AMGA requests funds and policies to support care for chronically ill
In a letter to members of the Senate Finance Committee Chronic Care Workgroup, the AMGA asks Congress to consider policies and financial and operational technologies that support care for the chronically ill. The AMGA stressed that clinical data from EHRs and details from administrative claims are valuable for analyzing trends on utilization and outcomes.
The AMGA supports the development and use of sophisticated predictive analytic software that have the potential to improve care coordination, cut hospital re-admissions, and reduce the overall cost of patient care. The organization is also encouraging the use of telehealth to care for the chronically ill, as well as financial incentives to encourage provider investment in care management tools.
And now back to us
On the heels of the Supreme Court ruling on the ACA, several health IT organizations express hope that Congress will renew its focus on interoperability, telehealth, Meaningful Use, and other HIT-related issues. Politico reports that Health IT Now Coalition executive Joel White is hoping for a “continued bipartisan focus on interoperability and telemedicine,” while HIMSS believes the decision will create more predictability in the healthcare sector, which may facilitate the advancement of its IT agenda.
It’s great to be optimistic, but I’m sure no one will be shocked if lawmakers find alternative distractions.
CVS Health acquires Target’s healthcare biz
CVS Health will pay $1.9 billion to acquire Target’s healthcare businesses, including 1,600 pharmacies and 80 MinuteClinic health clinics.
CVS Health also just opened its Boston-based Digital Innovation Lab, which will focus on developing cutting-edge digital services and personalized capabilities that offer an accessible and integrated personal pharmacy and health experience.
CVS is making big strides to position itself as both a digital innovator and major provider of primary care services. Look for them to continue to build on existing partnerships with regional health systems. What’s next – maybe more integration of its health apps into EMRs, patient portals, and HIEs?
Former hospital CFO sentenced to prison for attestation fraud
Joe White, the former CFO of Shelby Regional Medical Center in Texas, is sentenced to 23 months in federal prison for falsely attesting that the hospital was a meaningful user of EHR. White was also ordered to pay almost $4.5 million in restitution to Medicare’s EHR Incentive program. Continue reading…
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 Continue reading…
CMS Releases Final Update to ACO Program
CMS releases a final rule updating the Medicare Shared Savings Program, which includes a new higher-risk, higher-reward Track 3 option; streamlines data sharing between CMS and ACOs; and adds a requirement that ACOs applying for the program describe how they will promote the use of health IT to boost care coordination.
Organizations Urge Stage 3 Delay
The AMA and MGMA join the AHA and CHIME in calling for a delay in finalizing Stage 3 Meaningful Use requirements. The current version is largely viewed as too burdensome for providers with the potential to impede the use of health IT to improve quality and efficiency.
Quite simply, Stage 3 will not be successful without provider buy-in. There have been delays before; look for another oneContinue reading…
Epic Scores Another Big Win
Scripps Health selects Epic to replace its existing GE Healthcare’s Centricity Enterprise (inpatient) and Allscripts Enterprise (outpatient). The San Diego-based Scripps includes five acute-care campuses, 26 outpatient clinics, and 2,600 affiliated physicians.
No doubt that this is one that Cerner had hoped to win.
Marlin Equity Partners Acquires e-MDs
Marlin Equity Partners acquires ambulatory EMR provider e-MDs. Marlin will merge e-MDs with its existing portfolio company MDeverywhere, a provider of RCM and credentialing services for physicians. e-MD founderContinue reading…
Epic’s Faulkner Shares Charitable Foundation Plans
In an interview with Modern Healthcare, Epic founder/CEO Judith Faulkner reveals that she will leave much of her wealth to a specially created charitable foundation that will operate and fund not-for-profit organizations in healthcare and other areas. The 71-year-old Faulkner says that almost all her shares of Epic stock will go to the foundation upon her death, or sooner if she chooses.
The plan is also designed to keep Epic private. “My stock will go to the foundation,” Faulkner said. “The foundation will control the stock. This plan is designed to preserve the company as a private company forever.”
Faulkner, who has an estimated worth of $2.8 billion, says she never wanted the money personally or for her family and wonders, “What would you want with all that money? It doesn’t seem right and I can’t tell you why.”
What’s not to like about Faulkner’s values or her plan?
AMA: What’s the ICD-10 Contingency Plan?
The AMA and about 100 other physician groups urge CMS to develop an ICD-10 contingency plan in the event of a “catastrophic” backlog following the October 1 transition. The organizations want CMS to make public its plans to make advanced payments or reimbursements for services already rendered, work with ONC to ensure EHR systems are ICD-10 ready, and confirm contractors won’t audit for the correct code.
The silver lining here is that these organizations are (finally) not asking for a delay in implementing ICD-10. CMS apparently has drafted a contingency plan in the event of claims process disruptions but does not plan to make it public. In this age of more transparency, CMS needs to make the plan public – even though provider groups will surely find fault with the plan. But, isn’t it better to continue moving the conversation forward, just in case of there is a catastrophe?
Black Book: Not so Unbiased and Relevant?
Black Book Rankings announces that it will change its EHR survey methods and remove ballots cast by provider organizations that serve as resellers/VARs, and/or channel partners. The organization reviewed previous surveys and discovered that 33 hospital resellers had cast EHR satisfaction and loyalty ballots for 740 physician practices, and that 93% of the physician practices and small hospitals felt obligated to only select the EHR offered by their hospital.
Well, duh! I have always been a little suspect of Black Book’s survey method since their findings are often so different than the rankings from KLAS. If I were a vendor with a website that proudly displayed a high ranking from Black Book, I think I would quietly remove that reference, at least for now.
