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John Muir Health outsources its IT, RCM, analytics, purchasing, and claims processing operations to Optum and will  transfer 540 employees to the company.

I’m wondering – have other health systems turned over this much of their non-clinical work to Optum? This deal represents nearly 10% of the health system’s total headcount.

John Muir’s just-filed financial report shows a $59 million profit on $1.5 billion in revenue, a CEO who was paid $3 million, and several million-dollar executives. The CIO made $825K.

Reader Comments


From Jade Warrior: “Re: Surescripts. Shouldn’t they have to change their name since we are no longer sure about these scripts? Don’t they do testing?” Surescripts warns users in a Patient Safety Alert that medication histories may contain incorrect patient instructions if they include a slash symbol, which it removes in erroneously converting instructions such as “take 1 and 1/2 tablets” to “take 1 and 12 tablets,” which it estimates has happened in 0.3% of Medication History dispensing records. I don’t fully understand the problem description, but it sounds as though the error is limited to storing the incorrect patient instructions in its medication history – the prescriptions it sends are fine.

HIStalk Announcements and Requests


Welcome to new HIStalk Gold Sponsor MWTherapy. The Wellesley, MA-based company’s web-based physical therapy software platform serves outpatient practices everywhere. PTs and staff can work anytime, anywhere, and from any device, including both Windows and Mac. The software, which was built from scratch for the rehab market without cobbling together acquired products, can be set up for any practice, budget, or need. Modules include EMR, billing, scheduling, appointment reminders, home exercise program, outcomes, reporting, secure messaging, and patient email. The “Amazing Value” EMR package starts at $1.65 per day per therapist, while the affordable Build-A-System offers a customized solution with exactly what a practice needs with no long-term contracts and with the backing of a company that has been around for 15 years. Thanks to MWTherapy for supporting HIStalk.


July 25 (Thursday) 2:00 ET. “Meeting patient needs across the continuum of care.” Sponsor: Philips Population Health Management. Presenters: Cindy Gaines, chief nursing officer, Philips Population Health Management; Cynthia Burghard, research director of value-based healthcare IT transformation strategies, IDC. Traditional care management approaches are not sufficient to deliver value-based healthcare. Supplementing EHRs with advanced PHM technology and a scalable care management approach gives health systems proactive and longitudinal insights that optimize scarce resources in meeting the needs of multiple types of patients. This webinar will address the key characteristics of a digital platform for value-based care management, cover the planning and deployment of a scalable care management strategy, and review patient experience scenarios for CHF and diabetes.

July 31 (Wednesday) 1:00 ET. “Modern Imaging Technology for the Enterprise: Mercy’s Approach That Improved Imaging Cost, Speed, Capacity, and Care Quality.” Sponsor: Mercy Technology Services. Presenter: Jim Best, executive health IT consultant, Mercy Technology Services. Enterprise imaging has become as critical as EHRs for transforming patient care, but many health systems are struggling with the limitations and costs of dated, disconnected PACS even as imaging volumes grow and radiologists report increasing levels of burnout. Radiologists at Mercy were frustrated by its nine disparate PACS, which required them to toggle between workstations, deal with slowdowns and poor reliability, and work around the inability to see the complete set of a patient’s prior images, even as demands for quick turnaround increased. In this webinar, MTS — the technical backbone of Mercy — will describe the lessons they learned in moving to a new best-of-breed PACS platform that increased radiology efficiency by 30%, with the next phase being to take advantage of new capabilities by eliminating third-party reading services and distributing workload across radiology departments to improve efficiency, capacity, and timely patient care.

Previous webinars are on our YouTube channel. Contact Lorre for information.

Acquisitions, Funding, Business, and Stock


Interoperability solutions vendor Ellkay acquires the assets of Tampa-based Legal Easy, which includes the X-Link interfacing software that connects EHRs, practice management systems, and other healthcare technologies.

Payments processing technology vendor Edifecs will open an Atlanta office that will house up to 200 new employees.



Patrick Neese (Jefferson Regional Medical Center) joins Lake Regional Health System (MO) as CIO.

