Recent Articles:

Morning Headlines 10/20/22

October 19, 2022 Headlines No Comments

Over 41,000 VA Patients Warned of Delayed Care Due to Troubled Electronic Records System

The VA notifies 41,000 patients that their care may have been delayed due to problems with the department’s Oracle Cerner-powered EHR, further implementations of which have been delayed.

EngagedMD Raises $11MM in Funding Round Led by MonCap for Growth in the Fertility Space and Beyond

EngagedMD, which offers patient education and informed consent technologies for fertility practices, raises $11 million.

HHS Office for Civil Rights probes ‘hacking/IT incident’ at Defense Health Headquarters

The HHS Office for Civil Rights investigates a cybersecurity incident at Defense Health headquarters that may have impacted 1,279 people.

Morning Headlines 10/19/22

October 18, 2022 Headlines No Comments

Inbound Health Launches to Enable Partners to Build and Scale Hospital and Skilled Nursing Facility-at-Home Care Models

Minnesota-based Allina Health and Flare Capital Partners launch Inbound Health, which will help other health systems develop tech-enabled, home-based care programs.

BioIntelliSense Acquires AlertWatch® Clinical Intelligence Engine to Expand its Comprehensive Portfolio of Continuous Patient Monitoring Solutions

Remote patient monitoring technology vendor BioIntelliSense acquires Alert Watch, which offers data aggregation for clinical monitoring.

Redi.Health Secures Financing to Accelerate Availability of Health Management Platform for Patients with Chronic Diseases

Chronic disease patient support app developer Redi.Health raises $3.7 million in seed funding.

News 10/19/22

October 18, 2022 News No Comments

Top News

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Minnesota-based Allina Health and Flare Capital Partners launch Inbound Health, which will help other health systems develop tech-enabled, home-based care programs.

The new company is backed by an initial funding round of $20 million.

Former Mount Sinai Chief Product Officer and Head of Consumer Digital Innovations Dave Kerwar, MBA joins Inbound as CEO.


Reader Comments

From Digital Triplet: “Re: SDOH platforms. Findhelp, the NC low bidder you mentioned, has been working to publicize apples-oranges comparisons to Unite Us and to influence procurement activities in several states (OH and NH come to mind). They even got NH policymakers to make the kind of information sharing that Unite Us enables illegal, the David in your David and Goliath metaphor throwing stones at the big guy.” Unverified. New Hampshire’s SB 423 addressed privacy issues with the state HHS’s choice of Unite Us. It limits its storage of information to residents who are receiving HHS-funded services who consent to each instance of a referral and also prohibits provider users from viewing the information of people who haven’t been referred to them. 

From Morpheus: “Re: SDOH platforms. Unite Us is already the market leader after its acquisition of NowPow. Potential competitors would need to offer these advantages.” The provided list includes:

  • A better user interface, especially the use of smartphones as point-of-service data capture tools.
  • Lower cost.
  • Better interoperability for social care referrals and loop closure of documentation of services. This would need to come from the federal government and ONC, where any program that gets federal money should have software that complies with interoperability standards. It would not be necessary to have a single statewide or regional system if smaller systems could communicate.

Meanwhile, Forbes updates its article on North Carolina’s selection of Unite Us with a statement from the company, which insists that it won the state’s business competitively and refers to a 2020 press release from UNC Health that describes its reasons for joining NCCARE360 and its Unite Us platform.


Webinars

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Patient communication platform vendor Well Health changes its name to Artera, as celebrated by the privately held company’s Chief Revenue Officer John Knotwell and CEO Guillaume de Zwirek.

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Infusion pump data management vendor Bainbridge Health, a spinoff of Children’s Healthcare of Philadelphia, raises $3.4 million.

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Remote patient monitoring technology vendor BioIntelliSense acquires Alert Watch, which offers data aggregation for clinical monitoring. Alert Watch founder and CEO Kevin Trempher, MD, PhD, who is also a professor at University of Michigan Health, earned a Cal Berkeley PhD in chemical engineering, an MD from University of California Irvine, and residency in anesthesiology from UCLA Medical Center before changing his emphasis to perioperative care systems in the 1990s.

Calm, which offers sleep and meditation apps, will launch Calm Health, a mental health and provider-caregiver communication app. Calm acquired care coordination platform vendor Ripple Health early this year.

Ari Gottlieb of A2 Strategy notes that health tech companies have lost $215 billion in market value, 81% of their total, as investors continue separating real business prospects from hype. He identifies some of the worst-performing companies — Babylon (down 98%), Teladoc Health (which has shed $46 billion in value down to $4 billion), and GoodRx and Amwell (down 92% from previous highs). He says that the only digital and telehealth company that is up in the past nine months his Hims & Hers, which shows that “selling ED pills to college kids” may be a recession-resistant strategy.


Sales

  • University of Rochester Medical Center (NY) will implement Sectra’s enterprise imaging technology via cloud-based subscription service.
  • Redox selects IMO Precision Normalize from Intelligent Medical Objects to standardize health data for its customers.
  • A new hospital in Germany will deploy Ascom’s Telligence patient call system.

People

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Gerald Greeley, MHA (Lawrence General Hospital) joins Shields Health as CIO.

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Thanh Tran (South Shore Health) joins MaineHealth as VP/CTO.

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Hugh Cassidy, PhD, MBA (True Blue Partners) returns to LeanTaaS as chief data scientist.

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Caryn Bremer (In Compass Health) joins Eagle Telemedicine as VP of licensing and credentialing.

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Annexus Health promotes David Meier to CTO and names Katy Wile (Huron) VP of product delivery.

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Cognizant-owned  TriZetto Healthcare Products promotes Michael Pierce to COO.


Announcements and Implementations

Fort HealthCare (WI) implements Fresenius Kabi’s interoperable Ivenix Infusion System. The drug producer acquired Ivenix in March for $240 million.

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Kirby Medical Center (IL) goes live on automated medical documentation software and real-time clinical support from Augmedix.

Amazon Web Services launches Landing Zone Accelerator for Healthcare for customers to maintain security and compliance in the cloud.

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Oracle EVP Mike Sicilia tells Oracle Cerner Health Conference attendees that healthcare is Oracle’s highest priority and primary mission. Oracle Cerner also previewed its Advance dashboard, says that its Seamless Exchange integration product is nearing release, and highlighted its RevElate patient accounting solution that will be released in the next few weeks.

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GE Healthcare will integrate Tribun Health’s digital pathology solution into its vendor-neutral archive.

Digital patient prescription tools vendor Custom Health acquires Health in Motion Network, which offers pharmacy patient health recordkeeping app. Health in Motion’s CEO is Ray Shealy, who has held executive roles at McKesson and T-Systems.

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A new KLAS report on credentialing solutions finds that users of ASM’s MD-Staff report a paperless process that has decreased FTEs and turnaround time, with customers also giving good marks to Modio Health’s OneView and RLDatix’s Verge Health solutions.


Government and Politics

A KHN article says that federal law requires that government resources be accessible to patients with disabilities, but the VA’s Oracle Cerner system doesn’t support blind or low-vision users with text enlargement or text-to-speech options. The VA has received over 1,000 Section 508 complaints about Oracle Cerner, of which 469 have been accepted by the company to fix. A VA anesthesiologist complains of small icons and the need for multiple high-resolution monitors to display a patient’s entire record, while  a team at one VA facility found that it doesn’t support text-to-speech. Unrelated to Oracle Cerner, a survey by the American Federal for the Blind found that more than half of respondents have struggled with using proprietary telehealth systems, especially hard-to-read chat sidebars, and some resorted to using FaceTime.

The Department of Justice sues Cigna, claiming that the insurer inflated the diagnosis codes of Medicare Advantage patients to boost payments. DOJ says Cigna’s contracted nurse practitioners did not order testing or imaging to support the complex diagnoses they submitted from home visits whose entire purpose was to increase billing for the most potentially lucrative patients rather than to deliver care

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Consumers with mild to moderate hearing loss can buy hearing aids without a prescription in an FDA rule change that took effect Monday. Best Buy has already launched an online hearing test and sale of 26 hearing aid models at prices ranging from $199 to $2,950. The Bose-powered models above offer self-tuning via a mobile app, preset templates for specific environments such as TV watching or restaurants, and video or voice call support directly from the app.


Privacy and Security

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Virginia Mason Franciscan Health (WA) works to restore IT systems impacted by the ransomware attack on parent organization CommonSpirit Health earlier this month. VMFH officials say providers are now able to access patient medical records, and that the patient portal should be back up and running in a few days.


