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Mitochon Shuts Down Free EHR Service

Posted on May 20, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

The news just came out the Mitochon is shutting down their Free EHR service. They aren’t closing as a company (more details below), but they will no longer be offering EHR software. Here’s the full shutdown message:

Effective mid June 2013, Mitochon intends to exit the EHR market and cease our physician service.

We are sensitive that our providers’ medical practices will be affected by this. However this difficult decision has been driven by the need to focus on other lines of business, and the increasing liabilities we are incurring while supporting our free EHR service.

We will keep our active subscribers updated in the coming days as to how we will address the important issue of clinical data retrieval as well as possible alternate systems and solutions we are in discussion with.

It is with a heavy heart that we are existing the EHR market. The Mitochon team appreciates the support all of our clients have shown to us over the past few years and will work diligently to ensure this transition will be as smooth as possible for their practices.

Best Regards,
Dr. Andre Vovan & Mr. Chris Riley

Mitochon has been a great supporter of EMR and HIPAA over the years, and so I’m sorry that Dr. Vovan won’t be able to see his vision come to fruition with the Mitochon EHR. He was one of the first people I met who was talking about a community based approach to caring for patients. It’s interesting to see many of the topics he told me years ago are being talked about so much now in the world of ACOs.

As for the Mitochon EHR software, I won’t be surprised if some other players in the EHR space decide to take over the code and EHR business from Mitochon. There are actually a number of companies that have been white labeling the Mitochon EHR and it won’t surprise me if one of those companies takes over the codebase and users.

What’s likely more interesting is where Mitochon plans to take the company. Ever since I first met Mitochon years ago, their goal had been to build their own ad network and supply other third party networks. Now their focus will be exclusively on their content delivery and advertising network business. As Chris Riley, CEO, mentioned to me in an email, being in the EMR business and trying to partner with EMR vendors can often be a big issue.

Mitochon has some patents around CPT and ICD level targeting of ads. So, it will be interesting to see if Mitochon can become the pharma ad network for EMR companies. Although, there are a lot of non EMR opportunities for Pharma advertising as well. It will be interesting to see where Mitochon takes the company going forward.

EHRs Don’t Save Money Cycle

Posted on April 15, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I love the cycle that happens over and over and over again in the healthcare IT/EMR media coverage. Every 3-6 months a new study or article comes out that says that EHR Don’t Save Money. Here’s the one that I just got in my e-mail. At least this one talks about the short term issues, but leaves open the possibility of long term benefits.

Don’t worry though, in the next 3-6 months another study and/or article will be out talking about the amazing benefits of EHR software.

Let’s just cut through the crap for a second and really hit at the core of the issue.

Some clinics have implemented an EMR and seen Amazing benefits (see great EMR ROI).

Some clinics have implemented an EMR and seen little benefit.

Some clinics have implemented (or should I say tried to implement) an EMR and actually gotten screwed.

Every one of those cases has happened. So, if you want me to do a study or article on either side of the issue, it’s really not that hard to do. Just look around and you’ll find all of the above scenarios.

Of course the new voice I hear is that it doesn’t matter. EHR is no longer a choice. The only choice is exactly when, which and how you’re going to implement an EHR. So, that leads to what we really should be talking about…

How do clinics make sure they find themselves in the “Amazing Benefits” group?

P.S. Excuse my use of “crap” and “screwed” all in the same blog post. I just paid my taxes and I think I’m still recovering from it.

HHS Evaluating Harmful Unintended Consequences of HITECH Act

Posted on February 4, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Looks like HHS and ONC have been hearing less than rave reviews about the ARRA EMR stimulus program. About a week ago, HHS posted a presolicitation asking to evaluate the “potential harmful unintended consequences” of the EMR Stimulus. Here’s a few excerpts from the notice that describe the problem:

“While we expect for these programs to help achieve the many desirable outcomes envisioned by Congress,” the notice said, “a sense of responsibility for activities we support, historical experience, as well as mounting evidence of unexpected problems, demand that we consider potential downsides,” the notice said.

“By ‘unintended consequences’ we mean outcomes that are not intended, even though, upon investigation and reflection, they are, at least in part, a natural consequence of the activities. While some unintended consequences are desirable, the purpose of this contract is to identify and address those that are undesirable and potentially harmful.”

I don’t completely understand the government process, but I wonder if this request isn’t a means to an end. For example, maybe HHS and ONC want to modify the requirements for meaningful use and certified EHR, but are strapped because of the details of the legislation. By doing a study that shows major unintended consequences to the legislation, maybe it will open the door for them to be able to make changes to how you gain access to the stimulus money even if it doesn’t match the initial legislation perfectly.

