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News 12/11/17

December 11, 2017 News No Comments

Top News

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21st Century Oncology again finds itself in hot water: The chain of treatment centers faces a lawsuit that claims the company illegally paid bonuses to physicians who referred patients to testing labs owned by the company. The lawsuit, recently unsealed, was filed last year by former 21st Century Oncology Interim VP of Financial Planning Matthew Moore, who after comparing physician salaries and bonuses with billings, found an $8.7 million discrepancy.

The Fort Myers, FL-based company, which has agreed to settle for $26 million, hasn’t had much positive press of late. It filed for bankruptcy six months ago, and suffered a 2016 data breach that exposed over 2 million records and led to 13 federal class action lawsuits.


HIStalk Practice Musings

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This past weekend saw my neck of the woods inundated with up to 13 inches of pretty/destructive snow. My neighborhood in particular saw nine-plus inches, multiple trees (and fences) felled, and power outages that crossed the 24-hour mark. It’s certainly the first time in my living memory that I can recall getting this much snow in December, and it’s definitely made me aware of the emergency supplies I need to have on hand for severe weather events. Friends in northern climes, what items do you make sure to have on hand during winter storms? I couldn’t help but marvel that we were dealing with such unexpected wintry conditions while folks in California were dealing with devastating wild fires.


Webinars

None scheduled soon. Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for information.


Announcements and Implementations

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Solutionreach announces SR Schedule, which allows physician practices to offer the patients easy self-scheduling.

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Rennova Health’s Medical Mime subsidiary updates its M2Select EHR to offer practice staff and behavioral healthcare providers more efficient management of patient forms.

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Bedford, MA-based Progress launches a HIPAA-compliant, cloud-based platform for health app development and EHR integration.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Eye care physician services organization EyeSouth Partners adds Georgia Ophthalmology Associates to its network of 30 providers working at 20 locations across Georgia. Backed by private equity firm Shore Capital Partners, EyeSouth provides affiliated practices with working capital, operating strategy and resources, and IT expertise.


People

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Relapse prevention technology company Chess Mobile Health rebrands to Chess Health and names Hans Morefield (Experian Health) CEO. Former CEO Chris Wilkins will transition to an advisory role as the company expands its offerings to include analytics and benchmarking.


Government and Politics

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HHS announces the three winning teams of its first opioid-focused code-a-thon, each of which received $10,000. The winning Opioid Prescriber Awareness Tool may be of the most interest to physicians. Developed as part of the competition’s usage track, it provides visual representations of physician prescribing patterns for a given area – particularly useful for referring physicians who want to avoid sending their patients to colleagues who may be a little too quick to write an opioid script.


Telemedicine

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The Community Health & Wellness Center of Greater Torrington (CT) will use a $1 million loan from New York-based Primary Care Development Corp. to expand its use of telemedicine, particularly for pain management patients; to hire additional staff, and add more educational programs. The center’s spending plans are part of an overall initiative to integrate behavioral health with primary care services.


Research and Innovation

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A new MGMA poll finds that 83 percent of 409 respondents have implemented stricter opioid prescription protocols, primarily as a result of increases in opioid abuse, regulatory changes, and new guidelines. It would be interesting to find out if there’s any correlation between physicians who have tightened up protocols and their level of access to/utilization of a PDMP.


Other

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A Malwarebytes report deems hackers to be modern-day mafioso, categorizing them into four groups – hackers-for-hire, ideological hackers, state-sponsored hackers, and traditional gangs. (I can’t quite wrap my head around the cyber version of a Jets versus Sharks showdown.) The “new cyber mafia,” as the report calls the perpetrators, helped cyberattacks increase 23 percent over 2016. Ransomware attacks increased by 62 percent for the first 10 months of the year.

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A trip to the gas station turns into an unexpected labor of love for obstetrician Javier Soto, MD. On his way to deliver a baby at nearby Rockledge Regional Medical Center (FL), Soto was waylaid in the parking lot by a frantic father-to-be whose wife was already in labor. Soto delivered the baby in the car using scissors, food prep gloves from the gas station, and the father’s shoelace. He then followed the new family to Rockledge for follow-up, and to deliver the initial reason for his trip.


