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News 1/4/18

January 4, 2018 News No Comments

Top News

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VillageMD raises $80 million in a financing round led by Athyrium Capital Management, bringing its total funding to $116 million. The Chicago-based primary care management company has grown its physician network to 2,500 in six states.


Webinars

January 24 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET: “Location, Location, Location: How to Deploy RTLS Asset Management for Capital Savings.” Sponsor: Versus Technology. Presenter: Doug Duvall, solution architect, Versus Technology. Misplaced or sub-optimally deployed medical equipment delays patient care and hampers safety-mandated preventive maintenance. It also forces hospitals to buy more equipment despite an average utilization that may be as low as 30 percent, misdirecting precious capital dollars that could be better spent on more strategic projects. A real-time locating system (RTLS) cannot only track asset location, but also help ensure that equipment is properly distributed to the right place at the right time. This webinar will provide insight into the evaluation, selection, and benefits of an RTLS-powered asset management solution.

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Patient intake tech company Phreesia secures an undisclosed amount of funding from Echo Health Ventures, marking its seventh funding round. Phreesia’s last round took place in 2014 to the tune of $30 million.

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Quartet Health raises $40 million in a Series C round headed up by F-Prime Capital Partners and Polaris Partners. The funds will enable the New York City-based business to further develop its patient screening and referral technology for primary and mental healthcare providers.


Announcements and Implementations

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Ortho Montana selects musculoskeletal and quality of life registries from Oberd.


People

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Health Payment Systems promotes Terry Rowinski to CEO.

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Brad Hill (RemitData) joins Peak Health Solutions as president.

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Privia Health hires Doug Wenners as acting CEO. Wenners comes from Brighton Health Group, which acquired Privia in 2014.


Research and Innovation

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European researchers develop a bionic hand with a sense of touch that is small enough to transport outside of a laboratory environment. Previous iterations had computer equipment too cumbersome to travel with; now, the user can stow it in a backpack.


Government and Politics

CMS develops a new online performance data submission tool for physicians participating in the Quality Payment Program. The 2017 submission period runs through March 31.


Other

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Go Dawgs: In a savvy marketing/SEO move, OrthoAtlanta announces it will be the official orthopedic and sports medicine provider during the 2018 CFP National Championship January 8 in Atlanta.

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Athenahealth CEO Jonathan Bush shares resolutions for the new year.


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News 1/3/18

January 3, 2018 News No Comments

Top News

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Kipu Systems sues Sanomedics subsidiary ZenCharts for allegedly stealing the intellectual property behind its EHR for behavioral health providers. The $30 million lawsuit goes on to state that Solutions Recovery (FL) owner Dan Callahan enlisted his software developer son to copy Kipu’s proprietary software. The ZenCharts website lists Callahan as co-founder and (presumably) son Sean as a contributing blogger.


Webinars

January 24 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET: “Location, Location, Location: How to Deploy RTLS Asset Management for Capital Savings.” Sponsor: Versus Technology. Presenter: Doug Duvall, solution architect, Versus Technology. Misplaced or sub-optimally deployed medical equipment delays patient care and hampers safety-mandated preventive maintenance. It also forces hospitals to buy more equipment despite an average utilization that may be as low as 30 percent, misdirecting precious capital dollars that could be better spent on more strategic projects. A real-time locating system (RTLS) cannot only track asset location, but also help ensure that equipment is properly distributed to the right place at the right time. This webinar will provide insight into the evaluation, selection, and benefits of an RTLS-powered asset management solution.

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Aprima reseller Das Health acquires EMDs reseller Integra IT Solutions for an undisclosed sum. Tampa, FL-based DAS will merge its West Coast operations with Integra’s Las Vegas office.

Dermatology Associates of Northern Virginia joins the US Dermatology Partners network. The arrangement marks the Dallas-based practice management company’s first foray into the state.

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Biometric remote patient monitoring company Biotricity announces plans to hire 12 salespeople in Q1 2018 ahead of the launch of its Bioflux remote cardiac monitoring system.

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Carrollton Family Clinic (MS) files a class-action lawsuit against EClinicalWorks in an effort to recoup lost Meaningful Use incentive money and related IT expenses incurred after CMS found the EHR vendor’s software to be deficient for Meaningful Use.


People

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Brent Rasmussen (Halo Group) joins online vision test company Opternative as CEO.


Government and Politics

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The FCC seeks comments on a proposed rule that would increase and potentially reallocate funding for the Rural Health Care Program. The program, which includes the Health Connect Fund, provides funding to eligible providers for broadband and telecommunications services.

