Mayo Clinic, Microsoft, Cerner join coalition to provide digital access to Covid-19 vaccine records

A group of organizations have come together to work on a solution that will provide digital access to Covid-19 vaccination records. As the country eyes a challenging transition to the new normal, a verifiable vaccine record will be necessary to ensure individual and community safety.

YouTube teams up with providers, healthcare groups to combat health misinformation

The video-sharing giant is partnering with providers and groups, like Mayo Clinic and the American Public Health Association, to create evidence-based health content. YouTube has also added CVS Health’s former chief community health officer to lead those efforts.

The litigation shaping the healthcare industry landscape [Sponsored]

Health Insurance Concept - Doctor in hospital with health insurance related icons in modern graphic interface showing symbol of healthcare person, money saving, medical treatment and benefits.

While the ultimate litigation effects of the COVID-19 pandemic remain to be seen, the current high-profile healthcare claims are as varied as product liability and mass tort actions, antitrust and patent cases, and disputes involving the Affordable Care Act.

Epic v Cerner v Meditech v Allscripts: Who is winning Canada’s EHR Battle?

EHR, EMR

Meditech continues to hold the largest EMR market share in Canada, but it is losing customers — mostly to Epic, which has seen a rapid rise in popularity, a new KLAS report shows. The report delves into market share data and customer satisfaction insights to assess EMR vendors’ positions in the Canadian market.

New CMS rule to enable immediate coverage for FDA-designated ‘breakthrough’ devices

Medicare

The agency has finalized a rule that allows it to provide immediate Medicare coverage for FDA-approved products that are deemed “breakthrough devices.” The new coverage process would enable seniors to get access to these devices more quickly, but some provider and payer groups are concerned that this could cause patient harm.

Andy Slavitt at JPM: Biden unlikely to pick ‘divisive’ fights on healthcare

In a wide-ranging discussion at J.P. Morgan’s Annual Healthcare Conference, former CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt talked about the future of the ACA, telehealth and Medicare Advantage with a Democrat-led House, Senate and presidency.

Patients report unmet care needs despite rising telehealth use

Roughly a third of adults had a telehealth visit in the first 6 months of the pandemic, according to a new survey conducted by the Urban Institute. But not everyone who wanted a telehealth visit was able to access it, leaving some adults with unmet care needs.

Kaiser Permanente to analyze CDC’s Covid-19 vaccine data, identify bad reactions

The CDC has engaged the California-based health system’s Vaccine Study Center to conduct an analysis of its Covid-19 vaccine data with the aim of pinpointing adverse events and reactions. The collaboration will continue for the next three years.

Medtronic CEO expects to submit renal denervation data to FDA this year, overcoming previous failures

Medtronic suffered a shocking setback back in 2014 when its Symplicity 3 pivotal trial failed to meet its primary endpoint of reducing blood pressure meaningfully. Now it is gearing up to present new data to the FDA.

How digital health startups are staying competitive in a fast-growing arena

In an increasingly crowded landscape, digital health startups must figure out what sets them apart. Three startup leaders shared what differentiates their companies from the competition at this year’s J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference.

Northwell offers Whole Foods employees access to primary care services through new partnership

A subsidiary of Northwell Health is partnering with Whole Foods Market to offer its New York-based employees access to seven primary care locations. The supermarket chain’s employees will not be subject to a deductible or co-pay.

Blue KC, HealthMine’s expanded partnership will extend digital rewards program to ACA members

The Missouri-based payer is expanding its partnership with the technology company to offer an incentive and rewards program for its Affordable Care Act members in an effort to increase engagement.

Armed with $270M in capital, Scorpion Therapeutics aims to broaden the reach of precision oncology

bullseye, take aim

Founded in 2020, Scorpion is agnostic about the potential therapies and targets it will explore with what it describes as its drug-hunting engine. But the company is hoping to unveil its first drug candidate this year.

How UCLA Health incorporated telehealth into its triage protocol

In response to the spike in demand for virtual care services amid the Covid-19 pandemic, UCLA Health developed telehealth-specific triage protocols to ensure their patients are getting care through the appropriate medium — whether in person or via a video visit. Here’s how they did it.

UnitedHealth Group’s Optum, Change Healthcare to combine in $13.5B deal

Optum, a subsidiary of insurance giant UnitedHealth Group, agreed to buy healthcare technology company Change Healthcare for $13.5 billion in cash. The acquisition will add data analytics, research and revenue cycle management offerings to Optum’s service roster.