I could be all wrong here, but otherwise why would you do a study of the harmful unintended consequences? So, you can say we told you so after those harmful events happen?

The always interesting Evan Steele, CEO of SRSsoft, has taken this idea and listed his top three unintended consequences of the HITECH Act on his blog (Side Note: Evan and I are going to be on a bloggers panel together at HIMSS. That will be a lively panel.):

  • There will be more EMR failures than successes, particularly among high-performance specialists.
  • “Certification” will stifle innovation.
  • Alternatives such as hybrid EMRs will lead the market among high-performance physicians.

I agree with the first 2 items. I’d just clarify the first one to say, “more EMR failures by those trying to get EMR stimulus money” For those not going after the EMR stimulus money “windfall,” I predict we’ll have an increase in successful EMR adoption. Of course, Evan’s final point is a little self serving since he’s the CEO of a “hybrid EMR.” Although, I do think the EMR software companies (hybrid or otherwise) that stay focused on a physician’s productivity and reimbursement will be the big winners in the long run.

Back to the study by ONC, I’ll be interested to hear who wins the contract for this work, if we’ll ever be a part of the study and if we’ll get to see the results of the work that’s done. Looking through the list of interested vendors, I wonder if any of them really have any expertise in EMR or healthcare.

Is Your EMR Stimulus Ready?

Posted on December 24, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Brian at new EMR vendor Health Fusion sent me an email discussing some of the posts I’d done about CCHIT certification. In the email, he talked about how many doctors would ask him if his EMR is CCHIT certified. He then told me that his response to those doctors is that it’s not CCHIT certified, but it is is “Stimulus Ready.”

I like the concept of “stimulus ready” instead of certified. First, because I think that CCHIT offers doctors no benefit (as is well documented in my previous CCHIT posts). However, more important is to consider what I think doctors are really asking.

When a doctor asks an EMR vendor if they are CCHIT certified, what they’re really asking is one of two questions (or possibly both).
1. Can you give me some assurance that your EMR vendor has a higher implementation success rate than other EMR vendors? I’ve seen far too many of my colleagues fair or heard stories of too many EMR failures.
2. Can your EMR software get me the HITECH act stimulus money?

The problem is that right now, CCHIT can’t answer either of these questions. The first question they’re likely never going to be able to say with real authority. The second one they are likely to answer at some point, but can’t do yet.

This is why I like the idea of an EMR saying that they are “stimulus ready.” Essentially that means that the EMR vendor is planning to do whatever it takes to get their EMR software certified according to the yet to be released HHS criteria. Let’s hope David Brailer is right and access to the EMR stimulus money will end up being relatively simple.

Satisfied EHR Users

Posted on September 3, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I think that too often only those unsatisfied EHR users get highlighted. This is probably true, because they’re the loudest. In fact, the reason I haven’t started an EHR vendor review site is because review sites tend to only be those that are really unsatisfied with the product or those who are asked to review by the vendor. The reality is that there’s the whole gamut of EHR satisfaction.

On that note, I thought it worth highlighting a comment I received from Eric R. Ashby, MD, FACS talking about his implementation of the PatientNOW EMR that’s designed specifically for cosmetic surgery, reconstructive surgery and medical spas.

I am quite happy with the software and the transition from paper to EMR, and we have just scratched the surface. Patients are so impressed when I go into the exam room with a tablet computer. I am so impressed when I leave the room and click “File as Complete” and have no Paper work or dictation to do.

Now I’ll admit that I don’t know anything about PatientNOW’s EMR or Eric R. Ashby. However, Eric’s experience isn’t unique. There are many people who use an EMR and feel the same way. It’s just unfortunate the media (including myself to a certain extent) love to cover the EMR failures. I’ll see what I can do to also highlight the EMR successes as well.

ARRA’s Effect on EMR Reporting Versus Functionality

Posted on May 21, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I was just reading through Jamie’s post on EMR and EHR talking about showing EMR “meaningful use” and EMR reporting. She provides some really interesting examples about the challenges of reporting out of an EMR that wasn’t designed to report those various data elements.

This discussion caused me to think about the impact that having to report on meaningful use will have on an EMR implementation. An EMR implementation is hard enough as it is now. Now, not only will an EMR user have to focus on learning all the new EMR functionality and translating their various clinical workflows into an EMR workflow, but they’ll also have to take into consideration the reporting requirements that will be necessary to get access to the EMR stimulus money and show meaningful use.

