenon was paired with weaker operating performance at a particular facility. That’s where organizations in 2008 had credit and rating kinds of problems. I think it will be similar in the world today, where a lot of the industry will be hit in similar ways.

The question is, will there be some pockets, areas of the country, facilities, or different things where the impact is disproportionate for whatever set of reasons? If 2008 was any kind of indicator, it’s those kinds of more isolated pockets that are going to be more problematic.

Provider credit and  uncompensated care will be a very big problem, and I think it escalates across the whole US economy. Conferences and sporting events are being cancelled. You see an economy that in some ways feels like people are saying, “Let’s just stop the economy.” The ripple consequence across everything, including healthcare providers, is going to be a challenge.

We’ll see what happens with payers and how their performance holds up. Obviously the government is heavily involved in payment around healthcare. I would expect, given that this was a healthcare crisis, that the government would be pretty actively involved in trying to create financial safety nets of some sort. But I don’t think anybody has a real clear idea right now of what that might mean.

How will non-core health system activities, such as mergers and acquisitions, proceed in the near term?

Anu

Anything that was a strategic initiative — M&A, innovation or a venture fund, acquisition of a physician practices or real estate, whatever the case may be — will continue.  When you have a good strategic rationale to do something in a way that is  battle tested, even an event like this that is upon us doesn’t necessarily change the strategy. What could change is the timing and the pace of those pursuits. It may take longer to complete those transactions.

Acquisitions that require third-party sources — a set of stakeholders selling a physician practice or a source of financing to help with an acquisition – will be more adversely impacted by this event, and you are looking at extended timelines. Some M&A processes may either slow down or follow a different pace. But like most things that come upon us without much warning and without much precedent or even a playbook of how to deal with this, it just slows some decisions down and adds an additional level of consideration. But if it passes strategic muster, it will probably continue.

What would be the early warning signs in a health system’s financials that current events might be causing problems?

Eric

From a treasury standpoint, going back to this thing about balance sheet deflation, a phrase that organizations sometimes use is “fortress balance sheet.” That is a is a balance sheet that is built to withstand shocks. Use of that concept is increasing. Most healthcare organizations raise external capital through external debt markets, where interest rates are falling and have fallen fairly dramatically. On the one hand, organizations think, “Oh this is great.” But on the other hand, other parts of their balance sheet  are affected by financial market dislocation.

It is really understanding your total exposure and how you are positioned to manage those exposures. A lot of CFOs learned great lessons from the 2007-2008 credit crisis, and most of them are coming into this with stronger balance sheets. But that’s still a question that will emerge. One of the main questions is, how long does this last? Does it have a long tail and we get hit with waves of financial market shocks? The longer we go into this, the harder it is going to be for healthcare balance sheets to hold up. That is something that all CFOs should be looking at.

Search


Loading

Text Ads


Tweets

Founding Sponsors


 

Platinum Sponsors


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gold Sponsors


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reader Comments

  • Jennifer: I think you are correct that Hyatt is the problem, not OnPeak or HIMSS. We booked rooms at 2 hotels for HIMSS. I notic...
  • Modern CIO: Re: DON With all due respect, get your facts right before lumping those two together. Its clear you don't know Belmo...
  • IANAL: Because he is clearly a good salesman....
  • Don: Ok, here's the truth, Ed Marx and Chris Belmont have probably created some of the biggest disasters in healthcare techno...
  • CovidStopper: Sorry to hear about Cesar Capule in WI. I've worked with many of these traveling Epic "ATE" support folks during implem...

Sponsor Quick Links