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Morning Headlines 2/5/21

February 4, 2021 Headlines No Comments

Flywheel Secures $15M in Series B Funding

Medical research data management platform data vendor Flywheel raises $15 million in a Series B funding round.

Change Healthcare (CHNG) Beats Q3 Earnings Estimates

Change Healthcare announces Q3 results: revenue down 3%, adjusted EPS $0.34 versus $0.33, beating earnings estimates but falling short on revenue.

23andMe to go public at $3.5 billion with Sir Richard Branson’s SPAC

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

News 2/5/21

February 4, 2021 News 7 Comments

Top News

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


Reader Comments

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

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

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


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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

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

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


Webinars

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

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sales

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

People

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

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


Announcements and Implementations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


COVID-19

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

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

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

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


Other

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

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


Sponsor Updates

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

Bog Posts


Contacts

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

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EPtalk by Dr. Jayne 2/4/21

February 4, 2021 Dr. Jayne 2 Comments

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I’m not sure what to make of the recent communications from HIMSS regarding HIMSS21. They are eager to confirm that the event will proceed and to tell us the next milestone where they plan to tell us more about it, but I personally would rather have information at hand than the promise of information down the road. It’s clear that the exhibit hall will be much reduced and the sessions will be a mix of in-person and digital, but beyond that, I’m not sure what we know. The reality is that HIMSS is about making money and they’re going to structure their communications in the way that they think will be most profitable.

What I do know is that August in Las Vegas is deathly hot, and the things that many of us have been doing to avoid COVID — such as having social events outside — may or may not be tenable there at that time of year. The average high for the week of August 9-13 is 103 F, with a low of 80 F. Even in a “dry heat,” it’s not my favorite way to travel back and forth from the hotel to the conference center. I’d like to stay at one of the connected conference hotels, but the charges are prohibitively high for those of us who are paying our own way for the privilege of attending a conference where we have no idea what to expect.

We also have no idea what vaccination status will look like as we move towards August, since vaccination administration is still rather messy across the US. Based on anecdotal reports, many of the would-be HIMSS attendees from US health systems may be vaccinated, since many of those health systems seem to have had plenty of vaccine for non-patient-facing workers under the premise that everyone supports the patient journey. My friends who are part of independent practices and federally qualified health centers are still struggling to find vaccine, and the process has become more challenging now that states have prioritized the elderly.

I honestly don’t have a bead on what vaccination processes look like elsewhere in the world except for the UK and Australia, where friends keep me posted on what they are experiencing. They have employed different strategies than the US or each other, so it remains to be seen who will ultimately be judged by history as having the best approach. Certain countries and alliances have bought up enough vaccine supply to more than vaccinate their own populations, and it’s not yet clear what will happen to any surplus in the end. The goal is of course to vaccinate people quickly, but there are still plenty of barriers worldwide.

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Being a clinical informaticist in the midst of a global pandemic has its challenges, since many of us are armchair quarterbacking the charts and graphs we see and trying to determine whether they’re accurately illustrating the facts or are in danger of looking like someone changed the data with a Sharpie. A neighboring state just got caught cooking the books on their COVID positivity numbers — they decided to exclude test results that have been performed by any other methodology than PCR. Many of the large urgent cares are using rapid molecular testing like the Abbott ID Now devices in use at the White House, and those numbers are going unrepresented. Also not included in the totals are other rapid tests, such as antigen tests. We use both of the latter in my practice probably 80% of the time, only sending PCRs when required, so failing to include all the data seems like a no-no.

The state health director tried to explain it away by saying that there’s enough “saturation of PCR tests in the market to be representative,” and although I understand what he’s trying to say, it just seems like it would be better to use all the data, especially since the state requires practices to report it. Why would you want to not use data that you have? Those are the kinds of decisions that lead people to question the truthfulness of public health officials and that give rise to conspiracy theories. There have been enough irregularities with data and reporting throughout this pandemic that future academics can teach full semester classes on what went wrong.

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February 3 marked National Women Physicians Day, which occurs on that date to honor the birthday of Elizabeth Blackwell, who in 1849 became the first woman to achieve a medical degree in the United States. I spent the day caring for patients, some of whom were particularly cavalier about spreading COVID to their friends and family members, which is always frustrating. I didn’t even realize it was today until I got home and was curled up with my laptop, surfing the internet while waiting for my face to stop hurting from wearing an N95 mask for 12 hours. It typically takes about three hours for the mask marks to go away and a couple more for the headache to improve if I don’t take ibuprofen or drink a martini. I’m surely in a place I never expected to be when I started my medical career.

