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Saturday night special: Sebelius to head HHS

Here’s a rare post late on a Saturday night, but one I needed to put up: The Associated Press is reporting tonight Washington that Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is President Obama’s pick to be Health and Human Services secretary. Obama will officially nominate Sebelius on Monday, according to the report.

Hopefully Sebelius is current on all her taxes, unlike Obama’s first choice, Tom Daschle. Health reform is a Big Deal and really shouldn’t have to wait any longer than it already has.

And now back to my regularly scheduled Saturday night. I will wait until tomorrow to read up on Obama’s reform proposal and the opposition I hear is lining up to fight certain elements of it.

February 28, 2009 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

HIMSS Analytics: 42 hospitals reach EHR Stage 6

HIMSS Analytics has announced the latest list of hospitals to reach “Stage 6″ of EHR implementation, and for 2008, 42 hospitals in 24 organizations make the cut. That is only 0.5 percent of all non-federal hospitals in the U.S., up from 0.3 a year earlier.

Additionally, 15 hospitals, or 0.3 percent of the national total, achieved Stage 7, the highest level of the scale, but HIMSS Analytics has not made those names public. All those in Stage 6 or 7 will be honored at an April 6 awards ceremony.

Stage 6 of the HIMSS Analytics EMR Adoption Model means hospitals are almost fully paperless, with electronic physician documentation, full clinical decision support and full picture archiving and communications systems available throughout the enterprise.

The Stage 6 list includes:

1. Midland Memorial Hospital, Midland, Texas
2. Clarian North Medical Center, Carmel, Ind.
3. Newport Hospital (148 Beds), Newport, R.I.
4. NorthShore University HealthSystem (3 hospitals reached Stage 6), Evanston, Ill.
5. Citizens Memorial Healthcare, Bolivar, Mo.
6. Memorial Health University Medical Center, Savannah, Ga.
7. Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center, Baton Rouge, La.
8. St. Clair Memorial Hospital, Pittsburgh
9. St. Agnes Hospital, Baltimore
10 University Health System, San Antonio
11. Carle Foundation Hospital, Urbana, Ill.
12. HCA – Lewis Gale Medical Center, Salem, Va.
13. UC-San Diego Medical Center (2 hospitals), San Diego
14. Vanderbilt University Medical Center (2 hospitals), Nashville, Tenn.
15. SSM Health Care (2 hospitals), St. Louis
16. Watertown Memorial Hospital, Watertown, Wis.
17. UPMC (2 hospitals), Pittsburgh
18. Parkview Adventist Medical Center, Brunswick, Maine
19. Swedish Covenant Hospital, Chicago
20. Sacred Heart Medical Center, Spokane, Wash.
21. Stellaris Health Network (3 hospitals), Armonk, N.Y.
22. Mercy Hospital & Medical Center, Chicago
23. Baystate Medical Center, Springfield, Mass.
24. Kaiser Permanente Health Foundation (11 hospitals), Oakland, Calif.

February 26, 2009 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Amicas to buy Emageon at huge premium

The news is a couple of days old already, but I still felt like posting it: Radiology information systems and PACS vendor Amicas is purchasing Emageon for $39 million in cash. The price, $1.82 per share, represents nearly a 150 percent premium over the Friday close of 75 cents per share of Emageon stock. (The stock soared to $1.68 after the intraday announcement on Monday, and now is at about $1.76.)

My limited exposure to the RIS/PACS market tells me that this is a good fit, as Emageon offers software for managing all sorts of imaging systems and related clinical documentation, including in cardiology. But a 150 percent premium? I wonder if Amicas is betting on the economic stimulus to boost the entire health IT sector?

February 25, 2009 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Rural health specialist picked to run HRSA

President Obama on Friday appointed Mary Wakefield, R.N., Ph.D., administrator of the Health Resources and Services Administration. Wakefield will control the $2.5 billion given to HRSA as part of the economic stimulus legislation to help the uninsured and underinsured.

Wakefield currently is director of the Center for Rural Health at the University of North Dakota.

In case you were interested, here is the final text of the stimulus bill, formally known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (PDF, 13.4 MB).

February 23, 2009 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

The Medical Records Institute is no more

Following a disappointing turnout at the 25th annual TEPR conference earlier this month, C. Peter Waegemann and Claudia Tessier are moving from the Medical Records Institute to the recently created mHealth Initiative, effectively ending the organization Waegemann founded in the mid-1980s.