Other

Yale New Haven Health System will spend $400 million to buy three for-profit hospitals with 700 total beds, citing the value of having all hospitals running Epic. Connecticut’s healthcare advocate says he hopes that YNHHS’s interoperability zeal will extend to having all of its hospitals participate in the new Connie statewide HIE.

A technology analysis firm predicts that Apple will partner with a US insurer in 2024 to offer health insurance that incorporates sensor data from its Watch. I see little connection with health insurance and Watch’s short list of minimally relevant physiologic measurements, but perhaps some insurer will offer Watches (especially to the Medicare Advantage audience that loves perceived freebies) as an inducement to sign up.


Sponsor Updates

  • Surescripts awards its White Coat Award to 10 healthcare industry leaders in e-prescription accuracy.
  • Clearsense rebrands its healthcare data management and analytics platform to 1Clearsense.
  • Netsmart exhibits at the 2022 LeadingAge Annual Meeting and Expo through October 19 in Denver.
  • Azara Healthcare releases a new case study, “Alaska Health Centers Improve Diabetes Care Through Data-Driven Healthcare Model.”
  • The North Carolina Dept. of IT wins a State Government IT Award from the National Association of State CIOs in the Business Process Innovations Category for the healthcare outcomes it achieved with Bamboo Health’s OpenBeds platform.
  • Biofourmis will present at the American Academy of Home Care Medicine October 28 in Orlando.
  • Oracle Cerner debuts new patient accounting solution RevElate at its annual conference.
  • Clearsense publishes a new case study, “Using Clearsense 20/20 to Predict Renal Failure.”
  • CloudWave will exhibit at the HIMSS New England HIE Conference October 20 in Worcester, MA.
  • Meditech expands its population health management offering with Expanse Population Insight, powered by Innovaccer’s data platform.
  • Diameter Health will exhibit at the NCQA Health Innovation Summit October 31-November 3 in Washington, DC.
  • EClinicalWorks announces that Advocare has achieved $1 billion in collections using EClinicalWorks RCM.
  • Ellkay will exhibit at Athenahealth’s Thrive conference October 24-26 in Austin.

Blog Posts


Contacts

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

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Morning Headlines 10/18/22

October 17, 2022 Headlines No Comments

Cityblock Health Creating 140 New Jobs

Cityblock Health will bring 140 jobs to Indiana when it begins providing tech-enabled care for MDwise members in Indianapolis and Fort Wayne.

Eyenuk secures $26 Million Series A funding to accelerate global access to AI-powered eye-screening technology

AI-powered eye-screening software company Eyenuk raises $26 million in a Series A round, bringing its total funding to $43 million.

Vanta lands $40M to automate cybersecurity compliance

Multi-vertical cybersecurity company Vanta raises $40 million in a Series B extension that brings its total raised to $203 million.

Curbside Consult with Dr. Jayne 10/17/22

October 17, 2022 Dr. Jayne No Comments

When I speak with physicians who don’t have a lot of experience with using telehealth for urgent care patients, they’re always concerned about quality. Many of them aren’t aware of some of the different techniques you can use to assess patients, or the ways you can instruct a patient to perform different maneuvers to help in that assessment.

It seems kind of funny at times, because in medical school we were always encouraged to remember that the patient’s story often provides the majority of information needed to narrow the options for diagnosis. Despite what we might think in a world of high-tech diagnostics, it’s not always about doing a lot of tests or even about performing hands-on examination techniques.

In my time as a “fast track” physician in a high-volume emergency department, I’ve seen a lot of patients who did not truly need emergency services. As telehealth expanded during the COVID pandemic, hospitals were looking at different ways to manage increasing emergency volumes and figuring out different ways to care for patients who didn’t need high acuity care. Some organizations turned to telehealth, adding phone booth-style cubicles where patients who met certain triage criteria could consult with a physician. Others moved to a “physician in triage” model to help expedite care, although that occasionally backfired when patients left after being triaged but were still stuck with a bill since they were seen by a physician.

With that in mind, I was excited to see an article last week in NEJM Catalyst that examined this phenomenon. Titled, “Converting an ED Fast Track to an ED Virtual Visit Track,” the case study looks at the Stanford Health Care experience as it substituted remote consultations for in-person visits in the emergency department. The effort started in December 2020, as the organization accelerated an already-approved plan to add virtual visits into the ED’s offerings. As we’ve seen with a number of technology initiatives across the US, the challenges posed by the COVID pandemic led to many different advances in care delivery capacity.

Historically, the goal of a fast-track area within an emergency department is to be able to treat low-acuity patients faster, since higher-need patients will always be prioritized. Typically, the fast-track area has dedicated physicians and nursing staff who can quickly evaluate and manage a variety of non-emergent problems, such as cough/cold, sore throat, ear pain, rashes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, low-grade burns, minor lacerations, sprains, lower-acuity fractures, and the like. On any given shift in the fast track, I’d see kids who were sent home from school too late to get an appointment with their primary care physician, people who were injured at work, and those who might not have a primary physician or other access to healthcare but who had run out of prescription medications or had other care needs.

At my hospital, the fast track was staffed by family physicians since the majority of patient complaints were the kinds of things we see in our offices day-in and day-out. That freed the board-certified Emergency Medicine physicians to manage more complex cases, including strokes, heart attacks, major traumas, gunshot wounds, serious burns, etc. It sounds like Stanford’s fast track unit was a lot like mine, with its own physicians, nurses, and ED technicians. However, due to COVID surges, Stanford implemented a Virtual Visit Track in place of its fast track, adding the offering to both adult and pediatric emergency departments. In that program, a physician is seeing low-acuity patients from a remote location, while dedicated support staff in the emergency department provide services that must be done in person.

In the Stanford program’s first year, 2,000 patients received virtual care through the offering. The volume of patients has been sustained, with around 1.5 patients per hour being diverted into the virtual visit track during an eight-hour shift. This metric was tracked closely since 12 patients per shift was the break-even point for the resource investment. The wait time for patients in the virtual track was around 1.9 hours compared to 4.2 hours for patients seen in-person for the same level of care.

Additionally, researchers looked at the quality of care being delivered, comparing virtual care to the standard in-person care normally available. The virtual care was found to be non-inferior. Research also showed that virtual patients had a lower median return visit rate than in-person patients, although the numbers were not statistically significant.

It’s great that this type of research is being performed so that we know whether the interventions we’re applying to the healthcare system are actually effective or if they’re just another shiny object that we thought would make a difference but didn’t. We’ve all seen plenty of the latter over the years, as hospital administrators brought back ideas from conferences and did a lot of “transformation” work without knowing for sure it would work.

I remember when my hospital jumped on the Disney Institute bandwagon back in the mid-2000s. A lot of money was spent on educational in-services, culture promotion, institution of dress codes, and uniformity across patient care units. I’m not sure any of it did much to drive patient outcomes or to retain staff. Frankly, as far as the latter, I think re-engineering the hospital cafeteria’s late-night offerings did a lot more to boost morale than the Disney principles ever did.

I was involved in a “virtual first” offering with one of my clients a couple of years ago, and it was an interesting experience. I know how my visits went, but when we looked at the work of all the clinicians on the panel, there was a lot of variety. Unfortunately, the program was slow to grow, and during my time there, we never had enough visit volume to get to the point where any research would have been statistically significant. Seeing this article makes me want to reach out to my successor and find out what their volumes have been since I left and if they’ve been doing any quality work. It would be gratifying to know that something I helped get off the ground was making a difference.

Has your organization done any work looking at the quality of virtual offerings compared to standard care? Is it a case of the newer offering being merely “non inferior” or does it really shine? Leave a comment or email me.

Email Dr. Jayne.

Readers Write: Five Lessons from the Five Years Since the EClinicalWorks Settlement

October 17, 2022 Readers Write No Comments

Five Lessons from the Five Years Since the EClinicalWorks Settlement
By Colette Matzzie, JD

Colette Matzzie, JD is an attorney and partner with Phillips & Cohen, LLP of Washington, DC.

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The June 2017 announcement by the Department of Justice of a $155 million settlement with EClinicalWorks for alleged misrepresentation of the capabilities of its electronic medical record software heralded the start of a new area for health fraud enforcement. Both DOJ and the HHS – Office of Inspector General announced that investigations of alleged fraud involving electronic health records systems would be a top enforcement priority. Enforcement has continued at a steady clip, with DOJ bringing actions against six additional electronic health records vendors. There is every reason to think more will be forthcoming.

Most actions have been initiated by whistleblowers using the False Claims Act, but, at least two actions, including one resulting in a $145 million settlement, were initiated by the government.

