Healthcare Innovation’s Top 10 Stories of 2019

Dec. 23, 2019
This past year again offered a variety of fascinating developments in healthcare and health IT

As it often is, this past year was one of new developments, emerging trends, and compelling stories of innovation. All these moments, and many more that didn’t make the cut, made for an incredible year of reporting, researching, interviewing and writing. With that, here are the top 10 read stories from 2019, as dictated by you, our readers.

Massive Rule Drops at HIMSS19: CMS, ONC Propose New Regulations to Transform the Future of Interoperability and Patient Access

Through two immense proposed rules released on the first day of the HIMSS19 conference in Orlando, federal health officials pulled an array of levers that fall under the core aim to improve interoperability and patient access to data. The two proposed rules—one from CMS and one from ONC are separate, but at the same aligned as the two agencies within HHS look to further advance the nation’s healthcare interoperability progress.

Apple Buying Epic Would Sure Be “Epic,” But is it Realistic?

Health IT observers surely raised their eyebrows upon seeing comments in January from CNBC’s Jim Cramer on why Apple should acquire EHR giant Epic Systems.

Cramer, the host of Mad Money, dropped a bombshell: "Apple should acquire Epic Systems,” he said. "Not only would this deal be good for the company, I think it's exactly what Apple's stock needs to get its mojo back." After reading Cramer’s remarks, Managing Editor Rajiv Leventhal reached out to a few industry sources who spoke about the possibility—or lack thereof—that this acquisition could actually happen.

Physician Groups Are Taking on Value-Based Contracts—and Learning Big Lessons

Even as some physician organizations are just now preparing to take the plunge into value-based contracting, others have been forging ahead into the tall grasses of the value-based healthcare world, and are racking up results. But the path forward is a complex and challenging one. What are those medical group leaders learning? Editor-in-Chief Mark Hagland takes a deep dive into this area for the January-February print magazine cover story.

The 2019 Innovator Awards First-Place Winning Team: Millennium Physician Group

Leaders of the first-place winning team in the 2019 Innovator Awards Program, Millennium Physician Group, discuss how they have cracked the code on success in the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP), leveraging data to better care-manage their highest-risk patients.

First in U.S. Healthcare: UC San Diego Health Appoints a Medical Director of Cybersecurity

In July, senior clinician and IT leaders at UC San Diego Health broke new conceptual ground, when they appointed an emergency physician with accreditation in clinical informatics to be the health system’s medical director of cybersecurity—in their understanding, the first such appointment in U.S. healthcare. Christopher Longhurst, UC San Diego Health’s chief information officer and associate chief medical officer, and the newly appointed medical director of cybersecurity, Christian Dameff, M.D., spoke with the publication regarding the new role, and its context.

CMS Proposes New MIPS Framework for 2020

CMS announced in July that it would be making major policy changes to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule and Quality Payment Program, in the form of a proposed rule, with the overarching goal to further reduce clinician burden. One key focus was to create a simpler way for clinicians to participate in CMS’ pay-for-performance program, the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). The rule was finalized in November.

Epic, Cerner Continue to Dominate U.S. Hospital EHR Market, KLAS Finds

A report released in early May from KLAS Research revealed that EHR behemoths Epic Systems and Cerner continue to corner the U.S. hospital EHR market. For the second year in a row, Cerner signed the highest number of new hospitals, but large private sector hospitals are almost exclusively choosing Epic technology.

Walgreens, Microsoft Ink Strategic Deal to “Transform Healthcare Delivery”

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. and Microsoft Corp. announced in January they would be joining forces on a major seven-year healthcare partnership that will aim to “deliver innovative platforms that enable next-generation health networks, integrated digital-physical experiences and care management solutions.” The companies announced that they will combine the power of Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s cloud and AI platform, healthcare investments, and new retail solutions with WBA’s customer reach, volume of locations, and outpatient healthcare services to accomplish their goals: to make healthcare delivery more personal, affordable and accessible.

Is CMS Making a Major Blunder on Physician Payment? Why Physician Group Leaders Are So Concerned

Shortly after the aforementioned MIPS proposed rule was released, Editor-in-Chief Mark Hagland wrote an in-depth commentary taking note of why the association representing the most advanced medical groups—the American Medical Group Association—spoke out against the proposal. 

Has Healthcare’s Consumerization Shift Already Begun?

As part of the publication’s annual Top 10 Tech Trends package, this year one of the trends we examined was healthcare’s consumer-centric shift, and how the door has opened for non-traditional companies to disrupt industry norms.