I was proud to be part of the first majority female class at my medical school, and to be part of an all-woman residency class well known for shaking things up in the world of graduate medical education. As the first physician in my family, I didn’t really appreciate what that meant until the day I took my mother to visit the gross anatomy lab. It was there I learned, as we stood there holding a human heart, that she might have liked to have been a physician, but when she was in college women were steered towards career paths in teaching and nursing. I was surprised that she hadn’t mentioned it while I was pre-med and applying to medical school, but maybe there was something in the genes that kept me going even when training got rough.

Here’s to all the women physicians that came before us, breaking barriers, putting up with enormous amounts of harassment, and paving the way for us to be where we are today. Your courage and dedication will never be forgotten.

Email Dr. Jayne.

Morning Headlines 2/4/21

February 3, 2021 Headlines No Comments

Alma Announces $28 Million Series B to Bring its Mental Health Network Nationwide

Mental health practice management vendor Alma raises $28 million in a Series B round led by Insight Partners.

Philadelphia operating room software startup raises $4.3M, hires MapQuest co-founder

Surgical process optimization software vendor ORtelligence raises $4.3 million.

Netsmart Acquires GPM to Enhance Provider Digitization and Mobile Workflows

Netsmart acquires long-term post-acute care health IT vendor GPM.

Nordic Acquires Bails & Associates

Nordic acquires multi-vertical ERP consulting firm Bails & Associates for an undisclosed sum.

NexHealth Acquires Enlive to Bring Integrated Paperless Forms to Healthcare Practices & Developers

Patient engagement and EHR integration software vendor NexHealth acquires digital forms company Enlive.

Readers Write: We Need a More Patient-Centric Approach to End-of-Life Decision-Making

February 3, 2021 Readers Write 4 Comments

We Need a More Patient-Centric Approach to End-of-Life Decision-Making
By Ryan Van Wert, MD

Ryan Van Wert, MD is co-founder and CEO of Vynca of Palo Alto, CA and clinical assistant professor of medicine, division of pulmonary and critical care medicine, at Stanford University.

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As a physician with a background in critical care, I have seen scores of patients with serious or life-limiting illnesses such as advanced cancers and dementia receive aggressive treatment in intensive care units, treatments that many of them would not have wanted. I have had heartbreaking experiences where I have put a patient on life support, and then days later, found out that a family member or loved one had uncovered an advance care planning (ACP) document indicating that this care did not align with the patient’s wishes. Far too often, I have witnessed situations in which extreme, invasive measures are taken because the dying patient’s wishes are unknown simply because they never had the important conversations about end-of-life care with their physicians and loved ones.

Today, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, these tragedies are unfolding in emergency rooms across the country at an alarming rate. As we enter the darkest days of the pandemic, ACP has been brought to the forefront as a necessity for patients of all ages, not just those in the more mature stages of life. Clinical resources are again being stretched to the limit, and patients are at risk of receiving critical care interventions, such as being placed on ventilators, that may not align with their personal preferences.

In addition to causing significant grief for the patient’s loved ones, this is putting great strain on the physicians who are responsible for caring for them. We need a better system to help individuals, their loved ones, and clinicians navigate the complex process of making choices for future care, along with the programs and tools to ensure they are honored.

We Must Normalize the Discussions Around End-of-Life Care

Most Americans do not want to die on a ventilator in the intensive care unit at the end of life. Most of us would prefer to receive whole-person care that is focused on comfort and well-being. However, if we do not clarify these preferences, we will receive every life-saving medical treatment and intervention possible.

We need to start normalizing discussions around future care preferences that reflect our values, choices, and goals, no matter how uncomfortable these conversations might be. We must be able to ask ourselves, what is really important to me? How do I want to live my final days? Holding these critical conversations with our loved ones, caregivers, and providers enables us to think through our preferences for future medical treatment and allows us to make important healthcare choices before we become ill or incapacitated.

That is not to say that ACP is an easy process. The conversations are inherently emotional and require bravery and compassion. Providers should be supported with the education, tools, and a standardized approach to help them guide these conversations so that their patients feel empowered. A more patient-centric approach to ACP is essential for ensuring quality of care and aligning healthcare utilization with care preferences when patients near the end of their lives.

While both patients and physicians may recognize the importance of ACP, there still lacks a standard method to engage in these conversations and make this vital information available when it is needed. Research shows that 84% of individuals who are 65 and older have not been asked by their physician to have an ACP conversation, and there is a 37% medical error rate in end-of-life care plans. In the past, even when patients have taken the time to record their wishes, in many cases the documents have been inaccurate or inaccessible across the care continuum. When physicians were asked about the confidence of locating an existing advance care plan within the EHR, only 31% of physicians strongly agreed.

