News 9/30/10

September 29, 2010 News No Comments

From: Matt “Re: imedcenter. I noticed that you picked up the article about our clinic. What we are doing is extremely time consuming to invent from the ground u/p, especially for primary care type offices like ours. We really feel that the systems we put in place allow the patient to feel the personality of the old days of the home visit, while allow the physician to survive in the brutal primary care market.” When imedcenter of Danbury opens its doors this week, it will be totally paperless. I checked out their website and noticed that their HIT setup is not the only thing differentiates them from the masses: imedcenter providers are a unique combination of traditional MDs, naturopathic physicians, chiropractors, therapeutic massage therapists, and nutritionists.

From: NoKlass “Re: KLAS and ambulatory solutions. What’s being ignored is the difference between enterprise systems that work in hospitals, and EMRs that work in ambulatory medical practices. Also missing is a distinction between EMRs that cater to specialists versus primary care.” Well said. On the other hand, if there are too many categories I can envision a whole other set of issues, not to mention plenty of criticism from vendors who are benefiting from the status quo.


The big Xconomy Exchange with eClinicalWorks’ Girish Navani and athenahealth’s Jonathan Bush is/was Wednesday. A reader sent in this stealth picture with promise of more details to follow.

Daily text messages reminding dermatology patients to take their medication significantly improve patient adherence, self-care behaviors, and quality of life, according to a Center for Connected Health study.

Also dermatology-related: dermatology-specific certification, such as the one CCHIT offers, will likely not sway EHR-resistant dermatologists to invest in a system. I’m sure one reason many dermatologists avoid adopting EHRs is because of their high patient volume: they don’t believe there’s time to document electronically and still see 40+ patients a day. In addition, ARRA won’t incent too many physicians to adopt EHR since the meaningful use measures are less relevant in dermatology.

A whopping 70% of medical students say that having an EHR is a very important factor in deciding where they will practice medicine (could the rest be considering dermatology?) Additionally, medical students love smartphone devices, particularly iPhones or iPod touches: 70% are Apple fans, followed by BlackBerry and Android devices.


Phreesia completes a $20 million Series D round of funding. Just this week, someone suggested I check out Phreesia, a company that has developed a patient check-in system that also verifies insurance eligibility, calculates the patient-responsible amount, and collects the money with a credit card swipe. Patients are handed a “PhreesiaPad” tablet device, take a seat in the waiting room, and complete all the check-up and payment tasks before being seen. The product is timely since more practices are attempting to collect the full patient-responsible money up front, rather than wait until insurance pays. What differentiates Phreesia from similar products is that the “collection” task is performed by the tablet and not the office staff, most of whom rather ask Mrs. Smith about her new grandbaby than break the news about a new payment procedure.

RCM-provider ZirMed achieves Phase I certification from the CAQH CORE, which means the company has proven its ability to provide real-time access to key eligibility and benefits data.

Western Maryland Health Systems selects Dell and eClinicalWorks as the hosted subscription-based EMR/PM solution for its 150 affiliated and 26 employed physicians.  Dell will provide both the hardware and software support through its ProSupport EMR helpdesk.


ClearPractice announces the release of Nimble, an EHR designed specifically for the iPad.  I’m kind of wondering why, if you are going to run your software on a device with amazing graphical capabilities like the iPad, would you develop your software with a brown background.  Anyway, the first 500 physicians to subscribe to ClearPractice’s Practice Edition EMR get a free iPad.

Blue Shield of California commits $24.8 million in 2010 payments to reward medical groups and IPAs that meet pay-for-performance objectives for clinical care, patient experience, and HIT adoption.

mobile prd

Coming to a mobile device near you: mobilePDR. Physicians Interactive Holdings and PDR Network are offering a mobile, digital version of the Physician’s Desk Reference. mobilePDR is available for free for full-time practicing physicians via PHI’s Skyscape mobile channel. Details here.


E-mail Inga.

News 9/28/10

September 27, 2010 News 2 Comments

virtual radiologic nighthawk radiology

Virtual Radiologic announces plans to pay $170 million cash for its top competitor, NightHawk Radiology. Both companies offer remote radiology services for radiology groups and hospitals. Nighthawk holds 22% of the market and Virtual 15%; the combined entity will have 325 radiologists serving 2,700 healthcare facilities.