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Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) announces that HHS Secretary nominee Alex Azar’s confirmation hearing will be held January 9. The former Eli Lily executive and HHS deputy secretary stressed that he will tackle drug prices during his November appearance before the Senate HELP Committee.


Research and Innovation

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Coinciding with many a New Year’s Resolution, 23andMe starts recruiting for a weight loss study that will ultimately involve 100,000 of its 1.3 million customers. Participants will be asked to report on the effectiveness of one of three randomly assigned diet and weight-loss plans over a three-month period. The company will use the findings to develop genetically tailored health and wellness plans it can add to its consumer genetic reports. It sounds a lot like what subscription food service Habit already provides.


Telemedicine

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Denver-based direct primary care provider PeakMed selects text-based virtual consult technology from CirrusMD. PeakMed founder and CMO Mark Tomasulo, DO told me in a September 2017 interview that telemedicine was indeed on the horizon, courtesy of a $5.5 million funding round.


Other

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I’m not sure why they thought it worthwhile, but analysts pore over earnings call transcripts to determine that 2017 was one of the most profanity-filled on record – despite a fairly strong year for markets. Some believe that the “sweariness” stems from CEO attempts to be more relatable to stockholders, which isn’t saying much about the professionalism of either party.


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Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

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News 1/2/18

January 2, 2018 News No Comments

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21st Century Oncology agrees to pay HHS $2.3 million to settle HIPAA violations (and avoid future civil penalties) related to two data breaches in 2015 that exposed over 2 million records and led to 13 federal class action lawsuits. The company, which operates nearly 180 treatment centers across the country, will also implement a corrective action plan that, when it emerges from bankruptcy, will hopefully ensure its future HIPAA compliance.


HIStalk Practice Musings

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Welcome to the new year! It’s hard for me to believe the holiday break has come to an end, though after a whirlwind of family gatherings it’s actually kind of nice to be back on some sort of schedule. I did find time during the break to initiate my HIMSS18 registration, which means I’ll also need to finalize my airfare and lodging sooner rather than later to avoid having to take a red eye to and from Vegas. In prepping my press credentials, I thought about what topics I’ll gravitate towards at the conference. Given the cryptocurrency chatter heard round the Christmas tree over the last few weeks, I’ll definitely be on the lookout for startups that have successfully weathered an ICO (initial coin offering) and are ready to demo a blockchain-based product on the show floor. (Granted, they probably won’t financially be at the HIMSS exhibitor stage.) I can’t tell you the number of press releases that come across my desk promising the latest and greatest in secure, blockchain-based health records from startups that are prepping for an ICO. It’s all vaporware to me until use cases start popping up. HIMSS has devoted a significant portion of its programming to the topic. I’m betting the forum and 101 session will be packed.

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Speaking of blockchain, I have found this video to be extremely helpful in my conversations about the concept with people outside of IT. Not one to kid myself, I started with the five year-old and progressed from there.


Webinars

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


Announcements and Implementations

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AdvancedMD develops dashboard technology to help physicians visually prioritize daily tasks from within their EHR.

In Virginia, the Arlington County Department of Human Services selects EHR technology from Welligent.

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Boston-based Q2i develops a care coordination and analytics dashboard and mobile app for post-bariatric surgery treatment programs.

Tempus and Precision HealthAI will provide de-identified data sets to CancerLinQ, a subsidiary of the American Society of Clinical Oncology that has developed quality improvement and analytics tools for oncologists and researchers. 


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Carolina East Family Medicine (NC) warns it may have to lay off employees due to suspended payments from Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. The payer contends the practice has electronically filed “inappropriate” claims over the last several months. Carolina East, which appears to use Allscripts software, switched to filing paper claims once BCBSNC made its suspension known at the end of October.


People

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Behavioral healthcare provider Centerstone (TN) promotes Chuck Pegg to director of IT infrastructure.

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Marcus Schabacker, MD (Baxter) joins ECRI Institute as president and CEO. Schabacker’s healthcare experience extends around the globe, including a stint at Mafikeng General Hospital in post-Apartheid South Africa to support the development of a rural healthcare system under Nelson Mandela.


Telemedicine

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Cherry Health COO Tasha Blackmon is looking into telemedicine ahead of her April 1 start date as CEO at Michigan’s largest FQHC. Blackmon believes partnerships with other local healthcare organizations will help usher Cherry Health into the age of virtual visits. “We’ve talked about partnerships, potentially, with schools like Michigan State University’s medical school, since we’re right here in the same community and we currently host some of their medical students,” she says. New collaborative partnerships is something that we’re definitely looking into.”

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This is a blockchain idea I can wrap my head around: MedCredits preps to launch an Ethereum-based teledermatology app. Patients will pay for their virtual consults via MedCredit tokens once the technology goes live later this year. The company’s token seed round concludes January 14. It plans to add mental health services next year.


