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News 11/10/09

November 9, 2009 News No Comments

A Commonwealth Fund survey of primary care doctors finds that the US is way behind other countries in several healthcare categories: access to care, providing financial incentives for healthcare quality, and using IT. Only 29% of practices provide after-hours care (other than the hospital ED). Less than half use electronic medical records, well behind the 90+ percent of several other countries. That’s despite spending twice as much per person as other countries.


Fresenius Medical Care North America, an operator of dialysis facilities, purchases Health HIT Services, makers of the Web-enabled Acumen nEHR for nephrology.

eClinicalWorks adds another IPA to its client list with the signing of Catholic Independent Practice Association (NY). The IPA purchased 150 PM/EMR licenses to connect community physicians and will work with eCW to tie into the HEALTHeLINK RHIO.

Which reminds me of a recent conversation I had with an MSO administrator. We were discussing which ambulatory EMR vendors were making the most inroads into the the IPA and health system market and selling EMRs on a large scale. Some vendors we agreed on: eCW, Allscripts, and Sage. Did we miss any?

New evidence that healthcare providers are not immune to the current economic recession. The 106 year-old Honolulu Medical Group files Chapter 11 bankruptcy, saying it owes creditors over $1 million. In recent years, the practice has shrunk from 40 providers to 11 and owes over $700,000 in rent for unused space. Meanwhile, The Commonwealth Cancer Institute (VA) also files for bankruptcy protection, claiming the slowing economy has delayed patient payments and forced some physicians to leave. Commonwealth’s outstanding debts are over $2.8 million, which includes loans on property and equipment and fees to three doctors.

Consultants in Radiology (TX) deploy eGistics’ Digital Medical Practice Solution for its 14-physician practice. eGistics provides a hosted document management solution.

Sermo launches the Practice Management Exchange, where physicians can exchange business advice and earn CME credits on PM topics. PME was designed for physicians in small and solo practices.

paddle 5

Gregg Alexander, Jon Smalling, and I enjoyed our quick peek at athenaClinicals and have been reviewing feedback from our readers. Most were along the lines of this: “Stick to the knitting and provide what we all like to hear — unbiased and good reporting on the industry.” Another reader accused Mr. H of having  “man crush” on Jonathan Bush, which made me smile since Mr. H doesn’t seem like a “man crush” kind of guy to me. In any case, the critics have spoken and we have opted to shelve the product assessments and will focus our energies elsewhere. We honestly liked the paddles, however, so maybe we will dust them off when we evaluate exhibitors at HIMSS. And thank you for taking the time to share your opinions with us.

QHR Technologies signs a letter of intent to acquire its EMR competitor Clinicare for $5 million Canadian collars ($4.7 million). Both companies are based in Canada and together provide PM and EMR to over 3,000 physicians. Clinicare serves providers in the US as well as Canada.


The AMA officially applauds the passage of the House’s health reform bill, though many physicians want the support rescinded because the legislation interferes with the patient physician relationship. MGMA also praises certain HIT components of the bill, though some HIStalk readers tell us support is far from universal among MGMA members.

Riverside Radiology Associates (OH) signs a five year license renewal for Zotec Partners’ billing, RIS, and decision suite products. RRA claims its billing costs have been cut almost in half since its 70 radiologists first contracted with Zotec in 2005.

In Miami and presumably across the county, physicians are embracing social media tools to update families on surgery patients, to educate consumers, and to share medical information with fellow providers.

According to the medical director of informatics of the 250-physician Fallon Clinic (MA), EMR has not reduced patient wait times, but their Epic MyChart patient portal allows patients to receive care without coming to the office. The practice has spent $24 million in the first three years and says they are providing better care. With the removal of paper charts, clinics also have more room. The practice expects to recoup the $24 million expense “eventually.” For the mathematically challenged, that equates to about $32,000/year for each physician over the last three years. That’s a pretty pricey solution, especially if the ROI is as vague as it sounds in this article.

Text messaging can significantly improve adherence to treatment plans for chronically disease patients, according to a Mount Sinai Hospital (NY) study. Physicians working with adolescent patients who had undergone liver transplants found patients were more likely to take their medications when they received text reminders. Patients had to text back within an hour to acknowledge their meds were taken and avoid having providers contact their caregivers. I am guessing a sample text message might be: “AYEC TAKE RX PLS,” and the reply could be, “K, KPC.”


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