Five lessons can be drawn from this period of robust enforcement.

DOJ and HHS-OIG have made good on their promise to investigate allegations of fraud in the development and implementation of electronic health records.

Since June 2017, five settlements and one additional intervention have been announced:

  • February 2019 settlement with Greenway for $57.25 million.
  • January 2020 settlement with Practice Fusion for $145 million.
  • August 2020 settlement with Konica Minolta for $500,000.
  • January 2021 settlement with Athenahealth for $18.25 million.
  • April 2021 settlement with CareCloud for $3.8 million.
  • March 2022 intervention in a pending qui tam against Modernizing Medicine.

The US Attorney in Vermont has led the way, but with US attorneys in Northern Georgia, Northern California, New Jersey, Southern Florida, and Massachusetts joining in. Five of the cases were initiated by whistleblowers. Three settlements (EClinicalWorks, Greenway, and Practice Fusion) required Corporate Integrity Agreements (CIAs) with OIG with ongoing federal oversight of software development, relationships with customers, and financial arrangements.

Financial relationships between electronic medical record companies and providers have been a major enforcement focus.

All but one settlement allege violations of the federal Anti-Kickback statute, which prohibits the payment of remuneration to induce referrals for items or services paid for by federal health programs. For example, DOJ alleged that CareCloud provided customers with credits, cash bonuses, and other payments to recommend the software and not to say anything negative. We can expect vigorous enforcement of the Anti-Kickback statute for health IT vendors where federal payments, whether under the Meaningful Use or Promoting Interoperability programs or otherwise, provide the necessary federal funding hook for allegations.

Kickbacks paid to EMR vendors by pharmaceutical companies and other third-party medical providers to influence clinical decisions are also ripe for enforcement.

Of major significance is the January 2020 resolution of criminal and civil charges with Practice Fusion for soliciting and receiving kickbacks from a major opioid company for utilizing its EMR to influence physician prescribing of opioid pain medication. Clinical decision support is an essential requirement for EMRs to deliver their promise of evidence-based clinical care. The Practice Fusion settlement brought scrutiny on EHRs leveraging their power to influence clinical decisions and extracting payments from pharmaceutical companies to implement CDS tools to increase prescribing of the sponsor’s drugs. This practice threatens to undermine the promise of EMRs to improve patient health in favor of profits for the EHR vendor.

Individual accountability has been an important feature of EMR enforcement actions.

DOJ’s interest in holding individuals accountable for corporate wrongdoing has peaked in the last five years and can be seen in a wide variety of industries. No less with EMR enforcement, DOJ has held accountable individuals for their participation in alleged misconduct involving EMR software. In EClinicalWorks, three of the company founders were held jointly and severally liable for payment of nearly $155 million, with three others responsible for smaller payments for their role. Health IT companies can expect continued scrutiny of the knowing decisions of individuals.

Future enforcement actions will include recovery of funds spent as part of the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System or MIPS.

Damages in the EClinicalWorks settlement recovered payments made under the Meaningful Use program. But recent settlements have also referenced recovery of payments under MIPS. There is every reason to think that DOJ will continue to seek recoupment from vendors of the portion of payments allocated for compliance with Promoting Interoperability requirements. Likewise, one should anticipate that DOJ and OIG will turn to enforcement of the Cures Act, including compliance with interoperability and information blocking mandates.

Readers Write: The Clinical Dilemma at the Tipping Point – How We All Can Drive Transformation in Healthcare

October 17, 2022 Readers Write 2 Comments

The Clinical Dilemma at the Tipping Point – How We All Can Drive Transformation in Healthcare
By Ted Ottenheimer

Ted Ottenheimer is VP of clinical data transformation for Ascom Americas of Morrisville, NC.

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I have read countless articles regarding the shortage of staff in healthcare. I have experienced it myself in the pre-hospital EMS (emergency medical services) setting. So much of what I read provides a great depiction of the situation in which we find ourselves, yet few of them offer solutions. If you’re a nurse, administrator, leader, institution, or anyone interested in the healthcare field, I’m sharing my perspective here on how to be part of the change.

When I first left the military, I was looking for a nursing school to expand my career. The one I had intended to apply to, hosted right in the hospital, was closing its final year of the program. I was left to search for a college that I could attend in a traditional manner. As a single father, this posed a challenge, as I had to continue to maintain gainful employment.Hence, I entered the workforce. 

From time to time, I would look for that nursing opportunity. I finally found it two years ago in a program that runs on evenings and weekends with manageable clinical time during the standard work week. I wish I was 20 years younger, but I believe you are never too old to pursue your dreams.

Now is the time to invest in the programs necessary to continue turning out the critical staffing that the ever-changing healthcare industry is demanding – nursing aides, LPNs, RNs, RTs, and so on. What if these programs have more to offer for non-traditional students? What if programs are brought back into the health system? Partnerships between hospitals and higher learning can be successful, although I understand the prestige associated with being able to attend these opportunities for higher learning is a fierce battle of minds in which only the highest aptitude may attend. However, capacity continues to be an issue to provide the necessary staffing, and we need to think creatively to solve today’s challenges. 

To make a change requires a significant amount of effort and the ability to think outside the box. Let’s look at an example of a way that we made a change. The minimum provider level to staff an ambulance is an emergency medical technician – basic. There is an aide position that requires less training called an emergency medical responder. After years of work by some determined individuals, they were able to incorporate this into the local high school curriculum. The intention is to engage the students in assisting our local community. This is similar to having a CNA (certified nurse’s aide) program in high school or vocational / technical school. Both examples are great options to engage at an early age with hopes of pursuing a career in the healthcare field. It amazes me how many doctors and nurses I have spoken with whom have been trained in EMS, which drove them to continue in healthcare.

We see that there are policies in place for continuing education in nearly all of the health systems. Are you seeking out the employees with potential? I suspect with the current burnout rate it is difficult to think of continuing education. However, helping build one’s career is always rewarding in both directions. I will always remember those leaders who have taken the time for me and encouraged me to work towards improvement.

My last point is adopting technology. Clinical staff are caring for more patients than ever before. As the workload increases, the cognitive load grows as well. This situation will not diminish any time soon.  Technology can assist in capturing routine clerical entries, alerting clinicians to actionable patient events, provide collaboration tools, and clinical decision support that can reduce the burden on staff. It will reduce the negative outcomes we all worry about and want to avoid.  Engage the clinicians early in the process and watch them become the champions for you.  Take some time to see what is most important to them by reading our recent report, “Nursing Satisfaction: What Matters Most At Work.”

These are some simple concepts that can be the change that is so desperately needed in healthcare today.

Morning Headlines 10/17/22

October 16, 2022 Headlines No Comments

CHOP spinout Bainbridge Health raises $3.35M

Infusion pump data management vendor Bainbridge Health, a spinoff from Children’s Healthcare of Philadelphia, raises $3.35 million.

Redox Sets the Stage for Composable Healthcare, Expands Internationally

Redox expands into Canada and offers API Actions, which describes specific data models as concepts that developers can more readily understand.

Custom Health Acquires Health in Motion Network

Personalized medication management company Custom Health acquires Health in Motion Network, which has developed wearables data aggregation and tracking software for patients.

Monday Morning Update 10/17/22

October 16, 2022 News 1 Comment

Top News

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The VA pushes back its next Oracle Cerner go-live from January 2023 to June 2023.

VA Deputy Secretary Donald Remy says that the “assess and address” period is necessary because “the Oracle Cerner electronic health record system is not delivering for veterans or VA healthcare providers.”

VA Secretary Denis McDonough announced in July that further deployments would be delayed until January 2023 while technical and system problems were resolved. The VA was set to roll the system out to 25 VA medical centers in 2023.

The VA is sending letters to every veteran who may have been impacted by system problems at its five live sites, asking them to call the VA if they experienced delays in prescription filling, appointments, referrals, or test results.


Reader Comments

From State of Confusion: “Re: NC and Unite Us. The $14 million state SDOH referral platform procurement was funded via solicited donations from Medicaid MCOs that were paid to Foundation for Health Leadership and Innovation, which took a 10% cut off the top. State HHS appears to have chosen its vendor and terms, then asked MCOs to foot the bill instead of going through state IT procurement. Also, a competitor that bid $500K for the project was shut out via service contracts that prohibited the use of competing systems.” Unverified. Unite Us is the Goliath among mostly David-sized SDOH competitors, having raised nearly $200 million from big names such as Salesforce, Andy Slavitt’s Town Hall Ventures, and Optum, with a Series C round last year valuing the company at $1.7 billion. I know little (but suspect much) about state IT procurement, but more knowledgeable readers are welcome to chime in. Federal taxpayers gave North Carolina HHS $650 million to test and evaluate non-medical Medicaid interventions, such as those related to food and housing, in its Healthy Opportunities Pilots.