Push for better patient outcomes drives new standard of care [Sponsored]

heart, doctor, cardiac

In this webinar on Feb. 10,healthcare experts from Desert Oasis Healthcare and iRhythm Technologies will discuss how Zio monitors, designed to be worn for longer duration than holter monitors, represent a new standard of care in remote cardiac monitoring.

States threaten to crackdown on providers amid Covid-19 vaccine distribution

In an effort to ensure the efficient and orderly distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine, governors from New York, California and Florida are warning that they will take action against providers who are conducting vaccinations too slowly or healthcare workers who undercut priority guidelines.

Centene to bolster behavioral health services with $2.2B Magellan Health acquisition

The insurer will pay $95 per share in cash to acquire Magellan Health, a company providing an array of services, including pharmacy benefit management and behavioral health and employee assistance program services. The companies aim to develop a behavioral health platform.

AI predicts better kidney care

AI models offer an early look into who might develop kidney disease, who would benefit from early intervention, and the risk of further complications without a change in course. However, it is worth taking a close look to ensure any bias or gaps are addressed.  

46 hospitals file suit to reverse HHS bad debt policy

A group of hospitals have sued HHS Secretary Alex Azar, arguing he should reverse a policy that prevents hospitals from getting reimbursed for Medicare-related bad debts pending at outside collection agencies. The policy has raised hospital debt payments by about $1.35 million, the lawsuit claims.

Behind the scenes: How health systems, EHR vendors will give patients unprecedented access to their data

virtual care

Health systems and EHR vendors have been working for months to comply with the ONC’s final rule on interoperability and information blocking that goes into effect in April and is expected to grant patients unprecedented access to their health information. Here is a look at some of the issues they contended with.

Report: Covid-19 hospitalizations spiked amid falling operating margins in November

The financial futures of U.S. hospitals remain shaky, as Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations surge with alarming speed nationwide. Though vaccines are being distributed, the coming months will be challenging for hospitals, a new report from Kaufman Hall shows.

MedCity INVEST Precision Medicine spotlight: Building a BioInnovation Hub (video)

The panel, What It Takes To Build A Successful, Regional BioInnovation Hub (sponsored by Independence Blue Cross) focuses on Philadelphia — one of many cities seeking to support the continued growth of cell and gene therapy and connected health industries.

How Cerner plans to bolster rural hospitals’ telehealth efforts amid the pandemic and beyond

In a wide-ranging interview with MedCity News, Cerner CommunityWorks President Mitchell Clark discussed the healthcare challenges facing rural communities amid the Covid-19 pandemic and the company’s new free offering that aims to support rural telehealth.

MedCity INVEST Precision Medicine spotlight: Pitch Perfect Life Science track (video)

A video from the conference spotlights startup pitches and Q&A with judges in the Life Science track of the Pitch Perfect contest.

Information of nearly half a million Aetna members exposed in email hack

An email hacking incident exposed the information of close to 500,000 Aetna health plan members, the payer reported to HHS last week. The incident occurred when an unauthorized person gained access to an email account of Aetna’s vision benefit services provider.

Trial results extend add to uses for Exact Sciences test

breast cancer

The genomic test, known as Oncotype DX, can help predict whether women with certain forms of breast cancer will benefit from chemotherapy — and those who won’t. The latest trial results extend the test’s reach.

Startup gets Army funding to test wearable monitor for early Covid-19 detection

Remote monitoring startup BioIntelliSense and Royal Phillips received $2.8 million to test BioIntelliSense’s device for the early detection of Covid-19 symptoms. The startup received FDA clearance for its small, adhesive monitoring device last year.

Walmart pharmacies fueled opioid crisis, DOJ lawsuit claims

The Justice Department has sued Walmart for fanning the flames of the opioid crisis through its network of pharmacies, claiming that the retailer knowingly filled thousands of illegitimate opioid prescriptions. But Walmart says the lawsuit is “misguided.”

Provider groups, hospitals file motion to stop CMS from enforcing price transparency rule

The American Hospital Association and several other entities, including some hospitals, filed an emergency motion to block CMS from enforcing the hospital price transparency rule set to take effect Jan. 1. Provider groups are arguing that complying with the rule would shift focus away from pandemic-related efforts.

INVEST Precision Medicine Pitch Perfect winner spotlight: TrialSpark

Judges picked TrialSpark as the winner on the life sciences track of the pitch competition at MedCity’s virtual precision medicine conference. While the company is focused on improving clinical trials for others, it hopes eventually to bring drugs of its own to market.

