HIT Newser: We Need Interoperability, Says HELP

Judy Faulkner pledges to donate her wealth

Epic founder and CEO Judy Faulkner announces plans to give away 99% of her estimated $2.3 billion wealth to charity. Faulkner joins 136 other individuals and families in the Giving Pledge, which was launched by Warren Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates to encourage billionaires to give the majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes.

What’s not to like about that? Good to know that if Epic wins the $11 billion bid for the VA’s EHR system, some of the government’s money will eventually trickle back down to charity.

Are EHRs creating disparity in care?

A study from Weill Cornell Medical College looks at “systematic differences” between physicians who participated in the Meaningful Use program and those who did not, noting that the differences “could lead to disparities in care.”

The researchers suggest that providers participating in the MU program may provide higher quality care to their patients as physicians using paper records “have less reliable documentation and weaker communication” between providers and won’t benefit from EHR-enabled quality improvements.

I suspect that physicians relying on paper records would balk at the suggestion that the care they provide is inferior to their more digitally-equipped peers. However, it’s hard not believe that the overall care process would be enhanced if all providers could electronically share critical patient information.

News Flash: Government is wasteful in its spending

The Government Accountability Office releases a report calling for urgent action on federal IT

projects, including those for HHS, DoD, and the VA. The GAO notes that these agencies often made health IT-related investments that are wasteful and fail to meet expectations and often lack project planning, requirements definition, and program oversight and governance.

Is anyone surprised to learn the government spends money wastefully? As for the VA’s $11 billion new EHR system, it’s not too soon to start predicting how much over budget it will be.

New Data on EHR Attestations

Data junkies take note: CMS has updated the Meaningful Use EHR vendor dataset for the month of April 2015. The information lists the providers who have attested to MU and indicates the EHR vendor and product used for attesting.

Epic dominates attestations among ambulatory providers, though Cerner and Meditech best Epic in hospital attestations.

Senate committee discuss HIT issues

Industry stakeholders, including Cerner CEO Neal Patterson, discuss barriers to interoperability, Stage 3 Meaningful Use, and patient access to data in a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing.

Participants noted that interoperability issues still plague the industry, leading Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) to recommend that the government do more to set high standards and promote interoperability between systems. Meanwhile several participants lobbied for a Stage 3 MU delay.

Show Me the Money

North Dakota Health Information Network will incorporate eHealth Technologies’ Connect Image Exchange technology into its existing Orion Health Open Platform, giving providers access to medical images.

Wheeling and Dealing

Behavioral change telehealth provider AbilTo raises $12 million in Series C funding led by HLM Venture Partners and Yumin Choi.

Aledade, the ACO software and consulting company founded by Dr. Farzad Mostashari, raises $30 million in Series B funding led by ARCH Venture Partners.

Medsphere, developers of OpenVista EHR, secures a $7.5 million venture loan from Horizon Technology Finance Corporation.

Walgreens, the country’s largest drug store chain, will expand its MDLIVE telehealth platform to 25 states by the end of the year.

Mayo Clinic and Apervita partner to create the first self-service marketplace to turn healthcare measures into executable code so that users can gain more insight into their performance.

New Blood

Kentucky emergency physician and nationally recognized HIT expert Steven Slack takes over as president of the AMA.


eClinicalWorks partners with Surescripts to offer CompletEPA to process electronic prior authorizations.

Market researchers predict the US market for clinical healthcare information technologies will reach $19.7 billion in 2019. The industry spent $14.1 billion in 2013 and almost $15.6 billion in 2014.

Black Book Market Research names Kareo the leading integrated health record and billing software for 2015, based on a responses from 33,000 ambulatory groups and staff.

American Well sues Teledoc, accusing Teledoc of infringing on its intellectual property rights in deploying an online telehealth platform that is allegedly too similar to American Well’s patented technology.