From D. L. Roth: “Re: Epic. Are they trying to dodge the FDA by changing their sepsis algorithm and definition of sepsis, or is it normal for a software company to define a clinical outcome?” I can’t see the paywalled article, but the lead paragraphs say that Epic now recommends that hospitals train the sepsis model on their own data and has changed its definition of a sepsis to a more commonly accepted standard that relies less on the existence of antibiotic orders. A just-published article in Journal of Critical Care compares nine hospitals that implemented Epic’s sepsis prediction tool to six that did not, concluding that the Epic tool didn’t improve outcomes. A JAMA-published study from 2021 concluded that “the Epic Sepsis Model poorly predicts sepsis” and generates many false alarms, questioning why so many hospitals were using it in the absence of peer-reviewed clinical validation. That’s probably the real story – not that an EHR vendor developed a clinical tool that didn’t work as planned, but that hospitals blindly started using it to support patient care without digging deeper. Still, the tool is advisory rather than prescriptive, at least when used as intended, and thus should elicit little FDA regulatory interest. The sepsis advisor may not have helped patients as much as Epic and its client hospitals had hoped, but it also didn’t hurt them. It’s a good lesson for vendors who think AI/ML is the universal hammer for all healthcare nails — Epic has 40-plus years of experience working with the best health systems in the country, so if it can mess up a clinical algorithm, imagine the clinical damage your cool startup and its team of former beer-ponging Facebook engineers could do.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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The most valuable mid-career credential to earn is a master’s degree or vendor-specific certification, poll respondents say, although I’ll asterisk those results because they are driven by the number of respondents who actually earned one of the listed credentials.

New poll to your right or here: If your job allowed you to live anywhere, what top three factors would be most important in your choice?


Mike generously donated to Donors Choose in offering “Continued thanks to you, Mrs. H, Dr. Jayne, and all the other content contributors.” I applied matching funds to fully fund these classroom projects:

  • Headphones and clocks for Ms. M’s second grade class in Phoenix, AZ.
  • Force and motion exercises for Ms. D’s elementary school class on Apollo Beach, FL.
  • Headphones for the third grade class of Ms. Z in Orlando, FL.
  • Activities and resources for Ms. N’s first grade class in Arlington, TX.
  • Math books and games for Mr. C’s middle school class in Phoenix, AZ.
  • STEM robotics and Lego kits for Ms. W’s middle school class in Margate, FL.
  • STEM activity kits for Mrs. S’s elementary school class in San Bernardino, CA.

I’ve heard from most of the teachers already, including Ms. N, who said, “I am so grateful; but more importantly, our students will be. Your generosity, support, and investment is so appreciated. Our students will be able to enjoy this resources for many, many years to come!”

My recovery from “The COVID” remains uneventful nearly a week in, with my only symptoms over that time being a couple of early days’ worth of mild stuffiness and a scratchy throat. I’m remaining sequestered until midweek, although CDC guidelines say I can rejoin society now as long as I wear a mask.

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Great news: the cringey “reaction GIF” – painfully unoriginal video clips posted on social media by people who are unwilling or unable to use actual words — is dead, retired to the Internet boneyard by Facebook-using boomers who still believe them to be clever.


Webinars

October 18 (Tuesday) 2 ET. “Patient Payment Trends 2022: Learn All The Secrets.” Sponsor: Mend. Presenter: Matt McBride, MBA, co-founder and CEO, Mend. Many industries offer frictionless payments, but healthcare still sends paper bills to patients who are demanding modern conveniences. This webinar will review consumer sentiment on healthcare payments, recent changes to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act that create opportunities for new patient financial engagement, and new tactics to collect more payments faster from patients.

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

The CEO of CVS Health says that the company will be involved in the “entire spectrum of someone’s health journey,” which includes health insurance via its Aetna business, MinuteClinic care delivery, pharmacy, and with its recent acquisition of Signify Health, the provision of in-home care. Karen Lynch also says the company will make a primary care acquisition later this year and will expand its digital offerings since otherwise “we’re never going to get that connected care and that personalized care.” She says that Amazon is a transactional company, while CVS has earned the right to be in healthcare, particularly via its COVID-19 vaccination program.


People

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Lee Westerfield, MBA (Dstillery) joins Clearsense as CFO.


Announcements and Implementations

Vanderbilt and Brigham and Women’s will study the use of Synapse’s clinical decision support and medication reconciliation software to analyze drug-related risks and optimize medication appropriateness, as integrated with their Epic workflows.

Redox expands into Canada and offers API Actions, which describes specific data models as concepts that developers can more readily understand.

The National Association of ACOs asks CMS to conduct pilots of ACO submission of EHR-extracted quality of care data before mandating electronic submission. It also wants CMS to eliminate the requirement that ACOs report data on all patients from all payers, saying that ACOs that serve vulnerable patients will look work in CMS comparisons because of their sicker populations. A NAACOS survey finds that 39% of ACOs use more than 10 EHRs and only 17% use just one, forcing them to rely on third-party aggregators.


Government and Politics

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An MGMA report finds that the most burdensome regulatory issue of medical practices is prior authorization, while the second is the No Surprises Act requirement that practices give good-faith estimates of out-of-network costs in advance.


Privacy and Security

In England, NHS software provider Advanced confirms that an August 4 cyberattack involved LockBit ransomware and that data was exfiltrated from Staffplan and Caresys customers. The hacker penetrated the Advanced network by using third-party credentials to establish a remote desktop session to its Staffplan Citrix server, from which it navigated the network to deploy malware. In a fascinating back story, the LockBit development team released Version 3.0 of the “ransomware as a service” that it promised would “Make Ransomware Great Again,” after which a disgruntled developer breached its systems and released the builder program on Twitter so that rival ransomware groups could use it without paying a percentage of the ransom.


Other

A Canada-based engineering society demands that “software engineers” stop using that title because they are not licensed or regulated like all other engineers.

A Minnesota health system halts plans to build a new clinic due to costs of switching its Epic host from Allina Health to OCHIN.

Bizarre: 200 decomposing bodies are found on the roof of a hospital in Pakistan, apparently placed there by its mortuary, which initially refused to allow inspectors to enter. Meanwhile, a health minister in India continues his surprise inspection of hospitals and firing those in charge for problems that include requiring families to buy patient medicines elsewhere, night nurses who don’t answer patient calls, clinicians who are absent but clocked in, and dogs running loose on the wards.

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I’m honoring the memory of HIS-torian Vince Ciotti and the sunny slopes of yesterday by surfacing a LinkedIn post by Tom Sullivan on an upcoming reunion of former employees of Ray Forgit’s Medical Systems Management, which merged with Picis in 2002. Let me know of similar reunions or online groups since I’m a sucker for former health IT employer nostalgia.


Sponsor Updates

  • OptimizeRx reports strong results from a recent program that used its patent-pending AI technique and real-world data to improve time to diagnosis and therapy for a complex disease.
  • The Shasta County Health & Human Services Agency expands its implementation of Netsmart’s CareFabric platform to better support the California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal program.
  • Sectra will install the radiology module of its enterprise imaging solution throughout German ANregiomed’s healthcare system.
  • BCBS of Massachusetts uses Olive’s AI and automation to speed review time, automate authorizations, and eliminate administrative costs in a pilot project with New England Baptist Hospital.
  • Optum releases its first Pharmacy Insights Podcast, “What’s happening in specialty pharmacy?”
  • Aurora Mental Health Center reduces time to remission by 56% and increases access by 30% with Owl’s measurement-based care platform.
  • Premier’s Contigo Health subsidiary completes its asset transaction for national provider contracts and licenses to cost-containment technology from TRPN Direct Pay and Devon Health.
  • Redox releases a new podcast, “Patient Experience & Healthcare’s Move to the Cloud with ConvergeOne’s Matt Vestal.”
  • Sectra launches its Let’s Talk Enterprise Imaging Podcast with three new episodes.
  • Sphere will exhibit at Athenahealth Thrive 2022 October 24-26 in Austin.
  • Surescripts releases a new There’s a Better Way: Smart Talk on Healthcare and Technology Podcast, “An Antidote to Clinician Burnout: Fusing Old-Fashioned Medicine with High Technology.”
  • Talkdesk awards 2022 CX Innovator Awards to Alignment Health and Carbon Health.

