Top News

HHS’s Office for Civil Rights issues a bulletin covering HIPAA privacy obligations in Ebola-type emergency situations. It bends the HIPAA rules a bit, clarifying that a provider can share patient information “with anyone” as needed to prevent an imminent public health threat, but points out that media disclosure is limited to acknowledgment (not announcement) that an Ebola patient is being treated and a statement of their condition, provided that the patient has not expressed a preference otherwise. That means hospitals can’t release an Ebola patient’s name unless a reporter asks about that patient specifically, in which case the hospital can acknowledge their presence and condition.

Reader Comments

From The PACS Designer: “Re: Dropbox. It can now operate inside Microsoft Office.” Office users can edit their documents directly from Dropbox and share them from inside Office apps, which are now free for iOS users and as such are residing at the top of the App Store popularity lists. Gartner predicted previously that standalone file storage and sync would be dead within a few years, emphasizing that users don’t want to screw around with a separate app like Dropbox as much as they just want to save and share within their software of choice. The competitive landscape gets murkier with Microsoft’s recently announced unlimited storage for Office 365 users, which you might expect would take Dropbox (and certainly the lagging #2 Box) out of the picture entirely. That doesn’t even factor in Google, which offers free basic storage and a full terabyte for $10 per month. The differentiators for healthcare should be: (a) the provider’s willingness to sign HIPAA business associate agreements; (b) enterprise-grade audit trails and permissions to give the IT department some degree of control; (c) controlled sharing within the enterprise only; and (d) APIs that allow vendor and self-developed apps to store information in a HIPAA-compliant manner in the cloud to eliminate the most common breach exposure of misplaced unencrypted devices. Vendors offering only consumer-grade storage will find it hard to survive commoditized competition, especially at the ridiculous valuation levels given to the top few.

From Lysandra: “Re: our new company infographic. I thought you might want to run it on HIStalk.” I hate infographics, which dumb down already easily understood factoids into simplistic picture for those folks whose lips tire from reading more than three words. I don’t trust anyone, particularly an anonymous infographics creator, to tell me how I should think by packaging up often questionable information into a pretty graphic, urging me to not worry about the trees they have dismissed in providing their own description of the forest.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests

Welcome to new HIStalk Platinum Sponsor Stella Technology. The San Jose, CA-based company offers consulting and technology services and has strong domain expertise in HIE — its tagline is “exchange, coordinate, and collaborate.” They can help with Meaningful Use, ACOs, registries, patient engagement, remote monitoring, systems integration, messaging, provider and patient identity management, consent management, public health reporting, and Direct Secure Messaging. They are experts on interoperability standards for messaging, documents, and semantic interoperability. They can assist HIEs with architecture, emerging technologies, analytics, governance, business and marketing plans, privacy, and stakeholder engagement. The company offers turnkey products as well: Caredination (a communications and handoff tool that connects the care team with patients as they move among care settings) and Clinical Staging Database (an extensible relational store with a canonical clinical data model). Integration Toolkit will be introduced in 2015. You might know some of the executive team since the CEO, CTO, implementation SVP, and founder were all involved in leading Axolotl (now Optum) through its 2010 acquisition. Thanks to Stella Technology for supporting HIStalk.

Thanks to Elsevier, which will be co-sponsoring HIStalkapalooza at HIMSS15. I’ll have more sponsors to announce later, but in the meantime, I still have openings for companies that want to co-sponsor or to book a private box for entertaining guests (which includes much-coveted tickets to the event itself). The amount of support will drive the number of people I can invite since events are a lot more expensive per attendee than you might think when you’re offering an open bar, dinner, and a topnotch band (I still have fantasies about a cheap outdoor barbeque and keg party instead). Email me if your company is interested in participating in HIStalkapalooza.

HIStalk readers funded the purchase of English/Spanish picture dictionaries to help students in Ms. Weigand’s Louisiana middle school class who are newly arrived in the US (with a matching grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation via DonorsChoose.org). Ms. Weigand, a Teach for America teacher, sent the photo above of students using the dictionaries.


