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News 7/31/14

July 31, 2014 News 1 Comment

Top News

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Lawmakers, political organizations, and associations with healthcare connections celebrate the 49th anniversary of Medicaid and Medicare. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed both into law in 1965, presenting the first two Medicare cards to former President Harry Truman, who had advocated for the program during his presidency, and former first lady Bess Truman. Johnson quoted Truman during that signing, reminding his audience that “Millions of our citizens do not now have a full measure of opportunity to achieve and to enjoy good health. Millions do not now have protection or security against the economic effects of sickness. And the time has now arrived for action to help them attain that opportunity and to help them get that protection.” Truman’s words still ring true to some extent, and the two programs have changed significantly in size and scope. Medicare’s future looks a bit brighter than Medicaid’s at the moment thanks to a recent decision to extend it until 2030. Medicaid, on the other hand, remains a contentious issue, particularly in the 22 states that have thus far refused to expand it.


Announcements and Implementations

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The Children’s Health Alliance implements the Wellcentive Advance population health management platform to give its 100-plus pediatricians a fuller picture of patient health. The platform will integrate data from EHRs, insurance claims, schools, and social agencies.

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Catholic Health Initiatives St. Francis Health’s Orthopedic and Milnor clinics (MN) implement Allscripts Enterprise Ambulatory EHR as part of the organization’s multi-year OneCare program.

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Capital Women’s Care (MD) signs a 10-year agreement with NextGen for continued use of its revenue cycle management services. CWC is one of the largest private OB/GYN practices in the mid-Atlantic region with 45 locations and 178 clinicians.

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The Canandaigua VA (NY) plans to offer veterans greater access to care, and likely shorter wait times, via its RV Rural Mobile TeleHealth Care Unit. Launching in September, the unit will visit several towns on a weekly basis.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stocks

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Sage Technologies partners with Medseek to offer care management solution Navigate. The cloud-based population health and behavioral change platform enables providers to identify low-risk, rising-risk, and high-risk patients via the integration and assessment of patient data from multiple financial and clinical systems.

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Mobile health question-and-answer service HealthTap launches HealthTap Prime, a $99-a-month subscription service that will give users access to medical consultations with licensed physicians through the company’s mobile app and website. HealthTap Prime plans to differentiate itself from competitors like American Well and Doctor on Demand by providing ongoing support through customized checklists, personalized health news, and reminders and notifications. 

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The New Jersey Medicaid Accountable Care demonstration project attracts an unexpected eight applicants. Slated to start in late 2014, the project will include all Medicaid patients within a geographic area, all of the hospitals that serve people who live within the ACO’s ZIP codes, 75 percent of the primary-care providers, and at least four mental-health providers.

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Behavioral health software developer Qualifacts Systems secures a majority investment from private equity firm Great Hill Partners. Qualifacts will use the capital to accelerate product development, expand sales and marketing efforts, and identify strategic partnership and acquisition opportunities.

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Caspio Inc. releases Caspio HIPAA Enterprise, a HIPAA-compliant edition of its rapid application development platform. The new edition features data encryption in transit and at rest, audit logs and an audit trail, HIPAA-compliant infrastructure, and a business associate agreement.

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3-D medical animation and illustration company Nucleus Medical Media joins Greenway Health’s online Marketplace of value-added partners.


Research and Innovation

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23andMe, which now bills itself as “the largest DNA ancestry service in the world,” secures a $1.4 million two-year grant from the National Institutes of Health. The company will use the grant to develop Web-based surveys to explore new genetic associations, enhance its survey tools to collect a broader data-set, utilize whole-genome sequencing data, and provide external researchers with de-identified data from its existing genetic database. The announcement follows news earlier this week that 23andMe has published findings from a study on new genetic risks for Parkinson’s disease led by researchers at the National Institute on Aging.

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UCLA researchers select TrueVault’s SaaS platform to store and secure protected health information for a behavioral software platform being developed by the UCLA Gambling Studies Program. The platform will use mobile and Web technologies to promote and improve mental healthcare for patients using a data-driven approach, and will initially focus on treating gambling addictions.

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UNC-Chapel Hill researchers develop the FutureDocs Forecasting Tool to evaluate the supply of physicians in various specialties down to a local level. The tool, which allows changes in key variables such as Medicaid expansion, changes in physician retirement rates, or the shifts in the locations of residencies and fellowships, has thus far shown that the anticipated lack of physicians is more about how doctors are distributed and what specialties they choose rather than a straightforward shortage.