Blog Posts

Black Book’s latest ranking of coding, transcription, CDI, and clinical information management software and services vendors include the following HIStalk sponsors:

  • Comprehensive mid-RCM coding, CDI and compliance solutions – inpatient hospitals and health systems: Nuance.
  • Comprehensive mid-RCM coding, CDI and compliance solutions – physician practices and ambulatory providers: Nuance.
  • Clinical data interoperability solutions: Redox.
  • Medical speech recognition and AI solutions: Nuance.
  • EMPI and clean-up: Verato.
  • Computer-assisted coding applications: Optum360.
  • Vendor-neutral archive: Agfa HealthCare.

Contacts

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

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Morning Headlines 10/14/22

October 13, 2022 Headlines No Comments

Walgreens Boots Alliance Accelerates Full Acquisition of CareCentrix

Walgreens will buy the remaining shares of care coordination and benefit management platform vendor CareCentrix for $392 million, with the total acquisition cost amounting to $722 million.

CommonSpirit Update

CommonSpirit Health, which operates 142 hospitals in 21 states, confirms that its continued downtime that started October 3 was caused by a ransomware attack.

Data Dimensions Announces Acquisition of Providerflow to Revolutionize Medical Bill Payments for Clearinghouse

Property and casualty EDI vendor Data Dimensions acquires Providerflow, whose platform manages electronic claims attachments and requests from patients and third parties.

VA extends EHR delay to June 2023 after review finds more system problems

The VA announces that it will push back further Oracle Cerner EHR deployments by an additional six months to give the department more time to troubleshoot issues that have impacted patient care and user satisfaction.

NeuroFlow Closes $25M Growth Investment

Behavioral health assessment and triaging platform vendor NeuroFlow secures a $25 million growth investment.

News 10/14/22

October 13, 2022 News 1 Comment

Top News

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Walgreens will buy the remaining shares of care coordination and benefit management platform vendor CareCentrix for $392 million.

The total acquisition cost, including the previous investment by Walgreens, is $722 million.

CareCentrix CEO John Driscoll, MBA, MPhil will take a Walgreens role as EVP and president of US healthcare. He has previously served as a top leader of Surescripts, Castlight Health, and Waystar.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

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Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor Synapse Medicine. The France-based company believes in medication success and is dedicated to making it possible for everyone. To achieve this goal, it has built an extensive, global medication knowledge base using algorithms to ensure the most reliable, up-to-date data. On the front end, Synapse Medicine provides a SaaS platform and UI components that are used to prescribe, dispense, and manage medications across the entire patient journey. The company is working with world-leading hospitals and digital health companies in the United States, Europe, and Japan to transform today’s medication regimens into tomorrow’s medication success. The company offers a webinar titled “Optimizing Prescription Safety for Your Health Tech Product.” Thanks to Synapse Medicine for supporting HIStalk.


Mrs. H insisted that I take a COVID-19 test before we went out to dinner with higher-risk friends Wednesday since I had mild nasal congestion, a bit of fatigue, and a scratchy throat after our recent travels. I did a swab test just to humor her and to make sure I wasn’t a risk to our friends and it turns out that her concerns were well founded – I tested positive (it felt odd to tell them, “We can’t come because I have COVID.”) The mild initial symptoms have eased and no new ones have emerged, so I’m hoping my vaxxed-to-the-max immune system is repelling the viral siege and protecting me from long COVID. I can only imagine how I would have felt – literally and figuratively – had I been infected in the pre-vaccine dark ages of 2020. Mrs. H, who tested negative and whom I see only from a masked distance as I isolate, masked up and went to Walgreens to buy a couple of $20 boxes of rapid tests for follow-up, where she learned from the helpful clerk that people with insurance can get four boxes of rapid antigen tests (two tests per box) per family member every 30 days at no charge. I don’t want to know who is ultimately picking up that tab.


Webinars

October 18 (Tuesday) 2 ET. “Patient Payment Trends 2022: Learn All The Secrets.” Sponsor: Mend. Presenter: Matt McBride, MBA, co-founder and CEO, Mend. Many industries offer frictionless payments, but healthcare still sends paper bills to patients who are demanding modern conveniences. This webinar will review consumer sentiment on healthcare payments, recent changes to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act that create opportunities for new patient financial engagement, and new tactics to collect more payments faster from patients.

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

Well Health will acquire CloudMD’s Cloud Practice Canada-focused business — which includes the Juno EMR, billing software, and three primary care clinic – for just under $6 million.

Specialty EHR/PM vendor Nextech acquires TouchMD, which sells patient visualization and marketing systems to plastic surgery and dermatology practices.

Property and casualty EDI vendor Data Dimensions acquires Providerflow, whose platform manages electronic claims attachments and requests from patients and third parties.

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Prescription discount platform GoodRx launches Provider Mode, which allows providers to compare costs, send coupons to patients, and repeat searches via their own dashboard.

Weight loss coaching app vendor Noom lays off another 10% of its employees, mostly from its coaching team, as it attempts to transition into enterprise sales and a broader, more personalized mind-body platform. The company has raised $650 million and was planning a 2022 IPO at a $10 billion valuation. An Insider review found that the company doesn’t offer the personalized support it claims, and instead cranks out canned calorie-counting plans for a high subscription price with little evidence of long-term weight loss success. The company has generated thousands of Better Business Bureau and FTC complaints for billing users without their consent and making it hard for them to cancel subscriptions.

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Behavioral health assessment and triaging platform vendor NeuroFlow secures a $25 million growth investment. I interviewed CEO Chris Molaro in March 2022.

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The Private Equity Stakeholder Project calls out the former ownership of safety net hospital system Prospect Medical Holdings by private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners. They say that the PE firm reaped $658 million in fees and dividends over its 10-year ownership by burying the hospital chain in debt and slashing costs to the detriment of patient care. The PE firm sold the chain last year, releasing it from responsibility for the chain’s $3.1 billion of debt. LGP’s investment portfolio also includes health IT-related business MultiPlan (cost management), Press Ganey (hospital patient and employee analytics), WCG (clinical trials), and WellSky (post-acute care software).

Investment firm Francisco Partners will acquire the BSwift benefits technology business from CVS Health.

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KHN reports that private equity firms are creating and running hospital obstetrics emergency departments – often consisting of a single small room — which allows patients who have pregnancy or post-partum medical concerns to be seen quickly and then billed at high ED rates. Few interviewed patients were told that they were about to incur ED services as they entered the unmarked rooms, often the same triage rooms as before. A physician researcher concludes, “To have people get an emergency room charge when they don’t even know they’re in an emergency room — I mean, that doesn’t meet the laugh test,” while UCSF professor Bob Wachter, MD says that hospitals “will always have a rationale for why income maximization is a reasonable and moral strategy.”


Sales

  • CDC awards Accenture Federal Services a three-year, $189 million contract to for cloud migration services.
  • ConvergeOne chooses Redox for EHR integration.

People

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John Hallock (Transarent) joins Quantum Health as chief communications officer.

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Diligent Robotics hires Gregg Springan, RN, MSN (Epic) as head of clinical informatics and Nicholas Bloom, MPH (Cedars-Sinai Accelerator) as head of client success.

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Christopher Kunney, MSMOT (DSS) joins Divurgent as SVP of digital acceleration.


Announcements and Implementations

Walmart launches the Walmart Healthcare Research Institute and a related app to increase community access to clinical trials. The My Health Journey app helps patients find studies and send their medical and insurance records to investigators. FDA data suggests that studies are not representative of the entire US population because they recruit participants from their own urban locations who have the time and money to participate.

A Relatient poll of provider group executives finds that while most of them believe that online patient scheduling is critical for patient satisfaction, they are still using phone calls or automated phone messages to communicate with patients before their appointment, partly because that’s what patients prefer. The authors conclude that provider groups understand the importance of automation and digital tools and their associated reduction in staffing requirements, but need to choose the services that patients will actually use.

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Campbell County Health (WY) kicks off its year-long, $8 million project to replace Meditech with Epic in an affiliation with UCHealth. An HIStalk search finds several references to the health system – it sent employee W-2s to a hacker who impersonated a hospital executive in 2017, lost $200,000 in Medicaid payments due to billing system failures in its acquisition of a private surgery center in 2018, and went on diversion due to a ransomware attack in 2019.

A Dubai health system goes live with a Metaverse-based hospital, which it says will eventually replace traditional telemedicine services and support its medical tourism program.  

Florida-based AdventHealth University and Full Sail University launch a virtual reality research center that will focus on healthcare employee training and patient safety technologies.

