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HIStalk Practice News 8/26/14

August 25, 2014 News 1 Comment

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The DoD issues the multi-billion dollar DHMSM RFP to replace many of its legacy healthcare IT systems, including the Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application (AHLTA), Composite Health Care System (CHCS), and the majority of the Theater Medical Information Program-Joint (TMIP-J). The department expects to select the solution in the third quarter of 2015, with initial operation beginning in the Pacific Northwest in 2016 and other regions added in waves. The new system will enable the DoD to share health data between the VA and private sector, ultimately supporting 9.6 million DoD beneficiaries and over 153,000 military health system personnel.

This news makes me even more eager to tune into the HIStalk mid-day webinar on September 18 featuring DoD insider Dim-Sum, who will describe the DoD’s healthcare reach, current systems, relationships with contractors and other government agencies, and selection process. Stay tuned for registration details.

HIStalk Practice Reader’s Survey

Thanks to all who took the time to fill out the annual HIStalk Practice Reader’s Survey, not to mention those that tacked on an encouraging or welcoming comment. I was pleased to see that 36 percent of respondents work for a health system or physician practice, and a majority of those are providers with purchasing authority (good news for our sponsors and a good indication of the type of news to keep covering). One such reader noted that he or she “picked a new EHR mainly on the basis of information gained here.” (And no, I didn’t make that up.)

News, rumors, and humor top the list of what readers enjoy most about HIStalk Practice (though one respondent did comment that it has become a bit too stuffy). Over 75 percent of respondents noted they have a higher interest or appreciation for companies when they read about them here, and that reading HIStalk Practice has helped them better perform their jobs. Both of those statistics correlate directly with many write-in comments like these:

“Sharing the rumors or news with my executives makes me look like I am ahead of the curve.”

“Kept me in the know, gave me some relevant talking points I could share with leadership. Now I am recognized as someone who is abreast of what is going on in the industry.”

I’m not one to shy away from constructive criticism, and appreciate readers sharing their thoughts on how we can improve coverage. More humor seems to be on the radar of many respondents, so I’ll do my best to keep things light where appropriate. Other suggestions that piqued my interest include:

  • Coverage/recommendations of practice-centric healthcare IT trade associations.
  • Quarterly recaps of “hot” industry topics and developments.
  • How to best utilize clinical decision support.
  • Ambulatory healthcare IT coverage from a government insider’s perspective (thankfully, we’ve got Micky Tripathi back on board).
  • Interviews with practices dropping out of Meaningful Use.
  • Talk to an ambulatory Epic user about strengths and weaknesses.

If you are an expert in any of the above areas, please drop me a line and let me know if you’re up for an interview or the role of guest contributor. Our rumors and interviews are only as juicy as the industry insiders who provide them!

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


The state of Vermont signs a revised contract with Optum to the tune of $9.5 million for additional work on the Vermont Health Connect health insurance exchange. Optum will help the state prepare for open enrollment on November 15, and assist it in transitioning away from CGI, whose contract is up on September 20. Optum will continue to fulfill its $5.6 million contract for consulting work at VHC customer service call centers.


Beedie Capital Partners commits to investing $3.5 million in Nightingale Informatix Corp., which develops the Nightingale EHR and related software services. The company plans to use the investment to launch Nexia, its next-generation EHR platform.


After a rough week in which a data center outage caused unplanned downtime for its customers, Practice Fusion announces it will partner with online appointment booking and patient review site Vitals. Patients who visit the Vitals site will now have access to physicians who use the Practice Fusion EHR and consumer-facing website Patient Fusion. Those physicians will in turn have greater exposure to those potential patients.

Government and Politics

A British newspaper points out the correlation between suits and T-shirts when it comes to productivity at the White House, shining a spotlight on Mikey Dickerson, head of the new U.S. Digital Service. “People want to know if I’m wearing a suit to work every day,” Dickerson said. “Because that’s just the quickest shorthand way of asking: ‘Is this just the same old business as usual or are they actually going to listen?’” Dickerson seems to have his wits about him on his first day at the new job, as the short video above shows, though I’m surprised the ubiquitous can of Red Bull was nowhere to be seen.


ONC Coordinator Karen DeSalvo, MD alerts followers to the fact that National Health IT Week will be held September 15-19, and will revolve around advocacy activities planned largely by HIMSS. Am I right in thinking physicians in the trenches will not be observing the festivities this year?

Announcements and Implementations


Telemedicine kiosk company HealthSpot announces it will install 100 kiosks in community pharmacies across Ohio. The company will target locations that have high ER visit rates and long wait times using information culled from patient focus groups and claims data analysis conducted with CareSource, a health plan that serves 1.2 million consumers in Ohio and Kentucky. (You can read the HIStalk Connect interview with HealthSpot founder and CEO Steve Cashman here. It would seem Cashman has not quite given up on retail clinics, which he is less than enthusiastic about in the interview.)


CarePoint Health System (NJ) selects the eClinicalWorks EHR for its 45 medical practices. It will also utilize eCW’s Care Coordination Medical Record for population health management.



Todd Park will reportedly step down as US CTO but will remain a White House employee, moving back to the Silicon Valley to work on brokering relationships between technology companies and the federal government.

Research and Innovation


The Washington Post delves into the impact consumer-generated health data has on public-event and -health reporting. Jawbone’s chart on sleep patterns during the recent California earthquake shows not just what time the quake hit, but also paints a picture of the collective anxiety many users felt for hours afterwards. FitBit is also in on the trend as it attempts to sell its devices to large corporations, promising aggregate group reports on things like how far employees walk and how much they exercise.



Wearable technology company OMsignal and Ralph Lauren partner to outfit ball boys (and presumably girls) at the U.S. Open with connected shirts that broadcast their vitals to a smartphone or display. Given that I am one among many who has ditched a wearable activity tracker shortly after receiving it, I see the commercial allure of skipping accessories altogether and heading straight for apparel. The $200 price tag, however, would definitely give me pause should I ever be in the market to wear something like this to my next ALTA match.


Mr. H has covered the healthcare IT vendor side of the ALS #IceBucketChallenge, so now it’s my turn to showcase the viral attempts of providers. Staff at South Dakota-based Pro Motion Physical Therapy and Black Hills Neurosurgery & Spine take the challenge, and pledge to donate $100 per employee to the ALS Association. They have also officially challenged Black Hills Surgical Hospital, Black Hills Orthopedics, and Black Hills Urgent Care to take on raising awareness of the disease.


A professor at the University of Michigan makes the case for data visualization as a better way for the average patient to understand lab results. Having logged into a few patient portals to view lab results, I tend to agree with his opinion that, “The present situation, in which patients are given direct access to their lab test results in highly numerical tables, is a poor status quo. If we are going to spend money making sure that patients can see their results, we have an obligation to change the way we display them by making the format more intuitive.”


Recently released data from South Korea’s National Tax Service show that companies in that country spent just over $8.5 billion on entertainment expenses between 2009 and 2012. Given that budgets for fall conference season and HIMSS 15 are likely already set, it would be interesting to hear from readers just how much money the healthcare IT complex plans to spend on wooing its customers.

Sponsor Updates

  • Atlanta Gastroenterology Associates chooses Greenway PrimeSUITE EHR/PM.
  • Hayes Management Consulting is named to Modern Healthcare’s 2014 Best Places to Work in Healthcare list.
  • NextGen’s NextGen Share solution achieves full DirectTrust accreditation from EHNAC.
  • Kareo executives complete the ALS #IceBucketChallenge.


Mr. H, Lorre, Jennifer, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, Lt. Dan, Dr. Travis

More news: HIStalk, HIStalk Connect.

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