November 12 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. Three Ways to Improve Care Transitions Using an HIE Encounter Notification Service. Sponsored by Audacious Inquiry. Presenters: Steven Kravet, MD, MBA, FACP, president, Johns Hopkins Community Physicians; Jennifer Bailey, senior director of quality and transformation, Johns Hopkins Community Physicians; Robert Horst, principal, Audacious Inquiry. Johns Hopkins Community Physicians reduced readmissions and improved quality by implementing a real-time, ADT-based encounter notification service (ENS) to keep the member’s healthcare team informed during transitions in care. Johns Hopkins presenters will describe the clinical, operational, and financial value of the ENS for care coordination along with its technology underpinnings.

November 18 (Tuesday) 1:00 ET. Cerner Takeover of Siemens, Are You Ready? Sponsored by HIStalk. Presenters: Frank L. Poggio, president and CEO, The Kelzon Group; Vince Ciotti, principal, HIS Professionals. The Cerner acquisition of Siemens impacts 1,000 hospitals that could be forced into a “take it or leave it” situation based on lessons learned from similar takeovers. This webinar will review the possible fate of each Siemens HIS product, the impact of the acquisition on ongoing R&D, available market alternatives, and steps Siemens clients should take to prepare.

November 19 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. Improving Trial Accrual by Engaging the Digital Healthcare Consumer. Sponsored by DocuSign. Presenters: B. J. Rimel, MD, gynecologic oncologist, Cedars-Sinai Medial Center; Jennifer Royer, product marketing, DocuSign. The Women’s Cancer Program increased trial accrual five-fold by implementing an online registry that links participants to research studies, digitizing and simplifying a cumbersome, paper-based process. This webinar will describe the use of e-consents and social marketing to engage a broader population and advance research while saving time and reducing costs.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

Telehealth provider MDLIVE acquires Breakthrough Behavioral, which offers online behavioral health counseling. Former Apple CEO John Sculley is mentioned as being investor of the $49 per visit MDLIVE, but then again he’s best known for firing Steve Jobs from Apple and we know how that turned out.

Specialty EHR vendor Modernizing Medicine secures $15 million of a planned $20 million funding round.

Healthcare.com, which benefits from the mistyped web addresses of people looking instead for Healthcare.gov, raises $7.5 million in Series A financing for its health insurance policy search engine.

Premier announces quarterly results: revenue up 15 percent, adjusted EPS $0.33 vs. $0.31, beating Wall Street expectations for both. From the earnings call:

The company’s revenue growth was fueled by its SaaS-based informatics products, particularly its population health management offerings that include contributions from recent acquisitions Aperek and TheraDoc.

Premier has 3,400 hospital customers representing 68 percent of community hospitals.

The company is developing the first surgical home collaborative with the American Society of Anesthesiologists in 43 hospitals.

President and CEO Susan DeVore says the company’s Aperek acquisition is critical in supporting the supply chain management need of members, while TheraDoc’s offerings will be integrated with PremierConnect to drive further clinical surveillance solutions.

The company is using technology from its Meddius acquisition to integrate ambulatory information across diverse EHRs in a given health system.

Premier continues to review potential acquisitions in the areas of supply chain, pharmacy, alternate site, physician preference, care management, risk stratification, ambulatory data, and population health management.

DeVore said of the demand by customers to unleash EHR value, “We do hear from our members that they are frustrated with the difficulty in connecting disparate vendors, disparate transactional systems, and EMRs and they’ve spent a lot of money installing EMRs. They are looking for more efficient ways to get data… it is driving not only our SaaS based-subscriptions, but our PremierConnect Enterprise as Mike discussed and the advisory services that wrap around it because remember it’s not just the technology, but it’s how do you take those insights and how do you actually reduce cost or improve quality. We are hearing actually a lot more from our members now too, something Mike mentioned, which was this need for data scientists, and data managers, and data governance and all the complexities that go with data, which we can provide as a service.”


Sundance Behavioral Healthcare System (TX) chooses HCS Interactant Revenue Cycle, Financial, Mobile, and Insight.

