Home-Based Care Ally Signify Health Files for $100M IPO

It appears some health care companies are still opting to go public the old-fashioned way.

Signify Health — a value-based care platform that uses advanced analytics and other technology to shift health services toward the home — filed an S-1 on Tuesday, indicating its intention of going public. The move comes roughly a year and a half after the Dallas-based company merged with Remedy Partners.

While Signify has signaled its plans to go public with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), it has not yet determined the number of shares to be offered or the price range for the proposed offering.

The data-driven platform — looking to raise up to $100 million in its IPO — is a portfolio company of New York City-based PE firm New Mountain Capital.

“Our customers include health plans, governments, employers, health systems and physician groups,” Signify’s S-1 explains. “We believe that we are a market leader in two fast-growing segments of the value-based health care payment industry: payment models based on individual episodes of care and in-home health evaluations.”

The overarching goal of Signify is to support value-based payment programs by aligning financial incentives around outcomes. As part of that mission, the platform provides tools to its customers designed to assess and manage risk while identifying “actionable opportunities for improved patient outcomes, coordination and cost-savings.”

Signify currently serves 47 Medicare Advantage plans, ranging from the largest national organizations to smaller regional and provider-owned entities.

Its episode payment platform managed $6.1 billion of spend under the Medicare Bundled Payment for Care Improvement Advanced (BPCI-A) program in 2019, according to the S-1. The BPCI-A episodes Signify managed that were started in the final quarter of 2019 resulted in roughly 15% more discharges home from acute-care facilities, in addition to about 10% lower readmissions compared to historical performance.

Signify Health is the largest convener participant in BPCI-A by number of episodes managed.

“As a result of both the success and visibility of the BPCI-A program, commercial health plans, governments and employers are beginning to explore similar bundled arrangements,” the S-1 continues. “As a scaled leader in the industry, we believe we are a compelling partner to support these initiatives and believe we will benefit from a network effect as health plans and providers look to further capitalize on the benefits of value-based care.”

Investing around “the home” and social determinants of health has been a key part of Signify’s success. From 2015 to 2019, the platform increased the number of annual in-home health evaluations conducted from about 390,000 to nearly 1.1 million.

To deliver those evaluations and related services in the home, Signify works with a network of nearly 9,000 credentialed providers.

“We believe patients achieve optimal health outcomes when all clinical and social factors influencing their health and recovery from specific events are addressed,” the S-1 states. “We rely, therefore, on a holistic model of care in how we operate all our programs.”

The COVID-19 pandemic “significantly” impacted Signify’s in-home health evaluations starting in March of last year, with many of its customers delaying in-person services. The platform quickly halted its normal evaluations as a precautionary measure, making up lost volume through a virtual version of its core services.

It resumed its traditional in-home health evaluations — referred to as “IHEs” in Tuesday’s SEC filing — in July.

“Although we have seen some increase in IHE member cancellation rates in part as a result of the pandemic, overall we saw significant incremental IHE volumes in the second half of 2020 … ,” the S-1 reads. “In order to meet this volume growth, we have onboarded additional providers into our network, which has resulted in proportionally higher expenses.”

Signify’s total revenue was $501.8 million for the year ended Dec. 31, 2019, according to the S-1. For the nine months ended Sept. 30, 2020, its total revenue was $417.1 million.

“We believe our financial model is attractive with highly recurring revenues, strong EBITDA margins and high cash-flow conversion,” the SEC filing notes.

Signify Health intends to list its Class A common stock on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “SGFY.”

Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, Barclays and Deutsche Bank Securities are acting as lead bookrunner agents for the proposed offering. BofA Securities, UBS Investment Bank, Baird, Piper Sandler and William Blair are acting as additional bookrunners.

Most recently, Home Health Care News connected with Signify in September to discuss a new partnership with Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia.

The aim of the partnership is to break down the biggest barriers between social and clinical care, Signify’s chief strategy officer, Nathan Goldstein, told HHCN.

“Because at-risk patients have clinical comorbidities and social comorbidities that exacerbate them, we need to bring the same effort to coordinate the social care that we do with the clinical care,” Goldstein said at the time.

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‘Care Traffic Control’ Platform Dina Raises $7M

Dina — the Chicago-based AI-powered platform that helps bridge the gap between health systems, payers and in-home care providers — is setting its sights on expansion.