Providence spinoff DexCare, which offers system capacity and appointment booking software, acquires Womp Inc., which offers digital front door systems and mobile optimization technology.

CHIME appoints three CIO members to its board of trustees – Daniel Barchi, MS (New York Presyterian), Terri Couts, RN, MHA (Guthrie Clinic), and Tressa Springmann, MAS (LifeBridge Health). Named as director of the CHIME Foundation Board is Sean Kelly, MD of Well Health.


Government and Politics

Forbes updates its article on North Carolina’s sole-source choice of Unite Us’s social services integration platform. A recap:

  • The state chose Unite Us for a federal Medicaid social services pilot without having its product reviewed by IT teams. Reports suggest that it will require modification to meet federal privacy requirements.
  • Former state HHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, MD, MPH, who is now CEO of Aledade Care Solutions, intervened to get Unite Us the business even though state health systems preferred that of competitor Findhelp.
  • Unite Us President and Co-Founder Taylor Justice complained to Cohen that UNC Health was about to choose a different vendor. She promised to call UNC Health CEO Wesley Burks, MD to get him to reconsider. Emails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act indicate that Justice told Cohen, “I shouldn’t have let this happen and it will never happen again.”
  • State lawmakers met Wednesday to ask the governor’s administration to explain why it used an non-competitive technology selection process and why, after three years and $27 million of federal Healthy Opportunities Pilot money spent, the only tangible result is that 10 families are receiving food deliveries.

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Nebraska’s corrections department OIG says that a female inmate who was incarcerated for life died of cervical cancer because its Excel-based chronic care tracking system allowed her to go 10 years without having a Pap smear performed. OIG notes:

  • A seven-year-old state statute requires keeping inmate medical records in an EHR, but NDCS still uses only paper charts like the ones above.
  • The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services department spent a $150,000 EHR study grant in 2017 to buy an electronic medication administration record system instead.
  • NDCS was appropriated $1.4 million to implement a commercial EHR in 2019, but never opened an RFP.
  • In 2021, NDCS received another $745,000 to implement a commercial EHR, but then decided to develop a system internally. Nothing has gone live except for a behavioral health module and an intake form.
  • Employees say they waste a lot of time phoning and faxing information that could be easily shared via a commercial EHR and that the lack of an EHR hinders the hiring of medical personnel.
  • Among OIG’s recommendations is that if the homegrown system isn’t fully live by 2025, NDCS should abandon the effort and again seek the money to buy a commercial EHR.

Privacy and Security

CommonSpirit Health, which operates 142 hospitals in 21 states, confirms that its continued downtime that started October 3 was caused by a ransomware attack.


Other

An interesting post by Cyrus Bahrassa, founder and CEO of healthcare integration consulting firm Ashavan, opines that OAuth rather than FHIR is the most important interoperability standard. He provides a straightforward definition of OAuth, which is how “log in with Google” or “login in with Facebook” works without exposing App 1’s user account information to App 2.

Two NHS trusts move to downtime paper recordkeeping after an apparent database error in Oracle Cerner required most of a day to resolve. During the downtime, Royal Free London, which was ironically in the middle of a “go paperless” campaign, nearly ran out of paper.

In the UK, the doctor of a 12-year-old girl who died by suicide after being bullied online says she was not able to see the girl’s history of self-harm because her practice’s EHR could not access that of the girl’s previous doctor.


Sponsor Updates

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  • An InterSystems charity walk event on Thursday included music from an all-company band that features industry long-timer and VP Don Woodlock on drums.
  • Nordic posts a new episode of its DocTalk video series called “The Impact of Long COVID.”
  • Healthcare Growth Partners advises blood and biologics supply chain automation company BloodHub during its sale to InVita Healthcare Technologies.
  • Intelligent Medical Objects will exhibit at the OR Manager Conference October 17-19 in Denver.
  • Meditech Greenfield expands to include new collaborative environments – Greenfield Alliance and Greenfield Workspace.
  • Baker Tilly US and Artisight launch a strategic implementation collaboration for AI-enhanced workflow automation.
  • Netsmart will exhibit at LeadingAge October 16-19 in Denver.
  • Nordic joins the Microsoft Cloud Partner Program.

Blog Posts

Black Book Market Research’s latest ranking of health IT and management advisory firms includes the following HIStalk sponsors:

  • Allscripts/Altera Implementation – ReMedi Health Solutions
  • Blockchain – Healthcare Triangle
  • Compliance, HIPAA, Risk Management, Regulatory – Clearwater
  • Epic Implementation – Tegria, Bluetree Network
  • HIT Staffing – Tegria
  • Interoperability & Integration – Zen Healthcare IT
  • Value-Based Care Hospitals – Premier

Contacts

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

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EPtalk by Dr. Jayne 10/13/22

October 13, 2022 Dr. Jayne No Comments

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The HLTH conference team has announced the headliner for its Industry Night celebration. Let’s just say nothing celebrates digital health and transformation quite like Ludracis.

The American Telemedicine Association shifts the dates of its ATA2023 Annual Conference & Expo. The conference moves from a mid-week placement to begin on Saturday, March 4 and will run through Monday, March 6. The organization notes this is to accommodate busy schedules and to ensure that “even more frontline providers and virtual care practitioners” can attend in person. The meeting remains in San Antonio and two of the evening events have “Celebrity Mixologist” in the title, so it looks like it will be entertaining as well as educational.

The National Center for Health Statistics releases provisional life expectancy estimates for 2021. It shows that from 2019 to 2021, US life expectancy dropped by 3 years for men and 2.3 years for women. The new values – 73 years for men and 79 for women – are the lowest since 1996. Approximately 75% of the drop was attributed to COVID-19 deaths, with the remainder including overdose deaths, suicide, chronic liver disease, and homicide for men. Women lost years due to COVID-19 as well as heart disease, stroke, and chronic liver disease. Losses were not as high as they could have been, however, since they were somewhat mitigated by reductions in deaths due to influenza, pneumonia, and other respiratory diseases.

Mr. H recently posted a poll to assess “Which of the following items did you earn after age 35 that has been most valuable in your career.” Although there were some good choices, including master’s degrees, doctorates, professional degrees, and more, the list didn’t include my personal pick: my Clinical Informatics board certification. As a relatively home-grown clinical informaticist, most of my training was of the on-the-job variety and a good chunk of the learnings were through the school of hard knocks. I didn’t have the opportunity to do a fellowship in the discipline, but worked my way through the major texts of the specialty through grim determination and the Interlibrary Loan system.

In second place, I’d put vendor-specific certifications. I don’t know how much they’ve really helped me with my career, but they’ve definitely helped me do the day-to-day aspects of my job better. Even though I’m in a leadership role, having the certifications allows me to speak the same language as my analysts and better understand the different features and functionalities that we’re implementing. It’s also entertaining when people discover that although you’re a physician, you have certifications in the practice management and billing portions of the application. Not to mention that I’m always happy to talk about EDI and Coordination of Benefits over a cocktail or two.

The Medical Group Management Association, in conjunction with Jackson Physician Search, releases a report on physician turnover in the US. The sample size was small at 326 physicians, but the data is recent since it was obtained in August 2022. Among the most interesting findings: 51% of physicians have considered leaving their healthcare employer in the last year, with 41% considering leaving medical practice and 36% contemplating early retirement. I wonder what percentage of those who are considering leaving medicine could be mitigated if care delivery organizations were willing to create more novel practice arrangements.

For example, I have several friends who have left medicine in the last couple of years because they didn’t want to work full time as primary care physicians. There’s a perception that having part time physicians is difficult or creates scheduling or administrative headaches, so they would rather let people leave. My former medical group was unsupportive of job-share arrangements. Although there was one highly successful physician pair who was tolerated due to their seniority, no additional arrangements were allowed. Assuming the right contractual language and appropriately paired physicians, there’s no inherent reason why a physician job-share wouldn’t be successful.

In the last two decades, I’ve been let go by two emergency department staffing groups because they made the determination that they didn’t want to contract part-time physicians. They can’t use administrative burdens as an excuse since both of them allowed part-time nurse practitioners and physician assistants, who are actually harder to schedule than physicians due to supervisory requirements in my state. Those of us who were let go each time concluded that the motivation was largely financial, although staffing groups would never admit to it.

Several of us started doing our own variations of an in-town locum tenens gig, where we provided supplemental coverage for acute ambulatory visits at peak times such as Mondays or Friday afternoons. We would also cover vacations, maternity leaves, and time off due to FMLA. There was good uptake on our services by individual physicians, but we could never quite get the big health systems in town (or their affiliated medical groups) to consider making us part of their teams. I guess they would rather see physicians scramble for coverage on their own, or worse for morale, just not take time off.