Why Healthcare Organizations Must Make ACP a Priority

It is clear that hospitals and health systems need to integrate ACP conversations and digitized documentation into their standard of care, without exception. However, many healthcare organizations are continuing to struggle to implement and scale high-quality ACP, despite the fact that ACP CPT reimbursement codes 99497 and 99498 are already in place for both in-person and telehealth ACP consults. By implementing and scaling ACP, healthcare organizations can:

  • Improve the patient experience. Standardized ACP enhances engagement with patients in these conversations and reflects personal goals and values, enabling organizations to provide more personalized, patient-centric care. According to The Journal of General Internal Medicine, 93% of hospitalized patients with an ACP rated their experience five stars compared to 65% without one in place.
  • Provide the highest quality care. ACP reduces unwanted, unnecessary healthcare interventions at end-of-life and prevents medical errors, so patients are receiving the best care possible.
  • Reduce provider burnout. Very few providers have ACP conversations with their patients, as they are not comfortable or prepared to guide these difficult discussions, resulting in limited documentation available to providers. This leads to providers having to conduct unwanted, invasive interventions, all the while knowing that these patients might be better served with palliative and hospice services versus being hooked up to a ventilator in the ICU.
  • Drive success in value-based arrangements. With ACP increasingly becoming a quality measure in value-based care programs, standardized ACP drives potential success in value-based arrangements, such as BCPI Advanced and the upcoming Radiation Oncology Model.

Realizing the Benefits of a Digitized ACP Approach

To achieve the benefits of ACP, healthcare organizations need to implement a streamlined approach that normalizes ACP conversations by providing education and standardizing a system-wide program. ACP education and documents must be digitally available within the patient portal, as this enables individuals to access ACP details, review them with loved ones and make changes when needed, truly putting the patient in control of their future care.

A single source of truth for all ACP documents ensures that they are always available in the clinical workflow and eliminates confusion. It also allows clinicians to view accurate patient information, which guarantees that all future care preferences are accurate, actionable, and in one reliable place within the EHR. Unlike a paper-based approach, digitized ACP enables reporting to provide clinicians with critical business intelligence for realizing ACP utilization, success, and value.

Healthcare organizations have the opportunity to help normalize ACP, prioritize resources, and truly solve for the demand and overload we are seeing at hospitals today. By empowering everyone involved with the necessary resources and tools, you have the opportunity to make an immediate impact, delivering higher quality care at the end-of-life and, as such, ensuring for a truly patient-centric experience.

HIStalk Interviews Scott Finfer, CEO, Emerge

February 3, 2021 Interviews 2 Comments

Scott Finfer is co-founder, CEO, and board chair of Emerge of Dallas, TX.

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Tell me about yourself and the company.

I’m CEO of Emerge. We offer a solution set that can overlay on top of EHRs. The strength of our company is our people, a unique group that has come together.

How common is it for EHRs to offer a search function and how is it used?

Search can mean different things to different people. In the world of Emerge, when we talk about search and when we talk about what our mission is, it is searching not only the data that exists inside of the EHR that is discrete and accessible, but also information that isn’t necessarily searchable by the EHR unless they are using optical character recognition and natural language processing to use scanned and free text information.

But more importantly, when we talk about search, we stay patient centric. If I search for information about a patient and I’m at an ambulatory facility, in an ideal world, I should be able to have their records available to me if I need to treat that patient inside of the acute world. We’ve made our life’s mission to figure out how that search is not just about searching in records that exist — that’s the easy part — but searching for all the possibilities of where we can bring this information together on a master patient index to have one patient file that can theoretically travel with the patient wherever they go.

Does it make clinicians more efficient or allow them to find the most important information more easily?

I got stuck in healthcare. I’ll be honest about that. I didn’t realize how incredibly difficult the space was. I came out of IT services. Before that, I was doing real estate. I’ve made tons of money doing everything I’ve ever done, but I’ve spent tons of money over the past 10 years to build this business up, because healthcare is way harder than we expected.

But the good thing is that we now have the ability to understand what the problems are. We can document and have engineering problems versus, wow, it’s just not going to work. That’s a big difference. You can say, is it solvable? Well, maybe. Everything is potentially solvable. But what’s better than solvable is that it’s an engineering problem. If we do this, this and this, this allows for this to work.

That’s where we are at this stage of development. The people in the country now – patients, administrators, forward thinkers, caregivers, providers –everybody keeps struggling with these friction points that exist that are self-made. One of the big friction points is that, what is the center of importance in healthcare? I would argue with you that it is often missed, because providers are the center of healthcare. The patient is the center of healthcare. This isn’t against any particular EHR, it’s against every EHR that provides acute services at a bare minimum. Why are the systems developed around hospital beds as opposed to patients? The whole thing is designed for something different than staying focused to patient care.

We have the problem now to fix all these silos. Then it’s compounded by the fact that,  who is the best source? Is it one source or multiple sources? All these things are playing friction. The one thing that has never been delivered, regardless of what belief system you’re of — and I’m a no belief system here, I’m neutral, I just want to help healthcare — is that getting my record in and out and moved around and shared has been a disaster.