Catching up on care post Covid-19 requires ‘digital compassion’

In addition to human empathy, we are also seeing a new “digital compassion” emerging as healthcare providers work to support patients in need during this uncertain time. Showing this kind of compassion has become easier as technology becomes more advanced and patient-centric in response to the pandemic.

Financial strain, new modes of care delivery to drive provider consolidation through 2030

Office workstation top view of business people working around M&A, keyboard, calculator, phablet and money on wooden table - merger and acquisition concept

As a result of rapid consolidation, the 10 biggest health systems controlled 24% of market share based on patient revenue by 2018. The trend is expected to continue through the next decade, with health systems facing growing financial pressures and an increase in demand for new types of care delivery.

In MedCity Pivot podcast, CMO of CVS Caremark discusses vaccine preparedness, hopes for Roaring ’20s’

Sree Chaguturu is the chief medical officer of CVS Caremark, the pharmacy business of CVS Health, and he was the last guest of the year for MedCity’s Pivot podcast. Chaguturu spoke at length above the retail giant’s role in vaccine distribution as well as his ardent hope for a robust economic recovery in the way the Roaring Twenties followed the Spanish flu of 1918.

FDA gives nod to Moderna vaccine for Covid-19

The company’s vaccine is the second approved for emergency use by the FDA. It is expected to pose fewer logistical challenges than the first, which was developed by Pfizer and BioNTech.

Oregon Health & Science University, GE set up state’s first virtual ICU program

The academic medical center collaborated with GE Healthcare to set up the first virtual intensive care unit program in the state, which will help the organization extend its critical care expertise across rural areas and manage bed capacity amid climbing Covid-19 cases.

Intermountain, UnitedHealthcare create ACO for Medicare Advantage members

The health system and payer will coordinate care for eligible Medicare Advantage patients through the ACO, with the aim of improving health outcomes and reducing costs. The ACO expands a long-standing relationship between the two entities.

Precision measurement in 2021: Why accuracy is key to the vaccine ‘cold chain’ and disrupting the spread of Covid-19

By creating new networks for 24/7 temperature monitoring, alerts and reporting, the challenges of deploying transportation at ultra-low temperatures can be overcome. This also illustrates the crucial role that precision measurement will have to play.

Why healthcare orgs are joining an effort to create 1M jobs for Black Americans

jobs, job seeking, job, job finding

The newly created organization, dubbed OneTen, aims to create 1 million jobs for Black people over the next decade. Its founders include some big names in healthcare, such as Cleveland Clinic, Intermountain Healthcare and Humana.

Hospitals sue drug companies over discount program

The lawsuit follows action by at least a half-dozen drug companies to rein in what they see as waste and abuse in the program, overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services. Meanwhile, the Hospital plaintiffs have a potentially powerful ally in the person picked to head the department under the incoming Biden administration.

Kaiser Permanente tests referring patients to 6 digital mental health tools

The managed care company picked six mental health apps that it made available to its members over the past two years. It recently published a paper showing patients were more likely to download or use digital health tools when referred by a physician.

Cerner to snap up Kantar’s health division for $375M

The EHR giant is planning to buy Kantar Health, which provides data, analytics and research to the life sciences industry. Through the acquisition, Cerner aims to provide its clients with more access to data analytics and research expertise and engagement with life sciences companies.

LeanTaaS to use $130M to expand predictive analytics product suite, scale teams  

The health technology company raised a whopping $130 million in a Series D funding round. Its solutions aim to improve operational efficiency and better manage patient volume through predictive analytics, a growing need for providers as Covid-19 cases rise.

Immunai joins 10x Genomics program to boost drug development

Together, the two companies say can give drugmakers a better view at the cellular level of how a patient’s immune system is responding to a cerain therapy.

Fine-tuning telehealth, addressing mental health take precedence for providers in 2021

Telemedicine

As 2020 draws to a close, healthcare providers are strategizing for the new year and the new normal. Providers will need to retool their telehealth efforts and prepare to meet a burgeoning mental crisis, among other issues.

Proposed HIPAA changes generally favorable, though new burdens may arise, experts say

HIPAA

The HHS has proposed changes to the HIPAA Privacy Rule — the biggest in seven years, a healthcare lawyer said. But while the changes aim to improve information sharing, they could also bring about challenges for providers and payers.

One-fifth of U.S. healthcare employees told to bring their own PPE to work, survey shows

Mask, Virus, People

Companies across U.S. industries are working to ensure safety from Covid-19 in their workplaces amid dwindling finances. Personal protective equipment is a crucial part of safety protocols, but more than a quarter of U.S. businesses — including a sizable share of healthcare companies — ask their employees to bring their own.