ONC publishes a list of 20 FAQs to help providers and vendors understand and meet Meaningful Use requirements. Most of the questions address the certification process.

Meanwhile, CMS says it will correct a few inconsistencies in the Meaningful Use final rules and publish more detailed guidance for providers on how to meet quality measures.


Here’s a clinic I’d like to check out. When the Imed Center of Danbury (CT) opens its doors this week, there will be no chart room. Patients will check in and input their medical histories using kiosks in the waiting room. The practice will issue each patient a USB drive that includes his/her personalized information on prescriptions, allergies, and other clinical data. If a patient needs to talk to a doctor after hours, texting or Skype will be among the communication options. And, each exam room includes a flat screen TV so physicians can view scans and other images.

I can’t figure out if this is a good deal or not. ClickFreeMD introduces an “unlimited use, all-inclusive” billing, PM, and EHR software (Ingenix) service and support for a flat monthly fee. Most billing services bill based on a percentage of collections, which definitely motivates the billing company to bring in as much money as possible. However, ClickFreeMD claims their model is simpler and less expensive. I guess I am of the mindset that less expensive is not always “better.”


In case you missed it, we’ve set up HIStalkTV, which features HIT-related videos. We’re still figuring out where to go with the site, but if you have any content that you think readers might enjoy, send it my way.

I had an interesting conversation with a CIO type today. He contends that the only enterprise HIS vendors with solid ambulatory solutions are Epic and Allscripts/Eclipsys. Anyone care to counter his claim? Certainly those two have more ambulatory practice installations than any of the other enterprise vendors.

Practice managers’ salaries are on the rise, at least in the UK. The average income is now about $50,000, or about $55,000 in greater London. Still not quite as good as earnings for US practice managers, where in a small group practice, the median salary is $56,000 and in practices over six physicians, the average is $77,000.

The use of new personal technologies such as cell phones and BlackBerrys is forcing doctors to ask patients new questions about their technology habits. I suppose physicians now have fields in their EMRs for BlackBerry thumb, cell phone elbow, and computer vision syndrome. Here’s a new ailment I had not heard of before: Facebook depression, which results when people replace face-to-face interaction with online friends.

new orleans

To cure any blogger depression I might have, I’m heading to New Orleans for the MGMA conference next month. Today I took a quick peek at the agenda and noted a few familiar names on the featured speakers list: Malcolm Gladwell, Microsoft’s Bill Crounse, David Blumenthal, and AMA President James Rohack. MGMA has quite a few sessions on information management (where you’ll likely find me), as well as tracks covering practice revenue and cost issues, practice performance, and government affairs. I’m also scheduling time for some of that great New Orleans grub.


E-mail Inga.

Intelligent Healthcare Information Integration 9/25/10

September 25, 2010 News No Comments

POF, POOF, POTF — It’s All Geek to Me

Just days after last year’s American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition (AAP-NCE) in Washington, DC, we began to work on this year’s “Pediatric Office of the Future” exhibit. Trying to showcase technology capabilities for pediatricians in an educational, yet exhibit hall-style show has become a year-round challenge. (I’d call it a “job” instead of a “challenge” except that would imply at least a modicum of pay.)

It’s really a labor of love — though some have said it’s more of “insanity” — trying to engage medically-oriented ,tech-savvy companies of all sorts and sizes into donating time, people, resources, money, and prizes. It becomes exceptionally tricky when you need them to understand that while we appreciate their desire and need to generate sales leads — they are in business to sell products and/or services, for sure — in our exhibit, we need them to keep the educational focus at the fore. We want our sponsors to find value for their generosity, but our booth is all about the attendees getting an education regarding currently available “future” technologies. (Yeah, I know, but “Pediatric Office of the Nowadays” just doesn’t sound as zippy.)

Speaking of names, I get a whole heap of variations on the acronym, or the assumptions thereof — POF, POOF, POTF, etc. We have always used the shortest, POF, but take your pick. “Call us what you will, as long as you call us!”