I’d love to get back to seeing patients in person and would be happy to work evenings and weekends if someone were looking for a part-time doc. Unfortunately, the only place willing to hire someone for fewer than 12 shifts per month is my former urgent care, which I wouldn’t touch with the proverbial 10-foot pole.

The MGMA report has a whole section on burnout and summarizes the results of a May 2021 look at burnout. At that time, 86% of healthcare leaders said they didn’t have a formal plan or strategy to reduce physician burnout. By August 2022, the number of leaders who admitted not having a plan had dropped to 66%. Although it’s a move in the right direction, every organization should have a plan in place to address burnout not only of physicians, but of all members of the clinical care team.

We’re living in unprecedented times and everyone is stretched to the limit. Case in point: the charge nurse in the emergency department at St. Michael Medical Center in Washington called 911 because the department’s five nurses were overwhelmed with 45 patients in the waiting room. She requested that firefighters come assist and they did, taking vital signs and helping turn over rooms between patients.

What is your organization doing to help with burnout? Or are they just keeping their collective heads in the sand? Leave a comment or email me.

Email Dr. Jayne.

Morning Headlines 10/13/22

October 12, 2022 Headlines No Comments

WELL Health to Acquire EMR, Billing and Clinical Assets from CloudMD

Well Health Technologies, a Canadian health IT vendor and clinic operator, acquires medical record and billing software along with three clinics from CloudMD Software & Services.

Nextech Announces Acquisition of TouchMD, Enhancing Specialty Practice Patient Experience

Specialty practice EHR and practice management software company Nextech acquires TouchMD, a visual consultation, marketing, and imaging software vendor.

Noom lays off more employees amid CFO departure

Weight loss coaching app company Noom announces its second round of layoffs this year, several months after raising $540 million.

Morning Headlines 10/12/22

October 11, 2022 Headlines No Comments

Brave Health Secures $40M in Series C Funding to Expand Access to Mental Health Services for Medicaid Populations

Medicaid virtual mental health provider Brave Health raises $40 million in a Series C funding round.

Milliman IntelliScript® Acquires OneRecord

Insurer risk assessment technology vendor Milliman IntelliScript acquires API-based EHR records retrieval system vendor OneRecord.

Redesign Health lays off 67 employees a month after raising $65 million

Healthcare startup development company Redesign Health lays off 20% of its staff in a restructuring move that affects its engineering, product, marketing, and recruiting departments.

News 10/12/22

October 11, 2022 News 2 Comments

Top News

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Medicaid virtual mental health provider Brave Health raises $40 million in a Series C funding round.

The round was led by Town Hall Ventures, of which former acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt is a general partner.

The company serves patients in 10 states.

Brave Health’s two co-founders came from General Assembly, which offers technology courses to executives. It was acquired by a workforce development company for $413 million in cash in 2018.


Reader Comments

From Salient Point: “Re: Medicare. The Urban Institute says that the Medicare Part A trust fund will be exhausted by 2028. That’s especially interesting because it’s a presidential election year, meaning we will see a lot of political posturing and paralysis.” US debt is at $31 trillion, which was a big enough time bomb even before interest rates started to rise, so Medicare is another problem that will defy resolution with the near-certain lack political compromise and the voting power of seniors who don’t want to pay more or receive less.


HIStalk Announcements and Requests

If your company isn’t an HIStalk sponsor, you have a few weeks to get on board for 2023 at 2022 rates (the same benefit existing sponsors enjoy, in other words). Beat the price increase and maybe use some leftover 2022 marketing money by contacting Lorre ASAP.

Companies or their PR firms have asked / demanded a few times that I remove my summary of a legitimate news source’s unflattering investigative report. They always say they are seeking to have the original article corrected, although I don’t recall that ever actually happening given that journalists and their editors are pretty careful to fact-check before publishing. My policy is this — if the source updates their article, I’ll update my reference to it, but otherwise I won’t bury or sugarcoat a story just because the company doesn’t like it. They are welcome to state their rebuttal in a comment and let the reader decide.

Thanks to Jenn for covering my recent several days off. It’s a testament to her abilities that you probably didn’t even notice my absence. I traveled only with my $99 Chromebook and it worked flawlessly — it was the lack of decent connectivity (and maybe a lack of personal motivation) that kept me mostly offline.


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Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor KONZA. The Topeka, KS-based company’s next-generation KONZA National Network supports the delivery of unequaled actionable intelligence, including clinical information at the point of care, while supporting value-based payment models, care management, and analytics. As a member of the EHealth Exchange, it allows health systems to share data internally and with their external partners such as the VA, MHS, CVS, and DaVita. The Azure-powered system, which is available to any organization and does not require participation in a local or state HIE, allows health systems to query aggregated data to monitor care gaps, ED use, opioid use, and readmissions. It can also be queried to match patients with rare conditions with clinical trials and to identify health disparities and provides ADT alerts, submission of quality metrics to CMS, payer analytics, and updating the personal health records of patients when new data arrives. Thanks to KONZA for supporting HIStalk.


Webinars

October 12 (Wednesday) 1 ET. “In Praise of the Problem-Oriented Medical Record (POMR).” Sponsor: Intelligent Medical Objects. Presenters: Amanda Heidemann, MD, CMIO, KeyCare; Amber Sieja, MD, senior medical director of informatics, UCHealth and Ambulatory Services; Jim Thompson, MD, physician informaticist, IMO. The problem-oriented medical record – initially developed in the 1960s by Lawrence Weed, MD – brought important structure to paper charting, and in particular, the problem list. Yet, today, the tool that was once the gold standard for organizing and making sense of patient history is often cluttered and unmanageable. Fortunately, tools and strategies exist to help make the problem list more meaningful, helping to synthesize patient data, highlight insights, and support patient care. The expert panel will share their experiences with POMR, including documentation practices and tools to improve workflows and efficiency, the impact of POMR and charting on the overall health of a patient, and the challenges and obstacles clinicians face when practicing POMR and charting and how they can be overcome.

October 18 (Tuesday) 2 ET. “Patient Payment Trends 2022: Learn All The Secrets.” Sponsor: Mend. Presenter: Matt McBride, MBA, co-founder and CEO, Mend. Many industries offer frictionless payments, but healthcare still sends paper bills to patients who are demanding modern conveniences. This webinar will review consumer sentiment on healthcare payments, recent changes to the Telephone Consumer Protection Act that create opportunities for new patient financial engagement, and new tactics to collect more payments faster from patients.

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

Insurer risk assessment technology vendor Milliman IntelliScript acquires API-based EHR records retrieval system vendor OneRecord.

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The merged Beaumont Health and Spectrum Health system, which is Michigan’s largest employer, names itself Corewell Health.


People

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Former Allscripts CEO Paul Black joins Thomas H. Lee Partners as a consultant for its healthcare investment group.

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St. Clair Health hires Jim Kohler (Allscripts) as VP/CIO.

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Hutchinson Clinic hires its recently retired CMIO Verlin Janzen, MD as interim CEO.

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Mark Burgess (NextGen Healthcare) joins Agfa HealthCare as chief revenue officer for North America. 


Announcements and Implementations

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Aspen Valley Hospital (CO) goes live on Epic.

Ascom works with Oracle Cerner to give nurses access to a patient’s EHR on Ascom’s Myco 3 VoWiFi smartphone.

In England, County Durham & Darlington NHS Foundation Trust goes live on Cerner.

UCHealth (CO) implements Eon’s patient management software.

The Sequoia Project seeks feedback on its “Draft TEFCA Facilitated FHIR Implementation Guide.”


Government and Politics

A Forbes report says that North Carolina chose Unite Us as its technology contractor for the federal Healthy Opportunities Pilot for Medicaid beneficiaries in a sole-source contract that did not undergo state IT review. Emails suggest that former state HHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, MD, MPH — now CEO of Aledade Care Solutions — intervened to win Unite Us the business over an unnamed competitor (reportedly Findhelp, formerly called Aunt Bertha), which was the preferred choice of the state’s health systems.


Privacy and Security

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In New Zealand, hackers notify Pinnacle Midlands Health Network that they’ve uploaded the stolen data of 450,000 patients to the dark web. The cyberattack on one of the primary care network’s IT systems took place September 28 and Pinnacle issued a statement within a week.