One of the reasons is because, most of the time, that’s a manual exercise that happens in the back office. People don’t think about this or don’t know this, but when there’s an official records request, it’s a money-losing proposition for the facility to have to go back through and figure out what the record is. Our technology, because it breaks everything down and starts with the patient at the center, says, I always have to keep it. Wherever it came from, I should break it down and bring it to the patient. That should always be the focus of whatever I’m doing for my flows of information.

When we encounter a situation where a health system is on multiple EHRs, we can come in and they don’t have to make any more investments. We can overlay on top of those systems and not only make them communicate with each other, but we can start to automate and provide smart services. Like, push a button and here’s your health record, because we can define what it is. I can get it for you. That’s what we have with ChartGo. With the push of a button, you’ve got the health record.

If it’s that easy to grab control of the health record with so much more granularity, now we can go to the big health system. We’re talking about big health system in California, and they want Northern California and Southern California to communicate with each other. But even more important than that, they want their patients, when they are traveling on holiday, to have easy access to their records and to share if needed wherever they are. That’s now possible because it’s being patient centric.

Is it difficult to access the information so you can create the overlay?

No. The most difficult thing in working with these facilities is the facilities themselves wanting to work with you. There’s this fear with some organizations about what is going on with the cloud. As you look at a lot of healthcare systems, it’s heavy steel. Man, it’s big money up front. For me, that’s fine. You don’t even have to change what you’re doing, but for pennies on the dollar, I can automatically make you 100% digital in the cloud. Your data, your control. Tell me where you want me to send it. That has never happened before. It has always been under the control of whoever sold you the operating system. We can help change operating systems, make them work better.

We’ve got a wonderful partnership going with a couple of EHRs right now, Athenahealth and Allscripts. Their senior leadership says out loud – which I’ve never heard someone say — we’re not the only thing. We’re part of the infrastructure. We’re part of the ecosystem. I said to myself, wow, they get it. There’s not going to be one — it’s not going to work. It’s got to be able to work together. Part of working together is knowing that some people might be great EHRs and some people might be great this or great that, but at the end of the day, what is needed is glue to make them work nicely together. Forward-thinking people, and there’s a lot of them, recognize that this is an ecosystem play. That’s where we are headed.

We know how to operate in any ecosystem because we speak all languages. Doesn’t matter which EHR, doesn’t matter the versioning, doesn’t matter the age of the technology. Our guys are utilizing state of the art technology and there’s no lift on the back end. I come to you and I say, let me solve your problem for you. The facility says, what’s it going to cost? Nothing. OK, and what kind of resources do I need to provide for you to do that? None. They look at it and they go, it’s not possible.

After surviving being told that for 10 years, we now have successful investment bank software company. The most important part about it is that we did it with our own money, and now it’s making enough money to stand on its own two feet with no venture capital in the deal. We did it to solve healthcare problem because my co-founder, who is a doctor – cardiologist William C. Daniel, MD, MBA — is a humble enough guy to understand that when you’re treating patients as a cardiologist, there’s plumbers and there’s electricians. I love this guy. I’ve known him since I’m 13 years old. I wouldn’t have gotten into this business if it wasn’t for him.

What he said to me was, I’m killing people. I said, what? I’ve never heard a doctor say that before to me. He said, I’m 100% killing people. I know I am. I just can’t prove it. I’m seeing people in my office who are coming to see me because I’m a plumber. I don’t know electricity all the way through the detail. There’s stuff going on that if the EHR record was scrubbed, I would know that this guy needs to see an electrician, and I would get them to the electrician. That’s how this whole idea came up.

ONC pushed EHR vendors years ago to make it easier for users to export patient data from one EHR that could be imported into a different EHR, making switching easier. Has that gotten any better?

There’s no lift. Zero. We literally have converted over 100 different brands of EHR into the systems of our trade partners. They are left with non-usable data most of the time coming out of whatever EHR they’re coming from. Athenahealth is a partner of ours and one of our prime relationships. When Athena signs up a new customer, Athena brings us to meet the customer, because the customer can literally have everything waiting for them inside of Athena. They have access to not only to their old data, they have access to 300% more of their old data. 

But that’s not even the big kicker.They didn’t have to do anything. They turn on Athena’s state of the art system in the cloud, and it’s set up and ready to run. All of a sudden, both the old information and the new information through Athena are able to merge together as they see new patients through Emerge on a go-forward basis. They are always getting the full context view. If we need to add on other feeds from other EHRs, HIE, or API to allow somebody else to pump in a third-party data from a payer, all those things are now possible. That’s what we are building with Allscripts and Athena.

What does it take to sign new partners?

I don’t think you have to sign on new partners. I had a wonderful client and mentor in Oklahoma named John Harvey. He told me that he took a chance on us. He brought us up to the Oklahoma Heart Hospital early on, even before we really had a product. That’s the truth. We thought we had a product, but we didn’t realize what a problem there was in the space. John brought us up there and we were doing great stuff. We were going after every EHR back then. We were going to try and integrate with everybody. 

