0842 Hrs Update-Business Round up

Carmakers report an overall decline of 34%, with Chrysler faring the worst with a 48.1% drop. Of the American-owned domestic manufacturers, Ford does best with a loss of 31.3%; GM falls 33.1%.
Exxon Mobil profit drops 58% as global recession saps energy demand
The oil company’s first-quarter net income falls to $4.55 billion from $10.9 billion a year earlier.
Viacom’s profit falls 34% as revenue drops
Viacom’s profit falls 34% as revenue dropsThe New York company, which is controlled by Sumner Redstone and includes the Paramount movie studio as well as cable networks MTV and Comedy Central, said it earned $177 million, or 29 cents a share, down from $270 million, or 42 cents, last year.

     

That topped the average Wall Street forecast of 26 cents a share, according to a Thomson Reuters survey.

Revenue fell 7% to $2.9 billion, roughly in line with estimates
Chevron’s first-quarter profit plummets 64%
The nation’s second-largest oil company posts net income of $1.84 billion, compared with $5.17 billion a year earlier, amid lower crude prices, the global recession and sluggish demand.
Starbucks net profit plunges 77%Net income better than expected. The coffee chain’s cost cutting initiatives help balance an 8% drop in sales.
Allergan’s profit falls 58% as recession slows Botox sales
The Irvine company’s net income drops to $45 million from $108 million a year earlier. The FDA also orders Allergan to strengthen the drug’s label precautions.
See  Report below…

Business News Roundup for the Week of May 1, 2009

M&A, Financial Reports and Funding

Computer Programs and Systems, a provider of health care IT software, reported  a Q1 2009 net income of $4 million on $30.1 million in revenue, compared with a Q1 2008 net income of $3.5 million on $29.5 million in revenue…Health IT vendor Cerner reported a Q1 income of $40.8 million on $392.3 million in revenue…HealthStream, a provider of research and learning software for the health care industry, reported a Q1 2009 net income of $878,000 on $13.6 million in revenue…Merge Healthcare, a medical imaging software vendor, reported a Q1 2009 net income of $2.8 million on $15.3 million in revenue.

Contracts

Valley Baptist Health System in Texas awarded a 10-year contract to PHNS to manage and provide all of its IT services…United Hospital System in Wisconsin and Illinois is rolling out ambulatory and performance management software from Eclipsys…the Department of Veterans Affairs has chosen Picis‘ Critical Care Manager…Ohio State University Physicians, UNMC Physicians in Nebraska, Pediatric Management Group in Los Angeles and St. Joseph Heritage Healthcare in California have selected Medical Present Value‘s MPV Eligibility tool to automate their patient insurance and benefits verification processes.

Health Ventures, a joint venture of McFarland Clinic and Mary Greeley Medical Center in Iowa, has chosen AMICAS‘ PACS, Reach and Radstream software…Health Diagnostics, a provider of outpatient diagnostic imaging services, has selected Aspyra‘s AccessNET PACS…Silver Hill Hospital in Connecticut has selected Medsphere Systems‘ OpenVista EHR system…Muskogee Community Hospital in Oklahoma is using DocuSys‘ anesthesia information management system… Denver Health has selected Install Free for application virtualization services.

Product Development and Marketing

Hands on Technology, developer of TheraOffice practice management software systems, and ZirMed, a revenue cycle management vendor, announced a business partnership…CodeRyte, a health care coding software vendor, and Coding Strategies, a medical coding and compliance consulting firm, will market each other’s services.

Personnel

Bill Loconzolo — former chief technology officer of Performix Technologies, a developer of employee performance-management applications — has been named CTO at Medfusion, a provider of health IT software…Health IT vendor McKesson has promoted Randy Spratt from executive vice president and CIO to CTO.

Blumenthal Says Government Role in Health IT Efforts Needed

At an event hosted by the Markle Foundation on Thursday, National Coordinator for Health IT David Blumenthal said the government needs to play a role in electronic health records to achieve widespread adoption, Reuters reports.

