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Surrealism at HIMSS

CHICAGO—This picture is on display at the HIMSS conference booth of OpenVista developer Medsphere Systems.

Cerner doesn’t seem to be making many friends here by deciding to skip the exhibition, but still.

April 6, 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.

Early HIMSS news

HIMSS09 doesn’t officially start until Sunday, but the announcements already are starting to come fast and furious:

First off, you may have already heard the news that Pamela Pure is out as president of McKesson‘s Technology Solutions division. The company’s planned media briefing at HIMSS on Monday now will be led by Sunny Sanyal, chief operating officer of the IT division.

In other executive news, the recently re-named Surescripts—formerly SureScripts-RxHub—has hired Harry Totonis as president and CEO. Totonis previously led the analytics division of MasterCard Worldwide and was a senior partner at Booz Allen Hamilton.

I expect that this experience running an analytics operation might give pause to the privacy and anti-data-mining camps. Surescripts and the rest of the e-prescribing industry may have to completely overhaul some of their policies in light of the forthcoming new HIPAA regulations called for in the stimulus legislation.

By the way, Surescripts says previous co-CEOs JP Little and Rick Ratliff will remain with the company in undisclosed roles.

Medsphere announced that it will debut OV Meds, the first of a series of modular upgrades to the OpenVista 2.0 EHR. OV Meds includes medication reconciliation technology, a pharmacy dashboard, a drug-pricing engine and a patient drug information library.

I don’t want to get bogged down in contract “wins” for vendors because I’ll never get anything else done, but I’ll mention that Allscripts announced its first end-to-end sale of technology for a hospital, physician offices, emergency department and home care. The customer is 118-bed Ottawa (Ill.) Regional Hospital and Healthcare Center.

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.

Money matters

A post last month that listed the salary range for a job opening at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology resulted in a comment that the $109,808 to $165,200 salary won’t make anybody rich in the pricey Washington area. OK, fair enough. The job as deputy coordinator does not require a medical degree, but a physician with informatics training certainly could make a lot more money in the private sector. Case in point is this entry on the Physician Salaries USA blog from last week.

Good stuff, right? Well, if you read either For The Record or Health Executive, you would have known that chief medical information officers tend to be well-compensated for their high-level expertise and long hours. I mention these publications purely in a self-serving manner, as I wrote recent pieces on the role of the CMIO in each of these magazines. My Health Executive story is in the January 2007 issue. In the case of For The Record, check the Sept. 18, 2006 edition.

Now that I’ve dispensed with the gratuitous self-promotion, some other money-related news caught my eye last week: the $103.6 million in federal grants awarded to 27 state Medicaid programs. Nearly every project funded in this Medicaid Transformation Grants initiative is related to information technology. Connecticut will receive $5 million for e-prescribing and health information exchange. Hawaii has been granted nearly $3.2 million to implement an OpenVista ASP network. Michigan and Massachusetts each are getting several million dollars to automate vital records. For details on the grants, click here.

From what I can gather, this is the first large-scale, nationwide push for IT in Medicaid.

HHS says it will award an additional $46.4 million later this year to complete the $150 million program authorized by the 2005 Deficit Reduction Act. The solicitation has not gone out yet.

February 1, 2007 I Written By

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