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HHS Issues Draft Strategy To Reduce Health It Burden

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today issued a draft strategy designed to help reduce administrative and regulatory burden on clinicians caused by the use of health information technology (health IT) such as electronic health records (EHRs).

The draft Strategy on Reducing Regulatory and Administrative Burden Relating to the Use of Health IT and EHRs was led by the HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), in partnership with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and was required in the 21st Century Cures Act. The draft strategy reflects the input and feedback received by ONC and CMS from stakeholders, including clinicians, expressing concerns that EHR burden negatively affects the end user and ultimately the care delivery experience. This draft strategy includes recommendations that will allow physicians and other clinicians to provide effective care to their patients with a renewed sense of satisfaction for them and their patients.
 
“Usable, interoperable health IT was one of the first elements of the vision I laid out earlier this year for transforming our health system into one that pays for value,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “With the significant growth in EHRs comes frustration caused, in many cases, by regulatory and administrative requirements stacked on top of one another. Addressing the challenge of health IT burden and making EHRs useful for patients and providers, as the solutions in this draft report aim to do, will help pave the way for value-based transformation.”

Stakeholders have indicated to ONC and CMS that when they use their EHRs, clinicians have to rely on checkboxes, templates, cut-and-paste functions, and other workarounds that hinder the intended benefits of EHRs. Clinicians have reported they are spending more time entering data into the EHR, leaving less time to interact with their patients. Required documentation guidelines have led to “note bloat,” making it harder to find relevant patient information and effectively coordinate a patient’s care.
 
“Information technology has automated processes in every industry except health care, where the introduction of EHRs resulted in additional burden on clinicians,” said Don Rucker, national coordinator for health information technology. “Health IT tools need to be intuitive and functional so that clinicians can focus on their patients and not documentation. This draft strategy identifies ways the government and private sector can alleviate burden. I look forward to input from the public to improve this strategy.”

“Over the past year, we hosted listening sessions, received written feedback, and heard from a wide range of clinical stakeholders about the current health IT systems and the requirements specifying documentation, reimbursement, and quality reporting that are burdensome and should be re-examined,” said Seema Verma, CMS administrator. “CMS has demonstrated through bold regulatory action the importance of reducing clinician burden.” 

Based on the input received by ONC and CMS, the draft strategy outlines three overarching goals designed to reduce clinician burden:
 

  • Reduce the effort and time required to record health information in EHRs for clinicians;
  • Reduce the effort and time required to meet regulatory reporting requirements for clinicians, hospitals, and health care organizations; and
  • Improve the functionality and intuitiveness (ease of use) of EHRs.

 
The public comment period on the draft Strategy on Reducing Regulatory and Administrative Burden Relating to the Use of Health IT and EHRs ends on Monday January 28, 2019 at 11:59:59 PM ET.
 
“All of us share the responsibility to improve how we treat the nation’s patients, and we now have the opportunity to work together to find solutions to reduce burden associated with the use of EHRs so clinicians can spend more time with their patients,” said Rucker.

November 28, 2018 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 5 blogs containing over 11,000 articles with John having written over 5500 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 18 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.

Veritas Capital and Elliott Management to Acquire Athenahealth for $5.7 billion

Evergreen Coast Capital to be Minority Investor in Combination of athenahealth and Veritas-Backed Virence

WATERTOWN, Mass., SEATTLE and NEW YORK, Nov. 12, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — athenahealth, Inc. (NASDAQ: ATHN), a leading provider of network-enabled services for hospital and ambulatory customers nationwide, Veritas Capital (“Veritas”) and Evergreen Coast Capital (“Evergreen”), today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which an affiliate of Veritas and Evergreen will acquire athenahealth for approximately $5.7 billion in cash.

Under the terms of the agreement, athenahealth shareholders will receive $135 in cash per share. The per share purchase price represents a premium of approximately 12 percent over the company’s closing stock price on November 9, 2018, the last trading day prior to today’s announcement, and a premium of approximately 27 percent over the company’s closing stock price on May 17, 2017, the day prior to Elliott Management Corporation’s announcement that it had acquired an approximate 9 percent interest in the company.

