Tag: electronic health records
Athenahealth has agreed to be acquired by a Veritas Capital and Evergreen Coast Capital affiliate for $5.7 billion, the companies announced Monday morning.
Athenahealth will continue to be its own brand, but Veritas and Evergreen will merge it with Virence Health, the analytics and software firm formerly known as the Value-Based Care Solutions Group, which GE Healthcare acquired earlier in 2018.
Virence Chairman and CEO Bob Segert will lead the newly combined company.
“Combining with Virence will create new opportunities for collaboration and growth,” Athenahealth Executive Chairman Jeff Immelt said in a statement.
Athenahealth has been facing takeover attempts since at least 2017, when Elliott Management first tried to buy the company. Elliott Management supports the Veritas-Evergreen acquisition. The transaction “represents an outstanding, value-maximizing outcome for Athenahealth shareholders,” Elliott partner Jesse Cohn said in a statement.
Athenahealth will hold an earnings call later Monday. In a third-quarter earnings report released Friday, the company reported it booked less business compared to the same period of 2017. Revenue for the quarter was $329.5 million, according to the company’s new accounting standards, and $331.4 million according to the old standards, up 9% over the year-before quarter.
Athenahealth’s stock was up nearly 10% between market close on Friday and the middle of the trading day Monday.
In an ideal world, clinicians would have virtually no interaction with a patient’s EHR.
Instead, doctors and nurses would spend the majority of their time with patients and EHR data would be populated with “little or no effort.” Vital signs would be instantly uploaded by an automated assistant, artificial intelligence would offer personalized treatment options and relevant data would flow seamlessly through the rest of the system.
That’s the vision of EHRs in the year 2028 as described in a new report from Stanford Medicine based on input from industry experts that attended a June symposium hosted by the medical school.
It’s also a far cry from where the industry is today.
The report highlights what dozens of previous findings have already laid bare: EHRs haven’t lived up to their expectations. But Lloyd Minor, M.D., dean of the Stanford University School of Medicine, says there are “a lot of reasons to be optimistic” about the future thanks to new technologies, an emphasis on apps and shifting regulations that give patients control of their data.
“EHRs may soon serve as the backbone of an information revolution in healthcare, one that will transform healthcare the way digital technologies are changing banking, finance, transportation, navigation, internet search, retail and other industries,” the report states.
For now, physicians are still battling a lot of headwinds. A survey of 521 primary care physicians conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Stanford found that 44% of doctors view EHRs as being primarily for data storage. And three-quarters said improving EHR interfaces to reduce screen time should be a top priority.
Part of that falls to developers to create systems with end users in mind and eliminate the need for manual data entry. Experts believe AI advancements will play a key role in consolidating data.
But the report argues that medical practices have an equally important role to play but shifting non-essential data entry to ancillary staff and increasing the number of digital scribes.
Training new physicians and updating existing physicians on technical changes is equally important. The report highlighted work by the University of Colorado Health, which created an 11-person “Sprint” team to address physician burnout associated with EHRs.
“Organizations with the least physician burnout are the ones where physicians have had longer training sessions,” C.T. Lin, M.D., chief medical officer at University of Colorado Health, said in the report. “And it’s not about how to use the EHR. It’s about how we provide care, with the EHR as one of the main tools.”
Another call to action for medical practices: “Junk the fax,” and embrace electronic communications like patient portals. That’s a movement that has the backing of federal officials. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma has called for an end to physician fax machines.
“For the 30% to 40% of American practices that are unwilling to give up the fax machine and are unwilling to receive electronic payments, perhaps there has to be a culture shift,” Terry Gilliland, M.D., senior vice president and chief health officer at Blue Shield of California, said in the report.
Allscripts has asked an Illinois district judge to dismiss a class-action lawsuit filed after a ransomware attack took down the EHR vendor’s servers for a week, adding that the dispute belongs in arbitration.
The lawsuit revolves around a January cyberattack involving a new variant of the SamSam virus. The attack brought down the company’s servers in North Carolina and knocked out access for nearly 1,500 physician practices. Several of those providers reverted to paper records and reported lost revenue and canceled procedures due to the disruption.
In a court filing (PDF) last week, Allscripts argued that Surfside Non-Surgical Orthopedics, the specialty practice that filed the lawsuit, intentionally sued the parent company of Allscripts Healthcare, LLC known as Allscripts Healthcare Solutions Inc. to avoid the arbitration clause outlined in its contract with the vendor.
Allscripts Healthcare Solutions Inc. is a “non-operating holding company with only eight officers, no employees, and no products or customers,” according to the filing.
“Plaintiff apparently hopes that, by suing a party with which it has no contractual or other business relationship, it can avoid the contract that governs the provision of the services it received from LLC,” Allscripts attorneys wrote in a court filing last week.
The company added that even if Surfside sued the right company, the injury was caused by a criminal act rather than Allscripts’ negligence. The company added that it explicitly warns about the inability to prevent all cyberattacks in its annual financial filings.
“A criminal attack executed using a brand-new malware variant is precisely the kind of unforeseeable intervening act that breaks the chain of proximate causation,” the court filing stated.
In a subsequent filing, Surfside’s attorneys maintained the parent company was to blame, adding that the company’s “acts and/or admissions affected the circumstances that gave rise to the attack and its fall-out.”
Surfside originally argued that SamSam has been a known vulnerability since March 2016, and the company’s “wanton, willful, and reckless disregard” led to service disruption.
In response, Allscripts apparently couldn’t resist a dig at Surfside, and any other providers that encountered disruptions from the attack.