Blumenthal said, "It is clear that this field has not advanced (enough) … when left exclusively to the private sector so there is a public role."

He added that although the government did not want to overstep its role, it needed to take action to improve the public good.

Under former President George W. Bush’s administration, the government relied heavily on the private sector to drive the EHR adoption effort.

Marc Overhage — who oversees medical information research at the Regenstrief Institute — said that method has not worked.

He said, "We can’t keep doing what we’re doing because what we’re doing is nothing," adding, "There’s not a lot that’s changed in the last five years that’s really meaningful" (Heavey, Reuters, 4/30).

ONC Ready To Start Work

Blumenthal said the confirmation of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Tuesday allows the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT to start work on the health IT provisions included in the federal economic stimulus package.

He said, "It means we can begin to make decisions on how to get the mechanics of implementation rolling."

Blumenthal said he expects to begin meeting shortly with members of the health IT advisory groups established under the stimulus law and to start taking action on how to use some of the $2 billion in funding allocated to ONC (Mosquera, Government Health IT, 4/30).

Markle Foundation Offers Recommendation on ‘Meaningful Use’

A new Markle Foundation report recommends that HHS initially define "meaningful use" of electronic health records as the demonstration that "the provider makes use of, and the patient has access to, clinically relevant electronic information about the patient to improve medication management and coordination of care," Health Data Management reports.

In the coming weeks, HHS will release guidelines for how hospitals and physician practices can demonstrate meaningful use of EHRs to qualify for Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments under the federal economic stimulus package. Representatives from more than 60 technology vendors, health care providers, payers and professional associations have endorsed the Markle Foundation’s recommendation.

Recommendations

According to the report, "Meaningful use should initially rely on standard information types, such as recent medications and laboratory results, that are electronic and already widely adopted and that can support metrics to improve medication management and coordination of care."

The report calls on the federal government to offer specific guidelines for measuring progress toward the goal of improving health care quality, curbing rising health care costs, stimulating innovation and protecting privacy. It states, "If the goals and metrics are not clear before technology is commissioned and the incentives are offered, the government will risk wasting valuable resources and losing support from both health care providers and the public to further IT investments."

The report also recommends that privacy and security requirements be "sequenced strategically so that they can be implemented in a timely way without creating unrealistic software upgrade and process burdens on clinicians and hospitals" (Anderson, Health Data Management, 4/30).

The Markle Foundation report is available online (.pdf).

Florida Lawmakers Send Rx Tracking Database Legislation to Governor

On Thursday, the Florida House of Representatives voted 103-10 to approve a bill that would create a statewide prescription tracking database aimed at curbing prescription drug abuse, the St. Petersburg Times reports.

The bill was approved by the Florida Senate last week and now heads to Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R), who is expected to sign it into law.

Florida is one of only 12 states without such a law, making it a magnet for prescription drug dealers, according to narcotics investigators.

Health advocacy groups have pushed for a prescription monitoring program for seven years, but the proposal repeatedly was shut down in the Legislature over patient privacy concerns (Hiaasen/Gilpatrick, St. Petersburg Times, 4/30).

Investment Stays Strong in Health IT Industry Despite Recession

Investment in most industries is decreasing because of the economic recession, but investment in health IT remains strong and is even increasing, American Public Media’s "Marketplace" reports.

Venture capitalists are following the federal government’s recent investment in health IT under the federal stimulus package.

The segment includes comments from:

  • Luis Machuca, CEO of medical software firm Kryptiq;
  • Daniel Kivatanos, co-founder of Web-based appointment scheduling software vendor DrChrono.com;
  • Seth Rudnick, head of health care investment at venture capital firm Canaan Partners; and
  • Scott Wallace, a fellow at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business and former head of the National Alliance for Health Information Technology (Hartman, "Marketplace," American Public Media, 4/27).


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