Hospital Roundup—Denver hospital suspends surgeries over infection concerns; Mercy heads to the cloud

A blue hospital sign on the side of a building
Rush and Little Company of Mary in Chicago ceased merger talks, while UnitedHealthcare and Envision split up over a billing dispute. (Getty/Manuel-F-O)

Colorado Health Department investigates surgical infections at Denver hospital

Porter Adventist Hospital in Denver suspended all surgeries after discovering infections among “a number of patients” who underwent orthopedic or spine procedures between July 21, 2016 and April 5, 2018.

An investigation by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment turned up issues with the way the hospital cleaned instruments after surgery. In a statement, the hospital attributed residue left on the tools after cleaning to a potential issue with the quality of the hospital’s water supply. Neither the hospital nor the state agency issued any information on the number of patients infected during the period in question. (The Denver Post)

UnitedHealthcare plans to part ways with Envision

Insurer UnitedHealthcare said in a recent court filing that it would terminate its contract with Envision Healthcare, the largest emergency staffing company in the country, effective no later than Jan. 1, 2019.

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The two entities have been embroiled in a billing dispute, with UnitedHealthcare accusing Envision of “highly questionable billing practices and lack of candor.” The insurer said the company’s fees averaged 975% higher than Medicare’s after Envision filed a complaint alleging UnitedHealthcare breached a 2009 contract. (FierceHealthcare)

Rush and Little Company of Mary Hospital pull the plug on merger

Rush hospital system in Chicago and suburban Little Company of Mary Hospital and Health Care Centers reached a mutual agreement to terminate merger talks that dated back to October. Both facilities remained tight-lipped about the reasons behind the decision. Rush CEO Larry Goodman and Rush President Michael Dandorph said in a memo to employees that the decision was “difficult,” but “we are confident that it is the right one.”

Little Company of Mary has reportedly been operating at a loss, and has been seeking to join a larger system since 2016. (Chicago Tribune)

Mercy Technology Services launches cloud infrastructure

The IT arm of St. Louis-based Mercy Hospitals recently announced the launch of a “healthcare cloud.”

Cloud hosting for mission-critical apps and business systems is expected to roll out in late spring, providing a less costly and more efficient solution than traditional IT infrastructure. “Health care’s tech leaders want to migrate to get the cloud’s benefits without the cloud’s risks, but a good solution has been hard to find,” Scott Richert, vice president of enterprise infrastructure at Mercy, said. 

Mercy plans to run its cloud infrastructure out of its current HIPAA-compliant data centers. (Release)

Physician salaries rise but pay gaps remain

Medscape’s physician compensation report for 2018 shows overall salaries reached $299,000. Primary care physicians saw their average pay rise to $223,000, while specialists reached $329,000.

The gap between male and female physicians widened year over year to 18% for primary care doctors and 36% for specialists. The gap between African-American and white physicians averaged $50,000. Black women face an even larger gap, making nearly $100,000 less than their African-American male counterparts. (FierceHealthcare)

Meet Kevin Lynch, king of EHR overhauls

As the CIO of NYC Health + Hospitals, Kevin Lynch is currently overseeing an Epic installation spanning 70 care locations, including 11 hospitals. It’s the third EHR transition he’s helmed for a major public health system, following projects at the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services and Jackson Health System in Miami.

“The best part of my job is seeing the efficiencies that both clinicians and patients are realizing,” he said in a Q&A with FierceHealthcare. (FierceHealthcare)