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News 12/7/17

December 7, 2017 News No Comments

Top News

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Mecklenburg County officials in North Carolina begin restoring data from backup servers after being hit with a ransomware attack likely perpetrated by hackers from Iran or the Ukraine. The attack spread to 48 of the county’s 500 servers after an employee clicked on a malicious link in an email. Officials did not pay the requested $23,000 in bitcoin. They are focusing initial restoration efforts on HHS, courts, and Land Use and Environmental Services data.

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In discussing the breach at a news conference, county manager Dena Diorio explained that, “It was going to take almost as long to fix the system after paying the ransom as it does to fix it ourselves. And there was no guarantee that paying the criminals was a sure fix.”


Webinars

None scheduled soon. Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for information.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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New York City-based patient billing startup Cedar raises $13 million in a Series A funding round with participation from Founders Fund, Thrive Capital, Martin Ventures, and SV Angel.


Announcements and Implementations

Gunjan Raina, MD opens an MDVIP practice in Baton Rouge, LA. The concierge practice management company now has 25 locations in Louisiana.


People

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Echo Health Ventures adds Patrick Conway, MD (Blue Cross NC) to its Board of Directors.


Government and Politics

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Nevada health officials explain the state’s forthcoming opioid prescription law to 200 physicians. Set to take effect on January 1, the law will require physicians to register with the state’s PDMP and conduct mental health evaluations before issuing opioid prescriptions, which can initially only last for up to 14 days. Some in the audience were concerned that patients would bypass PCPs in favor of pain management providers, which are already overwhelmed.

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The FDA issues draft guidance for clinical and patient decision-support software.

West Virginia State Medical Association President Brad Henry, MD wants benzodiazepines added to the list of drugs physicians must check the state’s PDMP for before issuing prescriptions. Physicians are only required to check for chronic pain medications, though drugs like Xanax and Valium often show up in toxicology reports related to  fatal opioid overdoses. The state ranks first in the nation for number of benzo prescriptions – a situation Henry believes would be ameliorated with the PDMP revamp.


Telemedicine

Teladoc turns its attention from Texas to North Dakota, where the North Dakota Board of Medicine is considering a rule that would require the equivalent of an in-person visit for a patient’s first telemedicine appointment. Equivalents would include video conferencing or an initial in-person visit with an NP or PA. Teladoc opposes such a rule, which would preclude the use of phone calls.

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In Alaska, Capstone Clinic opens a telemedicine clinic and kiosk service in downtown Anchorage’s 5th Avenue Mall that will connect shoppers with its physicians at its East Anchorage facility.

A new study shows that telemedicine tops the list of technologies most likely to positively impact the workers’ compensation industry. AI, mobile tech, wearables, and chatbots followed at significantly lower percentages.

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Miami-based EpicMD raises $3 million in Series A funding led by Sagemoore Capital.


Other

Physicians prepare to publish their observations of US embassy employees who may have been subject to sonic attacks while working in Cuba. Twenty four Americans reported hearing strange noises followed by unexplained illnesses like nausea, vertigo, loss of hearing or sight, or the inability to recall certain words. Physicians have found physical changes in the brains of those affected, and will likely continue to monitor them for the rest of their lives.


Contacts

Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

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News 12/6/17

December 6, 2017 News No Comments

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UnitedHealth will acquire DaVita Medical Group in a deal worth $4.9 billion. The payer will add 300 clinics in six states to its 250 MedExpress urgent care centers and 200 ASCs, acquired in March from Surgical Care Affiliates for $2.3 billion. DMG assets will join the urgent care and surgery centers as part of UnitedHealth’s Optum business unit, which also focuses on consulting, data analytics, and pharmacy benefits.


Webinars

None scheduled soon. Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for information.


