The Department of Health and Human Ser-
vices awarded a $1.12-million contract
to LMI, a government consulting firm,
to identify and test ways to improve
the security of personal health informa-
tion. HHS also awarded a $100-million
contract to ICF International, a consult-
ing and technology services firm,
to provide the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention with global
epidemiology and strategic information
IBM and Nuance announced a five-year
research agreement to explore ways
the healthcare industry can tap into the
capabilities of IBM’s Watson super-computer.
Automatic Data Processing, a business
process outsourcing and software
company, has acquired physician software vendor AdvancedMD Software.
OCR Issues First-of-Its-Kind HIPAA Penalty
The Office for Civil Rights has fined
Cignet Health of Prince George’s
County, MD, $4.3 million for violations
of the privacy rule stemming from activities occurring in 2008 and 2009.
The case marks the first civil money
penalty resulting from a privacy rule
OCR determined the penalty under
a heightened penalty structure created by the HITECH Act, which estab-lishes the concept of willful neglect.
OCR charged Cignet with violating
the rights of 41 patients by denying
them access to their medical records.
The patients filed individual complaints with OCR, which triggered
Under the privacy rule, covered
entities such as Cignet must provide
patients with copies of their records
within 30 days of the patient’s request
(or, with an extension, no later than 60
Cignet was charged $1.3 million for
refusing to provide the patients with
their records. It was then charged an
additional $3 million for failing to cooperate with the investigation, which
OCR claimed constituted willful neglect of the privacy rule.
“Each violation...was due to Cignet’s willful neglect of its obligation to
comply with 45 C.F.R. § 160.31O(b) [a
covered entity’s responsibility to cooperate in a complaint investigation
or compliance review]. Willful neglect
means the conscious, intentional fail-
Dell and Microsoft will deliver analytics,
informatics, business intelligence, and
performance improvement technology
for community hospitals.
Vermont Information Technology Leaders,
which operates the Vermont Health
Information Exchange, will implement
Medicity’s HIE platform.
Cisco Systems has completed its acquisition of Pari Networks in Milpitas, CA,
a provider of network configuration,
change management, and compliance
Clinipace Worldwide, a digital clinical
research organization based in Mor-risville, NC, has purchased Regulus
MDx Medical has acquired UCompare-HealthCare.com from the New York
The Genetic Alliance will collaborate
with Web technology and design firm
Blenderbox to develop and implement
BabysFirst Test.org, an online newborn
Resurgens Orthopaedics has selected
Merge Healthcare’s interoperability and
surgical planning software. ¢
NQF Converts Measures to Electronic Format
In February the National Quality Forum (NQF) announced that all 113 of its
endorsed quality measures had been
converted from paper-based format to
a new electronic “eMeasure” format.
The Department of Health and Human Services had requested the conversion in compliance with the HITECH
Act. The electronic format will allow the
measures to be more easily readable
by electronic health record systems.
The first 44 measures were converted into eMeasures in July 2010.
Several were used by the Centers for
Medicare and Medicaid Services in
the meaningful use EHR incentive program, which gives providers incentive
payments for meeting various EHR criteria.
According to an NQF press release,
the benefits of the new eMeasures in-
x Greater consistency in measure
development and in measuring
and comparing performance re-
x More exact requirements or speci-
fications about where information
should be collected
x Greater standardization across
x Greater confidence in comparing
outcomes and provider perfor-
“eMeasures represent the future of
quality improvement,” said Janet Cor-
rigan, MBA, president and CEO of
NQF, in the press release.