Government and Politics

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Former Procter & Gamble CEO Robert McDonald is unanimously confirmed as VA secretary.

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The Government Accountability Office issues a report pointing out what went wrong with the Healthcare.gov roll out. CMS takes the blame for:

  • Not clearly defining goals and expectations for the contractors hired to build the site.
  • Using potentially risky cost-reimbursement contracts.
  • Allowing contractors to use an agile approach to developing the data hub and website.
  • Compensating contractors in a high-risk manner.

It will be interesting to see how Andy Slavitt, new principal deputy administrator at CMS, and the as-yet-unnamed marketplace CEO and marketplace CTO address these mishandlings as they prepare for the next go round.


Other

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Hangover Heaven “celebrates” the treatment of 20,000 hangovers since its founding in 2012. The Las Vegas-based medical practice, which also offers room-service calls and a mobile clinic, anticipates opening its second location in the next few months.

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The Global Partnership for Telehealth and the Jackson Healthcare Foundation travel to Honduras to implement telemedicine at three Predisan Good Samaritan Clinics. The pilot project was initiated to determine the effectiveness of the system in a remote, global setting, and the potential of its clinical applications. Twenty consultations have successfully been conducted to date.

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The next time you find yourself frustrated by long security lines at the airport, consider submitting an idea to move things along to the Next Generation Queue Design and Model Ideation Challenge. The contest will award a total of $15,000 to be divvied up between two or three winners. The deadline for submissions is Aug. 15, 2014. If the contest website’s phrase “Active Solvers” is any indication, then close to 4,000 ideas have already been received.


People

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Steve Tarnoff, MD is promoted to president and chief medical executive at Group Health Physicians (WA).

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Ryan Dorr is promoted to CIO of PhyMed Healthcare Group.

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Naomi Fried, PhD (Boston Children’s Hospital) and Alexis Gilroy, JD (Jones Day) join the American Telemedicine Association Board of Directors.

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Susan Salka (AMN Healthcare Inc.) is named Director of the Year for Corporate Citizenship by the Corporate Director’s Forum.


Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, Lt. Dan, Dr. Travis

More news: HIStalk, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk Practice  updates.
Contact us online.

JennHIStalk

News 7/29/14

July 29, 2014 News No Comments

Top News

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After six weeks of “testy” talks, the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees agree to authorize $17 billion to fix the troubled VA healthcare system. The bill includes $10 billion in emergency spending to help eligible veterans obtain outside care; $5 billion to hire doctors, nurses, and other medical staff; and about $1.5 billion to lease 27 new clinics across the country. “Funding for veterans’ needs must be considered a ‘cost of war’ and appropriated as emergency spending,” said Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, while announcing the agreement. “Planes and tanks and guns are a cost of war. So is taking care of the men and women who fight our battles.”


Announcements and Implementations

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The Florida HIE and Georgia Health Information Network (GaHIN) join the eHealth Exchange, a group of federal agencies and non-federal organizations on a mission to improve patient care, streamline disability benefit claims processing, and improve public health reporting through the exchange of health information.

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The Whittier Independent Practice Association (MA) begins to roll out the patient-accessible Wellport HIE from Alere Accountable Care Solutions. Pilot sites Colden & Seymour ENT and Allergy, and Children’s Healthcare Massachusetts go live this week, with additional sites scheduled over the next two to three weeks. (Read Mr. H’s interview with Alere Accountable Care Solutions CEO Sumit Nagpal here.)

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The American Academy of Family Physicians renames its Center for Health IT the Alliance for eHealth Innovation. The new name reflects AAFP’s increased focus on EHR interoperability and usability, as well as the partnerships it hopes to cultivate as it seeks out best practices.


Acquisition, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Enlightiks develops dashboards using its Tableau predictive analytics software to help physicians and ACO administrators track quality measures and visualize information such as patient history and patterns of care.

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Healthgrades joins athenahealth’s More Disruption Please program, giving athenahealth’s practice customers the ability to post appointment availability online for patient self-scheduling.

In other athenahealth news, the company expands its strategic agreement with Henry Schein Inc. The athenaNet platform and Henry Schein’s Dentrix Enterprise dental EHR will integrate to facilitate Uniform Data System reporting, a requirement for community health centers. Family First Health (PA) and Three Lower Counties Community Services (MD) will participate in a pilot program to create standard documentation and efficient processes, with the goal of rolling out the integrated offering in 2015.