Following the closing, Veritas and Evergreen expect to combine athenahealth with Virence Health (“Virence”), the GE Healthcare Value-based Care assets that Veritas acquired earlier this year. The combined business is expected to be a leading, privately-held healthcare information technology company with an extensive national provider network of customers and world-class products and solutions to help them thrive in an increasingly complex environment.

Following the close of that transaction, the combined company is expected to operate under the athenahealth brand and be headquartered in Watertown, Massachusetts. The company will be led by Virence Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bob Segert and an executive leadership team comprised of executives from both companies. Following the completion of the transaction, Virence’s Workforce Management business will become a separate Veritas portfolio company under the API Healthcare brand.

“After a thorough strategic review process, we have decided to enter this agreement with Veritas, which we believe maximizes value for our shareholders and accelerates our goal to transform healthcare,” said Jeff Immelt, Executive Chairman of athenahealth. “Combining with Virence will create new opportunities for collaboration and growth. Operating as a private company with Veritas’s ownership and support will provide athenahealth with increased flexibility to achieve our purpose of unleashing our collective potential to transform healthcare.”

“athenahealth is a market leader and a natural and strategic fit with Virence,” said Ramzi Musallam, CEO and Managing Partner of Veritas Capital. “Virence and athenahealth have differentiated and complementary solutions, deep relationships with their respective customer bases and a shared culture of commitment to innovation. We look forward to leveraging our expertise in the sector, as well as the capabilities and solutions across both companies to provide superior value to customers, and create exciting growth opportunities for both sets of employees as Bob and the team build the future of healthcare IT.”

Veritas, a government and technology focused investor, has a proven track record of driving growth for companies within the healthcare technology space, as illustrated by the firm’s acquisition of Verscend Technologies and its combination with Cotiviti Holdings, as well as the firm’s investment in Truven Health Analytics. Veritas has a deep understanding of the urgent need to digitize the healthcare system and brings a culture of intense customer focus and a drive for growth through focused R&D and product innovation.

“We are excited by the opportunity to partner with athenahealth, one of the largest and most connected provider networks in the nation, to drive outcomes that matter the most to our customers,” said Bob Segert, Chairman and CEO of Virence. “athenahealth and Virence have complementary portfolios and highly-talented people, and this combination expands our depth and reach across the continuum of care. I’m looking forward to combining our mission-driven cultures to create an even stronger healthcare IT company.”

athenahealth investor Elliott Management Corporation (“Elliott”) has expressed support for the transaction. Elliott Partner Jesse Cohn said, “We are pleased to support this transformative transaction combining athenahealth and Virence, which we believe represents an outstanding, value-maximizing outcome for athenahealth shareholders.”

Upon completion of the transaction, Elliott’s private equity subsidiary, Evergreen Coast Capital, will retain a minority investment stake in the combined company.

Evergreen Managing Director Isaac Kim said, “We look forward to taking part in this unique opportunity. Under Bob’s leadership and with Veritas’ strategic oversight and strong track record of value creation, we believe the combined company will be a true leader in healthcare IT, ideally positioned to improve outcomes and reduce the cost of care.”

Approvals and Timing
The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019, subject to the approval of the holders of a majority of athenahealth’s outstanding shares and the satisfaction of customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

The athenahealth Board of Directors has unanimously approved the merger agreement and intends to recommend that athenahealth shareholders vote in favor of it at a Special Meeting of Stockholders, to be scheduled as soon as practicable.

The transaction is not subject to a financing condition.

Cancellation of Q3 2018 Earnings Call
In light of today’s announcement and the pending transaction, athenahealth will no longer be hosting its previously announced Q3 2018 earnings call today.

Advisors
Lazard and Centerview Partners are serving as financial advisors, and Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP is serving as legal counsel to athenahealth.