Epic Opening App Exchange
Epic Systems is launching its own app store, giving outside companies the ability to market applications that work with Epic’s EHR. According to former Nordic Consulting CEO Mark Bakken, the app store will “open the floodgates” for anyone who knows Epic and wants to get their products in front of Epic clients quickly.
Politically it’s a savvy move, since Epic wants to continue dispelling those rumors that its system is closed and lacks the interoperability of some of its competitors vying for the DoD’s $11 billion EHR contract.
This Year’s Meaningful Use “Sticks”: Not that Big
CMS reports that the majority of physicians who will be penalized this year for not having met MU requirements will lose less than $1,000 of their Medicare reimbursement; 34% of the penalties will be $250 or less, while 31% will exceed $2,000.
The adjustments will impact approximately 257,000 eligible providers. While no one likes losing money, the CMS penalty “stick” is pretty small compared to the overall cost of implementing an EHR.
Mayo Provides Dr. Google with 2nd Opinion
Google consults with the Mayo Clinic to expand its healthcare information for 400 medical conditions.
Given that 20% of all Google searches are related to health conditions, the change will no doubt shake up what Americans find when searching for medical information. The update includes the addition of illustrations for each condition, plus a full list of search results from sites such as WebMD and Wikipedia.
Athenahealth Pushes Further Into the Inpatient World
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center partners with athenahealth to enhance its homegrown in-patient EHR. Athenahealth is buying Beth Israel’s clinical applications, which it will enhance and rebrand as athenaNet. The purchase comes just a few weeks after athenahealth’s purchase of RazorInsights, an EHR platform for rural and community-based hospital.
Never underestimate Jonathan Bush’s ability to disrupt the HIT world. Athenahealth may be a little late to the in-patient EHR party, but they wouldn’t be the first company to successfully transition from an ambulatory-only vendor to an enterprise vendor: Epic, of course, got its start as a provider of ambulatory solutions.
ONC Offers $28 Million to Advance HIE
The ONC will award $28 million in grants to advance the adoption and use of interoperable HIT tools and services to support HIE.
The announcement coincided with the ONC’s annual meeting – which reportedly focused heavily on interoperability issues – and on the heels of the agency’s release of its draft HIT interoperability roadmap. Though it’s still early, “interoperability” seems to be taking an early lead as this year’s top HIT buzz word.
MGMA Asks CMS to Reduce Portal Duplication
The MGMA asks the federal government to consolidate its reporting programs and eliminate its use of multiple Web portals for physician reporting.
MGMA says its best: “it makes not practical sense to have multiple systems which create unnecessary work by requiring duplicative registration with separate usernames and passwords for physicians and practices to access reports or report information pertaining to Medicare Part B programs.”
FDA Recommends Minimal Oversight for Medical Devices
The FDA finalizes guidance on data transmissions from medical devices, saying it doesn’t intend to regulate software that receives, transmits, stores, or displays data due to the low risk to patients.
That’s good news for mHealth developers and enthusiasts, who had been concerned that too much regulation might spur continued innovation in the space.
Wheeling and Dealing
- CareTech Solutions wins an eight-year agreement with Maryland’s Adventist HealthCare to provide outsourced IT services.
- Boulder Community Health selects Voalte’s smartphone mobile communication technology for its acute-care hospital and regional trauma center facilities.
- Lehigh Valley Health Network’s 200 outpatient offices go live this month on Epic as the first phase of the health system’s $200 million implementation. LVHN’s regional competitor St. Luke’s University Health Network will also be switching to Epic at a later date.
- Gulf South Quality Network in Louisiana selects Medecision to build a data warehouse based on Medecision’s Aerial platform.
Show Me the Money
- Athenahealth reports Q4 adjusted EPS of $0.58 versus the previous year’s $0.57 and beating analysts’ estimates of $0.39. Revenue was up 24%. Despite the strong performance, analysts note that revenue from Epocrates services fell 32% from the previous year, and, general and admin costs grew more than 50% as a result of increased headcount.
- McKesson posts Q3 EPS of $2.89, up from last year’s $1.48 and beating estimates of $2.62. Revenues grew 36.9% to $47 billion, beating estimates of $44.6 billion. Despite strong overall results, revenues from McKesson’s Technology Solutions segment fell 7.3% as the company continued its planned elimination of its Horizon hospital software product line.
- Vital Medicals, a developer of a smart glasses application for surgeons, raises $925 million from angel investors and the Stanford StartX Fund.
- Telehealth solution provider Kura MD secures $1.5 million from Moneta Ventures.
- PB Capital Holdings invests an undisclosed amount in EHR provider ITelagen.
- Under Armour acquires Enomondo for $85 million and MyFitnessPal for $475 million, establishing the company as the “largest digital fitness community” reaching more than 120 million users.
- Workflow automation software provider Aventura closes a $14 million Series C financing round co-led by Safeguard Scientifics and Merck Global Health Innovation Fund.
- Kaiser Permanente names Richard (Dick) Daniels EVP/CIO. Daniels has served as interim CIO since September 2014; previously he was SVP of enterprise shared services for Kaiser.
- Former Epic executive Dave Cassel joins Healtheway, a nonprofit collaborative focused on advancing interoperable HIE, to lead the company’s Carequality initiative.
- RemitData appoints Laura Hescock (Public Consulting Group) director of strategy and operations and Stacie Bon (Rodgers Townsend) senior director of marketing, and, promotes Jason Whiteaker from director of sales to VP of partner strategy.
- Specialty surgical hospital network Coordinated Health names Greg Flanagan, former COO for Advanced Health, CIO.
- A spokesperson for New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation attributes its use of EHR for protecting the health system from record loss after a fire destroyed a warehouse that housed duplicate copies of archived patient records.