John said, if you boil the ocean, you’re going to die. You had better pick one and try and make it work. Then if you can make it work in one, you can make it work in all of them. 

That’s exactly what we did. Now we are in four of them — Epic, Cerner, Allscripts, and Athena. When I say having to get a partnership, I’d love to do a partnership with Epic if they want to do one with me. I can save millions of dollars in conversions for anybody switching to Epic. To bring their database from their old system to the new system will cost them $25,000. I mean, this is the digital age, so I have a digital solution. A lot of people are beginning to embrace it, and things are going to change rapidly. But the most important thing is that it works, it’s patient centric, and it’s following how medicine is supposed to work.

What is the direction of the company going forward?

We see ourselves following the same footprint that we started 10 years ago. A lot of companies set out to solve problems, and then they bring the solution to market. They say to the doctors, nurses, providers, staff, administrators, or the quality people –if you would only use my tool how I designed it, it would work for you. There’s a problem with using my tool as I designed it to work for you, and that is workflow. Part of our strategy has always been to make sure that we are directly in the workflow, but not in the way.

We have done that now with over 100 installs. You could literally take our install list and pick anybody on it and ask for a referral and they’ll give you one, a good one. Everybody’s happy. We have this massive retention rate because we’re in the workflow. That is key for where I see ourselves as we move forward.

Our roadmap for the past 10 years was written by my customers. With my subscription model, somebody says to me, I wish I could track proteins on these pregnant women that are coming in from all these facilities. We say, we can help you with that, and we do that for them. Then we turn around to any other OB-GYN who has a subscription with us and we give them that same functionality if they want it. Our subscription gets stronger and stronger, and what we are doing gets stronger and stronger.

We are much much more than search at this point. That’s a small underpinning of what the company is really doing. One of our strengths is the downtime viewer. If your EHR goes down, you can log in through our portal and have a digital version of everything available through our search tools, to be able to search the record while you’re in downtime. We have population health tools that don’t require an SQL search. You don’t need to spend millions of dollars to have a consultant come do this. Tell us what you want. I want to find all the patients that have not had a colonoscopy in the past 10 years and that do not have an appointment scheduled. Give me that list. Oh my God, 10,000 people that should be getting this procedure done. That’s 10,000 times whatever the cost of a colonoscopy is, $1,000, massive revenue from the existing population. And if they don’t do that, the cost of care is going to go up.

We are getting proactive, making sure that we’re hitting large target parts of the marketplace all at the same time. We have a way to find them. More importantly, we have a reverse delivery message available. If you miss something on coding and the only place where it’s appropriate to code like that is between the patient and the doctor at the point of care, it has to be done at that point. I’m inside the EHR and I have dashboards to use it in their workflow. If there is something that that doctor needs to code, adjust, or to change because the customer can now be paid for the work that the doctor’s already done, it’s a very efficient way to put it in the workflow. It can even get caught before the doctor does it, because we’re using our automated tools for the chart prepping process. We can chart for up an entire facility with a push of a button.

I don’t know exactly where it will be 10 years from now, but we’re going to do the same thing that we’re doing, which is, show us the problem, give us your requirements, let us solve it, and help us make our subscription stronger with each new member.

Morning Headlines 2/3/21

February 2, 2021 Headlines No Comments

Zyter Acquires Care Management Technology Leader Casenet, LLC

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

HIMSS Confirms that HIMSS21 Remains On Track

HIMSS announces in an exhibitor communication that HIMSS21 remains on track for August 9-13 in Las Vegas as a “completely reimagined hybrid event” that includes an online component.

HealthTensor Raises $5 Million to Augment Medical Diagnosis with AI

AI-powered medical decision-making software startup HealthTensor raises $5 million in a seed round led by Calibrate Ventures, TenOneTen Ventures, and Susa Ventures.

News 2/3/21

February 2, 2021 News 5 Comments

Top News

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

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

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


Reader Comments

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

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

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

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


Webinars

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

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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

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

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

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


Sales

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

People

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

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


Announcements and Implementations

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

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

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

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

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


COVID-19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Other

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


Best in KLAS

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

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

Some of the individual category winners:

Inpatient Clinical Care

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

Ambulatory and Post-Acute Care

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

Financial, Revenue Cycle, and HIM

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

Value-Based Care

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

Security and Privacy

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

Services and Consulting

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

Sponsor Updates

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

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

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HIMSS Confirms that HIMSS21 Remains On Track

February 2, 2021 News 1 Comment

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

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

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

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

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

HIMSS22 remains on schedule for March 2022 in Orlando.