The team has really put together an impressive “show” for 2010. (Be warned: blatant POF promo approaching!) Our 30’ X 30’ booth now has displays and sponsors on every inside and outside wall…and beyond! We have some of the biggest names in EHRs and HIE, some really great tools for practices, “green” tech, non-brick-and-mortar office ideas, cool health literacy tools, and even an international “tech head” from eastern Africa bringing MIT Sloan along for the ride. Plus, we have been successful in organizing a side bar to the POF: the “Future Faces Family Fun & Fitness Zone.” We have grown way beyond our four walls and now have the second largest footprint in the exhibit hall!

The AAP has shown us lots of love, both in onsite as well as pre-show marketing. We have even been given our own Web presence, something rather unusual for such an event, at Details of all our generous sponsors and their educational foci as well as links for more of their details are there. Also, you can read more about the “Future Faces” fun stuff (i.e., games, “Eye Screen for Ice Cream,” enjoyable distractions for kids of all ages, etc.) Not the least important, you can also see a list of the over $40,000 in prizes we have been generously provided which we’ll be giving away over the three days of the exhibit. From an EHR to a hippopotamus to 500 thumb drives and more, attendees who stop by and get their badge scanned are all automatically entered.

Am I trying to sell the POF? You betcha! I love selling it because it doesn’t cost anything for attendees. It’s a “value add.” So, if you’ll be in or around San Francisco October 2-4, come by the Moscone Center and see why I’ve become such an unabashed pitchman. I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy the “show.”

Oh…one last pitch: we’ve already gotten some huge conversations with some even more gigundo companies interested in sponsorship for the 2011 POF. It’s looking truly legen…wait for it…dary!!!

Back from the future trenches…

“A lie is just a story ruined by the truth.” – Barney Stinson

Dr. Gregg Alexander, a grunt in the trenches pediatrician, directs the “Pediatric Office of the Future” exhibit for the American Academy of Pediatrics and is a member of the Professional Advisory Council for More of his blather…er, writings…can be found at his blog, practice web site or directly from

News 9/23/10

September 22, 2010 News 1 Comment

From InfoGard: “Re: ONC-ATCB. InfoGard Laboratories will complete the mandatory ATCB training conducted by ONC this week (week of 9/20). We are required to make any changes to our testing procedures and process for EHR testing after completing the mandatory ONC training.  We expect to be able to start the testing process the week of October 4. We will begin providing testing process information and taking applications the week of September 27.” No word yet on pricing.

Carilion Clinic (VA) and The Everett Clinic (WA) deploy Humedica’s clinical analytic and benchmarking tool to compare care delivery among its physicians and across other medical groups. Sounds great for prepping for ACO participation.

A third of office-based providers are now e-prescribing, according to Surescripts. However, only 12% of all prescriptions were written electronically last year. The number of providers using electronic prescribing grew significantly from 2008 to 2009, from 74,000 to 200,000, while the total number of e-prescriptions jumped from 68 million to 190 million. Massachusetts had the highest e-prescribing rate at 57%, followed by Rhode Island and Delaware.

via pathways

The Association of Northern California Oncologists selects Via Oncology Pathways as the preferred cancer treatment protocol option for its 400 members. The Pathways Portal application is Web-based and enables oncologists to apply the pathways at the point of care.

Practice Fusion announces its first-ever user conference, to be held November 5th in San Francisco. Just like their EHR software, there’s no charge for the one-day Practice Fusion Connect 2010 event.

HCA-owned Ocala Health System (FL) buys Family Care Specialists, a 27-provider practice with seven locations. As part of the deal, HCA will provide the practice with resources to implement an EHR.

ehr market penetration

CapSite releases a new analysis of the ambulatory EHR and practice management market, based on insight from over 2,000 practices. Key findings include:

  • 2010 EHR sales are expected to double 2009’s results.
  • Over the next 24 months, the projected EHR/PM market opportunity will exceed $3 billion.
  • Allscripts and Epic each hold 13% of the ambulatory EHR market, followed by eClinicalWorks, NextGen, and GE.
  • Allscripts, eClinicalWorks, NextGen, and McKesson are the most-considered EHR vendors.
  • GE has 9% of the practice management market, followed by McKesson, Cerner, Allscripts, and Meditech.
  • Epic, eClinicalWorks, NextGen, Allscripts, and McKesson are the most-considered PM vendors.
  • Most practices don’t plan to purchase a new EHR or PM solution for another 12-24 months.
  • Despite the increased popularity of hosted models, 44% of practices prefer the traditional software license purchase option.