Research and Innovation

A survey of 348 ophthalmologists finds that EHR utilization leads to decreased productivity in terms of number of patients seen each day. It’s a statistic that seems to be echoed across specialties. Ophthalmology seems especially inclined to suffer given that EHR adoption has increased to 72 percent over the last seven years. 


Other

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Longs Peak Family Practice (CO) notifies patients of a November data breach stemming from three separate unauthorized access incidents that may have compromised data related to patient identification and insurance details. The practice was able to restore files related to a ransomware hack – one of the three breaches – from back ups.

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The local paper covers the benefits of virtual scribes, highlighting the relationship podiatrist Timothy Barry, DPM has with Philippines-based Joanna Fajardo. Barry, who says the availability of more local scribes are slim to none, found Fajardo through Hello Rache, which pays her nearly three times the amount she was making as a hospital-based nurse. Barry’s cost is half of what he would pay for an in-person assistant. Hello Rache was launched in Arizona last year by Mark Carnett, DO after “years of fighting with his EMR and leaving work after 5.”


Contacts

Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

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News 12/21/17

December 21, 2017 News No Comments

Top News

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Nearly 8.8 million consumers sign up for health insurance at Healthcare.gov during the shortened 45-day enrollment period – a not altogether disappointing 4.4-percent decrease compared to 2016 figures. Enrollment seems to have surpassed last year’s figures in the 11 states that run their own exchanges, and is still going on in New York, California, Minnesota, and Massachusetts. Hurricane-affected states also have extended enrollment periods, leaving final figures in a somewhat nebulous state.

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While technical glitches seem to have been minimal compared to previous years, it seems strange that CMS Administrator Seema Verma would offer kudos to CMS staffers for a customer service workload that was for all intents and purposes cut in half. Granted, she did tweet that only 21.5 hours of the 60 allotted were used for website maintenance.


HIStalk Practice Announcements and Requests

HIStalk Practice will not publish the week of December 26th. See you in the New Year!


Webinars

None scheduled in the coming weeks. Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for information about our production and promotion services.


Announcements and Implementations

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Arizona-based NextCare will roll out Solv’s urgent care appointment-booking and check-in app to patients at its 136 urgent care locations across the US. Solv got its start in early 2017 in the Dallas-Forth Worth area. CEO Heather Fernandez came from real estate listings website Trulia.

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EnSofTek develops an “Unplugged” version of its cloud-based EHR for providers working in areas without Internet access.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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In New York, Cornerstone Family Healthcare takes over ailing Middletown Community Health Center, transforming it into a multi-specialty medical practice with 16 locations serving 40,000 patients. MCHC had suffered a litany of financial troubles that resulted in an $850,000 loss in 2016, a lapse in employee health insurance, the sudden departure of its CEO, and multiple lawsuits from vendors for unpaid bills. “Inefficient billing software” has been named as a culprit. It seems the center chose SuccessEHS as its EHR/billing software vendor in 2013. Readers may remember that Vitera Health acquired SuccessEHS in 2013 – the same year Vitera merged with Greenway Health, which has vowed to combine all of its technologies into one software solution over the next two years.


Government and Politics

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In South Carolina, Governor Henry McMaster declares a public health state of emergency around the opioid epidemic and the formation of an Opioid Emergency Response Team. South Carolina follows Alaska, Arizona, Maryland, Florida, Massachusetts, and Virginia in declaring such an emergency, which will, among other things, reduce acute and post-operative opioid prescriptions for Medicaid patients from 90 to five days and free up emergency management resources.

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New data from the CDC shows a decrease in life expectancy for the second straight year – a development researchers largely attribute to the opioid epidemic, and expect to continue for a third straight year. “We really do need to get a handle on this,” says Bob Anderson, chief of the mortality statistics branch at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, “and I hope that this data will be of use to policymakers in formulating something that will take care of this problem.” Anderson is no doubt referring to President Trump’s decision to declare a public health emergency because of the epidemic rather than a national state of emergency, which would free up more money than the $57,000 currently in the government’s public health emergency fund.


Research and Innovation

Based on input from 174 practices, KLAS Research’s latest ambulatory RCM services report highlights Athenahealth, Aprima, and NextGen Healthcare as strong performers, while Cerner and Allscripts suffer declines. Greenway, Athenahealth, and CareCloud are top performers in the small-clinic market.