Schulte, Roth & Zabel, LLP is acting as legal counsel to Veritas.

Deutsche Bank and RBC Capital Markets are acting as financial advisors to Evergreen, and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP is acting as legal advisor.

About athenahealth, Inc.
athenahealth partners with hospital and ambulatory customers to drive clinical and financial results. We offer medical record, revenue cycle, patient engagement, care coordination, and population health services. We combine insights from our network of more than 120,000 providers and approximately 117 million patients with deep industry knowledge and perform administrative work at scale. For more information, please visit www.athenahealth.com.

About Virence Health
Virence Health Technologies is a leading software provider that leverages technology and analytics to help healthcare providers across the continuum of care effectively manage their financial, clinical, and human capital workflows. Offering a comprehensive suite of innovative technology-enabled solutions, Virence aims to improve quality, increase efficiency, and reduce waste in the healthcare industry. Learn more at www.virencehealth.com.

About Veritas Capital
Veritas Capital is a leading private equity firm that invests in companies that provide critical products and services, primarily technology and technology-enabled solutions, to government and commercial customers worldwide, including those operating in the aerospace & defense, healthcare, technology, national security, communications, energy, government services and education industries. Veritas seeks to create value by strategically transforming the companies in which it invests through organic and inorganic means. For more information on Veritas Capital and its current and past investments, visit www.veritascapital.com.

About Elliott and Evergreen
Elliott Management Corporation manages two multi-strategy investment funds which combined have approximately $35 billion of assets under management. Its flagship fund, Elliott Associates, L.P., was founded in 1977, making it one of the oldest funds of its kind under continuous management. The Elliott funds’ investors include pension plans, sovereign wealth funds, endowments, foundations, funds-of-funds, high net worth individuals and families, and employees of the firm. This investment is being led by Evergreen Coast Capital, Elliott’s Menlo Park affiliate, which focuses on technology investing.

November 12, 2018 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 5 blogs containing over 11,000 articles with John having written over 5500 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 18 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.

GetWellNetwork Acquires HealthLoop

Patient engagement pioneer unites with Silicon Valley startup to define the next era of digital health

WASHINGTON — Nov. 8, 2018 — GetWellNetwork, the Precision Engagement health care company, announced today that it has acquired HealthLoop, a leading digital health company. With over 7.2 million annual patient interactions, HealthLoop’s more than 160 dynamic care plans monitor patients and assess risk in real time, helping providers, hospitals and health systems improve patient engagement, satisfaction and health outcomes. The acquisition expands GetWellNetwork’s reach into nearly 700 health care providers, placing it at the forefront of the changing health care landscape and at the heart of the patient journey.

As health care organizations adapt to the expectations of today’s digital consumer, GetWellNetwork is combining its nearly two decades of experience implementing patient engagement solutions with HealthLoop’s expertise in mobile technologies and digital care management. The move is designed to catalyze aggressive growth in the ambulatory space and signals plans for more long-term strategic investments in cross-continuum tools to connect patients, families and providers.

GetWell Loop will fill the post-discharge follow-up gap and unify the pre- to post-care patient experience by bringing together the key elements of convenience and coordination frequently missing from traditional care delivery.

“Adding HealthLoop to our portfolio advances our strategy to provide the most comprehensive, end-to-end digital patient and family engagement platform,” said Michael O’Neil, founder and CEO, GetWellNetwork. “The changing nature of the how and where care is delivered requires dynamic solutions to meet modern engagement challenges. With HealthLoop as part of the GetWell portfolio, we’re excited to help health care organizations rethink and accelerate their digital strategies.”

HealthLoop tracks patient progress, monitors clinical areas of concern and automates follow-up care, helping providers, hospitals and health systems improve patient interactions and satisfaction. Built on data-backed, scalable technology, its feature-rich, cloud-native platform presents significant opportunities for integration and impact. Over 70 health care organizations of all sizes and settings, including Advocate Aurora Health, UCSF Health and LifeBridge Health, rely on HealthLoop to drive engagement and patient loyalty.