ama fee schedule review

The AMA introduces a set of self-auditing tools for developing and evaluating fee schedules and billing safeguards in preparation for billing and payment audits. The Practice Analysis Tools for Healthcare includes tools to develop a practice-specific fee schedule and compare it against national average billed charge amounts. Physicians can also analyze their coding and billing patterns and compare them against national averages by specialty.

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A malpractice insurer finds that 35% of physicians aren’t aware that by 2015 the government plans to penalize practices that haven’t implemented EHRs. However, more than half of those who were unaware say the penalties won’t cause them to implement EHRs. As usual, cost was the top concern for physicians, followed closely by staff training.


E-mail Inga.

News 9/21/10

September 20, 2010 News 4 Comments


CHRISTUS Health selects athenahealth’s EHR, Collector, and Communication for its 150 providers and 40 clinics. They’ve been an athenahealth client for several years, having run athenaCollector at several sites. Interestingly CHRISTUS owns and operates multiple clinics within Walmarts, which at one time required its in-store clinics to run eClinicalWorks.

A janitor makes $40 selling 14 boxes of patient records to a recycling center. Unfortunately, he apparently stole them from the ambulatory care center where he worked and now faces felony commercial burglary charges. Officials say the records contained no personal medical information.


HHS approves a third ONC-ATCB: InfoGard Laboratories, which has extensive certification experience in a number of areas. InfoGard will compete with CCHIT and Drummond Group in the race to certify EHRs. No word yet on the company’s pricing or procedures.

Speaking of certification, Addison Health Systems, Inc., developers of the EHR WritePad, says it has applied for accreditation with The Drummond Group. The company points out that its e-prescribing partner will be CCHIT-certified, so WritePad will have certification from both Drummond and CCHIT. While technically I’m sure it’s true, I hope the company doesn’t spin the certification story in such a way as to confuse the average buyer.

cchit pricing cchit pricing1

Meanwhile, CCHIT opens its ONC-ATCB application process. The cost for complete EHR certification and testing: $34,300 for eligible provider products and $32,500 for inpatient software. I think it would be fun to compare the pricing model for all three of the selected ONC-ATCBs; I’ve reached out to them for details. Stay tuned.


Here’s a new dictation tool for the iPhone. MD-IT releases iConnect, an app that allows physicians to select patients from an appointment scheduling list and dictate directly into their iPhone. Recordings are electronically uploaded to the MD-IT platform for transcription.

Covisint acquires DocSite, a developer of clinical decision support and quality performance management tools. The acquisition will strengthen Covisint’s offerings for ACOs and HIEs.

Speaking of ACOs, as doctors wait for the government to clarify particulars on this new model of care, ACO experts recommend that physicians consider which providers with which they would prefer to align and begin tracking their own utilization and quality of care. An EMR helps in this area, but may not provide enough details to assess costs and quality or track patient ER visits and hospitalizations. At a minimum, practices should consider tracking some of this information in a spreadsheet and to monitor quality metrics.

TriageLogic introduces Office Triage Solution, a Web-based application to help practices manage incoming calls using decision-tree support tools.

Despite an overall decline in patient visits, physician offices continue to add more jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says 5,300 jobs were added in August. For the summer, 9,300 new positions became available. Some theories for the counter-intuitive trend: practices are ramping up for potential increases in patient volumes as a result of health reform; they are betting that additional clinical staff will attract more patients and thus generate more revenue; and, as the threat of Medicare cuts loom, physician offices are hiring now in anticipation of spending freezes later in the year.

Deloitte Center for Health Solutions provides a comprehensive overview of several medical home pilots and offers insights into the future of the model. Researchers conclude that health IT plays a big role in the medical homes model and say it’s an essential front-end investment. Overall physician adoption will be a challenge, in part due to physician resistance to the use of health information technology in diagnostics, treatment planning, and routine patient interaction.


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