Announcements and Implementations

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Modernizing Medicine will incorporate OptimizeRx’s prescription savings and resources into its EHR for specialists.

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CareDash.com upgrades its provider reviews with medical company payment details, and the amount and type of gifts given to physicians by medical device and pharmaceutical companies.

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Aprima adds voice recognition capabilities from DocBuddy to its EHR for easier documentation.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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PatientPay raises $6 million in a round led by Teaglach Family Office. The company has raised $18 million since launching in almost 10 years ago. Future growth plans include increasing staff by 85 percent and expanding its Raleigh, NC headquarters by the end of next year.

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HealthiPass raises $7.2 million in a Series A round led by FCA Venture Partners. The company, which has developed patient intake and transparent billing technology, will use the capital to hire more staff and expand into more specialties and distribution partnerships.

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In New York, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office announces an 878-count indictment covering three years of alleged fraud perpetrated by 20 people (including four physicians) and a dozen companies. It appears those involved paid patients between $30 and $40 to undergo unnecessary tests, which were then fraudulently billed to public and private payers to the tune of $146 million. Ringleader Kristina Mirbabayeva, aided by her husband and mother, purchased a $3.25 million apartment in downtown Brooklyn with her ill-gotten gains.


People

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Kevin Mehta (KPMG) joins Payformance as CTO.


Other

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Harvard Medical School Assistant Professor and seven-time Paralympic medalist Cheri Blauwet, MD pens a thoughtful essay in the New York Times on the challenges faced by medical school students and practicing physicians with disabilities.


Sponsor Updates


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News 12/5/17

December 5, 2017 News No Comments

Top News

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An Atlanta Journal-Constitution investigation finds that, since 2016, over 1,000 physicians have appeared before medical boards in all 50 states for improperly prescribing opioids, and another 150 have been to federal court on opioid drug charges. Reasons range from greed – George Bird, MD for example, pulled in $1 million for pre-signing prescriptions that his employees filled with hydrocodone for cash and carry service – to a “doctor knows best” attitude to blatant disregard for prescribing guidelines.

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“They feel they are above the law,” says John Niedermann, a special assistant in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office who has built a career on going after “doctors who deal.” “They have always been so highly respected and deferred to,” he adds. “I can say that, of the dozen or so doctors that I have convicted, whenever a jury returns a verdict of guilty they look absolutely stunned. I look at them and I’m like, you sat through this month-long trial. You heard all the testimony. How are you surprised by this? But they honestly, honestly think they are doing nothing wrong.”


Webinars

None scheduled in the coming weeks. Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for information.


Announcements and Implementations

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CyberKnife Center of Miami selects email security services from Identillect.

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Worker compensation company One Call Care Management will offer eligible patients Trainer Rx’s digital physical therapy platform.

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At its first annual meeting, The Sequoia Project reports that 25,000 clinics, 580,000 providers, and 1,000 hospitals have connected through its Carequality interoperability framework since it was launched in July 2016. Nine vendors have implemented the framework, with another six expected to adopt it early next year.

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HASA implements cloud-based HIE functionality from RosettaHealth for more efficient health data exchange among its HIE participants in Texas.


People

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HintMD appoints Jay Burns, MD to its Board of Directors. The Pleasanton, CA-based company’s business focuses on membership-based patient engagement solutions for plastic surgeons and other aesthetic-focused providers.

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Greenway Health founder and Executive Chairman Tee Green joins blockchain-based PHR startup MintHealth’s Board of Directors.

WEDI adds Laurie Burckhardt (WPS Health Solutions), Crystal Ewing (ZirMed), and Laurie Woodrome (LabCorp) to its 2018 Board of Directors.


Government and Politics

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Acting HHS Secretary Eric Hargan and CMS Administrator Seema Verma travel to the CDC in Atlanta to discuss the center’s efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. The CDC will no doubt be instrumental in helping HIS with its five-point strategy, which includes bolstering public health data reporting, collection, and analysis.