Certainly some of this planning could be a good thing and probably should have been done regardless of whether a doctor wanted EMR stimulus money or not. However, anyone that’s had to deal with reporting knows that it takes a lot of work and planning to get it right.

It will be interesting to see how much of an impact these reporting requirements will have on the already abysmal successful EMR implementation success rates. Granted, most doctors implementing an EMR won’t properly address these requirements during implementation and will just suffer the consequences of not showing meaningful use when that time comes.

Cost of Leaving EMR for Paper

Posted on May 12, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I’ve just begun my series listing the benefits of an EMR in a clinical practice, but today I was kind of struck by a post over on the TempDev blog. The post is called “Would You Go Back to Paper?” The following section of an email they received is what struck me most:

I cannot begin to tell you how the loss of EMRs has adversely impacted our work. Please keep up the good work with helping people implement EMRs.

Sincerely,
A Midwest RN

They also have a poll on their post which should hopefully turn up some interesting results. However, this comment from A Midwest RN really made me think about what it would be like to leave an EMR and return to the paper world. I’ve quite often suggested that if the clinic I work for full time chose to move to another EMR, I’d just leave first. I expect if they chose to go back to paper, I’d do the same. Luckily, I don’t think either of those things are even in the dark recesses of the mind.

I must admit it’s really hard for me to imagine our clinic without EMR. It’s such an integral part of how we operate that I can only imagine the struggles we’d have to go back. Sure makes me think about all the complaining that happened during the EMR implementation process. I’m guessing the complaining that would occur if we went back to paper charting would be even worse.

Nice to take a second to look at EMR implementation from a different angle.

Tips for Assessing Your EHR Vendor’s Financial Situation

Posted on February 14, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Recognizing and learning how your EHR company is doing financially is usually easier said than done. However, there are often some indicators that should trigger you to look a little harder at the financial stability of your EHR company.  Here’s a list of things you can watch for to assess your EHR company’s financial situation.

  1. Check out the corporate website to see announcements of new EHR sales.
  2. Measure support response times.  A slow down in response might be a bad sign.
  3. Follow your EHR company’s support forums to measure activity and hear from other users of the EHR software.  If no one is getting their support requests answered (see 2), then that’s a bad sign.
  4. Stay familiar with the sales and support people at your EHR company.  A mass exodus might be a sign.
  5. Ask your EHR vendor.  I always love open transparent communication.  It can do amazing things.
  6. Watch conferences your EHR vendor normally attends.  Not attending one conference might just be a change in marketing.  Not attending any conferences might be an indication something’s going on.
  7. Ask about your EHR companies online at places like EMRUpdate.  Not only could you hear from other users, but most EHR companies don’t like bad PR and reply to public requests in a more timely manner.

None of these are fool proof methods.  However, seeing a number of these together should cause you to investigate a little further.  As I’ve seen in a number of different software companies, the company usually gets really quiet before it fails.  Occassionally a company has so much business that it stops communicating and responding.  However, most companies that are doing well love to show off their successes.  

Don’t think this is all doom and gloom.  Look at this more like a wake up call.  Are you prepared if something like this happens?  Is your contract such that you can still use the EHR if your EHR company does fail?  Who owns the data in your EHR?  Have you created a backup plan if something like this happens?

There are a lot of options available, but you have to plan for it.  Make it part of your disaster recovery policies and if something like this happens to your EHR company you’ll be prepared and not fear.

When a SAAS EHR Software Goes Belly Up

Posted on February 13, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I recently posted my belief that the EMR and EHR industry is about to shrink. This can happen in a number of ways, but will most often happen through either a merger or a company just closing its doors.

There are definite challenges associated when your EMR or EHR company gets merged into another company. I’ll save those discussions for a future post (or would welcome a guest blogger to write about their experience with it), but in this post I just wanted to raise awareness about what could happen if the company hosting your SAAS EHR goes belly up.

When selecting an SAAS EHR, it is important to learn how the EHR company is funded. Depending on how your company is funded will give you a good idea of how long they’ll be around. A company that is running off of venture capital funding or new sales could run into real troubles in this current economic crisis. Once an EHR company runs out of money they’ll generally have the choices listed above: sale/merge the company and assets or shut down the company. Of course, an EHR company that is structured to survive on reoccurring revenue is in a much stronger position financially and will weather the economic crisis better.  In a future post I’ll discuss some warning flags that might indicate that your EHR company is in trouble.

