Mayo Clinic announces it will replace its existing Cerner and GE systems with Epic’s EHR and RCM system.
The prestigious Mayo Clinic name and clinical reputation make the win especially sweet for Epic, which is in the running for the DoD’s $11 billion EHR contract. Analysts estimate that Mayo will pay Epic “hundreds of millions” over the next several years.
Google Glass Confusion
Earlier this month Google announced the end of its Glass Explorer program and sales of its existing version of Glass. Many mainstream publications carried “Glass is Dead” headlines, which is certain attention-grabbing, though not entirely true.
Individual consumers had the option to pay $1,500 to purchase Google Glass through the now-defunct Glass Explorer program. Enterprise businesses, such as HIT vendors Augmedix and Pristine, are still able to buy the existing version of Glass through Google’s Glass at Work program. In other words, if you’re interested in using Google Glass in a healthcare setting, that option is still available through a Glass at Work partner.
Meanwhile, Google says it is working future versions of its Glass product – though no one is saying when the next release will be.Continue reading…
Lawmakers re-introduce the Flexibility in Health IT Reporting Act of 2015, which would shorten the 2015 MU reporting period from one year to 90 days. The bi-partisan-supported bill earned quick support from HIMSS, CHIME, the AMA, MGMA, and other professional organizations. The bill was originally introduced in September but it failed to pass.
Given the growing disenchantment with the MU program, look for this bill to pass – and hopefully give a boost to attestation numbers.
Dr. Google Joins DoD EHR Bid
Google teams up with PwC, General Dynamics, and Medsphere in their bid for the Department of Defense’s $11 billion EHR bid.
Google brings name recognition and a reputation for innovation and data security. While the Epic/IBM team has been looking like the front-runner, Google puts the PwC/Medsphere/GD team back in the hunt. For those keeping score at home, other vendors in the mix include Cerner/Leidos/Accenture Federal and HP/CSC/Allscripts. A June decision is expected.
Epic reveals plans for a fifth campus, which is slated to include half a million square feet of office space and pay homage to literary classics like “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “The Wizard of Oz.”
A Setback for MyMedicalRecords
A US District Court rules against MyMedicalRecords in its patent case against Walgreens, Quest Diagnostics, and others. MyMedicalRecords, a company that many label a patent troll, contends its patents covered a method of providing online PHRs in a private, secure way. However, a judge ruled that “the concept of secure record access and management, in the context of personal health records or not, is an age-old idea,” and is therefore abstract.
Despite the setback, I doubt MyMedicalRecords will stop demanding organizations to pay up or risk facing a lawsuit. I predict they’ll make some tweaks to their business plan, such as focusing only on organizations with not-quite-so-deep pockets that are willing to settle without a fight.
What Has $564 million Bought Us?
Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Richard Burr (R-NC), and Mike Enzi (R-WY) ask the General Accounting Office to review the ONC-funded health information exchanges to determine what exactly the exchanges created with the government’s $564 million in grant money.
It’s a valid concern, given the significant number of providers and regions still lacking electronic exchange capabilities and the millions that have been spent.
Physicians Reject Stage 2 Attestation
Fifty-five percent of physicians say they won’t attest for Stage 2 MU in 2015, according to a SERMO survey of about 2,000 physicians. Respondents cite several reasons for not attesting including financial concerns, difficulty engaging older patients, and lack of software usability.
Given the lackluster Stage 2 attestation numbers so far, the findings are not particularly surprising. It will be interesting to see what CMS and ONC intend to do in the face of the overwhelming evidence that many providers simply don’t think it is worth the effort.
On To Stage 3
The Office of Management and Budget is currently reviewing the proposed Stage 3 MU rules and will likely publish them in February. CMS states that Stage 3 will include changes to the reporting period, timelines, and structure of the program, including a single definition of Meaningful Use. CMS also adds that “these changes will provide a flexible, yet clearer, framework to ensure future sustainability of the EHR program and reduce confusion from multiple stage requirements.”
Can’t wait to see what is included. And, I can’t help but be a little amused that it’s been six years since the passage of the HITECH legislation and we are just now getting a definition for “Meaningful Use.”
Show Me the Money
Allina Health and Health Catalyst sign a $100 million definitive agreement to combine technologies, clinical content, and front-line personnel.
Rush University Medical Center will implement Merge Healthcare’s cardiology PACS.
Healthcare operating system platform provider Par80 closes $10.5 million in Series A funding led by Atlas Ventures, Founder Collective, and CHV Capital.
Health analytics provider Apervita, formerly knowns as Pervasive Health, completes an $18 million Series A round of funding led by GE Ventures and Baird Capital.
Teledermatology provider PocketDerm raises $2.85 million from an undisclosed investor.
Caremerge, developers of a care coordination platform, raises $4 million in a second round of funding. Investors include Cambia Health Solutions, GE Ventures, Arsenal Health, and Ziegler-LinkAge Longevity Fund.
Accenture Tapped to Continue Work on HealthCare.gov
Accenture, the consulting firm that was hired a year ago to fix the troubled HealthCare.Gov insurance exchange, is awarded a five-year, $563 million to continue its work on the federal site. The government hired Accenture Federal Services to repair the online marketplace after dropping its original contractor, CGI Federal.
The long-term contract with Accenture also signals CMS’s acknowledgement that a task as large as HealthCare.Gov is best run with leadership from an experienced, private-sector vendor.