It now has additional resources to accomplish that goal, too.

The company announced Monday that it has raised $7 million in Series A funding, with the round led by Philadelphia-based Osage Venture Partners. The new backing brings Dina’s total fundraising total to a little over $12 million since launching roughly five years ago.

Dina’s home care network currently spans 25 states, with Bayada Home Health Care and BrightStar Care among its major home-based care clients.

“The primary goal of the funding is to begin to scale out this vision around ‘care traffic control’ across the entire country,” Dina CEO Ashish Shah told Home Health Care News. “We’ve had pretty good growth last year from a revenue perspective. We largely did that without a strong sales and marketing investment on our side.”

Generally, Dina’s “care traffic control” model is all about creating a seamless information hub that lets health systems, payers and in-home care providers track patients as they move from one setting to the next.

It’s like having a digital command center that’s always at the ready, according to Shah.

“There’s a lot of momentum behind this whole vision of care traffic control,” Shah said. “It’s really putting a command center-like infrastructure inside of hospitals and health plans, allowing them to monitor the health and well-being of individuals the same way they would if they were in a hospital or ICU bed.”

That ability has only grown more important in the past year due to the COVID-19 virus, which has triggered a sweeping decentralization of health care. To create acute care capacity for the most vulnerable patients, for example, dozens of hospitals have launched innovative hospital-at-home programs.

“The sector is evolving to the point where, now, it’s the responsibility of health care organizations to be able to monitor people in their neighborhoods and in their homes,” Shah said. “We knew this was coming, but I think COVID has really accelerated it.”

For Dina, formerly known as “Prepared Health,” that decentralization in 2020 contributed to revenue growth of about 250%. It also led to new services from the technology company, such as digital screening tools to help providers manage employees showing COVID-19 symptoms.

Apart from expansion, Dina will also use its new funding to continue developing new digital care pathways to monitor and manage individuals with chronic conditions.

“This is a really exciting time for the business,” Shah said.

In addition to Osage Venture Partners, Dina’s $7 million Series A round included investment from existing investors, a roster that includes Chicago Ventures, Pritzker Group Venture Capital and several others.

The round also included investment from actual clients of Dina, Shah noted.

“We were impressed with Dina’s vision and approach to solving a very timely and massive problem of supporting people in their homes and communities,” Sean Dowling, partner at Osage Venture Partners, said in a press release. “We believe in the company’s seasoned leadership team, [which was] able to execute in a very difficult operating environment in the middle of the pandemic.”

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Artificial intelligence: Not yet ready for prime time

Victoria Krakovna of LessWrong provides some examples where artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms didn’t work out exactly as planned. In fact, she has put together a master list of these AI issues. Below I have listed some of these examples that are more (or less) related to health:

  • Cancer. AI trained to classify skin lesions as potentially cancerous learns that lesions photographed next to a ruler are more likely to be malignant.
  • Pneumonia: Deep learning model to detect pneumonia in chest x-rays works out which x-ray machine was used to take the picture; that, in turn, is predictive of whether the image contains signs of pneumonia, because certain x-ray machines (and hospital sites) are used for sicker patients
  • Poisoning: Neural nets evolved to classify edible and poisonous mushrooms took advantage of the data being presented in alternating order, and didn’t actually learn any features of the input images.
  • Exercise. In a soccer video game, the player is supposed to try to score a goal against the goalie, one-on-one. Instead, the player kicks it out of bounds. Someone from the other team has to throw the ball in (in this case the goalie), so now the player has a clear shot at the goal.
  • Traffic fatalities (?). An AI agent playing a Road Runner game kills itself at the end of level 1 to avoid losing in level 2

While these examples are interesting and in some cases entertaining, they do demonstrate that applying AI in new situations–a type of external validity–must be done with great care.

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.

WellSky Completes $1.35B Purchase of CarePort Health

WellSky announced Thursday that it has completed its acquisition of care coordination software company CarePort Health.

Under terms of the deal — first announced in October — WellSky purchased CarePort from Allscripts Healthcare Solutions (Nasdaq: MDRX) for a price tag of $1.35 billion. Allscripts is a health care information technology provider.

CarePort’s platform helps health systems and hospitals connect with post-acute care providers, including home health agencies.

“We take what is primarily a manual process with nurses and discharge planners, calling around trying to figure out if a provider can take on a patient based on their needs … and we make that into an electronic process,” Lissy Hu, CEO of CarePort, told Home Health Care News.