Imagine what effect it would have on your clinic if your hosted SAAS EHR were to close their doors.  An EHR becomes as integral to a practice as breathing.  You can only hold your breathe so long before you start experiencing some major consequences.  Have you thought about a plan in case this happens to your EHR company?  Do you even have the rights to the data in your SAAS EHR company?  What would you do with that data if God forbid, the company was going to shut down?

The good news is that I believe most SAAS EHR companies will try to give you at least some notice before shutting down the company.  However, you shouldn’t expect more than a month’s notice.  If a company is shutting its doors, then every month their in business their losing more and more money.  So, you better be prepared with a plan of what you’ll do in the event this happens.

Unfortunately, mergers or sales aren’t that much better than a company shutting down.  Depends on the merger or sale, but often the software from the company being purchased goes from being highly developed to mostly maintained.  Help requests will often go unanswered or at least a delayed response while the companies figure out the best way to merge the two companies.

Planning for this even is even more serious when using a SAAS EHR software.  In a hosted EHR situation, even if the company goes under you can still use the EHR for as long as you want.  You just won’t get support if something goes wrong with the software.  This gives you a longer runway to be able to plan the move to another EHR system.  An SAAS EHR software has a much shorter runway to make a change.

I wish these things weren’t a reality.  It would be nice to think that every EHR company is going to do great and be around forever.  However, it’s just not the case.  EHR companies of any sort are still a software company.  In fact, many are startup software companies and the statistics don’t lie that the majority of software startup companies fail.  Are you prepared in case your EHR company fails?

Obama and Congressional Leaders Can’t Overlook EMR Failure Rates

Posted on January 29, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

“If it’s [EMR investment and implementation] too hasty, you can create so many bad experiences that people say…’My data’s a mess and my patients are angry,'” Mr. Glaser said in a recent Wall Street Journal article on the possible wasted investment in EMR. 

The scary thing is that John Glaser, chief information officer for Partners Healthcare, is probably right.  I know that President Barack Obama wants to “wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its costs.”  I want to do that too.  In fact, I think we’d all like for that to happen.  Unfortunately, I think we have to seriously ask ourselves if the current electronic medical records offerings can raise health care’s quality and lower its costs.

I think there are two points that have been proven time and time again in implementing an electronic medical record in a doctor’s office.

Point 1: A Well Implemented EMR Yields Great Results – Hundreds (possibly thousands) of doctors can attest to how happy they are using an EMR.  My personal finding is that the key to a successful EMR implementation is deeply related to how well a clinical practice is run before implementing an EMR.  In fact, I believe an EMR will exacerbate any problems a clinic may have been experiencing pre-EMR.  However, many clinics have shown that when done right there are tremendous benefits associated with an EMR.

Point 2: A Poorly Implemented EMR Causes More Harm Than Good – Blame it on the software.  Blame it on the clinic.  Blame it on the technology.  Blame it on the health care culture.  It’s probably a mixture of all of these things that has caused so many EMR implementations to fail.  Regardless of the reason, all of these failed EMR implementations have shown the damage that can be done to a practice that fails in their implementation.  Unhappy patients.  Unhappy and frustrated doctors.  Thousands of hours evaluating, learning, training, testing and implementing down the drain.

It’s no wonder that the New England Journal of Medicine found that only 4% of U.S. physicians were using a “fully functional” electronic health record system.  The huge failure rate among physicians has created a fear in doctors that’s difficult to overcome.  Sadly I think it might take a generation for doctors to overcome this bias.

The reality is that implementation of an EMR CAN increase health care’s quality and lower its costs.  The problem is that most clinics haven’t yielded these promised benefits and most are living with failed EMR implementations.  The huge numbers of failed implementations can not be ignored.  Ignoring this will lead to even more failed implementations which could set the movement to digitizing patient records back years.

It’s not enough to poor money onto something without looking at and solving the reasons why so many people have failed in their implementation of electronic medical records.

I don’t want to give the impression that I’m not for investment in EMR and health care IT.  I think that help is needed and could be beneficial to the future of health care in the US.  I also really believe that EMR does open up a whole world of opportunities that we couldn’t consider without broad adoption of electronic medical records.  However, I don’t think enough attention is being paid to understanding what factors are important to implementing an EMR successfully.  By understanding these facets of implementation we can invest in electronic medical records that are actually being used and effective.  Otherwise, we’re just lining the pockets of the EMR vendors without any benefits to health care or doctors.