Connecticut HIE Dissolves After Wasting Millions
A former board member for The Health Information Technology Exchange of Connecticut blames management for the failure of the entity, which was tasked to create statewide HIE but dissolved by the legislature last summer. The HITE-CT “wasted” $4.3 million in federal grants over four years “without accomplishing anything,” according to Ellen Andrews, who served as the board’s consumer advocate. State auditors also found deficiencies in state controls, legal problems, and a “need for improvement in management practices and procedures.” The state’s legislature is now developing a new exchange strategy.
Prediction: look for more HIEs to falter this year due to mismanagement and lack of sustainability.
Electronic Prescribing of Controlled Substances on the Rise
Electronic prescribing of controlled substances (EPCS) increased from 1,535 to 52,423 between July 2012 and December 2013, according to a study published in the American Journal of Managed Care. The percentage of pharmacies enabled for EPCS jumped from 13% to 30% during the same period.
The next task: figuring out how to get more than the current one percent of physicians to participate.
ONC Shares Lessons Learned from State HIEs
An ONC report on state HIEs finds that many exchanges lack a critical mass of data and are struggling with data sharing. The case study also found that the technical approaches, services enabled, and use of policy and legislation varied across states; collaboration among HIE participants is critical for success; and states are leveraging a variety of policy and regulatory levers to advance interoperability and data exchange.
CMS Seeks ICD-10 Testers
CMS is seeking approximately 850 volunteers for ICD-10 end-to-end testing in April, according to a CMS bulletin. Volunteers have until January 9to submit applications to participate in the April 26-May 1, 2015 testing week.
Pediatrics Report Increased EHR Use
Seventy-nine percent of pediatricians reported using an EHR in 2012, compared to 58% in 2009, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics. Only eight percent of physicians say their EHRs include pediatric-specific functionality.
Modernizing Medicine Buys RCM Vendor Aesyntix
EMR developer Modernizing Medicine acquires Aesyntix, a provider of RCM, inventory management, and group purchasing services.
Presumably Modernizing Medicine was most interested in Aesyntix’s RCM component, which may create some concern among Modernizing Medicine’s current RCM partners, which include ADP/AdvancedMD, CareCloud, and Kareo.
CMS announces that 89 new organizations were selected to participate in the Medicare Shared Savings program, bringing the total number of participating ACOs to 424. The announcement comes on the heels of a recently released proposed rule that reflects an increased focus on primary care and improved incentives for participation. Were the pundits who predicted an early death for ACOs wrong?
Massachusetts Modifies Meaningful Use Mandate
The Massachusetts Board of Registration modifies a provision requiring providers to attest to Meaningful Use in order to retain their medical licenses. The final regulations establish multiple ways in which physicians can demonstrate proficiency using EHRs, including taking a three-hour continuing education class on EHR or registering with the state’s HIE.
The 2015 federal budget includes about $60.4 million for the ONC, which is less than the $75 million requested and on par with the 2014 budget. Congress allocated an additional $38.8 million to the HHS Office for Civil Rights, the agency that enforces HIPAA. Also in the bill: a controversial requirement for the ONC to decertify products that block health information sharing.
Appalling Meaningful Use Penalties
CMS reports that more than 257,000 eligible professionals will face penalties in 2015 for failing to meet Meaningful Use requirements. The AMA quickly announced it was “appalled by the news.”
Another Call to Cut Reporting Period
A group of 30 Republican House members call on HHS to shorten the 2015 Meaningful Use reporting period from 365 days to 90 days. A number of professional groups, including the AAFP and CHIME, support the extension.
From Foes to Financiers
Former Allscripts executives Glen Tullman and Lee Shapiro invest in Lightbeam Health Solutions, a population health management solution provider. Pat Cline, the founder and former president of NextGen, is currently Lightbeam’s CEO.
ATA Offers Accreditation
The American Telemedicine Association launches an accreditation program for providers offering online, real-time consults to patients.
A new JASON report offers recommendations for creating a health information system infrastructure that achieves interoperability between EHRs and integrates data from personal health devices, social media, demographics, and other sources. More details and a robust discussion from THCB readers found here.
It’s the Money, Stupid
The biggest factor influencing physicians to adopt EHRs since the passage of the HITECH act: incentive payments or financial penalties. An ONC data brief reveals that 62% of providers identify financial incentives as a major motivation for EHR adoption; board certification was the second most common influencer at 39%.
HIEs Facing Financial Struggles and Adoption Hurdles
Despite $600 million in federal funding, most HIEs are not financially viable, according to a RAND Corporation study. Only 25% of HIEs consider themselves financially sustainable and most are still struggling to find a value proposition. Physicians often resist HIE use because of interruptions in workflow, interface problems, and costs, while hospitals adoption lags due to a lack of a business case, insufficient standards, and legal/ethical issues.
HIMSS and CHIME to HHS: ONC Needs Full-time National Coordinator
In a letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell, CHIME and ONC stress the need to hire a full-time National Coordinator for the ONC, should Karen DeSalvo continue to serve as both the ONC head and the assistant secretary of health:
“If Dr. DeSalvo is going to remain as the Acting Assistant Secretary for Health with part-time duties in health IT, we emphasize the need to appoint new ONC leadership immediately that can lead the agency on the host of critical issues that must be addressed.”
AMA Calls for Removal of MU Penalties
The AMA calls for all MU penalties to be halted and for the program to be more flexible with a shorter reporting period. In addition, the AMA urges policymakers to refocus the MU program on interoperability and seek ways to improve product usability.
Cerner Breaks Ground at New Campus
Cerner breaks ground at a new $4.45 billion campus in Kansas City, which is expected to house 16,000 new Cerner employees within the next 10 years. The project includes about $1.75 billion in public tax subsidies.