Announcements and Implementations

A Black Book poll finds that 4% of health system boards include members with health IT experience, with 91% of boards relying on consultants to develop IT strategy. Eighty percent of health system CFOs say their board members do not remain impartial in their review of system selection and spending approval and are instead influenced by other board members, corporate management, or vendor salespeople. I can’t speak for all, but the health systems I’ve worked for didn’t rely on board members to make IT decisions or set IT strategy – their job as community leaders was to set big-picture strategies and to make sure that the management team — which made its recommendations only after lengthy research and deliberation — hadn’t missed something. I’ve seen bad IT decisions caused by big-ego board members who paid half attention to a 15-minute review of a plan formulated by experts over many months, but who then used their self-perceived insight and wisdom to push an entirely different course of action.

In China, 50 hospitals will use AI technology from Ping An Good Doctor to create Internet hospitals that offer diagnosis, prescription sharing, and health management. The hospitals will share their information in real time.

Privacy and Security

The number of patients whose information was compromised in the breach of American Medical Collection Agency grows to 22 million as Clinical Pathology Laboratories and Penobscot Community Health Care join Quest Diagnostics, LabCorp, and BioReference Laboratories in notifying their affected patients. Quest has complained that AMCA — which filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy after the initial breach reports – didn’t file required HHS breach notification and hasn’t paid $500,000 of Quest receivables it collected from patients. Indiana’s attorney general has filed a motion to convert AMCA’s bankruptcy to Chapter 7, citing the company’s lack of post-event transparency and its food-dragging on getting the reorganization going.


Former Apple CEO John Sculley predicts that the future of healthcare will be in remote patient monitoring and telehealth for chronic condition maintenance, especially as hospital beds are eliminated and high-utilization chronic patients stress the system financially. He predicts that Apple will turn its Health product into a subscription service that will connect Watch users to doctors; says that Google could create a similar health subscription service using medical sensors for its Pixel phone, Assistant voice power, Duplex conversational AI for phone conversations, and its Nest smart home technology; and concludes that Amazon could scale Alexa Health faster than either company. On the other hand, he’s the guy who fired Steve Jobs.

Two physician-venture capitalists who head up Google’s life sciences investment arm warn that technologists “spend on the order of three months before they realize how screwed up [US healthcare] is … you make more money by keeping a patient sicker,” at which point half of them walk away to target more reasonable industries. The investment group has set up crash course rotations and a mini-residency in which technology entrepreneurs can learn what the healthcare system is really like. 


Kaiser Permanente Southern California researchers find that 58% of patients whose kidney function lab test results are abnormal don’t receive appropriate follow-up. The study authors recommend improving EHR inbox management,flagging abnormal estimated glomerular filtration rates (EGFR), increasing the lab results management role of nurses, and enhancing the use of patient portals. PCPs reported some interesting factors that cause care gaps:

  • Overly large patient panels.
  • EHR inbox message overload.
  • Lack of lab result triage help.
  • Role ambiguity when lab orders are cc’d.
  • Lack of an abnormal result EHR flag for EFGR, which isn’t automatically  is calculated from patient demographics and serum creatinine levels.
  • Lack of follow-up lab draws due to high patient co-pays, limited lab hours, and conflicts with work-life activities.

A Philips-sponsored report finds that while the US is near the top in EHR usage, it is below-average in applying telehealth and artificial intelligence. 


I checked compensation for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles after its announcement of a $25 million anonymous gift to expand its neurology and interventional radiology services and wasn’t surprised that the CEO makes $1.9 million, but I’m a little bit puzzled at how a Registered Nurse Lead was paid $748K vs. the CIO’s $606K.

Sponsor Updates

  • USPTO awards Medicomp Systems a patent for the intelligent filtering of health-related information in its Quippe solution.
  • EClinicalWorks will exhibit at the 2019 FACHC Annual Conference July 21-24 in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
  • InterSystems will exhibit at Sunquest July 22-25 in Scottsdale, AZ.
  • Imprivata publishes a white paper titled “An Evaluation of the Clinical and Financial Value of Work Station Single Sign-on in 19 Hospitals,” which describes how Christus Health is saving 49,000 clinician hours per year with the company’s OneSign single sign-on and virtual desktop access platform.

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Mr. H, Lorre, Jenn, Dr. Jayne.
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