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June 8, 2009 News No Comments

On the rise: the number of immediate-care clinics. The trade group Convenient Care Association estimates that 1,200 such facilities are now operational across the country. This is in addition to clinics located in retail pharmacies. Meanwhile, many of the drugstore health clinics are expanding services to include injections, care for strains, and treating chronic conditions such as asthma and osteoporosis. Physician groups continue to voice skepticism.

The VA announces plans to allow researchers to use de-identified, aggregated data of veterans to pinpoint the most effective treatments for specific conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder and antibiotic-resistant staph infection.

This study estimates that the 2008 market for EMR data transfer equipment and applications was $575 million, but will reach $1.6 billion in 2013. That’s over 23% a year growth.

Genesis Physicians Group (TX) signs an agreement with revelationMD to provide clinical integration to its 1,460 member physicians. Genesis will invest over $100,000 to implement the exchange technology. Between 60% and 70% of the providers will be able to access the service for free, while others will pay between $100 and $200 a year.

Last week we mentioned the medical billing specialist/community college medical billing teacher who was arrested for allegedly bilking her employer out of $157,000. Now a second practice has come forward and claims the biller, Catherine Yount, stole nearly $54,000. In both cases, Yount is accused of depositing insurance company payments into her account, rather than her doctors’.

Center Pointe Sleep Associates selects the ZMR software from SleepEx for its EMR and sleep lab management system. I had never heard of SleepEx, but it claims its Web-based EMR and lab management solutions are the most widely used by sleep diagnostic and therapy providers, installed in over 150 locations.


Apple announces its new iPhone 3GS, which includes some spiffy new enhancements over the previous 3G version. Now available: a digital compass, video, and voice control, plus a more speed and a longer battery life. The $199 price tag is the same as the 3G had been (although reading the fine print, I think the $199 price is only for brand new AT&T clients — existing clients will pay $499 for the same phone, which hardly sounds fair.) Meanwhile, the 3G version (which I upgraded to just TWO weeks ago) just fell in price from $199 to $99. Apple also released details of its new 3.0 software for the iPhone. Cut and paste, a landscape-mode keyboard, and improved search capabilities are some of the nicer enhancements. The update is available June 17th and free for iPhone users. Finally, Apple notes there are now over 50,000 applications available on the iPhone, with medical applications the fastest growing category. Likely the biggest barrier to widespread clinical adoption will be the iPhone’s limited battery life.

Claims clearinghouse MD On-Line acquires competitor Medical Claim Corp.

Most healthcare providers believe ARRA funds earmarked for HIT will have little or no success in encouraging EHR adoption. Sixty-six percent think EMRs could positively affect their bottom line and 75% believe EMRs could positively impact healthcare as a whole. Most also believe P4P could lead to improved patient outcomes, but 79% fear the increased reporting and record-keeping would increase the costs of doing business. Budget concerns continue to be the biggest barrier to adoption.

RelayHealth wins Target Corporation’s 2008 Partner Award of Excellence for demonstrating “innovative leadership, superior business practices and commitment” to Target’s core strategies. The award was presented at the recent National Council on Prescription Drug Program’s annual conference.

A New York doctor claims that his use of technology and streamlined processes has enabled him to offer more personalized care to fewer patients while maintaining the same income level. Dr. José Batlle uses online appointment scheduling, EMR, electronic prescribing, and virtual visits by phone and e-mail. He says he spent about $25,000 to buy the technology and estimates it saves him close to $100,000 a year in salaries and billing costs.

Alta Bates Medical Group (CA), a 600-physician IPA, agrees to settle FTC charges that it violated anti-trust laws by fixing prices charged to health care insurers. Alta Bates agrees not to collectively negotiate fee-for-service reimbursements and engaging in similar anti-competitive conduct.

This Boston Globe article points out the potential inaccuracies of online doctor rating services, such as Angie’s List, RATESMDS.Com and DR.SCORE.COM. Over 40 different sites now allow patients to rate their doctors, but ratings and the posters cannot always be verified. While some doctors are irritated or try to game the systems, most seem to recommend the old fashioned way of finding a doctor: asking friends and relatives.


Affinity Medical Group (WI) selects Phytel to identify treatment opportunities and augment its patient-centered medical home initiative. Affinity will first implement Phytel’s Proactive Patient Health Management tools for its primary-care team, before rolling out to all 200+ providers.

E-mail Inga.

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