Other

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New data from the Association of Medical Colleges show that women may soon surpass men when it comes to enrollment. Women outnumbered men in this year’s class for the first time in history, making up just over half of the 21,338 people that enrolled this year. Female enrollees have increased by 3.2 percent since last year, while males have decreased by 0.3 percent – stats that have been playing out in similar fashion since 2015. Analysts attribute the uptick in women to more diversity efforts at schools and a broader effort across educational institutions to promote STEM fields. Alas, medical schools are still experiencing an overall decrease in applications, which means the industry overall has quite a job to do in making itself attractive to future professionals.

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Shades of health IT?: Keeper Security sues an Ars Technica reporter and the publication for running a story that exposed a vulnerability in its password management software – a story the company contends contained “false and misleading statements.” Industry insiders bristled at the lawsuit, calling it “ridiculous,” a bad precedent for a security firm, and “a dishonorable way to treat a journalist who has covered security for years and takes great pains to get things right.” I can’t recall something similar happening in health IT, other than vendors suing people that brought vulnerabilities to their attention. Perhaps it’s just a matter of time. Keeper’s healthcare customers include Bridgemark Healthcare, Philips, Cornerstone Healthcare Group, and the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.


Contacts

Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

More news: HIStalk.

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News 12/20/17

December 21, 2017 News No Comments

Top News

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The FCC identifies nearly 1 million homes and small businesses across largely rural areas of the continental US that are eligible for up to $2 billion for broadband deployment over the next 10 years as part of its Connect America Fund. That money will be awarded to those companies who bid to install the services at lowest cost. “Closing the digital divide is my number one priority,” says FCC Chairman Ajit Pai (who is still suffering fall out from pushing through repeal of net neutrality), “and through this innovative Connect America Fund auction, we are poised to take the next big step in reaching that goal. In rural America, broadband opens the doors of opportunity by connecting remote communities to global markets, jobs, education, healthcare and information.”


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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OpenEMR announces availability of its open source Cloud Express EHR on the AWS Marketplace.

B Golden Care Services (TX) selects chronic care management technology from Reliq Health Technologies.


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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Veriheal (fka OnePath Medical) will offer online appointment scheduling for its three new medical marijuana offices in Montana. The company, which also has locations in Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania, also offers a white-label telemedicine solution for providers in telemedicine-friendly states looking to connect patients with appropriate medical marijuana treatment virtually.

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PM and EHR vendor ICoreConnect acquires coding and documentation improvement company ICDLogic for an undisclosed sum. This marks the second acquisition for ICoreConnect; it bought IPenMD Solution in 2013 – the same year ICDLogic opened for business.


Government and Politics

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As expected, Congress passes the tax reform bill along party lines, including a repeal of the ACA individual mandate. Commonwealth Fund President and former National Coordinator David Blumenthal, MD has penned a summary of the bill’s healthcare implications in the Harvard Business Review. I assume it’s a far easier read than attempting to digest the House and Senate versions of the final bill.


Telemedicine

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Just in time for reading over the holiday break, the Center for Connected Health publishes its annual review of state-based telemedicine legislation. Thirty-five states (seven more than 2016), some with multiple entries, are featured.


Research and Innovation

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The American Academy of Pediatrics selects Physician’s Computer Company to assist with its research on childhood obesity. PCC has already recruited 18 pediatric practices for the two-year study, and will also manage data extraction and sharing of health data between the practices and the AAP. “So much of what we have to deliver to pediatricians is about a government or insurance requirement,” says PCC Director of Pediatric Solutions Chip Hart, “so we’re delighted to be able to focus on the patients for once. We were also really impressed with our clients’ reaction to this opportunity – they have to do a lot of free work, but they do it because they are pediatricians."


Other

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Local public radio looks at the way the delivery of mental healthcare is being reimagined in Austin, TX. Travis County’s mental health agency, for example, has redesigned its bipolar disorder clinic to be more patient-centric. After checking in at the front desk, patients forego the traditional waiting room and are instead escorted to a private, almost apartment-like room equipped with chairs, a couch, and television. Staff come to them instead of patients being shuffled around to different exam rooms. The Austin-Travis County Integral Care clinic has partnered with Dell Medical School on the redesign experiment, which the two groups hope will ultimately lead to more mental health services being provided outside of hospitals.

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In her letter to Santa, American Council of Science and Health Director of Medicine Jamie Wells, MD laments the lack of truth in medical advertising, pointing to Theranos, the over-utilization (and sometimes disingenuous) use of the word “provider,” the hype around value-based care, the debacle of EHRs, and the “fix” of interoperability: “Now, interoperability is the latest buzzword,” she explains. “Don’t get it twisted, this is not new, nor is it some breakthrough. It is an attempted fix to the nightmare of EMRs without being honest enough to acknowledge that EMRs were supposed to possess it in the first place. While we are at it, proclaim in their current form that they are little more than glorified billing platforms.”


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