Oracle, Cerner plan to build national medical records database as Larry Ellison pitches bold vision for healthcare

https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/health-tech/oracle-cerner-plan-build-national-medical-records-database-ellison-pitches-bold-vision

Oracle’s chairman Larry Ellison outlined a bold vision Thursday for the database giant to use the combined tech power of Oracle and Cerner to make access to medical records more seamless.

Days after closing its $28.3 billion acquisition of electronic health record company Cerner, Ellison said Oracle plans to build a national health record database that would pull data from thousands of hospital-centric EHRs.

In a virtual briefing Thursday, Ellison highlighted many long-standing problems with interoperability in healthcare. “Your electronic health data is scattered across a dozen or separate databases. One for every provider you’ve ever visited. This patient data fragmentation and EHR fragmentation causes tremendous problems,” he said.

“We’re going to solve this problem by putting a unified national health records database on top of all of these thousands of separate hospital databases. So we’re building a system where the health records all American citizens’ health records not only exist at the hospital level but also are in a unified national health records database.”

The concept of the national health records database, which would hold anonymized data, Ellison said, is to help doctors and clinicians have faster access to patient records when providing care. Anonymized health data in that national database could also be used to build artificial intelligence models to help diagnose diseases such as cancer.

Better information is the key to transforming healthcare,” he said. “Better information will allow doctors to deliver better patient outcomes. Better information will allow public health officials to develop much better public health policy and it will fundamentally lower healthcare costs overall.”

Oracle also plans to modernize Cerner’s Millennium EHR platform with updated features such as voice interface, more telehealth capabilities and disease-specific AI models, Ellison said.

He highlighted a partnership between health tech company Ronin, a clinical decision support solution, and MD Anderson to create a disease-specific AI model that monitors cancer patients as they work through their treatments.

“The people at Oracle are not going to be developing these AI models. But our platform, Cerner Millennium, is an open system and allows medical professionals at MD Anderson, who are experts in treating cancer, to add these AI modules to help other doctors treat cancer patients,” Ellison said.

The purchase of Cerner, which marks Oracle’s biggest acquisition, gives the database giant a stronger foothold in healthcare. Ellison said the company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) and HR software already is widely used in healthcare. 

But the company will face the same long-standing barriers to sharing health data that have stymied other interoperability efforts. There also could be pushback from the industry to any effort by a tech giant to build a nationalized health database.

In March 2020, the federal government released rules laying the groundwork to give patients easier access to their digital health records through their smartphones. The regulation, which went into effect in April 2021, requires health IT vendors, providers and health information exchanges to enable patients to access and download their health records with third-party apps. Under the rule, providers can’t inhibit the access, exchange or use of health information unless the data fall within eight exceptions.

Interoperability experts point out there are already efforts underway to create a more unified database of health records, such Cerner competitor Epic’s Cosmos, which is a de-identified patient database combining the company’s EHR data of over 122 million patients.

Former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair is backing Ellison’s vision for building a unified health database. Blair, who leads the nonprofit Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, partners with Oracle to use its cloud technology to tackle health issues.

Speaking at the virtual event, Blair said a unified health records system will “empower citizens and provide clinicians and other care providers with immediate access to their health history and treatment without chasing it down from disparate sources.”

David Feinberg, M.D., who took the reins as Cerner CEO just four months before the acquisition was announced in December, said he was excited about the potential for Oracle and Cerner to advance data sharing.

“We’re bringing world-class technology coupled with a deep and long history of understanding how healthcare works. I don’t think anyone’s ever done that,” said Feinberg, now president and CEO of Oracle Cerner.

Patton’s Principles of Leadership

https://mailchi.mp/8ae5c9ccdfaf/leading-blog-unsafe-thinking-how-to-get-out-of-your-rut-13659212?e=89386aa055

BORN in San Gabriel, California, in 1885, George S. Patton, Jr. was the general deemed most dangerous by the German High Command in World War II. Known for his bombastic style, it was mostly done to show confidence in himself and his troops, says author Owen Connelly.

On December 21, 1945, Patton died in Heidelberg, Germany. The following day the New York Times wrote the following editorial:

History has reached out and embraced General George Patton. His place is secure. He will be ranked in the forefront of America’s great military leaders.

Long before the war ended, Patton was a legend. Spectacular, swaggering, pistol-packing, deeply religious, and violently profane, easily moved to anger because he was first of all a fighting man, easily moved to tears because, underneath all his mannered irascibility, he had a kind heart, he was a strange combination of fire and ice. Hot in battle and ruthless, too. He was icy in his inflexibility of purpose. He was no mere hell-for-leather tank commander but a profound and thoughtful military student.

star   Everyone is to lead in person.

star   Commanders and staff members are to visit the front daily to observe, not to meddle. Praise is more valuable than blame. Your primary mission as a leader is to see with your own eyes and be seen by your troops while engaged in personal reconnaissance.

star   Issuing an order is worth only about 10 percent. The remaining 90 percent consists in assuring proper and vigorous execution of the order.

star   Plans should be simple and flexible. They should be made by the people who are going to execute them.

star   Information is like eggs. The fresher the better.

star   Every means must be used before and after combats to tell the troops what they are going to do and what they have done.

star   Fatigue makes cowards of us all. Men in condition do not tire.

star   Courage. Do not take counsel of your fears.

star   A diffident manner will never inspire confidence. A cold reserve cannot beget enthusiasm. There must be an outward and visible sign of the inward and spiritual grace.

star   Discipline is based on pride in the profession of arms, on meticulous attention to details, and on mutual respect and confidence. Discipline must be a habit so ingrained that it is stronger than the excitement of battle or the fear of death.

star   A good solution applied with vigor now is better than a perfect solution ten minutes later.