Other

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Health IT consulting contracts are on the upswing, according to Black Book Market Research’s latest market analysis. Seventy percent of surveyed providers say they’ll seek out consulting help for RCM optimization projects within the next 15 months. Low-priority projects, according to providers, include those related to EHR optimization, support, and training; and physician burnout. The Chartis Group was noted as the top enterprise health IT consulting firm.

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Pediatric cardiologist and CMIO C. Becket Mahnke, MD compares paper charts to EHRs based on his annual cardiology volunteer work in Palau:

  • Information retrieval isn’t too bad with paper charts, but is incomplete compared to accessing patient information via HIEs and Epic’s Care Everywhere.
  • Lack of filters and search means flipping through paper pages.
  • Documentation is faster using pen and paper instead of an EHR, allowing visits of 12 minutes per patient, including ECG time. However, legibility issues are a problem.
  • Ordering is faster on paper, but again legibility issues cause problems with the receiving department and there’s no way to track ordering patterns over time.
  • Lack of in-basket capability saves time with paper charts, but there’s no easy way to send information to colleagues or to receive result notifications.
  • Paper charts aren’t readily analyzable for monitoring, quality improvement, and hypothesis generation.

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The New York Times profiles Myron Rolle, MD, MSc, a former Florida State University football star, Rhodes Scholar in medical anthropology, and NFL player whose fizzled pro football career led him to a Mass General medical residency as a neurosurgeon, where he is in his sixth year of the seven-year program. Asked for advice for people who feel stuck, he said, “One: It’s never too late. Two: You’re needed. You’re still needed in this life. Your lane can be yours and it’s for you. What God has for you is going to be for you. Perfect it. Hone it. Be a master of it. Love it. Do it well. Impact people when you do it and help bring somebody up with you.”


Sponsor Updates

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  • Clearsense supports the George Landess Memorial/NEFL Scottish Games Golf Tournament, benefitting Challenges Enterprises.
  • Wolters Kluwer Health announces that 10 of its healthcare publications from its Lippincott portfolio have been honored with 13 awards in the 2022 Folio: Eddie and Ozzie Awards.
  • Agfa HealthCare supports The Royal College of Radiologists’ first Global Congress in Dubai.
  • Tegria and Microsoft Azure services firm 3Cloud partner to offer EHR clients advance their AI/ML capabilities.
  • Baker Tilly releases a new Healthy Outcomes Podcast, “New markets tax credits for healthcare providers.”
  • Relatient publishes an e-book titled “2022 Patient Engagement Report: Provider Perspectives on Optimizing Patient Scheduling and Communication.”
  • Cordea Consulting will exhibit at the Delaware Valley / New Jersey HIMSS Fall Conference October 12-14 in Atlantic City, NJ.
  • Tegria will offer its customers a healthcare-optimized ServiceNow solution to deliver ITSM and CSM solutions.

Blog Posts

Oracle Cerner will host its Health Conference October 17-19 in Kansas City, MO. Exhibiting HIStalk Sponsors include:

  • Arrive Health
  • Ascom
  • Ellkay
  • First Databank
  • Fortified Health Security
  • Get Well
  • Healthwise
  • Intelligent Medical Objects
  • Impact Advisors
  • Kyruus
  • Loyal
  • Medicomp Systems
  • Net Health
  • Nuance
  • Relatient
  • Surescripts
  • Wolters Kluwer Health

Contacts

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

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Morning Headlines 10/11/22

October 10, 2022 Headlines No Comments

Post-pandemic, Telemedicine startups are evolving — this one just raised $6M for its hybrid approach

Specialty health and wellness telemedicine vendor Index Health raises $6 million in a seed funding round.

Patients’ private details published after cyber attackers stole data on up to 450,000 people

In New Zealand, hackers notify Pinnacle Midlands Health Network that they’ve uploaded the stolen data of 450,000 patients to the dark Web.

InStride Health Providing Virtual Pediatric Anxiety/OCD Treatment Launches with Support from McLean Hospital and Leading Healthcare Investors

Pediatric virtual mental healthcare company InStride Health launches with $26 million in funding.

Curbside Consult with Dr. Jayne 10/10/22

October 10, 2022 Dr. Jayne No Comments

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I spent the majority of this weekend on staff at my favorite outdoor classroom program, which focuses on teaching a variety of outdoor skills to adults. Fall has definitely arrived, with frost on the tents the first night and ice the second night. Even though I’ve been doing this a long time and have a good routine to make the experience as comfortable as possible, my body seems to be greeting those early mornings with an increasing number of creaks and groans as I depart my nice cozy sleeping bag. It’s worth it, however, to see people learn new skills and become comfortable with spending time in the great outdoors.

This time around, I was also the designated health officer and was extremely glad that the weekend had zero incidents requiring my professional skills. The only casualty was a box oven that caught fire in a fairly spectacular fashion but was quickly extinguished.

People are always curious when they find out I’m a telehealth physician and wonder how much we can really do without laying hands on a patient. One attendee was shocked that we’re “allowed” to diagnose anything when we’re not seeing someone in person. I explained that a diagnostic process involves a good amount of history-taking and listening, and once you frame it in that fashion, people start to remember that their own physician might not do much more of an examination than listening to their heart and lungs at an office visit. I also was able to explain some of the technologies that are available to assist physicians and patients. People tend to forget that home blood pressure cuffs and scales can provide data for diagnosis and management as well.

Of course, people also tend to ask for medical advice. This weekend’s hot topics included what I think of the new COVID booster along with what I think is the optimal timing of the flu vaccine.

Generally, I tell people that I’ve already had the new COVID vaccine and have no concerns about giving it to loved ones, and there’s not much more discussion. On the flu vaccine, however, it seems like everyone thinks there is some kind of secret to the best timing. Historically, influenza tended to peak somewhere between January and April, so getting a vaccine in early fall was ideal. There have been a lot of changes to the patterns of various viral infections since the COVID pandemic and there’s a chance our predictions for this year’s flu season might not be as accurate as they’ve been in the past, so my strategy is to recommend people get it as soon they are able, particularly if they are high risk, and to take common sense precautions to avoid infection – like washing their hands and staying away from sick people.

We had some staff members who were unable to participate this weekend due to COVID infections, so I am doubling down on the recommendation that if someone has an important event they’d like to attend, it’s a good idea to up their masking and distancing game if they want to improve their odds of making it happen. Many of the members of our instructor team are IT professionals and are now working from home permanently, so there were a couple of good conversations around the new normal of working when you’re sick along with strategies for juggling work commitments when you might have a sick child at home. People reported a wide range of ways they handle this depending on workplace culture. It seems like more organizations are expecting people to work while sick because they’re remote, even if they have designated sick time.

This conversation led into a follow up discussion of “the perils of unlimited PTO,” which seems to be increasing in popularity among tech companies for a variety of reasons. Workplaces definitely vary in how they’ve implemented it. Some still track time off but it’s unlimited, which doesn’t help much with managing administrative overhead. Others leave it up to supervisors to track their teams’ time off and intervene if there are issues. Another strategy is to not track time off at all. The people in the discussion felt that not having any tracking at all made them more likely to not take an appropriate amount of time off, because they didn’t have any kind of visual indicator of what they had taken or any way to judge where they are in comparison to their peers.

I’ve worked in a couple of unlimited PTO organizations. They have also had extremely flexible work hours, which when combined can be a recipe for working way more hours than one might normally do in a traditional time management structure. My advice for those moving into this model for the first time is to track your hours and your work pattern for a period of time and find out how many hours you’re really working and whether you’re doing more than you think. Having been a consultant and needing to quantify my time in various increments – some as small as six minutes – I know with good accuracy how long many tasks take. People who are working flexible hours and tend to answer emails “here and there” after hours often underestimate how long those take and those minutes add up. I recommended a time tracking exercise for one of my mentees recently and he found that his new position with unlimited PTO and a flexible remote schedule actually had him working 25% more hours than he previously worked.

This drifted into a conversation about so-called “quiet quitting.” It was interesting to hear that those in non-healthcare tech positions were seeing similar manifestations of the phenomenon as those of us who are in healthcare IT. I think at times we think that there’s something particularly challenging about being in healthcare or having been impacted by the pandemic, that we think we’re worse off than everyone else. However, it seems that everyone is similarly burned out and looking for solutions to live a more balanced life. I hope that spending a couple of days in the woods provided some food for thought about the need for balance as well as some strategies for getting more enjoyment in the outdoors. If nothing else, the participants should have gone home with a sense of accomplishment after spending the night in a tent in freezing weather.

Does your organization have unlimited PTO? Do you feel like workers take enough time off to recharge? Leave a comment or email me.

Email Dr. Jayne.

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