Health Business Blog

Health care business consultant and policy expert David E. Williams share his views

The state of healthcare interoperability. Podcast with eHealth Collaborative CEO Micky Tripathi

MAeHC CEO, Micky Tripathi

Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative CEO Micky Tripathi has been leading the charge on electronic health records and interoperability for more than 15 years, pre-dating HITECH, meaningful use and the Affordable Care Act. In this podcast, we caught up on the state of play, including :

  • (0:13) How e-health looks today compared with what was envisioned originally
  • (3:01) How interoperability has evolved
  • (11:23) What’s wrong with TEFCA and why he calls it a “regulatory” wet blanket
  • (25:12) The Argonaut Project

As usual, Micky is informative and unafraid to take a stand.


By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

Optum buys the former Fallon Clinic. I’m quoted in the Worcester Telegram

Optum is a big, successful subsidiary of United HealthCare. In recent years it’s taken to buying up provider organizations including physician practices. Optum is pouring $250 million into the acquisition and expansion of Reliant  Medical Group in Worcester, outbidding traditional providers and injecting new competitive juice into the market.

Reliant –formerly Fallon Clinic– has 2600 employees and is almost 90 years old. Here’s what I told the  Worcester Telegram:

“A lot of these systems are under strain,” said David E. Williams, president of the Health Business Group, a Boston-based consulting firm. “I think what you’re seeing at the same time is there are some national organizations, health plans and companies like Optum that do have a lot of capital and that have diversified businesses that are looking for growth opportunities.”


By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

Nurse triage lines 3.0. Podcast with AxisPoint Health

Anne VanBronkhorst, SVP of AxisPoint Health

Nurse triage lines have gone through three phases of evolution. In phase 1 they were implemented to ‘check the box’  for member education, phase 2 brought “demand management” to keep patients out of the emergency room, and now in phase 3 health plans are creating a gateway to innovative programs and services.

In this podcast interview, AxisPoint Health SVP, Anne VanBronkhorst and I discuss:

  • (0:14) Why payers offer nurse triage lines in the first place
  • (1:37) What kinds of issues they handle and how popular they are
  • (2:50) How payers measure success
  • (3:56) How to stand out in a crowded field
  • (4:58) Examples of innovative services for which nurse lines are a gateway
  • (6:00) The role of telehealth as a replacement or complement
  • (6:53) What results AxisPoint Health is seeing with its customer base
  • (8:10) The definition of emergency department “redirection rate”

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.

Attorney General intervenes in Beth Israel-Lahey merger. I’m quoted in Boston Business Journal

A lot of people were surprised that Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey sent a letter last week to the Health Policy Commission, expressing concerns about the merger of Beth Israel Deaconess, Lahey Health, New England Baptist, Mount Auburn and Anna Jacques. Usually the AG would comment later if at all, but the letter throws the whole merger into doubt.

The Boston Business Journal interviewed me about the topic. Here’s what I said:

Health care expert David Williams said the attorney general’s early involvement could speed up the overall review, but may also mean that conditions imposed will have more teeth.

“Whenever the AG is involved it gets pretty legalistic and sometimes confrontational in a way that working with the HPC would not necessarily do,” said Williams, who works with Boston consulting firm Health Business Group. “I think what it means is that any terms and conditions that are agreed to as part of the merger are more likely to be enforceable if the AG is involved because they have more tools at their disposal.”

He said the attorney general’s early involvement reflected the concerns raised by competing hospital Tufts Medical Center and a community group that has ties to Steward Health Care.

“Presumably, the AG has heard from these organizations and decided to take their concerns seriously,” he said. “It’s likely she is trying to influence the terms of the merger in order to mitigate these issues.”

I also told the reporter that there were “eerie” similarities in the arguments made by this group and what Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women’s said way back when they formed Partners, e.g., that healthcare costs would drop as a result.


By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams, president of Health Business Group.