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November 30, 2016 News 2 Comments

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Excellus BlueCross BlueShield will roll out telemedicine services from MDLive to its members in New York beginning January 1. The local news reports some pushback from physicians, which has prompted the payer to invite them to join the telemedicine company’s network. "It’s not to take away from them, but increase availability, accessibility, and timeliness of visits they may not always be able to provide,” explains Excellus BCBS VP and CMO Richard Lockwood, MD. The payer tested out the virtual consult service in an employee pilot program earlier this year. Over 60 percent of those that used the service rated their experience as excellent.

HIStalk Practice Musings


I have been watching coverage of the fires in Eastern Tennessee with a heavy heart, having vacationed in the Gatlinburg area just a few months ago. Deemed the state’s worst wildfire in a century, the area has seen over 15,000 acres within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park burn to the ground, 700 homes destroyed or damaged, and seven confirmed fatalities. Though local Red Cross coordinators have let it be known they have more donations than they know what to do with, I can’t help but wonder how the families that have lost homes and livelihoods will cope heading into Christmas. I’m hopeful that one or two telemedicine companies will take notice and, as they did in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, offer affected citizens free virtual consults.



December 6 (Tuesday) 1:00 ET. “Get Ready for Blockchain’s Disruption.” Sponsored by PokitDok. Presenter: Theodore Tanner, Jr., co-founder and CTO, PokitDok. EHR-to-EHR data exchange alone can’t support healthcare’s move to value-based care and its increased consumer focus. Blockchain will disrupt the interoperability status quo with its capability to support a seamless healthcare experience by centralizing, securing, and orchestrating disparate information. Attendees of this webinar will be able to confidently describe how blockchain works technically, how it’s being used, and the healthcare opportunities it creates. They will also get a preview of DokChain, the first-ever running implementation of blockchain in healthcare.

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December 7 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “Charting a Course to Digital Transformation – Start Your Journey with a Map and Compass.” Sponsored by Sutherland Healthcare Solutions. Presenters: Jack Phillips, CEO, International Institute for Analytics; Graham Hughes, MD, CEO, Sutherland Healthcare Solutions. The digital era is disrupting every industry and healthcare is no exception. Emerging technologies will introduce challenges and opportunities to transform operations and raise the bar of consumer experience. Success in this new era requires a new way of thinking, new skills, and new technologies to help your organization embrace digital health. In this webinar, we’ll demonstrate how to measure your organization’s analytics maturity and design a strategy to digital transformation.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock

Quartz co-founder Kevin Delaney offers his take on the growing pains startups typically reach when they hit the 150-employee mark. “Our structure and communication undoubtedly could be improved,” he explains, adding that the company now tops 200 employees with plans to add more globally in 2017. “I myself find that it remains an ongoing challenge to add structure without crimping the creativity, speed, and individual empowerment responsible for our success to date.” Consultant and original Netflixer Patty McCord refers to it as the “stand-on-a-chair number. Once a startup leader gets up on a chair to address the staff and someone yells out, ‘We can’t hear you,’ she says, “it’s time to start rethinking how you’re communicating.”

Announcements and Implementations


CompuGroup Medical adds a rehabilitation module focused on physical, occupational, and speech therapy to its WebEHR. The Weston Group, a Pennsylvania-based rehabilitation services company, worked with CGM to develop the module, which it will use at its facilities nationwide.


Modernizing Medicine adds clinical, financial, and benchmarking analytics to its EHR and PM technology. The company has also added Apple Watch functionality to its Pocket Practice smartphone app, giving physicians the ability to view upcoming appointment details with the (almost) flick of a wrist.

DrFirst adds genetics-based e-prescribing capabilities from Translational Software to its Rcopia medication management technology. The new tool will serve up genomic decision support and alerts to drug efficacy, toxicity, and known interactions as part of the physician’s e-prescribing workflow.



The Pennsylvania Podiatric Medical Association appoints Maryann Hartzell, DPM (Advanced Podiatry Associates) president.


Greg White (Allscripts) joins PerfectServe as COO.



Pacific Gas & Electric installs a telemedicine kiosk from LiveHealth Online at its Fresno, CA facility. Employees covered by the company’s Anthem Blue Cross policy can use the virtual care service for a $4.90 co-pay.

Government and Politics


Sen. James Lankford publishes the second edition of his “Federal Fumble: 100 Ways the Government Dropped the Ball” report, which – you guessed it – highlights $247 billion in wasteful and inefficient federal spending. Healthcare-related chapters include “Drug addicts need to chill out,” “While rural hospitals in America close,” “High-priced healthcare for convicted murders,” “Only dropping two newborns is pretty good, right?” and “Two health plans but not for the price of one.”


Jenn, Mr. H, Lorre

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Comments 2
  • Re: Prison medicine. I can’t open the article but can describe how incarcerated felons can be given very expensive care. First, the only people in the US who have a right to healthcare are prisoners because they are incarcerated and unable to care for themselves (8th Amendment and the test of Estelle v Gamble). States must provide this care for state prisoners by law. Some states have been adjudicated as failing this test – Texas and California are two examples among about 10.

    When the failure is adjudicated to have occurred, the Feds turn the medical treatment over to a Receiver who can spend whatever they want and the state has to pay the bill. CA has a notoriously expensive system under Kelso and others, and there is no oversight of what is spent. So we get expenses such as gender reassignment surgery on death row inmates. Texas has done a much better job, and their program has been run very efficiently by UTMB using telemedicine for specialists and their own pharmacy processing center to lower med costs (so much that other state prisons use their services). So it may not be the fault of the state prisons for these runaway medical care costs – it may actually fall at the feet of the Federal receivers who authorize this wild spending.

  • . . . and as clarification lest one suspect employee bias – my comments come from personal experience selling automation to state prisons and thus I know many of the stories, two of which I discussed. I no longer am in that market and have no affiliation or contact with it. Just reporting the facts as I know them

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