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Allscripts connects its EHR solutions to the state of Arkansas HIE, known as the State Health Alliance for Record Exchange (SHARE).


Government and Politics

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A draft report from the Senate Appropriations Committee, responding to a FY2015 budget request from HHS, proposes to give ONC $61 million of the $75 million it requested. It adds that ONC should publicly report and then decertify EHRs that “proactively block the sharing of information.” It also wants the Health IT Policy Committee to create a report describing the challenges to interoperability and whether certification helps or hinders it. I wonder how the $14 million shortfall will affect the agency. I doubt a slashed budget will endear ONC to the idea of implementing a public EHR reporting and vendor decertification plan.

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As digital disclosure of drug maker payments to physicians looms, over 20 medical societies and organizations send a letter to CMS asking it to explain what context will be provided to help the public understand the justification for payments. In response, CMS announced it will make available “the nature of payment for each payment or transfer of value made to a physician or teaching hospital, and will also include context on the website.” Dr. Jayne has shared her experience preparing for the Sunshine Act release of information, and will likely soon have an opinion as to what context is actually necessary and appropriate.


Research and Innovation

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A survey of 2,750 British practice managers finds that over half are not confident their practices will still be in business in five years. Ninety-six percent say their practice faces an “ever-increasing and unsustainable workload,” and 73 percent report one physician or more suffers “burnout” due to unmanageable pressure. “People are fed up,” said one physician, “coming to work at 7 a.m., leaving at 8 p.m., logging on from home to finish paperwork and then picking up the Daily Mail to read that they are idle, lazy, and overpaid.”

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GetMedCallAssist launches the Truckers MedCallAssist telemedicine program to connect truckers with physicians 24 hours a day via phone or mobile app. The program is based on a monthly family or individual membership rate with no co-pays or deductibles.


People

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Amy Cooper takes on the additional role of  executive director of commercial shared-savings programs at independent physician network Healthfirst Inc. (VT). Cooper also manages the organization’s Medicare shared-savings program.

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Brad Towle (Aetna) joins Propeller Health as senior vice president of business and client development.

Virtual Physicians Network CEO George England assumes the same role at DMH International after finalization of the merger between VPN and DMHI.


Other

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A study finds that fist bumps transfer substantially fewer germs than hand shakes and high fives. “It is unlikely that a no-contact greeting could supplant the handshake,” noted one of the study’s authors, “however, for the sake of improving public health we encourage further adoption of the fist bump as a simple, free, and more hygienic alternative ….”

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This article lists 17 companies with perks that will “make you jealous.” Epic gets a nod for giving its five-year employees a month-long vacation, while Microsoft earns a mention for offering generous paid maternity and paternity leave. Should my passion for healthcare IT ever desert me, I may consider joining the ranks of Southwest Airlines, which offers free flights to its employees and their families and friends.

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A working paper using CDC data finds that the five happiest cities in the United States are all in Louisiana. I asked HIStalk’s helpful Data Nerd if there is a connection between the state’s healthcare and level of happiness level. DN tells me that as far as hospital patient satisfaction surveys go, Louisiana was barely second to first-place South Dakota in terms of percentages of patients who responded that the hospital “always” acted in the correct manner (doctors/nurses communicating well, rooms kept clean/quiet, etc.) It would be interesting to further correlate these state levels of happiness with care access, affordability, and outcomes.


Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, Lt. Dan, Dr. Travis

More news: HIStalk, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk Practice  updates.
Contact us online.

JennHIStalk

5 Questions with Chip Hart, Director of Pediatric Solutions, PCC

July 24, 2014 News No Comments

Chip Hart is director of pediatric solutions at Vermont-based Physician’s Computer Co. (PCC), which provides a range of healthcare IT services including EHR implementations, patient portals, pediatric dashboards and benchmarking, and HIE registries. The company focuses heavily on independent pediatric practices of all sizes. Hart has been with the company for nearly 25 years, and helped PCC develop its own EHR four years ago.

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What are the biggest IT challenges facing pediatric practices today?
The speed of the market and not knowing who to align with. Should I sign with this ACO (um, no probably not), should I take the hospital’s EHR subsidy (maybe), will the cloud-based EHR I use today be with me in two years (maybe)? Let’s face it: Pediatricians are an afterthought in every major healthcare system and decision process (Meaningful Use is a joke; PCMH is awkward at best; and ACOs don’t get it), so pediatricians are trying to predict the future right now, and that’s difficult.