The Boston-based company currently serves 1,000 hospitals and health systems, as well as 110,000 post-acute provider locations.

Over the years, Hu has seen an increase in the need for home-based care services. That need has only accelerated during the public health emergency.

WellSky — a company that serves more than 15,000 client sites internationally — brings a strong network of home-based care services to the table.

“I think over the next couple years, even as we look post-COVID, we are going to see a lot more patients needing these home-based services,” Hu said. “WellSky delivers home-based care services to about a quarter of home health patients. They have a really robust community-based and social determinants of health network. Those are all the areas that we see post-hospital care going. That’s one of the reasons why the alignment was so natural.”

Additionally, the deal will give CarePort the ability to add further scale. Besides giving CarePort access to a greater referral network, the sale allows the company to grow its team.

Over the next six to 12 months, CarePort will be looking to hire roughly 40 to 50 new employees, according to Hu.

CarePort currently has about 200 employees.

“WellSky is going to be making an investment in CarePort,” Hu said. “They’ve always had a really strong reputation for investing in R&D and innovation in technology. We’re really excited about the commitment that WellSky made, not only to our customers and their benefit, but to our team as well.”

For CarePort, the COVID-19 emergency has only underscored the necessity of the services the company provides.

Hu noted that, prior to the public health emergency, liaisons from home health agencies or other post-acute care providers were able to enter the hospital and screen patients. This has changed drastically.

“As we shifted to hospitals being really restricted to all but the most essential workers, … the need to be able to coordinate this care electronically is even more important,” she said. “It’s even more important to make sure that the places you’re sending patients and the services you’re matching them up with get delivered.”

Ultimately, Hu believes companies like CarePort will play a key role in ensuring the delivery of care.

“We can’t just be satisfied that the patient who was supposed to get home health services actually had a visit,” she said. “The standard with home health is that the first visit occurs within the first 24 to 48 hours of discharge. Having technology that brings together hospitals and post-acute care providers makes sure that those transitions are efficient and high-quality.”

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6 Mental Health & Teletherapy Predictions & Trends to Watch in 2021

The executive team at AbleTo, a technology-enabled provider of behavioral healthcare shares six mental health and teletherapy predictions and trends to watch in 2021.

Trip Hofer, CEO at AbleTo

6 Mental Health & Teletherapy Predictions & Trends to Watch in 2021

1. Measurement and Outcomes

“The healthcare industry has made progress toward increasing access to mental health care and defining what quality care looks like. Now in 2021, the industry needs to focus on how we measure that quality. With mental health becoming an incredibly hot market and so much funding pouring in for new entrants, many leaders are concerned with the lack of rigorous, evidence-based standards for measuring patient outcomes. I share that concern, and want to stress the importance of sound methodologies for demonstrating outcomes.”

2. Market Trends

“The consolidation we saw in mental health during 2020 will continue into next year but I think we’ll see new trends appear too. There’s such a proliferation of investment dollars in the market that we can expect to see some organizations come and go if they don’t produce the expected returns. With so much money flowing into the mental health space, organizations that don’t show evidence-based rigor and good quality clinical care will fade, while those providing sound mental health care will succeed.”

“Provider networks will increase in importance given the shortage of trained behavioral health clinicians. Demand is increasing among patients who need more than an app to address their needs—they need the human connection. With a limited pool of providers, companies will have to compete to attract providers to their network. At AbleTo, we do this by setting ourselves apart on the basis of quality standards of care. That’s very appealing to highly skilled therapists seeking to join a network.”

“In 2021, the industry will need to address the regulatory environment around licensing behavioral health practitioners, as well as the use of remote care. When CMS relaxed cross-state regulations during the pandemic, this made navigating the regulatory framework even more complicated, since the varying licensing rules remain at the state level. We need permanent improvements to regulations so licensed therapists can more easily practice across state lines and meet the growing needs of remote patient populations.”

6 Mental Health & Teletherapy Predictions & Trends to Watch in 2021

Reena Pande, Chief Medical Officer at AbleTo

3. Solution Complexity

“We’ve seen such a promising shift towards focusing on behavioral healthcare. But the wealth of point solutions now available to address behavioral health needs has created an exceptionally confusing environment for payers and employers with some even telling us they have “point solution fatigue.” The fact is that there is no one right point solution. Mental health is not one condition requiring one solution; it encompasses a heterogeneous group of complex conditions that require different interventions. What the industry needs to focus on in 2021 is putting together a solution set that can address the complexity and nuances of mental health. The market needs to be more mindful of this over the course of the next year and avoid trying to oversimplify mental health.”

