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March 23, 2015 News 1 Comment

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HHS, CMS, and ONC publish proposed rules for Meaningful Use Stage 3 and 2015 Edition EHR certification criteria, alerting their email subscribers at 4:20 pm on Friday afternoon. The Stage 3 rule is here and 2015 certification criteria here. Lt. Dan provides a concise write up of patient engagement key criteria here, while the comments of several passionate HIStalk readers can be found here. Given my interest in physician practices, I reached out to Jim Morrow, MD of Morrow Family Medicine (GA) to gauge his reaction:

“In a nutshell, I am concerned about anything that is out of my hands. I can’t control which patients decide to use the portal or how many. To paraphrase Yogi Berra, ‘If patients don’t want to use the portal, who’s going to stop them?’

That’s my biggest concern. The other is that in order to be able to report on secure messaging, and specific topics as well, vendors will have to spend a great deal of time and money writing all this new code when they could be making the entire EHR better for everyone.

I was a huge proponent of Meaningful Use at the start, and I still believe in it at its foundation, but adding more and more work for vendors and doctors will not make for better care. We need to let these technological wizards work their magic on their solutions in ways that can make patients’ lives, and their care, better. What I have seen of Stage 3 to this point will not do that.”

I’d love to hear the opinions of other physicians on how this next phase of MU will impact patient care and business models. Share your thoughts via the comments section below.



March 31 (Tuesday) 1:00 ET. “Best Practices for Increasing Patient Collections.” Sponsored by MedData. Presenter: Jason Bird, director of client operations, MedData. Healthcare is perhaps the last major industry where the consumer does not generally have access to what they owe and how they can pay for their services. Collecting from patients is estimated to cost up to four times more than collecting from payers and patient pay responsibility is projected to climb to 50 percent of the healthcare dollar by the end of the decade. Learn how creating a consumer-focused culture, one that emphasizes patient satisfaction over collections, can streamline your revenue cycle process and directly impact your bottom line.

Announcements and Implementations


Allscripts will market and resell NoteSwift 2.0 for Allscripts Professional EHR. Speech-recognition technology vendor NoteSwift has similar partnerships with Amazing Charts and Aprima.


The Physician Alliance (MI) expands its use of Wellcentive’s population health management solution by adding end users, implementing care management technology, and adopting the company’s quality data management services.

Canada-based Nightingale Informatix Corp. releases version 10 of its EHR product to U.S. physicians using its Medium PM technology. It will be made available to all U.S. and Canadian customers this summer.

Hot on the heels of the MUS3 announcement comes Athenahealth’s  proclamation that nearly 93 percent of physicians using athenaOne services successfully attested for Meaningful Use Stage 2 in 2014. The company also announced expansion of its Guarantee Program to include value-based reimbursement for the Physician Quality Reporting System and Medicare Shared Savings Program.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


A local newspaper interviews several Iowa-based physicians about the pressures of moving to hospital employment and value-based business models. “Most of us are not trained to run a business or do HR or do payroll,” says Mercycare-employed Timothy Sagers, MD. “When those core functions are delivered on a system level, it frees me up to be a doctor. I want to do medicine not run a business. There’s no doubt in my mind that we’re going in the right direction. But it’s costly to adapt.”

IBM invests an undisclosed amount in Modernizing Medicine, which is working on Watson-powered ambulatory clinical decision support.

Population health management system vendor ZeOmega acquires HealthUnity, which offers private and public HIE, MPI, referral management, and patient consent interoperability solutions. Mr. H interviewed ZeOmega EVP and Chief Strategy Officer Nandini Rangaswamy about the acquisition here.

Government and Politics


The IRS takes a cue from Healthcare.gov and attempts to push the majority of its customer service interactions online via tools like Where’s My Refund? The agency, which has answered just 43 percent of taxpayers’ phone calls this tax season (many no doubt having to do with insurance subsidies, penalties, and exemptions), is well aware of the need to take its digital services one step further, but is stymied by lack of funding. 

Meanwhile, Healthcare.gov CEO Kevin Counihan suggests that tax payers with errors on their 1095-A healthcare tax forms call the agency’s 1-800 number for assistance. Hopefully more than 43 percent of those phone calls will get answered.