“Customers who had appropriate contingency plans in place—the existence of which practices may certify annually to the federal government in exchange for certain financial incentives—were minimally impacted by the attack,” the company wrote in a footnote in its motion to dismiss.
The Department of Defense, along with EHR vendor Cerner and contractor Leidos, held a call with reporters late Friday in response to a report finding that MHS Genesis implementation is not effective and slamming the massive modernization work’s survivability as well as recommending DoD delay the project.
MHS Genesis “is not operationally suitable because of poor system usability, insufficient training and help desk support,” according to the Initial Operational Test and Evaluation.
What’s more, Robert Behler, the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, recommended in the IOT&E report that DoD “delay further fielding until the Joint Interoperability Test Command completes the IOT&E and the Program Management Office corrects any outstanding deficiencies.”
Behler pointed to a lack of workplace functionality needed to document and manage patient care as examples, and noted that clinicians using MHS Genesis only completed 56 percent of the 197 tasks used to measure performance.
“Poorly designed user roles and workflows resulted in an increase in the time required for healthcare providers to complete daily tasks,” according to the report.
In some instances, EHR issues caused providers to work overtime or see fewer patients. In other cases, users actually questioned that accuracy of the data exchanged between external systems and MHS Genesis — which could have put patient lives at risk.
“Users generated 22 high severity incident reports that the testers attributed to inoperability, including interoperability of medical and peripheral devices,” according to the report. Users ranked usability at 37 out of 100 on the system usability scale.
“Survivability is undetermined because cybersecurity testing is ongoing,” Behler added.
When asked directly about the IOT&E report, Stacy Cummings, DoD’s Program Executive Officer for the Defense Healthcare Management Systems, agreed with the recommendation to refine workflow roles and views and added that DoD needs to elevate its training strategy moving forward.
Cummings also said the Pentagon worked with HIMSS Analytics to conduct an independent measure of the progress and effectiveness of MHS Genesis.
HIMSS Analytics, in fact, scored DoD inpatient and outpatient EHRs at 2 out of 7 prior to implementing Cerner and at Stage 5 on the Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model scale post-implementation.
Indeed, the project has already experienced a two-month delay so Cerner and DoD officials could evaluate the initial pilot test sites and Behler wrote in the letter that officials postponed the IOT&E report at the fourth pilot site “to remediate significant problems at the first three sites.”
Last month Washington Senator Patty Murray (D) called out the DoD for a backlog of issues including inaccurate prescriptions, misdirected referrals, long wait times to solve known problems, technical issues opening the program and others that she said raise “serious concerns about putting patient lives at risk.”
Lawyers with a South Bend, Indiana law firm are suing 62 hospitals throughout the state, claiming they falsified records regarding release of electronic medical records and defrauded taxpayers of more than $300 million.
A report in the South Bend Tribune said the suit was recently unsealed and alleges the hospitals made false claims in order to snag federal grant money and participated in a scheme to pay kickbacks by overbilling for the release of electronic medical records.
The two lawyers who filed the suit, Michael Misch and Bradley Colburn of Anderson, Agostino & Keller, actually brought the suit in 2016 after they experienced trouble obtaining medical records from local hospitals as they worked on various personal injury and malpractice cases, the article said. They said the hospitals violated the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, legislation passed during Obama Administration, that created grants to enable hospitals to implement new electronic health record systems.
The lawyers tracked instances with four hospitals where they received electronic records, including Memorial Hospital of South Bend, Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center in Mishawaka and St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Plymouth, starting in 2013. They kept track of how many times they got the records within the prescribed three-business-day period and compared their findings to the hospitals’ public reporting.
According to the Tribune, the lawsuit alleges that in 2013 Memorial Hospital logged 16 requests for electronic medical records and claimed all 16 were provided within the required three business day period. However, Misch and Colburn reported that between April and December 2013, they only received records in an electronic format once and none of the records were issued within three business days. They claimed other similar discrepancies occurred.
All four hospitals they tracked contracted the handling of their medical records requests to Georgia-based CIOX Health. They have been named in the suit as having violated the federal Anti-Kickback Statute and state law for allegedly overbilling patients for their own medical records for EHR kickbacks.
The lawyers later added 58 other hospitals to the lawsuit for similar behavior. At the time of publishing, comment from the law firm had not been received, and CIOX Health had not yet responded to a request for comment. Requests for comment from Saint Joseph Health and Beacon Health also had not been returned.
Given the concerns about electronic health records distracting clinicians and inhibiting their ability to make eye contact with patients during office visits, the consensus has been that doctors waste precious time on EHRs. But new research suggests fewer patients feel that way than one might expect.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean they believe EHRs make care safer.
Sixty percent of respondents answered “no” when asked if clinicians spend too much time on a computer during the typical appointment, according to HealtheLink, a health information exchange in Buffalo, NY.
HealtheLink conducted the survey among 1,000 patients, and hospital and IT executives around the country can learn from the results about perceptions of EHRs and patients portals.
Then there is the question of whether EHRs improve patient safety: 51 percent indicated that they believe using the software makes healthcare safer but the rest is divided into 18 percent who said electronic records actually make healthcare less safe and 24 percent answered that the software has no impact either way.
Whereas 90 percent of patients are aware that their clinicians use electronic health records and 72 percent know their primary care doctor has a patient portal, 41 percent have used the portal.
Finally, to the broad question of whether electronic access is good for healthcare 82 percent answered in the affirmative with 58 percent saying “yes” and 24 percent giving a “strongly yes” answer. And HealtheLink said that particular statistic spans all the demographic and age groups it surveyed.