Morning Headlines 2/2/21

February 1, 2021 Headlines No Comments

CloudWave Acquired by Abry Partners

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

Hillrom Announces Acquisition Of Contact-Free Continuous Monitoring Technology From EarlySense

Hillrom purchases contact-free, continuous-monitoring technology from EarlySense for $30 million.

Beaumont shuts down scheduling vulnerability that allowed people to ‘cut in line’ for vaccinations

Beaumont Health System (MI) temporarily shuts down its COVID-19 vaccine scheduling system after discovering a user had found and shared a loophole in the Epic system that allowed 2,700 ineligible patients to schedule appointments.

Curbside Consult with Dr. Jayne 2/1/21

February 1, 2021 Dr. Jayne 2 Comments

I mentioned in last week’s EPtalk my ongoing healthcare adventures with Big Health System. As a patient, the organization unfortunately continues to provide plenty of material for HIStalk.

It’s an interesting setup there, with the academic medical center and the non-academic hospitals not fully aligned. That leads to somewhat of a “let’s do it separately together” approach to not only the EHR, but operational and workflow elements, too.

The academic side of the house continued to have their act together. I had specifically requested that my skin biopsy be sent to the flagship hospital’s pathology department after hearing about a friend’s disastrous experience at one of the community hospitals. They didn’t disappoint. Pathology was turned around in less than 48 hours and I received a phone call from the dermatology office bright and early on Saturday morning. When I went to look at the report via the patient portal, not only was it there, but also present was a full copy of my visit note and not just the post-visit summary.

The community hospital where I was scheduled for my MRI continued to underwhelm. I showed up at 6:45 a.m. as requested. There was a backup of people waiting to enter the hospital at the COVID screening checkpoint. Based on the predominance of running shoes and scrub pants peeking out from long winter coats, I assumed that many of them were employees arriving for a 7 a.m. shift change.

It would have been useful for the facility to have separate lines for employees and patients to get people more quickly to where they needed to go. No one was standing six feet apart, but everyone was masked, so I guess that’s something. After finally making my way into the building. I noted that at least the line at the coffee kiosk was well spaced, so that was good.

I quickly found my way to the “imaging pavilion,” the name of which made me laugh since it looks like just another hallway branching off in the bowels of the mammoth complex. I’m sure the naming had something to do with fundraising, but a decade after its addition, it just seems silly. The hospital has grown up around it, and once you’re in that part, you still have to snake around to get to the particular area where your study will occur.

Despite my compliance with the pre-registration team’s phone call, they had no record that my file had been updated. I had to answer all the questions again, this time while yelling through Plexiglas to someone who acted like they couldn’t hear me despite the fact that my patient-facing work has made me very good at speaking clearly while wearing a mask. I had to sit for a full 15 minutes, which was annoying since I was the first patient of the day and had arrived at the time they specified. There was no explanation of the delay, and I was somewhat tortured by the overly-loud TV blaring a local morning show.

When I finally made it back to the MRI suite, I noted that they had turned the two curtained changing areas into a single larger one, presumably for distancing. They had rearranged a credenza and chair in the changing area, but unfortunately had not rearranged the herd of dust bunnies and leftover hair on the floor, which kind of grossed me out. I know that hospitals are running on razor-thin margins, but skimping on housekeeping services isn’t the answer.

As I finished changing, they brought in a second patient. That person was using the changing area while I was in the adjacent IV chair, so they got to listen to all kinds of personal questions that I was asked. Starting my IV was challenging, resulting in multiple attempts in which the second patient was the audience for the latter two.

I’ve had this study done numerous times and have never had someone right behind me like that. As a patient, it was unnerving. I don’t expect total privacy, but I do expect that they pace appropriately so that staff doesn’t feel rushed while they’re trying to complete satisfactory IV access.

I was greeted in the MRI room by the team member who was going to do my actual study. Turns out I recently cared for her daughter at the urgent care, so we had a bonding moment. Since this particular MRI study is face-down, they don’t make patients wear masks. We had a laugh when I handed my mask to her at the last minute — the MRI magnet was attracting the metal nose piece, and I felt for a brief second like I was in some weightless space movie as it floated upwards.

The rest of the procedure was uneventful, and I slept through it as planned. Any day the IV works right and you don’t get an arm full of contrast material is a good one. I headed home to await my results.

I usually get a call from the nurse coordinator who manages my program, but this time I got a call from the physician because they’re changing my follow-up protocol. She explained the situation and the next steps and promised to send the information through MyChart. The results arrived more than 24 hours later with this header:  

Result Letter: Not Sent
Error: The exam failed to generate a default result letter. Please review the exam information and select the correct result letter or contact your helpdesk for assistance.

Just what every patient wants to read, right? I don’t know if the issue was on the part of the radiologist or the physician who called me, but either way it’s a poor user experience and one that patients should not have to deal with. Fortunately, I’m a physician informaticist who understands what this means, but for other patients, it might have generated anxiety and phone calls.