November 8, 2018 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 5 blogs containing over 11,000 articles with John having written over 5500 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 18 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.

Mobile Telehealth Company Medici Acquires DocbookMD

Global Telehealth Platform Adds Respected Doctor-Messaging Technology

Austin, Texas (November 6) – Medici today announced its acquisition of secure healthcare messaging company DocbookMD at the Exponential Medicine conference in San Diego, California. The acquisition will offer doctors and other healthcare providers access to a broad range of mobile communication and telehealth tools that will fundamentally change how doctors practice medicine. In the arrangement, Medici will assume DocbookMD’s technical assets, people and customer contracts including those with state medical associations.

Austin-based DocbookMD was founded in 2008 as an early collaboration tool and offers a secure text messaging application that allows medical professionals to communicate with one another. The DocbookMD application is endorsed by more than 42 state medical associations and 400 county medical associations. The mobile application supports more than 25,000 active doctors. Medici acquires DocbookMD from Scrypts, Inc. and financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Medici, also headquartered in Austin, provides a global HIPAA-compliant mobile app with secure text, voice and video messaging and allows doctors to provide virtual healthcare to patients. In addition to offering colleague-communication capabilities, the platform offers more than a dozen innovative features including in-app billing, e-prescribe prescriptions and e-refer referrals. Medici empowers doctors, veterinarians, psychologists and other healthcare providers to provide patient care from anywhere.

Medici plans to provide continued technology support for DocbookMD. Existing users and partners should expect uninterrupted usage of data, functionality and connectivity. Medici CEO & Founder, Clinton Phillips stated, “We are delighted to be acquiring one of the most trusted resources for doctors. Medici and DocbookMD are so well-aligned with each other, and with the interests of medical associations in helping doctors live and practice at the highest level.”

Original DocbookMD co-founder, Tracey Haas, DO, MPH, is supportive of the move, stating: “We are thrilled to see DocbookMD find a home at Medici, with its physician-centric technology that continues to push mobile health beyond secure messaging. We are excited to see how Medici and DocbookMD can help healthcare professionals better meet patient needs in this new era of medicine.”

Medici News Announcement at Exponential Medicine Conference

The Medici acquisition of DocbookMD is the company’s first major acquisition following a recent $22 million private capitalization round. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/medici-announces-private-capital-raise-of-over-22-million-300666007.html

CEO & Founder Phillips was expected to speak at an innovation roundtable at Exponential Medicine (known as X-Med) this week in San Diego. The company did not disclose if additional M&A activity would be forthcoming. However, also last week, Medici announced the addition of Anne Jude Hunt, Ph.D., as vice president and head of product. Dr. Hunt comes to Medici from San Francisco with strong Artificial Intelligence (AI) and semantic sciences expertise.

“Exponential Medicine is the place where innovators come to make partnerships, build relationships, and break news,” said Dr. Daniel Kraft, Chair for Medicine & Neuroscience, Singularity University, Founder & Chair, Exponential Medicine. “We are living in a fast-moving, exponential age where the convergence of rapidly developing technologies is enabling vast new capabilities that can radically improve and disrupt the future of health, prevention, and clinical practice.”

“As a fan of Medici,” he added, “I am very pleased the leaders have chosen Exponential Medicine as the venue to announce its latest acquisition to bring more doctors on to its Medici telemedicine platform to care for the greatest number of patients.”

About Medici
Medici (https://medici.md) is addressing the future of healthcare by enabling patients to text, voice or video chat with their personal doctors, therapists, veterinarians and more. Considered the ‘WhatsApp of Healthcare, Medici is an effortless and secure communication tool that allows doctors to unchain themselves from their medical offices while taking great care of patients. Headquartered in Austin, Texas — Medici has offices in Johannesburg, South Africa and Washington, DC.

November 6, 2018 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 5 blogs containing over 11,000 articles with John having written over 5500 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 18 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.