5 big healthcare lawsuits of 2020

Some of the biggest legal stories of the year include patients attempting to mount a class action lawsuit against Mayo Clinic after an employee improperly viewed more than 1,600 health records and the Supreme Court hearing opening arguments in a case challenging the constitutionality of the ACA’s individual mandate.

Consumer awareness, needs generating shifts in precision medicine landscape  

Healthcare consumers are increasingly aware of specific therapies in development or on the market that can help treat the diseases they or their loved ones may be suffering from — and this growing awareness is changing the precision medicine arena.

How augmented intelligence and NLP can help clinicians, researchers identify rare diseases

To help clinicians diagnose rare disease more quickly and accurately, many healthcare organizations are embracing technology solutions like natural language processing (NLP) tools that can create augmented intelligence workflows that facilitate the rapid search of unstructured clinical data from multiple data sources.

Getting the right data to doctors is next hurdle for precision medicine

dna, genomics

The future of precision medicine will come only as quickly as doctors can pick out clinically useful information from the genetic data being gathered on their patients.

CMS proposed rule requires payers to streamline prior authorizations

The rule would require payers in the Medicaid, CHIP and QHP programs to build and maintain application programing interfaces to improve data exchange and the prior authorization process. But the rule does not include Medicare Advantage plans, which the American Hospital Association called “disappointing.”

What’s coming up at MedCity INVEST Precision Medicine Day 3?

dna, genomics

The final day of the conference, Friday, December 11, includes a panel on precision medicine investment trends, a look at clinical trial design innovation and the life sciences track of our Pitch Perfect startup contest. Register now!

CityBlock, a primary care startup focused on underserved communities, passes $1 billion valuation

CityBlock Health, a startup focusing on providing care to Medicaid and dual-eligible patients, raised $160 million in funding. The Alphabet-spinout plans to use the funds to reach more patients and build out its digital care offerings.  

QliqSOFT, CPSI to offer Covid-19 vaccine chatbot to community hospitals

The COVID-19 Vaccination Assistant will provide information about the new vaccines to help allay fears among the U.S. public. It will also help people schedule their vaccinations and connect them with rideshare services to make it to their appointment.

AI offers promise but faces barriers in drug development

Inertia is a barrier as is the traditional split between the clinical and the data-driven spheres of drug development. While smaller firms have an edge in bridging the gap, big pharma will eventually get there, said panelists at the INVEST conference session.

What’s needed to make consumerization of healthcare work for patients? [Sponsored]

As healthcare systems strive to recover from losses due to the pandemic, patient acquisition and retention have never been more urgent, and patient experience has never been more critical. A new guide from Bright.MD offers a digital checklist on how to improve the patient experience.

A proliferation of genetic testing options brings new challenges

dna, genomics

In the last 20 years, access to genetic testing has expanded significant as technology has advanced. But there’s still lots of work to be done to get tests covered and make them more accessible, panelists said at a virtual conference hosted by MedCity News.

CMS’ new Geo care delivery model: 5 things to know

The new Geographic Direct Contracting Model aims to improve quality of care and slash costs for Medicare beneficiaries across an entire region. It involves setting up risk-sharing arrangements where participants will be responsible for the total cost of care for beneficiaries in the region.

Northwell, Conversa Health join forces to provide employers with Covid-19 screening tool

A subsidiary of Northwell Health has collaborated with the virtual care company to offer businesses a Covid-19 screening tool for their workers. The tool helps identify employees who may have been exposed to the new coronavirus or those showing symptoms of the disease and suggests next steps.

Which startups will present at MedCity INVEST Precision Medicine Pitch Perfect?

Finish line ahead

Among the areas of interest for companies presenting at Pitch Perfect at INVEST Precision Medicine are clinical stroke detection, making medical research more inclusive, using technology to accelerate the pace of clinical trials, developing more patient friendly drug delivery systems for reconstitutable drugs, and more.

Sanford Health halts merger talks with Intermountain ‘indefinitely’

handshake, break, deal

The South Dakota-based health system has suspended talks related to its planned merger with Utah-based Intermountain Healthcare after the sudden departure of its CEO, Kelby Krabbenhoft. Sanford and its new CEO will instead focus on organizational needs, the system said.

Level Ex pitches gaming as a tool for reaching doctors

Interactive, cloud-based video games are designed to tackle pharma’s current challenge: engaging doctors virtually during a pandemic. But the tools are likely to outlive the circumstances in which they were born.

