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News 1/2/18

January 2, 2018 News No Comments

Top News

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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.”


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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.”


Sponsor Updates

Blog Posts


Contacts

Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

More news: HIStalk.

Get HIStalk Practice updates.
Contact us online.
Become a sponsor.

News 12/20/17

December 20, 2017 News No Comments

Top News

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

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

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.

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

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.


Telemedicine

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

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

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.

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.”


Sponsor Updates

Blog Posts

Contacts

Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

News 12/19/17

December 19, 2017 News No Comments

Top News

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Technology-enabled physician ACO company Aledade raises $23 million in a thus far hush-hush funding round, bringing its total raised to nearly $98 million since launching in 2014.


Webinars

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


Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

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ChenMed will expand its primary care services for seniors to four additional cities next year, and welcome back former president Jeffrey Kang, MD as a board member.


Announcements and Implementations

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Chronic disease management technology company Cliexa develops several new behavioral health apps for PCPs and family medicine physicians. The apps, which focus on reproductive health, mental health, and substance abuse, leverage assessment technology from Preventative Technology Solutions.

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Pulse Systems includes real-time billing analytics and enhanced reporting capabilities in the latest version of its PulseCloud EHR/PM/RCM software.

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Northern Ohio Regional Cancer Center selects oncology care coordination technology from Appian360 Healthcare Innovations.

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The Florida Association of ACOs will offer its members patient engagement and management technology from Care Angel, including AI-powered virtual nurse assistant capabilities.


People

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Beth Pausic (Big White Wall) joins InfoMC as VP of clinical solutions.

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Anesthesia and pain management services company PhyMed Healthcare Group hires Stephen Lorenz (Clinicalign) as EVP of operations and strategic development, and Stephen Mason (Managed Care Advisory Group) (not pictured) as VP of operations.

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Health Initiatives Consulting adds Russ Kolski, RN, (Ingham Community Health Centers) as VP of clinical and operational transformation, and Senely Navarrete (SN Health Solutions) as VP of practice transformation.

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Former Acting HHS Secretary and National Coordinator Karen DeSalvo, MD will join Dell Medical School at The University of  Texas at Austin as a professor in the fairly new school’s Primary Care and Value-Based Health Division. Her tenure will include a primary appointment in the school’s Department of Internal Medicine and secondary appointment in the Department of Population Health.


Other

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Two years after a huge natural gas leak, accountant and local activist Andrew Krowne develops an app to help fellow residents of California’s San Fernando Valley report and track symptoms that he believes may be tied to the local underground natural gas storage facility. The Environmental Health Tracker app already has 130 users and 2,000 reported symptoms – data that Krowne hopes will eventually be used to close down the facility.


Contacts

Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

More news: HIStalk.

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