4. Access and Utilization

“Our payer partners saw a surge in utilization of telehealth broadly at the outset of the pandemic; but while utilization for physical health has lessened, telehealth use for mental health has continued. Given the acceptance of technology as an effective way to deliver mental health care, we expect it to continue into 2021.

This predicted increase in utilization will of course differ by socioeconomic status. Telehealth, like COVID, has laid bare underlying inequities that have long existed in the healthcare system. In 2021, we will see a larger focus on ensuring quality mental health care reaches all populations in need, with greater emphasis on access and cost-effectiveness.”

Naomi Pollock, Senior Director, Clinical
Program Development at AbleTo

5. Relationships

“While technology is driving so much positive change in healthcare and in mental health, we need to remember the value of the human connection. Clinical interventions depend on real people delivering care, and the voices of both patients and providers need to guide our approach to care delivery, including through technology like telehealth or virtual therapy. The relationships that providers and patients create with one another are the key driver of care, and technology should complement that human connection, not replace it.”

6. Clinician Challenges

“We [The industry] need to help our therapists measure the impact of the care they deliver to ensure they’re offering the right interventions to the right participants. This means educating providers around how to measure care outcomes, how to define measurement-based care, and what it looks like both on an individual level and a population level. At AbleTo, we’ve solved that missing piece to support the providers in our network. We need to focus on making this standard across the industry.”

“Our clinicians are facing unprecedented challenges during this pandemic. For months, they’ve been supporting patients struggling with the impacts of COVID while they are living through it themselves—working from home, seeing patients virtually, juggling their own personal and family lives. We need to support our care deliverers amidst this wave of mental health challenges they’re facing, similar to how we support frontline workers and medical practitioners.”

How CommonSpirit Health at Home Launched a 27-Market Telehealth Program in 2 Weeks

For the home health industry, 2020 was the year agencies unquestionably embraced telehealth. Amid the COVID-19 emergency, virtual visits have become a key tool utilized in the delivery of care.

One company, CommonSpirit Health at Home, has long recognized the value of telehealth.

Prior to the COVID-19 emergency, CommonSpirit Health at Home had plans to roll out a major telehealth pilot. The public health emergency kicked those plans into high gear, pushing the organization to implement telehealth much sooner.

To learn more, Home Health Care News sat down with Trisha Crissman, COO of CommonSpirit Health at Home’s home care and hospice division, for a recent Disrupt episode. Highlights from the conversation are below, edited for length and clarity.

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HHCN: For our listeners who aren’t familiar with CommonSpirit Health at Home, tell us a little bit about the company.

Crissman: CommonSpirit Health at Home has been providing home-based health care for over 40 years through specialized home care, home infusion, hospice and medical transportation services across the country. We’re headquartered in Milford, Ohio, and we’re currently comprised of 70 locations across 13 states and nearly 3,000 employees.

In February 2019, CHI Health at Home transitioned to what we call now CommonSpirit Health at Home, as our two larger parent organizations aligned our ministries to form CommonSpirit Health. As a result of Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health aligning, CommonSpirit Health became the largest nonprofit health care system in the country.

It currently operates more than 700 care sites in 142 hospitals across the country. The combined system has about 150,000 employees, and 25,000 physicians and advanced practice clinicians.

For most home-based care companies, the COVID-19 emergency has become the new normal, so to speak. What is CommonSpirit Health at Home experiencing on the ground, now almost 10 months in?

Patients and families have a heightened — and new — level of expectations for care in their home or their place of residence. We’re really seeing that they have become more accustomed to the role that technology plays in their care, which is refreshing. We’re seeing patients become more involved in their health and safety, and becoming more involved in opportunities to collaborate in their plan of care with providers. I think we’ll see this for quite a long time to come still, but we’re still having a difficult time and experiencing challenges related to accessing patients in congregate living environments.

I would also add that our clinicians are increasingly becoming more comfortable with the use of technology as well, understanding that remote patient monitoring and telehealth visits are powerful tools that can help keep our patients and our employees safe.

