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Apple highlights Skyscape, Health eVillages, other health apps

As you may know, I am on the advisory board of Health eVillages, The program got a huge honor Monday by being featured in a video shown at Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference — you know, the annual meeting that’s always a hot ticket among Mac-heads and app developers because Apple usually unveils its latest products there. (Last week was no exception. Apple CEO Tim Cook introduced iOS 7, albeit to mixed reviews.)

In the video, called, “Making a difference. One app at a time,” Apple highlighted Skyscape, the company that makes the mobile medical reference software that Health eVillages, and sent a camera crew to a Health eVillages pilot site in rural Lwala, Uganda. A nurse from the clinic showed how he visits patients by motorcycle, using an iPad to help treat and educate the area’s residents. (Skyscape parent company Physicians Interactive provides operational support to Health eVillages, and CEO Donato Trumato, also featured in the video, co-founded the program with Kerry Kennedy.)

Two of the other three apps that Apple chose to include also are related to healthcare: Galileo, an app from Orthocare Innovations that helps amputees adjust prosthetic limbs; and Proloquo2Go, a product from AssistiveWare that in the video helped an apparently autistic child learn to speak.

June 13, 2013 I Written By

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

It’s not exactly official, but don’t count on MU3 starting before 2017

MADISON, Wis.—As the headline says, don’t count on Stage 3 of Meaningful Use starting before 2017.

Speaking at WTN Media’s annual Digital Health Conference on Wednesday, ONC’s deputy national coordinator for programs and policy, Judy Murphy, R.N., recalled that national coordinator Farzad Mostashari, M.D., and CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said at HIMSS13 in March that there would be no more activity on Stage 3 regulations this year. “The focus this year is on helping people understand the Stage 2 criteria,” Murphy said.

Then she discussed how long it takes to go through the regulatory process, including issuing a proposed rule, taking public comments, reviewing the comments, then issuing a final rule. “If you do an extrapolation of that, 2016 would be a problem,” Murphy said.

That was not exactly an announcement that Stage 3 will be pushed back to 2017 — or three years after a provider gets to Stage 2 — but it might be the strongest hint to date. It’s not a huge surprise since so many entities have called for slowing down the program, but there you have a bit more evidence that the federal government is leaning that way.

Look for more coverage of this conference from me at Wisconsin Technology Network’s WTN News.

June 12, 2013 I Written By

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

CEO, COO leaving is ‘exciting’ for MModal?

Did you catch the news this week about the shakeup in the executive suite of transcription and clinical documentation service provider MModal?

The Franklin, Tenn.-based company, formerly known as MedQuist, announced Tuesday that CEO Vern Davenport has “chosen to leave the company,” as has COO Amy Amick. In their place, MModal named Duncan W. James, formerly of QuadraMed, as the new CEO and promoted CFO Ron Scarboro to COO. Finance VP David Woodworth takes over as acting CFO. In addition, MModal brought in Graham O. King, ex-head of both Shared Medical Systems — now part of Siemens — and  HBO & Co. — cleaning up a scandal at the latter company prior to its 1999 takeover by McKesson — to fill the newly established position of chairman of the board.

In a statement, Greg Belinfanti of MModal owner One Equity Partners said, “This is a very exciting, positive period for MModal as it continues to grow and increase its presence in the healthcare industry’s important clinical documentation segment.” Say what? You just lost two of your top three executives for reasons you aren’t disclosing and it’s an “exciting, positive period” for the company?

The only thing I can guess is that Davenport and Amick might be working on a new venture together. The two were both executives at Misys Healthcare Systems — Davenport as CEO — in 2008 when that vendor merged with Allscripts. For what it’s worth, at least two other top Misys people, namely Paul Edge and Michael Raymer, remain at MModal, as far as I can tell from their LinkedIn profiles and from MModal’s current list of executives. Stay tuned.

June 7, 2013 I Written By

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

Counting the health IT accelerators

Have you noticed all the digital health “accelerators” and “incubators” out there? I count the following, in alphabetical order:

In addition, the USC Center for Body Computing has announced plans for its own incubator/accelerator in Los Angeles, but we continue to await details.

That’s a lot. Is it too many? We have seen plenty of failures in digital health entrepreneurship over the years, in no small part because too many companies don’t understand the unique economics of healthcare, particularly in the U.S. With the possible exception of fitness products, direct-to-consumer simply does not work in healthcare because most of the expenses are paid for by third parties. (I’d argue that wellness and fitness are distinct from traditional healthcare anyway because healthcare really does focus on sick care.)

At least one report from the California HealthCare Foundation backs up my belief that the DTC focus is a recipe for failure, one reason why health accelerators probably have it harder than their counterparts in other industries.

June 4, 2013 I Written By

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