Rock Health releases its quarterly report on digital health funding, highlighting an overall stall in investment growth. Lt. Dan has the full breakdown here. A similar report from Mercom Capital Group confirms the trend.
HIStalk Practice Announcements and Requests
I had a great time moderating the first #HIStalking tweet chat, featuring lively discussion topics from our HIMSS15 patient advocate scholarship winners. You can check out the Storify recap of the “The Role of Patient Engagement & Advocacy in HIT” here.
April 22 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “Microsoft: The Waking Giant in Healthcare Analytics and Big Data.” Sponsored by Health Catalyst. Presenter: Dale Sanders, SVP of strategy, Health Catalyst. Microsoft has been quietly reengineering its culture and products to offer the best value and most visionary platform for cloud services, big data, and analytics in healthcare. This webinar will cover the Healthcare Analytics Adoption Model, the ongoing transition from relational databases, the role of new Microsoft products such as Azure and Analytic Platform System, the PowerX product line, and geospatial and machine learning visualization tools. Attendees will learn how to incorporate cloud-based analytics services into their healthcare analytics strategies.
Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock
BioHealth Innovation and the Montgomery County Dept. of Economic Development in Maryland create Relevant Health, an accelerator program for early stage healthcare IT companies. The five-month mentorship and training program will accept its first cohort of eight companies in the fall.
Livongo Health raises $20 million to expand its connected glucometer-powered diabetes management service. Former Allscripts CEO Glen Tullman started and runs the company.
Lexmark will consolidate its acquired brands, including Perceptive Software, under the single name Lexmark and a new logo. Perceptive will be placed under the Lexmark Healthcare banner.
Announcements and Implementations
Montana Primary Care Association selects eClinicalWorks to help it ensure optimal HEDIS performance for its 200 providers across 16 community health centers.
MetroChicago HIE offers DirectRoute communication management from Sandlot Solutions, enabling providers with Direct addresses to customize how they receive secure patient information from their colleagues.
CareCloud and Marshfield Clinic Information Services launch a cloud-based solution for large ambulatory medical practices comprising EHR, PM, revenue cycle, and support and optimization services.
MEA|NEA partners with Virtru to provide HIPAA-compliant email services to physician and dental practices.
Government and Politics
FTC staff submit 13 pages of comments on ONC’s Interoperability Roadmap, offering guidance on shared governance mechanisms and the development of technical standards; and highlighting the importance of safeguards to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and security of consumer data.
Data from this week’s Health IT Policy Committee meeting show that Medicare EPs had substantially higher rates of Meaningful Use achievement than Medicaid EPs.
Teladoc continues to push the buttons of the Texas Medical Board, which will likely soon adopt a rule requiring doctors to see patients in person or through a webcam before treating via telemedicine. Teladoc CEO Jason Gorevic tells Politico that his company is “pulling out the stops in Texas, trying to draw physicians, employers, health plans, and patient advocacy groups together to oppose the regulations, which he said ‘will really hinder the expansion of telemedicine rather than facilitate the adoption, and hurt access to care for Texans.’” He adds that, “There are many things that don’t require a visualization. We’re relying on the physician’s experience and clinical guidelines to make sure that patient safety is first and foremost.”
A local Texas news station profiles use of the Oto CellScope (a graduate of Rock Health’s incubation program) at Scott and White Clinic (TX). The $79 scope attaches to an iPhone over the camera lens and works in the same manner as a traditional scope. The free app saves the images or video, potentially enabling patients (who don’t live in Texas) to upload and send images to their providers for remote consultation.
Richard Boxer, MD (UCLA) joins telemedicine company WellVia as CMO.
Research and Innovation
The Advisory Board Co. reports that 25 of the 1,000+ large medical groups subject to Medicare’s physician value-based payment modifier will receive payment adjustments this year based on their cost and quality performance. Over 300 such groups are receiving payment reductions of up to 1 percent for not complying with Medicare’s reporting requirements. ABC CMO hits the nail on the head in summing up why so many did not adhere to the requirements: “[Some] are not going to motivate until it is absolutely necessary. If you look at these small practices, a lot of them just run on a shoestring.”
Kudos to Jamie Stockton, CFA of Wells Fargo Securities for sharing his take on the latest Meaningful Use data. Wells Fargo’s EP numbers suggest that Athenahealth customers lead the MUS2 pack at 71 percent, although not up to the 98 percent it boasted a couple of weeks ago, which in reality measured the percentage of EPs that attempted MUS2, not the percentage of its overall customer base.
Vermont’s local NPR affiliate covers the continuing saga of the state’s attempts to digitize medical records with taxpayer money. Lawmakers appear to be unimpressed with the 10-year-old Vermont Information Technology Leaders, which was established to oversee the statewide transition from paper to digital. The nonprofit received quite a bit of flak for spending $13,000 on local T.V. advertising during this year’s Super Bowl. Lawmakers contend that it’s time to reconsider the more than $3 million in taxpayer money they invest annually in the enterprise. Nearly 700 physicians are using the VITL portal to access patient data, while only about 15,000 patients have given consent for their medical records to be on the system.
The Huffington Post asserts that the AMA has distanced itself from presidential hopeful Rand Paul, MD offering its support to “anyone else interested in running for president. Anyone.” The tongue-in-cheek write-up goes on to assert that the AMA has “seen television doctors with more knowledge of actual medicine than Rand Paul. Doogie Howser, House, McDreamy, even Dr. Nick from The Simpsons. These are all doctors that the AMA would proudly back. In other words, we would literally support a fictional person for president ahead of Rand Paul.”
The Washington Post covers the life-extending work being undertaken by some of Silicon Valley’s biggest tech titans, including the founders of Google, Facebook, eBay, Napster, and Netscape. The death-defying entrepreneurs are spending billions on researching, rebuilding, regenerating, and reprogramming organs, limbs, cells, and DNA in the hopes of helping people to live longer and better. I tend to agree with Bill Gates on the narcissistic absurdity of the idea: “It seems pretty egocentric while we still have malaria and TB for rich people to fund things so they can live longer.”