Cleveland Clinic to help bring affordable broadband to city neighborhood

The Ohio-based health system is working with three organizations to provide residents of Cleveland’s Fairfax neighborhood with access to high-speed internet at affordable prices. The collaboration aims to alleviate health disparities that arise from a lack of reliable access to the internet.

How Jefferson Health is caring for chronic disease patients amid a pandemic

Providing care for chronic disease patients during a one-in-a-century pandemic is full of challenges, but health systems like Jefferson Health are finding ways — with help from technology — to make sure their patients are getting the care they need.

Amazon opens 4 more primary care clinics with Crossover Health

Amazon, which opened a primary care clinic for employees in June, has added four more such clinics — all operated by medical group Crossover Health. The new clinics are based in Texas, but Amazon plans to open more locations in Arizona, Kentucky and Michigan over the next year.

Accumulated genetic variations: What they are and why they matter to a complete health picture 

Unlike inherited genetic predispositions, accumulated genetic changes are the result of environmental influences, such as smoking, chemicals or ultra-violet radiation. A growing body of research links somatic changes to an increased likelihood of blood cancers and cardiovascular disease, both heart disease and stroke.

Covid-19’s terrible toll on diabetes patients. What can be done? [Sponsored]

The public health crisis has undermined the economy and made people with chronic conditions more vulnerable and stressed. A validated program that can effectively help people manage their disease is invaluable, especially at a time when in-person physician visits are unavailable.

AI system detects Covid-19 in lungs faster than radiologists, study finds  

Northwestern University researchers developed an AI system that analyzes patients’ chest X-rays to identify Covid-19. A study shows it can classify the images faster and with slightly higher accuracy than radiologists.

Brigham and Women’s, Biofourmis launch hospital-at-home solution nationwide

The Boston-based hospital and digital therapeutics company are rolling out their co-developed remote monitoring solution across the country, which can help hospitals rapidly implement hospital-at-home programs. The announcement comes soon after CMS launched a program enabling health systems to provide hospital-level care at home for more than 60 conditions.

ACA could help millions of uninsured gain free coverage

Millions of Americans without healthcare insurance could be eligible to get coverage for free, or nearly free, through financial assistance offered under the Affordable Care Act. But many who recently lost their employer-based coverage may not be aware of the options available to them.

Investors pour $91M into growing clinical-trial software firm

The Covid-19 pandemic is altering behavior and fueling demand for remote technologies in clinical trials with Medable, a company in the clinical trial software space, looking to capitalize.

Predictive surveillance: Can artificial intelligence eliminate HAIs?

AI-powered surveillance systems are helping health systems and public health agencies with their response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The current health crisis offers a glimpse of how it may be possible to predict and prevent a range of chronic health concerns, including healthcare-associated infections.

New study ties pharma payments to prescription practices

Recent efforts to improve transparency haven’t made much of a difference, one author noted. But earlier reforms made a dent the “most egregious” practices.

WELL Health raises $45M, taps former Haven exec as new senior VP

The company, a facilitator of patient-clinician communication, plans to use the funds to bring new features and capabilities to market, as well as build strategic partnerships. It has also added Dr. Dana Gelb Safran as senior vice president of value-based care and population health.

Mark your calendars for our virtual INVEST Precision Medicine conference, December 9-11

Here’s a preview of some of the panel discussions at INVEST Precision Medicine, including diagnostics, investment trends, and building a bioinnovation hub.

$200M investment to advance clinical programs for Ambrx

The San Diego-based biopharma firm has several oncology therapies in development and has partnered in the past with the likes of Astellas, BeiGene and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

AstraZeneca, Oxford are latest to unveil Covid-10 vaccine results

The partners pooled results from two trials and two different dosing regimens, one appearing to be more effective than the other. They hope to produce 3 billion doses in 2021 with an emphasis on serving poorer countries.

Phishing attacks most common cybersecurity incident at US healthcare organizations

A survey of healthcare cybersecurity professionals by HIMSS details the most common types of cyber attacks, it’s impact on patient care as well as solutions hospitals and health systems have implemented to prevent falling prey to this type of criminal activity.

Simpler bills, more payment options can improve hospital billing experience

A new survey from healthcare revenue cycle firm Waystar shows that most patients find their medical bills confusing and delay payment because of financial constraints. But there are steps hospitals can take to improve the billing experience for patients.

Imago raises $80M to further studies of its treatment for blood and bone-marrow disorders

money, dollar

The San Francisco-based company aims to complete at least one Phase III study by 2025, and it is weighing an IPO next year to fund more.