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Allscripts, athenahealth Acquisitions Head Top 10 Stories of 2018

Healthcare industry insiders are watching changes in the EHR market, with Allscripts and athenahealth’s business strategies signaling consolidation to come in 2019.

The Top 10 stories of 2018 mostly center on changes in the EHR marketplace.

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- The EHR market has undergone several shake-ups in the past year, indicating big changes to come as larger EHR vendors cement their presence in the inpatient market and begin branching out into niche areas such as long-term post-acute care and home health settings.

Healthcare industry professionals are interested in keeping up with any changes in ownership, management, and product offerings from big-name vendors as the health IT landscape continues to shift.

New players — including tech giants Google and Apple — are also catalyzing change as they enter the healthcare sector with big plans to revolutionize the way data is used, accessed, shared, and viewed.

The following is a countdown of EHRIntelligence’s most popular stories in 2018:

10.) VA Cerner Implementation Contract Balloons to $16 Billion

After months of negotiations and delays, VA signed a $10 billion contract to implement Cerner EHR across its facilities. VA chose to implement a commercial EHR as part of an effort to abandon its homegrown VistA system and establish interoperability with the Department of Defense (DoD), which uses a Cerner platform to supports its MHS GENESIS EHR.

READ MORE: Top Interoperability Questions to Consider During EHR Selection

The federal agency’s slow pace in selecting and launching the implementation project troubled many members of the House Appropriations subcommittee, who believed the project was long-overdue. And the exorbitant cost of the entire project—which grew to $16 billion in total—increased pressure on VA to ensure the project runs smoothly and quickly.

This article outlines VA’s plans to overcome the challenges of the implementation and ensure the high cost of the project pays off for veterans and their families.

9.)    How Health Data Standards Support Healthcare Interoperability

Improving interoperability has been a top priority among healthcare industry stakeholders in past years, but in 2018 federal regulators and health IT developers doubled-down on efforts to enable streamlined health data exchange between different healthcare organizations and health IT systems.

Stakeholders are promoting the use of longstanding methods of exchange such as C-CDAs and Direct, while also encouraging healthcare organizations and health IT developers to begin leveraging Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) to fuel data sharing through application programming interfaces (APIs).

READ MORE: Top 5 Ways Health IT Companies Are Changing the EHR Market

In this resource, we break down the most-widely used health data standards and explain how these standards can be applied to achieve each tier of interoperability for a more connected healthcare system.

8.)    Allscripts Will Sell Stake in Netsmart, Ending 2-Year Partnership

The EHR marketplace went through several significant changes in 2018 as larger vendors swallowed up smaller health IT companies and took steps to increase the value of their offerings.

Allscripts made several decisions throughout the year that may have lasting implications on the market. In August, the health IT company cut ties with behavioral health EHR company Netsmart after working closely with the vendor for two years.

This article explains the reasoning behind this decision and outlines Allscripts’ goals in the coming year. Whether Allscripts’ move to sever the relationship with Netsmart will pay off remains to be seen.

READ MORE: Top Epic EHR Implementations in First Half of 2018

7.)    How MIPS Changes in the 2019 Quality Payment Program Proposed Rule

Federal regulations are ever-changing, and the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) under the Quality Payment Program (QPP) has evolved to include new requirements year after year.

Healthcare industry professionals are keeping a sharp eye on any changes to ensure they avoid payment penalties and earn incentives under the program, which includes policies to spur improvements in interoperability and reduce administrative burden on providers in 2019.

This article offers a run-down of the most significant new additions to the MIPS 2019 rule, preparing clinicians for what to expect in the coming performance periods.

6.)    Breaking Down How the Apple Health Records EHR Data Viewer Works

Apple made its official entrance into the health IT market this year, applying its unique ability to present large amounts of data in a user-friendly format to the healthcare sector.

The tech giant launched its Health Records EHR data viewer in January, and an increasing number of health systems have signed on to participate in a beta project that allows patients to access their complete EHRs from their personal iOS devices.

This article explains how Apple’s EHR data viewer aggregates sensitive patient information from any health IT system in a secure way to streamline patient data access for consumers.

5.)    athenahealth Acquisition Final Bid Includes 5 Potential Buyers

The buzz around whether athenahealth management would sell to private equity investors quickly escalated to speculation over which firms would take over the company after athenahealth CEO Jonathan Bush stepped down.

Athenahealth began considering a sale after hedge fund Elliott Management turned up the heat on management in three open letters pressuring the company to enter the private market.

This article profiles each of athenahealth’s potential buyers and offers a look into the timeline of athenahealth’s decision to consider offers for a buyout and change its business strategy.

4.)    CMS Proposes Meaningful Use Changes to Promote Interoperability

 With stakeholders pushing for improvements in interoperability, CMS retooled the meaningful use program to reflect an emphasis on the need for an increasing amount of complete health data exchange between hospitals and health systems.

While meaningful use focused primarily on encouraging providers to engage with their EHR systems, the new Promoting Interoperability program pivoted the focus to fostering the use of technologies capable of ensuring health data follows patients wherever they recieve care.

This article outlines the federal agency’s reasoning behind the rebranding of meaningful use and details the ways CMS plans to keep health data access and exchange at the forefront of care delivery.  

3.)    Google Study Uses Entire Patient EHR for Predictive Analytics

Google’s entrance into healthcare signaled the potential for breakthroughs in predictive analytics as the tech giant teamed up with researchers to cull key data from patient EHRs to accurately predict patient health outcomes.

In January, Google published the findings of a large-scale research project that applied its extensive data analytics capabilities to patient EHRs to predict a variety of clinical problems.

In this study, Google and researchers from Stanford University, University of California San Francisco, and University of Chicago Medicine discuss how a deep learning approach that incorporates complete patient EHRs outperforms state-of-the-art predictive models.

2.)   athenahealth Acquisition Bid Progresses to Second Round

Readers followed each round of bidding as the athenahealth acquisition neared a close.

In a second round of bidding for ownership of the health IT company, UnitedHealth Group, TPG, and Bain Capital were each rumored to show interest in making offers.

This article lists each firm contending for a chance to take over the EHR vendor, and provides backstory into athenahealth’s past experience dealing with investors.    

1.)    Practice Fusion No Longer Offering Free EHR System Software

Practice Fusion dominated the headlines in 2018 after abandoning the business model that contributed to its popularity.

The EHR vendor formerly offered its EHR software to users for free, generating revenue instead by showing relevant pharmaceutical ads to users.

However, Practice Fusion began requiring users to pay a monthly subscription fee of $100 per physician after being acquired by Allscripts in a $100 million deal.

This article explains the reasoning behind Practice Fusion’s shifting business model and catalogues the turbulent history of Practice Fusion before it was ultimately taken over by Allscripts.

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