Clinical integration is going to be the game changer, just as it has always been. Ideally, we’ll have a market where any practice can choose an interface that suits them best and their data will be shared with those who need it.

How have you seen IT impact – positively and negatively – these kinds of practices?
On the positive side, I’ve seen more and more practices get pulled into the EHR world and found that it’s not so bad on the other side, if they have the right friends. I’ve seen some amazing clinical improvements as the result of simple IT change. Leveraging IT to improve preventive care and chronic disease management is a giant gain in my experience.

On the downside, we’ve seen clients get aligned with vendors with predatory data control – vendors who make conversions impossible or impractical. The big downside that all the vendors understand is that MU has killed EHR development for the last two years and will continue to do so for another two. Even if we end up ahead, quality-wise, we definitely gave up innovation.

Based on recent reorganization, funding reduction, and high-level employees moving on, do you think the ONC and its MU program will remain relevant in the next three to five years?
It will end up being a bastardized version of the bastardized thing that it already is. One party has threatened to pop that balloon the moment they get that chance. If they win the next election, are they going to follow through on the threat? I’m not sure either party has the discipline to stop the payouts (especially the Medicaid adjustments these last two years).

How do you think ONC’s 10-year vision for interoperability will play out, particularly as it relates to pediatric practices?
I was just telling someone that I couldn’t imagine having the conversations we have today pre-MU. Although the interoperability requirements of MU strain credulity at times, the fact is that the entire industry really is talking about sharing and exchanging data in a very new and different way right now. We, the vendors, all know it’s possible but it requires a will to make it happen. Data exchange is 10-percent competence, 10-percent technical, and 80-percent politics. I think we are in a better place as it relates to interoperability, and MU has had a positive impact.

Ultimately, the portability of a practice’s data will be the most important consideration over the next 10 years. Even if you have the right HIT partners, you may no longer have the right business partners and will need to move sideways. A significant portion of our new clients are born from practice divorces (and I guarantee that the practices who’ve sold out to the hospitals will be back soon enough … just like last time). Not losing that data is vital.

What will be the big focus for pediatric practices once MU has been met? Will they begin to focus their time on establishing interoperability to better participate in ACOs or patient-centered medical homes?
PCMH, no question. I actually wrote a blog about this two months ago. I’ve yet to see an ACO offer or model that makes any sense for pediatricians (heck, I don’t think they make much sense for almost any independent practice). The fact is that ACOs need pediatricians in their panels for accreditation or whatever, but pediatricians don’t need them. Meanwhile, we have dozens of Level 3 PCMH practices who have recognized huge financial improvements, a big multiple over the MU money. In some states, it’s worth $50K+ per doctor, which is huge for a pediatrician.


Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, Lt. Dan, Dr. Travis

More news: HIStalk, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk Practice  updates.
Contact us online.

JennHIStalk

News 7/24/14

July 23, 2014 News No Comments

Top News

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia rules that the language of the ACA allows subsidies only for people who obtain coverage through exchanges run by the states, and not by the federal government. Just 14 states run their own health insurance exchanges, many of which have encountered media-worthy IT issues and vendor disputes. The judges suspended their ruling pending an appeal by the administration, which has stressed that the ruling will have no impact on consumers receiving monthly subsidies now. To add to the confusion, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia ruled unanimously to uphold the subsidies provision, saying the wording of the law was too ambiguous to restrict the availability of the funds. The subsidies were granted to nearly 90 percent of enrollees in the 36 states served by HealthCare.gov, and in many cases led them to paying less than $100 in premiums per month. It looks like we’re in for another ACA-related Supreme Court decision in the coming months.

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MGMA President and CEO Susan Turney, MD announces her resignation, effective at the end of August. Turney, who has been with the association since 2011, has accepted the position of CEO at the new Marshfield Clinic Health System (WI). MGMA is currently developing a search committee to look for Turney’s replacement. Turney is no doubt excited about returning to her roots at Marshfield; she served in various administrative and clinical roles at Marshfield Clinic for 22 years.


HIStalk Practice Announcements and Requests

A survey finds that 44 percent of physicians spend 1 to 2 hours a week reading news online, and I do hope that includes catching up on HIStalk Practice news. In an effort to keep readers engaged, I ask that you fill out this year’s Reader’s Survey. Not only will you have my gratitude, but you’ll contribute to the improvement of the site and potentially win an Amazon gift card. 