“It is time to put our energy into the new and exciting field of cell phones in healthcare. This is where the action is. This is where the future is,” Waegemann says in a press release.

There was much speculation at the lightly attended TEPR that this might be the last year of the conference. Today’s announcement likely seals that fate. The mHealth Initiative will have meetings of its own, starting with a seminar and workshop March 31 in Boston.

Waegemann will serve as executive director of mHI and Tessier as president. Each has a new e-mail address: p.waegemann@mhealthinitiative.org for Waegemann and c.tessier@mhealthinitiative.org for Tessier.

February 20, 2009 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

What’s in a name?

Just a couple of weeks after the Medical Records Institute launched its mHealth Initiative—quietly admitting failure of its plan to get 10 million people using their cell phones to transfer health information by this spring—a program called the mHealth Alliance has launched in Europe.

The Rockefeller Foundation, the United Nations Foundation and the UK-based Vodafone Foundation made the annoucement Tuesday at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

The global project is an outgrowth of the UN Foundation-Vodafone Foundation “mHealth for Development” report and the Rockefeller Foundation’s Making the eHealth Connection conferences in magnificent Bellagio, Italy, last summer. I was present for the third week, which included the mobile health track.

I am, of course, available for all your conference coverage needs in bucolic European resort towns.

February 19, 2009 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Health Wonk Review spams us

Health Wonk Review is up at the InsureBlog, and this week’s host Henry Stern blocks all the spamblog attempts by dishing out Spam recipes alongside this week’s entries. It’s kind of like pairing fine wine with food.

I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

Oh really?

There’s a new venture in Buffalo, N.Y., billing itself as the “first national, electronic healthcare transaction network in the United States.”

The press release for the HealthTransaction Network says: “The initiative, under development for sixteen months since its announcement, is aimed at uninsured or underinsured individuals, who can’t afford coverage for even primary medical care. The goal is to enable them to get wellness services so they can prevent more serious conditions.”

OK, it’s a noble concept, but is it really national? The announcement makes it seem like it’s confined to Western New York state.

“The long-awaited program, started by electronic-transaction entrepreneur Joseph Wolfson, came to life last week with the launch of low-cost basic services at community health-care facilities, a new technologically advanced identification card, and an electronic transaction network to facilitate transactions between consumers and healthcare providers,” the release says. Again, these are some good ideas that can help transform care and save money for everyone involved. But a truly national network for electronic health transactions? It couldn’t be that simple, could it?

February 18, 2009 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

CCHIT critic identified

(Updated, 4:50 p.m. CST) The lengthy criticism leveled at the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology just got a little lengthier, and we finally know the name of the critic.

A “Calvin Jablonski” just added a comment to my post about CCHIT from earlier in the week. This seems like the same person who posted under the name “CJ” on the Wall Street Journal Health Blog last week, a comment subsequently reprinted here and on the Health Care Renewal Blog—there might be others, too—that brought a response from CCHIT Marketing Director Sue Reber on all the same blogs.

I searched the name “Calvin Jablonski” and could only find his posts about CCHIT, not any information on his background or interest in this topic. I believe, based on my statistics monitor for this site, that the comment came from IP address 65.218.162.# (the # indicates a number that I’m not privy to), on the network of marketing firm Euro RSCG 4 Impact in Norcross, Ga.

Today, Jablonski hammered away at alleged links between CCHIT and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society:

Ms Reber why don’t you admit the defunct status of CCHIT?
Its been verified… Why don’t you admit CCHIT has concealed its defunct status?

Why do you deny which is obviously the truth and which as been verified? CCHIT is a defunct 501 c 3 tax exempt non-profit that has been dissolved for over a year.

Why don’t you admit CCHIT was spwaned by none other than Steve Lieber, CEO of HIMSS.org, another 501 c organization that hasn’t paid a dime in taxes but has made over $100million dollars in profits?

Why don’ty you admit CCHIT and HIMSS has presented an advocacy positon of not asking for millions, but now, BILLION of dollars that will fall down the same tax-dodging rat hole if funded according Liebers’ plan?

Why don’t you admit the non profit scheme cooked up by HIMSS.org is full of “artificial transactions” designed to operate as a business filter that allows both organizations to fly below the level of taxable income on IRS radar?