Telemedicine

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Zeriscope receives a patent for its mobile telemedicine examination kit. Zeriscope is the brainchild of Robert Adams, MD a professor of neurology at the Medical University of South Carolina and founder of its REACH Telestroke Network.


Contacts

Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

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News 12/4/17

December 4, 2017 News No Comments

Top News

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Teladoc drops its lawsuit against the Texas Medical Board, which has been dragging on since 2015, after the board’s telemedicine-friendly rules permitting first-time patient encounters to take place via phone or video go into effect. Texas is the last state to do away with such in-person requirements.


Webinars

December 5 (Tuesday) 2:00 ET. “Cornerstones of Order Set Optimization: Trusted Evidence.” Sponsored by: Wolters Kluwer. Updating order sets with new medical evidence is crucial to improving outcomes, but coordinating maintenance for hundreds of order sets with dozens of stakeholders is a huge logistical challenge. For most hospitals, managing order set content is labor intensive and the internal processes supporting it are far too inefficient. Evidence-based order sets are only as good as their content, which is why regular review and updates are essential. This webinar explores the relationship between clinical content and patient care with an eye toward building trust among the clinical staff. Plus, we will demonstrate a new evidence alignment tool that can easily incorporate the most current medical content into your order sets, regardless of format, including Cerner Power Plans and Epic SmartSets.

Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for information.

 

Check out the recording of last week’s webinar titled “Making Clinical Communications Work in Your Complex Environment,” sponsored by PatientSafe Solutions.


Announcement and Implementations

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Direct primary care practice management company Freedom Healthworks assists Olp Family Medicine in opening a solo DPC practice in Carmel, IN. The Indianapolis-based DPC PM startup launched in 2014 under the direction of brothers Adam and Christopher Habig, who came to Freedom after several years with clinical intelligence vendor Isprit Systems.

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The YMCA selects HIPAA compliance and cybersecurity services from HIPAA Secure Now! to protect the health data of members enrolled in its diabetes prevention program. This isn’t the Y’s first foray into health IT; it signed an agreement with Athenahealth last year that helps end users route pre-diabetics to the DPP via their EHRs.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Nashville-based data management vendor Trinisys acquires Mica Health, which offers ambulatory EHR decommissioning services. Former Mica President Mike Justice will apparently stay on as Trinisys VP of business development.


People

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Medication adherence app startup Medisafe names Henry Ancona (Converge Venture Partners) chairman of the board.

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Jeffrey Linton (Applied Proteomics) joins Quality Systems subsidiary NextGen as EVP, general counsel, and secretary.

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Health IT software and services company MTBC promotes Stephen Snyder to CEO and A. Hadi Chaudhry to president.


Government and Politics

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Minnesota Lt. Governor Tina Smith announces new guidelines to combat the state’s opioid epidemic, which killed 376 people in Minnesota last year – a 12-percent increase over 2015. Though Minnesota’s PDMP isn’t mentioned specifically in the guidelines, they do call for physicians with excessive prescribing habits to participate in a mandated quality improvement program to help them meet the new standards. 


Telemedicine

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Abilene Christian University begins offering TimelyMD telemedicine visits to students as part of its new Wildcat Care program. Assuming a student is relatively healthy, I’m not sure the automatic $95 per-semester fee plus $10 a clinic visit is as economical as paying the typical one-off fee of more popular telemedicine companies.

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Nonprofit Global/Georgia Partnership for Telehealth adds Trapollo’s remote patient monitoring capabilities to its turn-key telemedicine services.


Other

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American Veterinary Medical Association President and official veterinarian of the North Pole Mike Topper gives Santa’s reindeer a clean bill of health ahead of Christmas Eve. Topper will head back to the North Pole on Christmas Day for post-flight checkups. The vet visit will ensure that Santa has his up-to-date North Pole Certificate of Animal Export on board come Christmas Eve. I wonder who provides Santa’s annual physical? Seems like a job for AMA President David Barbe, MD. Given his remote location, I assume Santa relies on telemedicine for the occasional bout of sniffles.


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