Announcements and Implementations

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Memorial Hermann Physician Network (TX) embeds the DocBookMD secure messaging application into its accountable care network to better enable communication between its physicians. MHPN anticipates the new tool, which initially will be rolled out to 1,800 MHACO physicians, will help improve workflow and outcomes.

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The non-profit Immune Deficiency Foundation partners with Get Real Health to provide a new portal to patients suffering from primary immunodeficiency diseases. IDF patients will use the InstaPHR to securely communicate with their physicians; and electronically track their symptoms, medications, infusions, and other health data. They can also use the portal to share their data with the U.S. Immunodeficiency Network registry for research purposes.

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East Jordan Family Health Centers (MI) goes live on Forward Health Group’s PopulationManager.

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Kansas Health Information Network and Informatics Corp. of America announce they have connected 81 regional healthcare organizations together to share critical health and behavioral health information. ICA CEO Gary Zegiestowsky believes this is a record number of connections for any HIE or HIO, and that it’s also “a perfect case study of how interoperability can and should work on a broad scale.”

In other KHIN news, the organization announces it is partnering with Netsmart to connect behavioral health and physical health communities using Netsmart’s CareConnect solution.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Medversant Technologies launches OneSource for Providers, a credentialing and enrollment management outsourcing solution for practices, hospitals, health plans, Medicare, and Medicaid. The application captures all of the credentialing information used by multiple organizations in a single data repository, cutting down on the time physicians spend submitting credentials to an average of 17 organizations annually.

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WRS Health launches a suite of cloud-based EHR, practice management, and patient communication services for ophthalmology practices. The company launched a similar range of technology products for oncologists earlier this month.


Research and Innovation

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A U.K.-based research study finds that up-to-date EHRs can be used to identify and sign up eligible patients for clinical trials, and monitor the effects of those trials once they have begun. It also found that the process can deliver better treatments for patients, and cut down on the cost and administrative burdens associated with running clinical trials. Barriers noted include “complexities in obtaining research governance approvals, recruitment and retainment of GPs and consent procedures for recruiting patients.” I love that the 178-page study has a “Plain English Summary” to balance out the “Scientific Summary.”

New research finds that the number of patients participating in an accountable care business model will jump from 40 million in 2015 to over 130 million in 2017, due in large part to an industry push towards performance-based metrics and payment. With that many people being touched by coordinated care efforts, I’m willing to bet that we’ll soon see a corresponding boom in vendors moving away from standalone EHR technologies to those that aid coordinated care. Interoperability just might happen if that many patients begin to truly understand what it can do for them and ONC continues to push for it.


Government and Politics

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HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell names Leslie Dach to the newly created position of senior counselor, which will likely see him working on the next sign-up period for Healthcare.gov. Dach comes to HHS from a stint as executive vice president of corporate affairs at Walmart, where he recruited Burwell to work for a short time at The Walmart Foundation. Dach has a strong background in corporate communications and image-making, which means he’ll likely help put out any media fires that arise come the next open enrollment period in mid-November. He also plans to continue consulting for Wal-Mart, a situation that could lend itself well to Walmart health clinics making a play for federal dollars of some kind.


People

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AMN Healthcare Services promotes Jeanette Sanchez to CIO.

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Nicholas Lorenzo, MD joins MeMD as CMO.

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Mark VanderWerf (Nonin Medical) joins the American Telemedicine Association’s Board of Directors, and is elected chairman of its Industry Council.


Other

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Allscripts receives an Intel Innovation Award for its Allscripts Wand, a touch-enabled mobile app for Windows 8.1 that gives physicians the ability to use legacy EHRs and new EHRs simultaneously on the same device. Resurgens Orthopaedics (GA) collaborated with Allscripts on a proof of concept, and incorporated the app into its clinical workflows via HP tablets. (I wonder if its physicians came up with the fake patient name above.) The medical group is now in the process of making the app an option for physicians and medical staff.

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I don’t often associate healthcare IT with county fairs, but the idea seems to have taken hold in Montana. Sidney Health Center staff plans to sign up patients up for its new Epic MyChart patient portal August 3-9 at the Richland County Fair. Folks who sign up at the center’s booth will not only enjoy secure messaging and electronic prescription refill requests, but may also win $100 in “Chamber Bucks.”

