Health IT Business News Wrap-up – September 9, 2012

This Week’s Health IT Business News

Stage 2 final rules put interoperbility front and center and business news items this week bear this out. We lead with the announcement that Surescripts and Epic are working together to connect Epic’s Care Everywhere interoperability platform to the Surescripts Clinical Interoperability Network. This connectivity will allow health care providers that use Epic’s EHR to securely send and receive clinical information, including referrals, discharge summaries and lab results, with peers locally, between practices and across health systems. Read more about this partnership.

Interoperability landed on Forbes radar as well this week. In an article Friday, Is It Happening? Electronic Record Vendors Take Steps Toward Interoperability, Forbes reports “In a move that signals a shift in the health care industry, Epic Systems and Cerner are quietly working with Greenway Medical Technologies to link together their electronic health records for the purpose of exchanging patient information. Epic Systems, which has maintained a closed legacy EHR, sells to hospitals, as well as larger medical groups. Cerner dominates in hospitals, but with Greenway it can now offer another option to smaller practices, where it has less of a presence.” Justin Barnes, Vice President, Marketing, Industry and Government Affairs at Greenway says “Interoperability is the future of our industry. It’s not realistic anymore to lock into one vendor.”

IOD has announced a platform extension that will allow its Web-based release of information management, tracking and reporting platform, PRISM®, to facilitate secure electronic exchange of health information via the Direct Project. IOD says the new capability conforms to the standards established by the Direct Project sponsored by the ONC and specified in Stage 2 Meaningful Use final rule. Read more at

NextGen Healthcare announced it has entered into an agreement with Nipro Diagnostics to integrate its TRUEresult blood glucose monitoring system into the NextGen® Ambulatory EHR. The partnership provides NextGen Ambulatory EHR users instant access to data points captured by patients at home who are using the Nipro TRUEresult blood glucose monitoring system. Read more about the partnership here.

CMS announced this week nearly $7 billion in EHR Incentives have been paid out to 143,800 physicians and hospitals through the end of August. Final figures will be available later this month as CMS captures more complete data.

In M&A news this week it was announced that Merge Healthcare has hired a firm to look at a sale and other strategic options. The press release issued by the company was brief saying only that the company has no defined timeline for this strategic review and gave no assurances that a review will result in any specific action or transaction. Shares of Merge Healthcare stock rose 9% on the news.

Net Health Systems, provider of clinical information systems for wound care announced the acquisition of Wound Care Strategies, developers of the TPS™ Electronic Medical Record software for wound care providers. Company officials say the acquisition leverages the company’s recent investment by Spectrum Equity as a means to build on Net Health’s market leadership. The combined companies support the clinical information systems of more than 50% of the wound clinics in the United States.

On Tuesday, the nonprofit organization responsible for developing HL7,  Health Level Seven International, said its intellectual property will be available for use free of charge starting first quarter of 2013 . “This announcement is the most significant standards development in the past decade,” said John Halamka, CIO of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “It ensures that every stakeholder will have ready access to the content standards they need for meaningful use. Enormous thanks to everyone who worked on this effort.” HL7 is a series of standards and guidelines that enable hospitals to exchange medical information. The group hopes removing fees will encourage adoption of HL7 standards.

Speech recognition software giant Nuance announced its launch of their 2nd Annual Contest to drive mobile and web use of its Clinical Language Understanding (CLU) Platform. To help drive the use of CLU, Nuance Healthcare kicked off its 2012 Understanding Healthcare Challenge. The interactive challenge asks developers to explore how to integrate Nuance into their own healthcare applications to improve patient care and provider efficiencies. The Challenge runs from September to October 5 and will reward the top three developers with the most creative CLU use cases with a developer package worth up to $5,000. Read more about the challenge here.