I wonder if the institution explains to physicians how to prevent this, or what things need to look like on their side to make sure the patient gets the right letter. I have the notes I took during my phone call, but that’s it as far as commentary on the results. I also wonder what kind of user acceptance testing is done from the patient perspective, if any. I know of too many hospitals and health systems that never test the patient-side views.

I would be interested to hear how other organizations manage testing for scenarios like this, and whether they’re doing any post-visit quality checks to ensure it’s not a common occurrence. Have you seen this at your institution? Leave a comment or email me.

Email Dr. Jayne.

Morning Headlines 2/1/21

January 31, 2021 Headlines No Comments

Anthem Launches Health-Focused Incubator

Anthem launches Anthem Digital Incubator, which will help early-stage companies that are working on personalized healthcare apps.

Lyra Health Completes $187M Series E Financing to Advance Comprehensive Mental Health Care

Employer-focused mental healthcare app company Lyra Health wraps up its Series E round, raising slightly more than its anticipated $175 million.

Telehealth company Ro explores deal to go public

Ro considers going public via merger with a special purpose acquisition company in a deal that would value the online health, wellness, and prescription delivery company at $4 billion.

Monday Morning Update 2/1/21

January 31, 2021 News 2 Comments

Top News

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

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

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


Reader Comments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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

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

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

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

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

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


Webinars

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

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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


People

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


Announcements and Implementations

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


COVID-19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Sponsor Updates

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

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

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Katie the Intern 1/29/21

January 29, 2021 Katie the Intern No Comments

Hi, HIStalk! Hope you all are doing well. This column offers a different perspective, but speaks to working with IT and project management, surviving acquisitions, job termination, and how COVID-19 has paved this landscape of change. Hope you enjoy! 

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I spoke with Randy Burkert of Asheville, NC. He served until recently as manager of Mission Health’s Center for Innovation in Asheville. His early career was in engineering, but he moved to innovation work in 2013 to follow an interest in healthcare. While Randy did not work directly in IT, he described his job as working closely with stakeholders, IT resources, and tech companies.

Mission Health focuses on advanced medical care in western North Carolina. Randy used his experience with innovative processes, methodologies, and product development to manage the Center for Innovation. It worked to “promote and accelerate innovation opportunities that would have a transformational impact on our health system.”

“A lot of our time was problem seeking,” Randy said. “We successfully identified significant, measurable problems that we needed to be solved, that healthcare needed to be solved, and we went out to solve them.” 

Randy’s team worked with vendors to apply solutions to problems. We talked about stakeholders and working with IT teams during this process through the lens of supporting an innovative process. I had little understanding of what “stakeholder” meant and how that played a role in project management, so Randy explained.

“An internal stakeholder is anybody who can provide valuable information relevant to the project that you’re going to work on who in turn will be impacted by that project,” he said. 

Identifying stakeholders in a project is a critical first step. As an example, Randy told me of a solution for patients who are injured in hospital falls. The hospital pays those bills, which are not reimbursed by insurance in most cases. A vendor came to the Center with technology to reduce falls for inpatients. Stakeholders were unit managers, nurse leads, and CEOs, along with IT managers. In the early days when Randy worked with IT developers, their focus was supporting operations rather than working on innovation projects.

The innovation department created a devoted group of IT members who worked on multiple projects and had vast knowledge of all things IT. This team acted as a liaison to pull in other resources when needed, Randy said, and that model worked well for the Center. 

Much of Randy’s work at the Center was done before Mission Health was acquired by HCA Healthcare in 2019. Randy offered advice about surviving an acquisition.

His first idea is that every employee should have an idea of their worth to the central network of a business. They should make sure their value is tied to that central or core network, as even though healthcare offers several models for innovation, there are greater values in healthcare services, such as a doctor’s services or IT’s problem-solving tech. 

In the midst of the pandemic, the Center for Innovation was dissolved. In Randy’s opinion, this was due to innovation not being at the forefront of what the health system’s goals were. He stressed that innovation is important, but operational excellence was of higher importance after the acquisition. Over time, this meant that the Center was no longer essential to the functioning of HCA.

“We were able to operate for a pretty long period of time, but we didn’t know where or how to fit in,” Randy said. “When COVID came along, the financial pressures were significant to the health system, and they were making some tough decisions to cut back anything that was not a core function.” 

HCA centralized a lot of roles, including IT support functions. Mission Health was a non-profit, community-run hospital, and HCA Healthcare is a national, publicly traded company. Adapting was tough, Randy said, but the center held on until COVID-19 hit the world.

“Having a dedicated set of resources in an organization that focuses on and drives innovation is a much more effective model,” he said. But, support and dedication are required even at the top level for innovation to be successful. Until that is done, innovation will not be successful no matter where it is.