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The American Osteopathic Association passes a resolution urging patients not to use symptom-checker apps and websites as an alternative to an office visit, saying that such self-diagnosis tools don’t take their medical history into account and often miss drug interactions.

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The American Telemedicine Association 2015 program selection committee seeks presentation abstracts focused on best practices, cost savings, critical findings, and innovative applications in telemedicine. Submissions are being accepted through September 17. Guidelines can be found here.


Contacts

Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, Lt. Dan, Dr. Travis

More news: HIStalk, HIStalk Connect.

Get HIStalk Practice  updates.
Contact us online.

JennHIStalk

News 7/22/14

July 22, 2014 News No Comments

Top News

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Azalea Health agrees to merge with simplifyMD in an effort to become a leading provider of a fully integrated, cloud-based healthcare management and medical billing solution. The Georgia-based companies will operate as simplifyMD and Azalea Health during the transition, with the products and services of both marketed under the Azalea Health brand. Azalea founder and CEO Baha Zeidan will lead the new company.

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A new study from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research analyzes the public’s opinion of the quality of healthcare providers. Key findings include:

  • Most patients focus on a physician’s personality traits rather than effectiveness of care or outcomes.
  • An overwhelming majority of patients believes that requiring doctors to report the effectiveness of their treatments and patient satisfaction with care would improve the quality of care provided.
  • Less than a quarter of patients are receiving provider quality information, and most are not very confident they could find such information they can trust on their own, including direct comparisons of physicians.
  • Patients would trust word-of-mouth and personal recommendations from doctors far more than provider quality data from the government or third parties.
  • About half of those surveyed believe that higher quality care generally comes at a higher cost, while 37 percent say there is no real relationship between quality and cost.
  • Patients without insurance face more challenges in finding information about provider quality and cost; at the same time, they are more likely than the insured to think public reporting of such information would improve the overall quality of care doctors provide.

It’s fairly telling that the top physician characteristic most valued by patients is the ability to listen and be attentive – two characteristics many physicians feel are being lost thanks to the intrusion of EHRs into the exam room.


HIStalk Practice Announcements and Requests

It’s that time again. The HIStalk Practice Reader’s Survey is now live. I am looking forward to learning about what readers like and don’t like, and what you’d like to see more and less of on the site. The survey is short, so shouldn’t take more than five minutes. One lucky respondent will receive an Amazon gift card for taking the time to help me make HIStalk Practice even better.

Reminders: Providers and consultants are welcome to share an “Idea of the Day” with the HIStalk Practice audience.

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Watching: The Grand Budapest Hotel. Director Wes Anderson isn’t for everyone, but in my book he can do no wrong, especially when it comes to casting, soundtracks, and Lego tie-ins. Coincidentally, I saw The Lego Movie around the same time, which was just as good, though in an entirely different way.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Castlight Health and Teladoc partner to offer customers the ability to integrate Teladoc’s telemedicine offerings into Castlight’s technology. Employees that use Castlight’s platform to search for medical services will now be presented with telemedicine options as available.

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Microsoft announces that it will cut 18,000 jobs in the next year – 14 percent of its workforce – as it moves forward with plans to consolidate its Smart Devices and Mobile Phones units. The map above shows the regions around the world that will see the most change in operations, including Finland, where hardest-hit Nokia, acquired by Microsoft earlier this year, is headquartered.

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Online doctor search vendor BetterDoctor closes $10 million in Series A funding. Company founders Ari Tulla and Tapio Tolvanen are both Finnish and former high-ranking Nokia software developers. I assume some of their Finnish Nokia colleagues are part of the 1,000 jobs being downsized in that country.

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Athenahealth announces Q2 results: revenue up 27 percent, adjusted EPS $0.32 vs. –$0.08, beating expectations for both. Mr. H summarized the company’s recent earnings call here, noting the current state of the company’s More Disruption Please program and the “big miss” that is Epocrates. 


Announcements and Implementations

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Cornerstone Pediatrics implements Lathem’s PayClock Online time and attendance system. Practice Manager Angela Powell notes the cloud-based system’s easier accessibility has enabled her to cut payroll time in half.

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EHNAC announces the Accountable Care Organization Accreditation Program for ACOs and related IT service organizations. ACOAP assesses network infrastructure and exchange connectivity in the areas of confidentiality and privacy, and technology processes and security; and focuses on technical performance, business processes and resource management. The announcement comes on the heels of EHNAC’s partnership with WEDI to establish a Practice Management System Accreditation Program.