Acting VA CIO Stephen Warren says that even though the DoD is shopping for a commercial EHR, the VA will stick with VistA because it was developed for patient care rather than built around billing as were commercial systems. 

HCentive will offer state-based health insurance exchange marketplaces for "lease" in an effort to help those states who intend to move from Healthcare.gov to a state-run HIX. The company’s WebInsure State Exchange product has been tested by CMS and includes a Federally Facilitated Marketplace Data Migration Toolkit.

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper creates the State Innovation Model Office to to coordinate primary care and behavioral health care throughout the state. Vatsala Pathy, director of the new office, believes that “[t]his is an extraordinary opportunity to engage in dialogue and provide solutions for population health and consumer engagement, workforce development, health information technology and data measures, payers, policy and evaluation as well as service delivery and practice transformation for healthcare in Colorado.”



Telerent Leasing Corporation, parent company of TeleHealth Services and Avidex, promotes Joel Harris to president and CEO.

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Galen Healthcare Solutions promotes Jason Carmichael to CEO, Mike Dow to CIO, Erin Sain to COO, Justin Campbell to vice president of marketing, and Ray Lape to director of technical services.

Research and Innovation


A National Health Council study finds that over one-third of consumers with chronic conditions had a hard time finding information about covered providers and medications on health insurance exchange websites. An overwhelming majority of respondents noted they’d like exchanges to offer a standardized list of covered providers and drugs, and a calculator to assist with determining potential out-of-pocket costs.

A PNC Healthcare study finds that Millenials and Gen-Xers far prefer retail and acute-care clinics over primary care practices, while nearly half of that combined age group use online reviews from sites like Yelp and Healthgrades to help determine which physician to see. Results like these serve to emphasize the seismic shift traditional physician practices are undergoing as they struggle to keep up with burgeoning corner-shop care models and hyper-connected consumers who, in the typical American fashion, want high-quality care 10 minutes ago for next to nothing.


Nextech integrates health data from Iagnosis teledermatology visits into its patient portal and EHR.


Bill H.B. 1747 dies in the Arkansas House of Representatives, precluding telemedicine companies from practicing in the state. A similar bill is pending before the Senate.

The Saucon Valley School district in Pennsylvania considers paying $21,660 to give its employees access to SwiftMD’s telemedicine services on an annual basis. School board members seemed receptive to the idea, especially when told that the average ER visit costs the district $986 a visit, urgent care $290, and primary care $155.



TAG Heuer announces at the Baselworld watch expo that it will partner with Google and Intel to create a luxury smart watch. TAG will handle design and manufacture, while Intel will provide an SoC platform and Google will offer its Android Wear platform and software-development skills. The watch will launch by the end of the year at a yet-to-be-named price point.


Mental Floss highlights the trials and tribulations of working as a lone physician in some of the world’s most isolated places. “It takes a really broad skill set,” says Scott Parazynski, MD former astronaut and CMO of the National Science Foundation’s U.S. Antarctic Program. “I call it MacGyver medicine. What can you do to diagnose and treat conditions in a really remote environment when the chips are down? You have to invent solutions on the fly.”

Target agrees to pay $10 million to settle a class-action lawsuit related to its 2013 data breach, which may have compromised the credit cards of as many as 110 million people. Settlement terms also require that the company appoint a chief information security officer and maintain a written information security program. It will be interesting to see if the Anthem class-action lawsuit brought in February eventually settles for similar terms.

Sponsor Updates

  • E-MDs will exhibit at American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 2015 March 24 in Las Vegas.
  • Healthwise will exhibit at the World Health Care Congress March 22-25 in Orlando.
  • NVoq offers how to “Avoid Those ‘Few Extra Clicks’ and Improve EMR Workflow.”
  • Nordic releases the second episode of its HIT Breakdown podcast entitled, “What does a great population health program look like?”


JenniferMr. H, Lorre, Dr. Jayne, Dr. Gregg, Lt. Dan

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Comments 1
  • I think it is great to see these types of measures taking place. Remove the barriers and gut this broken system. Give the patient a say in what data is relevant to a physician and get the physician down from their ivory tower and start working on providing information relative to the patient. This isn’t about the Physician any longer.

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