Because of COVID-19’s impact on the healthcare system, Randy’s position was terminated in October 2020. He is looking for a job in which he can apply his engineering, innovation, and management skillset. He believes that COVID-19 has shown leaders that innovation can help organizations prepare for future disasters. “Technologies that have been around or have been moderately tested or applied or used, such as virtual care, really accelerated,” Randy said. “It has now become the new standard.” 

———

TDLR; Katie the Intern spoke to a department manager of an innovation center about the importance of innovation and project management, acquisitions, and job termination. 

That’s it for this week! I’ll back early February with my first virtual video interview / conversation. Until then, have a great one! 

Katie The Intern

Katie

Email me or connect with me on Twitter.

Weekender 1/29/21

January 29, 2021 Weekender 2 Comments

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Weekly News Recap

  • Athenahealth pays $18.25 million to settle federal False Claims Act allegations related to paying kickbacks to increase sales from 2014-2020.
  • GetWellNetwork acquires Docent Health.
  • Sharecare acquires Doc.ai.
  • ECRI lists its top 10 health technology challenges for 2021.
  • Symplr acquires Phynd.

Best Reader Comments

My take is that more public pricing will mostly affect hospitals that are undifferentiated and not capital efficient. So your-well branded academic system will still attract those with the ability to pay, your ruthlessly cost conscious commercial chain will actually benefit from the public knowing how much cheaper they are, and your community / rural hospital with decent volume already mostly gets the customer who has no other options. It ain’t fun for inefficient hospitals to close, but it also ain’t fun to be price gouged for medical care. (IANAL)

If you have to be short of something, you want to be short of vaccine. We can get more vaccine. I’m confident of that now. Now the converse: You are short of physicians. How long does it take to train a physician? How much money does it take to train a nurse or pharmacist? What are the hurdles you need to jump to open a new PH Office? It’s all difficult, costly, and there are years-long lead times. According to the Milken Institute, there were 133 experimental therapies as of April 2020. There were 49 in clinical trials. Holy cow! We will be up to our eyeballs in vaccines and treatments very soon. I’m guessing by summer 2021. And all those physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and public health offices will be waiting. They will scale up the vaccine rollout like crazy. (Brian Too


Watercooler Talk Tidbits

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A Mississippi man complains to the local TV station that a hospital wouldn’t let him in because he refused to wear a mask. He says he can’t breathe through a mask, wears a bandanna instead, and says he has a doctor’s note explaining his situation, but the hospital says he refused to wear any face covering even after they called his doctor, who said he should have no problem wearing a mask.

Stormont Vail Hospital (KS) defends giving its fundraising board members COVID-19 vaccine by saying that “our team members include our boards.”

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Former Athenahealth CEO Jonathan Bush buys the Maine oceanfront home of former environmental lawyer and two-time candidate for governor Eliot Cutler in the most expensive home sale in the state in 2020 at $7.55 million. The 15,455 square foot home features a 5.5 acre oceanfront lot with 650 feet of shore frontage, gymnasium with sauna and steam rooms, heated pool, tennis court, a 4,000-bottle secured wine vault, and a four-bedroom guest house. It was originally listed at $11 million.

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Employees of St. Mark’s Hospital (UT) launch a GoFundMe campaign to buy a car for ED environmental services worker and employee of the month Michael Piper, who showed up for his night shift on a freezing New Year’s Day when buses weren’t running after riding his bicycle 37 miles to work.


In Case You Missed It


Get Involved


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Morning Headlines 1/29/21

January 28, 2021 Headlines No Comments

Athenahealth Agrees to Pay $18.25 Million to Resolve Allegations that It Paid Illegal Kickbacks

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

GetWellNetwork Acquires Docent Health

GetWellNetwork acquires consumer engagement software vendor Docent Health.

SCP & CO Healthcare Acquisition Company Announces Closing of Upsized $230,000,000 Initial Public Offering, Including Full Exercise of the Over-Allotment Option

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

Emids Acquires Canadian Design-Led Software Engineering Firm Macadamian

Emids acquires software development consulting firm Macadamian.

Sharecare acquires doc.ai to expand engineering expertise, accelerate digital transformation of healthcare through innovative AI platform

As sources predicted, consumer health information platform Sharecare acquires AI vendor Doc.ai for an undisclosed sum.

News 1/29/21

January 28, 2021 News 7 Comments

Top News

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

The federal government says the company’s marketing programs:

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

Reader Comments

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

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

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


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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


Webinars

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

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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GetWellNetwork acquires consumer engagement software vendor Docent Health.

Emids acquires software development consulting firm Macadamian.

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

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

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

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

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


Sales

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

People

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

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

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


Announcements and Implementations

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

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

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

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


Government and Politics

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

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

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


COVID-19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other

ECRI lists its top 10 health technology hazards for 2021:

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

Sponsor Updates

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

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