The important role of the CFO in innovation

Although CFOs often hold the key to resources, acting as gatekeepers, they can also be critical allies in innovation, enabling programs and initiatives, according to an April 12 McKinsey report

While innovation is often thought of in a traditional sense, with new offerings and services coming to mind, innovation can also mean disruption and change in business models, productivity improvements and new ways to service consumers. The CFO has the perspective to see where fresh ideas are needed in the business from a financial perspective, and the power to make them happen.

Innovation also requires resources and capital, of which the CFO has control and say as to how it gets used. The CFO is an important part of determining which innovations will go ahead and is akin to a venture capitalist, deciding whether to invest in a start-up. 

As members of the C-suite, CFOs also have an important role in encouraging a culture of openness and innovation where staff members feel comfortable coming to company leaders with new ideas. By creating an atmosphere of innovation, the company can build a pipeline of innovative talent and concepts, which the CFO can help bring to fruition.

Can we take the long view on physician strategy? 

https://mailchi.mp/d57e5f7ea9f1/the-weekly-gist-january-21-2022?e=d1e747d2d8

Editor's note: Taking the long view | Campaign US

It feels like a precarious moment in health systems’ relationships with their doctors. The pandemic has accelerated market forces already at play: mounting burnout, the retirement of Baby Boomer doctors, pressure to grow virtual care, and competition from well-funded insurers, investors and disruptors looking to build their own clinical workforces.

Many health systems have focused system strategy around deepening consumer relationships and loyalty, and quite often we’re told that physicians are roadblocks to consumer-centric offerings (problematic since doctors hold the deepest relationships with a health system’s patients).

When debriefing with a CEO after a health system board meeting, we pointed out the contrast between the strategic level of discussion of most of the meeting with the more granular dialogue around physicians, which focused on the response to a private equity overture to a local, nine-doctor orthopedics practice. It struck us that if this level of scrutiny was applied to other areas, the board would be weighing in on menu changes in food services or selecting throughput metrics for hospital operating rooms. 
 
The CEO acknowledged that while he and a small group of physician leaders have tried to focus on a long-term physician network strategy, “it has been impossible to move beyond putting out the ‘fire of the week’—when it comes to doctors, things that should be small decisions rise to crisis level, and that makes it impossible to play the long game.”

It’s obvious why this happens: decisions involving a small number of doctors can have big implications for short-term, fee-for-service profits, and for the personal incomes of the physicians involved. But if health systems are to achieve ambitious goals, they must find a way to play the long game with their doctors, enfranchising them as partners in creating strategy, and making (and following through on) tough decisions. If physician and system leaders don’t have the fortitude to do this, they’ll continue to find that doctors are a roadblock to transformation.

Encouraging hospitals to implement vaccine mandates

https://mailchi.mp/b5daf4456328/the-weekly-gist-july-23-2021?e=d1e747d2d8

Bills to Block Mandatory Worker Vaccines Falter in the States | The Pew  Charitable Trusts

With the Delta variant now accounting for more than 83 percent of all new COVID cases in the US, daily new case counts more than quadrupling across the month of July, and hospitalizations—particularly in states with low vaccination rates—beginning to climb significantly, we appear to have entered a new and uncertain phase of the pandemic, now being dubbed a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”.

Welcome news, then, that this week the American Hospital Association (AHA) publicly encouraged its members to put in place vaccine mandates for their employees. While several large health systems have taken the lead in implementing vaccine mandates, including Trinity Health, the Livonia, MI-based Catholic system that operates hospitals across 22 states, Phoenix, AZ-based Banner Health, Houston Methodist in Texas, and the academic giant NewYork-Presbyterian, others have been more reticent to compel employees to get vaccinated, citing concerns over employee privacy and the potential for workforce backlash.

The New York Times reports that a quarter of all hospital employees remain unvaccinated nationwide, with many facilities reporting that more than half of their healthcare workers have not gotten the COVID vaccine. In our discussions with health system executives, one consideration frequently cited is the desire for full Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of the new vaccines before mandates are put in place.

In a CNN town hall meeting this week, President Biden suggested that approval could come as soon as the end of August, although other reports point to likely approval much later, potentially not until January of next year. Facing a new variant of the virus that is much more transmissible and possibly more virulent than earlier strains, hospitals—and their patients—can’t afford to wait that long. 

For safety’s sake, hospitals should quickly put in place vaccine mandates, with appropriate exceptions.