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My HIMSS will be all about quality and patient safety

As regular readers might already know, 2012 was a transformative year in my life, and mostly not in a good way. I ended the year on a high note, taking a character-building six-day, 400-mile bike tour through the mountains, desert and coastline of Southern California that brought rain, mud, cold, more climbing than my poor legs could ever hope to endure in the Midwest, some harrowing descents and even a hail storm. But the final leg from Oceanside to San Diego felt triumphant, like I was cruising down the Champs-Élysées during the last stage of the Tour de France, save the stop at the original Rubio’s fish taco stand about five miles from the finish.

But the months before that were difficult. My grandmother passed away at the end of November at the ripe old age of 93, but at least she lived a long, full life and got to see all of her grandchildren grow up. The worst part of 2012 was in April and May, when my father endured needless suffering in a poorly run hospital during his last month of life as he lost his courageous but futile battle with an insidious neurodegenerative disorder called multiple system atrophy, or MSA. (On a personal note, March is MSA Awareness Month, and I am raising funds for the newly renamed Multiple System Atrophy Coalition.)

That ordeal changed my whole perspective, as you may have noticed in my writing since then. No longer do I care about the financial machinations of healthcare such as electronic transactions, revenue-cycle management, the new HIPAA omnibus rule or reasons why healthcare facilities aren’t ready to switch to ICD-10 coding. Nor am I much interested in those who believe it’s more worthwhile to take the Medicare penalties starting in 2015 for not achieving “meaningful use” than to put the time and money into adopting electronic health records. I’m not interested in lists of “best hospitals” or “best doctors” based solely on reputation. I am sick of the excuses for why healthcare can’t fix its broken processes.

And don’t get me started on those opposed to reform because they somehow believe that the U.S. has the “best healthcare in the world.” We don’t. We simply have the most expensive, least efficient healthcare in the world, and it’s really dangerous in many cases.

No, I am dedicated to bringing news about efforts to improve patient safety and reduce medical errors. Yes, we need to bring costs down and increase access to care, too, but we can make a big dent on those fronts by creating incentives to do the right thing instead of doing the easy thing. Accountable care and bundled payments seem like they’re steps in the right direction, though the jury remains out. All the recent questioning about whether meaningful use has had its intended effect and even whether current EHR systems are safe also makes me optimistic that people are starting to care about quality.

Keep that in mind as you pitch me for the upcoming HIMSS conference. Also keep in mind that I have two distinct audiences: CIOs read InformationWeek Healthcare, while a broad mix of innovators, consultants and healthcare and IT professionals keep up with my work at MobiHealthNews. For the latter, I’m interested in mobile tools for doctors and on the consumerization of health IT.

I’m not doing a whole lot of feature writing at the moment, so I’d like to see and hear things I can relate in a 500-word story. Contract wins don’t really interest me since there are far too many of them to report on. Mergers and acquisitions as well as venture investments matter to MobiHealthNews but not so much to InformationWeek. And remember, I see through the hype. I want substance. Policy insights are good. Case studies are better, as long as we’re talking about quality and safety. Think care coordination and health information exchange for example, but not necessarily the technical workings behind the scenes.

And, as always, I tend to find a lot more interesting things happening in the educational sessions than in that zoo known as the exhibit hall. I’m there for the conference, not the “show.”

Many of you already have sent your pitches. I expect to get to them no later than this weekend, and I’ll respond in the order I’ve received them. Thank you kindly for your patience.

February 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.

Urgent news from Health 2.0

SAN FRANCISCO — The Health 2.0 Conference stopped in its tracks late Monday with this stunning news: fictional EHR vendor Extormity has agreed to acquire every one of the hot, buzzworthy, break-the-mold, think-outside-the-box, too-cool-for-school (and smarter than you because they live in Silicon Valley, went to MIT and/or once knew a guy who worked at Google) app developers showcasing their “solutions”* and explaining why a killer UX in a 99-cent app is the key to all that ails the $2.5 trillion healthcare industry.

From the horse’s mouth:

Extormity announces plans to acquire every application developer at Health 2.0

The Health 2.0 conference currently under way in San Francisco features hundreds of developers, health IT firms and device companies demonstrating innovative applications designed to improve clinical outcomes, reduce medical costs and revolutionize healthcare delivery.

“It would take a dedicated team of talented professionals months to sift through all these disruptive innovators to determine who has the next killer app capable of interrupting the significant revenues we realize from maintaining the status quo,” said Extormity CEO Brantley Whittington from his yacht moored in the San Francisco Bay. “It’s more expedient for us to simply acquire every start-up, playing the role of angel investor sent to answer the capital formation prayers of each young entrepreneur wearing premium denim and a sport coat.”

“Acquired organizations become part of our strategic portfolio and are assigned to our innovations business unit, the division where new ideas fester,” added Whittington. “Developers from digested companies are housed in a bullpen where they engage in a never-ending code-a-thon that breeds fierce competition, resentment and angst – as you might imagine, turnover is epidemic.”

“Meanwhile, the principals who come on board join the Extormity think tank where they are paid handsomely as they wait for their options to vest.”

Extormity personnel will be stationed in each breakout session room with agreements and checks.

 

About Extormity

Extormity is an electronic health records mega-corporation dedicated to offering highly proprietary, difficult to customize and prohibitively expensive healthcare IT solutions. Our flagship product, the Extormity EMR Software Suite, was recently voted “Most Complex” by readers of a leading healthcare industry publication. Learn more at www.extormity.com

 

Enjoy your new-found wealth!

* Marketingspeak for “vaporware.”

October 9, 2012 I Written By

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

Dell to buy imaging firm InSite One

I’ve just learned that Dell is making a deeper push into health IT by announcing an acquisition of cloud-based PACS and medical imaging systems vendor InSite One.

December 22, 2010 I Written By

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

MEDecision buying HxTechnologies

Care management software company MEDecision is buying health information exchange specialist HxTechnologies for an undisclosed sum. Read the press release here.

April 2, 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.