I’m really proud of the way that our teams have continued to say “yes” to their calling in this kind of new normal state. I think we’ve gotten beyond a place where we think it’s going to go back to normal. I think we’re kind of resolved that this is a new way of existing, and we’re continuing to lean into what’s happening across our country.

I’d also lastly add, in this new normal, our operators and our clinical leaders are responding more quickly to the day-to-day needs and requirements of the business.

What kind of results have you seen related to your telehealth efforts?

I would start off by saying that our rollout of telehealth solutions was incredibly rapid, but the preparation for it was really long. We’ve known all along, as an organization, that telehealth would be an important offering for the future. Our plan was to walk slowly into telehealth, with a plan to implement over the course of 18 months across all of our locations.

We were planning to do a pilot, work out the kinks over five months — and then COVID hit. So remarkably, my team did a phenomenal job responding. We altered our plan, skipped the pilot completely, and rolled out in 27 markets in literally two weeks.

Throughout this process, we’ve expanded our original inclusion criteria to allow for patients that did not want to have clinicians in their home due to COVID concerns. We’ve seen that we’ve had a really strong adoption of remote patient monitoring by both staff and patients. It’s taken us a little bit longer to adapt to the use of virtual visits. So we did spend a lot of time helping clinicians get comfortable with remote visits. We’re prepared for its kind of increased use as we see this resurgence.

Today, I would share that we’ve done over 3,700 virtual visits and have had 2,700 patients on remote patient monitoring since the beginning of the pandemic. This is just a little bit under a quarter of our overall home health census. From an outcomes standpoint, we’ve been able to decrease our in-person nursing visits and increase capacity to care for other patients — which is an outstanding byproduct.

Outcomes for our remote patient monitoring patients are better than those without remote patient monitoring, even though those patients have a higher acuity level, which is interesting to know. Related to patient satisfaction scores, our telehealth patients are 43% happier than those without telehealth. There’s some sort of ability to feel like you’re in control of your care and your environment.

We are constantly talking about this idea of the “cost of COVID-19.” What would you say has been the 2020 impact of the public health emergency on CommonSpirit Health at Home?

I would say the biggest impact that we have seen, of course, is our lost volume, particularly due to hospitals suspending elective surgeries back in the spring. The biggest impact was in states that did a statewide shutdown. In the states that did county-based shutdowns — for example in the Midwest, like Iowa and Nebraska — we didn’t see a significant impact in volumes as we did in other locations.

From a cost standpoint, we’ve seen increased spending for personal protective equipment (PPE), hazard pay, furloughs, lost productivity and costs due to workers being in quarantine.

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Blank-Check Company Deerfield to Combine CareMax, IMC Medical Group in $614M Play

The health care SPAC boom continues.

On Friday, Deerfield Healthcare Technology Acquisitions Corp. (Nasdaq: DFHT) announced it is acquiring CareMax Medical Group and IMC Medical Group Holdings for $364 million and $250 million, respectively.

The New York-based Deerfield — a special purpose acquisition company — says it plans on merging the two senior care organizations and taking the combined enterprise public.

After doing so, the combined entity will be renamed “CareMax Inc.,” with a Nasdaq ticker symbol to come later.

“CareMax’s differentiated health care delivery model, focused on care coordination with vertically integrated ambulatory care and community-centric services, ensures that members receive the right care at the right time in the most efficient setting,” Deerfield noted in a press release. “The goal of CareMax is to intercede as early as possible to manage chronic conditions for its patients in a proactive, holistic and tailored manner.”

As currently structured, CareMax and IMC Medical Group are each technology-enabled providers of value-based care to seniors. Both companies are headquartered in Miami.

Following the combination, CareMax will oversee 26 wholly owned medical centers in Florida, serving roughly 16,000 Medicare Advantage (MA) members in value-based contracts, in addition to thousands of others in managed care.

Overall, CareMax will have partnerships with 19 different payers, including affiliates of Anthem (NYSE: ANTM), Humana (NYSE: HUM), United Healthcare (NYSE: UNH), Centene (NYSE: CNC) and Florida Blue.

On top of its brick-and-mortar medical centers, CareMax will own CareOptimize, a technology platform that is used by health care providers across the U.S.

Approximately 64% of CareMax patients are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, according to Deerfield.

“Our patients live in medically underserved communities where the hospital has become the first, and often only, option for health care,” the blank-check company highlighted in an investor presentation. “We specifically focus on access and quality for underserved communities.”