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Harbin Clinic (GA) and Cigna launch a collaborative care initiative that will benefit 5,300 Cigna customers. The program aims to improve outcomes and lower costs by using patient-specific data from Cigna to help identify patients being discharged from the hospital who might be at risk for readmission, as well as patients who may be overdue for health screenings or who may have skipped a prescription refill. Harbin Clinic is making quite a name for itself when it comes to rural healthcare facilities participating in new care models and technologies. Last year it participated in the MyJourney Compass pilot project, which provided cancer patients with Nexus 7 tablets to help them securely communicate with providers, access health information and obtain credible information online.

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The Population Health Alliance announces four new member organizations: behavioral change company Coach Alba; power and related-technologies provider Cummins Inc.; Kognito, a behavior change company that specializes in immersive experiences; and health optimization firm Welltok.


Government and Politics

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ONC head Karen DeSalvo, MD says in a recent interview that by 2015 the office will have an interoperability road map "that is specific enough that people will know what they’re supposed to do when." That will no doubt come as welcome news to physicians and vendors who read the agency’s recent 10-year vision for interoperability report but were left with questions around timing. I wonder if DeSalvo feels the need to speed up interoperability efforts before ONC’s funding dwindles further, and the private sector siphons off more ONC leadership.

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DeSalvo also responds to House Energy and Commerce Committee members who questioned ONC’s regulatory authority earlier this summer, particularly as it pertains to the creation and oversight of the Health IT Safety Center. She notes that the Proposed Strategy and Recommendations for a Risk-Based Framework report did not propose that the Health IT Safety Center would have the authority to regulate health IT, and that a possible plan to levy user fees on companies appears to be outside of the ONC’s statutory authority. The government dialogue comes at a time when EHRs and their relationship to adverse patient safety events are being scrutinized, and rightly so. This article highlights the fact that electronic data hazards have been ranked as the number-one patient safety concern for 2014.

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CMS kicks off its search for a new Healthcare.gov technology vendor, noting in its 84-page solicitation that it is looking for a business “capable of working under aggressive time constraints." Duties will include providing design, development, testing, implementation, documentation, services, analysis, maintenance, and support for the federal exchange. A quick scan of the RFP didn’t turn up mention of proposal due dates, so I can only assume time is of the essence. The next proposed open enrollment period starts November 15.


Research and Innovation

Johns Hopkins medical student Shiv Gaglani prepares to launch Quantified Care, an online marketplace for physicians and consumers. He is looking to raise $20,000 via Indiegogo to launch the website, which will include mobile health devices for sale and practical advice about how clinicians might use them. It’s an interesting and timely concept, given the volume of innovative digital health devices coming to market, and the questions physicians have around their ability to actually improve workflows and outcomes.


People

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Ray Payette (Blueprint Software Systems) joins Nightingale Informatix Corp. as CTO.

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Marty Beard (LiveOps) is named COO of Blackberry.


Other

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The local paper highlights Cleveland Clinic Sports Health (IL), which offers a biweekly Dance Medicine Clinic to active dancers. Every staff member is a former or current performer, giving them a unique edge when it comes to communicating with their patients about dance-related symptoms and injuries. It would be interesting to see if they’ve been able to create dance-friendly templates within the clinic’s Epic EHR.

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I had the pleasure recently of hearing John Marshall discuss the role passion and leadership played in his ascent from humble door-to-door Wi-Fi hotspot salesman to general manager and senior vice president of AirWatch by VMWare. I was struck not only by his PowerPoint love for Talladega Nights, but by the emphasis he put on flexibility when it came time to pivot the business into the mobile device management company that it is today. The abrupt change in direction was due in large part to Marshall’s chance tradeshow encounter with an Apple rep wielding a first-generation iPhone.


Sponsor Updates

  • PerfectServe’s VP/Chief Clinical Officer Leigh Ann Myers, RN writes a blog post, “Changing the Culture for SBAR Communications.”
  • Kareo opens an operations center in Las Vegas, NV.
  • NextGen Healthcare provides revenue cycle management services to Putnam County Memorial Hospital (MO).
  • Kareo and Falcon EHR partner to provide cloud solutions to nephrology practices.

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Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, Lt. Dan, Dr. Travis

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