Why don’t you admit CCHIT has continued to take checks from vendors during the period it has effectively been dissolved?

Why don’t you admit there is a revolving door for staff members between CCHIT, HIMSS and the EHRA?

Calvin

Jablonski’s anti-CCHIT campaign actually started before the WSJ comment. “Calvin Jablonski, 501(c)(6) expert” commented on the Chilmark Research blog about the economic stimulus legislation on Feb. 1. You’ll note that he has some company in his criticisms. From the same string of comments, “rockyostrand” says:

Caution, Achtung, Cuidado,

Non-profit trade associations like HIMSS are waiting in the wings and closets at beltway bandit locations all over Maryland, Virginia and D.C. with their hands and cash buckets out waiting for the ink to dry.

Get ready for that giant sucking sound to make the tax dodging 501 (C) 6 “C- Suite” a lot richer.

Don’t you think its time to get the CCHIT and HITSP people out of the mix? its clear at this point they are after the checkbook , the other stuff about HIT is just the game they are playing to get at it. The thing about CCHIT- its an outgrowth of HIMSS and started at 230 E. Ohio St in Chicago, literally a HIMSS subsidiary spinoff residing residing under the same roof. Try looking into the CEO of CCHIT. You will find he is the CMO of HIMSS- gee what small world… YEESSS , Mark Leavitt, possible relation to Mike Leavitt, HHS Secretary.
Rocky Ostrand

That’s awfully close to Jablonski’s original critique—and clearly wrong in claiming that CCHIT Chairman Mark Leavitt, M.D., Ph.D., still is CMO of HIMSS (he went on leave from that position when CCHIT started, but he’s since officially split from HIMSS) and that he might be related to former HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt. Mike Leavitt is a devout Mormon from Utah. Mark Leavitt is a Chicago native of Jewish descent.

On the most recent set of allegations, I believe CCHIT has never hid the fact that it was created by HIMSS, the National Alliance for Health Information Technology and the American Health Information Management Association. Whether Steve Lieber personally spawned CCHIT, I don’t know and don’t think is relevant.

The questions about the involuntary dissolution of CCHIT as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation under Illinois law are valid ones. The questions about possible conflicts of interest involving CCHIT and other organizations are valid ones. The charge of a “scheme” full of “artificial transactions” is a serious one, but I don’t see any evidence to support it.

One more thing I’ve discovered since the original post: CCHIT’s previous office before moving to 200 S. Wacker Dr. in Chicago was at 233 N. Michigan Ave., the same location as AHIMA, not the 230 E. Ohio St. building where HIMSS is based.

You can bet this is not the last we’ll hear on this subject. I can’t wait to see if CCHIT has another “town hall” at this year’s HIMSS conference. That ought to be fun.

I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

A stimulus for the webinar industry

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, a.k.a. the economic stimulus legislation, just became law, and already the webinars had started.

The eHealth Initiative held the first session in its webinar series Tuesday at 3 p.m. EST. That was perhaps an hour after President Obama signed the bill during a ceremony in Denver. eHI will repeat the overview session today at 10:30 a.m. EST and hold new online sessions on Thursday, Friday, next Monday and on Feb. 25 and 27. It’s free for eHI members and $150 for the entire series for non-members.

HIMSS at least waited for the ink to dry before starting its own webinar series. The first session, an overview, is set for Wednesday at 2 p.m. CST. (That’s 3 p.m. for those of you on the east coast who were unaware the United States had multiple time zones and noon for those of you on the west coast with similar misconceptions.) Additional events are planned for Feb. 23, March 4, 11 and 18. Each session costs $79.

HIMSS also announced plans for 10 related educational sessions at the HIMSS Annual Conference in April, right here in the Central time zone.

I’m sure others have educational programs in the works to sort through the massive legislation that will pump $19 billion of borrowed federal money into the health IT industry. Unfortunately, the legislation failed to outlaw the word “webinar.” I’ll have to call my congressman about that one. Oh wait, that was Rahm Emanuel, who’s now the White House chief of staff, so I guess I don’t have a voice in Congress at the moment. I’ll have to see if the Webster’s people can’t ban “webinar” from the English language.

At least we get a special election and not a gubernatorial appointment to fill Emanuel’s seat, the Illinois 5th District, previously held by Rod Blagojevich and, before that, Dan Rostenkowski.

February 17, 2009 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.