Mercy Health (OH) expands its Explorys relationship by adding Risk Models and Value-Based Care Program Framework.

Catholic Health Initiatives (CO) chooses Allscripts Hosting Solution for its TouchWorks EHR. CHI signed a $200 million hosting and IT management contract with India-based Wipro just over a year ago, so that status of that deal isn’t clear.

Humana chooses Valence Health’s tools for population health management.

The VA selects Jive Software’s collaboration tools to share medical best practices.


Neiman Marcus hires Sarah Hendrickson (Children’s Medical Center of Dallas) as its first VP/chief information security officer.

Joe Norris moves from interim to permanent CIO of New Hanover Regional Medical Center (NC).

Awarepoint promotes Tim Roche from CFO to CEO.

Carl Smith (Best Doctors) joins CompuGroup Medical US as GM of the laboratory division.

The FCC names informatician Chris Gibbons, MD, MPH of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health as distinguished scholar in residence, where he will contribute health IT, analytics, and population health expertise.

Accretive Health names Dave Mason (RelayHealth) as chief strategy officer.

Announcements and Implementations

Mitchell County Hospital District (TX) connects to the Texas Tobacco Quitline using Holon’s CollaborNet HIE platform.

Allscripts adds secure patient payments capability from TrustCommerce to its FollowMyHealth patient engagement platform.

Xconomy profiles Madison-based startup HealthMyne, which appears from its poorly descriptive website to be doing something with merging diagnostic images and text to make them searchable.

Appointment reminder technology vendor Talksoft introduces the ability for hospitals and practices to develop brand-specific iPhone and Android apps that use its technology.

Kronos will integrate technology from TeleTracking to offer an integrated staff management solution that uses TeleTracking’s Capacity Management Suite for real-time patient volume data.

Non-profit health decision information vendor Healthwise announces that its materials have been used 1.5 billion times as of Tuesday morning.

Government and Politics

The American Medical Association just won’t give up its griping about Meaningful Use. It now demands that penalties be eliminated and that the Meaningful Use program be refocused on interoperability. In other words, nobody complained when taxpayers threw $25 billion at providers (including AMA’s members), but now that they have to start earning it, it’s unfair. AMA also voiced its support for FSMB’s previously published telemedicine policy — more details in my interview with Alexis Gilroy, JD, who served as a subject matter expert to FSMB.

Two HIV-related government sites finally start using SSL encryption for web- and smartphone-based user sessions. A security expert drily notes the irony that HHS enforces HIPAA, yet wasn’t protecting confidential patient information.

A movement claiming to be grassroots (without providing details) urges that Congress support the nomination of Vivek Murthy, MD as surgeon general. He was nominated a year ago but wasn’t confirmed because of his stated beliefs that guns are a health hazard.


Farzad Mostashari, MD tweeted out the comment he left on the New York Times article that described how hospitals make it hard (and expensive) for patients to get copies of their own records. His comment wasn’t approved, so his screen shot is the only record.

A federal investigation finds that clinical staff attending to Joan Rivers failed to notice her deteriorating condition and didn’t start CPR until several minutes afterward. The report says her anesthesiologist initially documented that she was given 300 mg of propofol, but changed the record afterward to note a 120 mg dose instead, saying that the initial dose documentation was a mistake caused by double-clicking the default value. I’ve seen doctors falsify documentation (both paper and electronic) after making a mistake, so it will be interesting to see if the wrong dose was actually given and not just charted.

Anthem Blue Cross customers in California receive wellness emails that contain their private information in the subject line, with an example of: “Don’t miss out — call your doctor today; PlanState: CA; Segment: Individual; Age: Female Older; Language: EN; CervCancer3yr: N; CervCancer5yr: Y; Mammogram: N; Colonoscopy: N.”

The summary graphic from KLAS’s just-released EHR interoperability review shows Epic and athenahealth leading the pack in contributing to the success of their customers. Meanwhile, KLAS corrects Politico’s overhyped headline that proclaimed “KLAS to Epic: Stop Putting Words In Our Mouth.” KLAS simply said that Epic’s claim as being #1 for interoperability isn’t technically correct since KLAS issues separate reports for interoperability and HIE, but it clarifies that “KLAS never had any such discussion with Epic to stop putting words in KLAS’s mouth.” So if you’re keeping score at home: KLAS corrected Epic, Politico dumbed it down incorrectly, then KLAS corrected Politico.

A law firm’s telemedicine survey (and obligatory cute results infographic) is getting exposure from sites that aren’t paying attention to how the survey was performed. The conclusions seem insightful on first glance: 90 percent of organizations are implementing telemedicine and 36 percent expect 10-30 percent usage among patients within three years. Those glossy conclusions inspired ecstatic headlines from some sites anxious to summarize uncritically, but what they missed is that only 57 people responded (of an unstated number of surveys sent, making calculation of the response rate impossible) and job titles and organization types were all over the place. Example: only 52 percent of respondents were from hospitals, which means that big, seeming bold and authoritative insights were drawn from only 27 hospital respondents. The survey also asked questions that no single respondent was likely to have answered correctly given that they covered technology, reimbursement, and strategic planning. It’s embarrassing that people cover lame surveys as news, much less without critiquing their methodology.

HIMSS makes iffy choices in its “extraordinary roster” of HIMSS15 keynotes. Greg Wasson, president and CEO of Walgreens, gets the Monday morning slot, which in my mind should be reserved for someone with selfless healthcare-related accomplishments that might inspire non-profit provider attendees instead of a $14 million per year big-company CEO. At least Wasson is a pharmacist by training and has only ever worked for Walgreens, starting there as a pharmacist intern, and the company’s use of IT in its retail setting is nothing short of brilliant. Tuesday’s keynote is the CEO of Humana, which hasn’t always been a beacon of patient-focused healthcare practices, while President George W. Bush gets pushed back to an awful Wednesday 4:30 p.m. slot. HIMSS seems to be moving toward having for-profit CEOs as keynotes, having done the same with the mHealth Summit in the past two years — Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini got the prime spot in 2012 even as his underlings in Aetna’s healthcare IT vendor companies were setting up their booths in the exhibit hall and the same thing happened in 2013 with Qualcomm’s CEO as the opening keynoter.

Canada is observing the first Digital Health Week this week, although the only events scheduled appear to be some tweet chats and webinars.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital hires an SVP/chief business development officer to launch a consulting service, saying it needs “new sources of revenue in order to sustain our precious mission.”

Wellcentive establishes a $1,000 scholarship for a military veteran attending medical school.

A 30-year-old Madison, WI woman tries to avoid bankruptcy caused by her cardiac arrest at 29, when an ambulance mistakenly transported her to out-of-network St. Mary’s Hospital. She’s stuck with a $50,000 bill instead of the $1,500 one she would have owed as a patient of in-network Meriter Hospital three blocks away. Blue Cross Blue Shield paid $156,000 of her $254,000 tab for a 16-day stay and the hospital reduced her balance owed to $10,000, but she still has to pay the other bills that included out-of-network physicians, the ambulance ride, and therapists. She can’t afford to get married until she sees what numbers her various providers make up.

Weird News Andy sends his greetings as follows: “Their has bin found a vieres that makes u less smart. LOL.” Scientists determine that a virus found in lake algae shortens human attention span, although even they aren’t quite sure why that’s important.

Sponsor Updates

CIO Review names DataMotion to its “20 Most Promising Healthcare Consulting Providers” list for its Direct Secure Messaging solution.

Gartner recognizes VisionWare in its “Magic Quadrant for Master Data Management of Customer Data Solutions” for the sixth consecutive year.

Visage Imaging will demonstrate its Visage 7 Enterprise Imaging Platform along with its integration capabilities at RSNA.

PDR Network will exhibit at and sponsor iPatientCare National User Conference (NUCON 2014) November 14-16, exhibiting its PDR Brief and PDR Search patient drug education solutions.


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

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