Ultimately, Deerfield hopes to create a vertically integrated “one-stop shop” for its patients.

Although a chunk of the business will be focused on center-based care, CareMax’s whole-person approach to health will also tie in home health visits and house calls. Other wrap-around services for seniors will include primary care, transportation and healthy meals, plus other offerings focused on social determinants of health.

CareMax will likewise leverage virtual care tools, which have grown exponentially more popular during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Upon closing, CareMax will be led by CEO Carlos de Solo, who founded CareMax Medical Centers in 2011 and CareOptimize in 2015. Bill Lamoreaux, the current CEO of IMC Medical Group, will become executive vice president of CareMax.

Richard Barasch, the veteran health care executive at the helm of Deerfield, will serve as executive chairman of the combined company upon closing. Barasch also has ties to home health equipment company AdaptHealth Corp. (Nasdaq: AHCO), which went public last year.

“Value-based care, built upon the premise of providing extensive primary care, is recognized as an effective way to lower health care costs and improve patient outcomes in Medicare Advantage, especially for dual-eligible beneficiaries and those with chronic conditions,” he said in a statement. “We believe that CareMax operates a best-in-class delivery model supported by a highly scalable technology backbone.”

The $364 million price tag for CareMax Medical Center and CareOptimize will be a mix of cash and stock. Current equity holders of CareMax Medical Centers are primarily the founders and executives of the company.

The $250 million purchase of IMC Medical Group will also be a mix of cash and stock. The company’s current equity holders include private equity firms Comvest Partners and Athyrium Capital Management.

To finance the acquisitions and merger, Deerfield will sell $400 million in stock to multiple investors, including Fidelity Management & Research, Maverick and Eminence Capital, as well as funds and accounts managed by BlackRock. RBC Capital Markets will provide debt financing.

Assuming no redemptions of Deerfield public shares, the current owners of CareMax Medical Centers and IMC Medical Group will collectively own 27% of the combined enterprise.

“We are excited to invest and partner with [Deerfield] as part of the combination of these two best-in-class, value-based primary care organizations,” Roger Marrero, a senior partner at Comvest Partners, said in a statement. “Primary care has always been the gatekeeper for most health care spend, and we believe this model represents the best way to improve quality outcomes and manage costs across the health care continuum.”

Moving forward, CareMax will pursue a dual strategy of organic growth and acquisitions. The company projects organic revenue growth of 15% over the next few years, noting that figure could be higher depending on future transactions.

Deerfield estimates that CareMax will have an initial market capitalization of about $800 million, with approximately $233 million of cash on its balance sheet. The combined company’s total pro forma enterprise value will be $692 million at closing.

“CareMax plays a significant role in the lives of our members by providing accessible, quality medical care and comprehensive social activities and services,” de Solo said in a statement. “Seniors represent the most significant opportunity to lower the national health care spend, and we believe that CareMax possesses the technology, knowledge and know-how to continue to bend this cost curve.”

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Merck Signs a ~$1B Pact with Janux to Develop Cancer Therapies Using T Cell Engager Technology


  • Janux to receive up to $500.5M/ target as upfront and milestones along with royalties on sales of product emerges from the collaboration, making a total deal value ~$1B. Merck will fund R&D performed under the agreement
  • Merck to get an exclusive WW license to products & IP developed from the collaboration
  • The focus of the collaboration is to leverage Janux’s TRACTr technology to engineer a novel, T cell engager candidates directed against two cancer targets selected by Merck

Click here ­to­ read full press release/ article | Ref: BusinessWire | Image: BusinessWire

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Bayada Teams Up with CareBridge to Better Manage Health Care Costs

Bayada Home Health Care and CareBridge announced Tuesday that the two companies are teaming up to better manage health care costs.

A nonprofit, the Moorestown, New Jersey-based Bayada provides a range of in-home care services to older adults, children and individuals living with disabilities across 22 states and more than 345 locations. The large home-based care provider also operates in seven other nations.

Meanwhile, CareBridge is an end-to-end technology platform designed to help states and health plans manage patients receiving home- and community-based services.

“As more Americans age, health plans face the challenge of managing health care costs for a growing population of high-risk members, while helping them achieve a better quality of life and outcomes,” Bayada Chief Strategy Officer Heather Helle said in a statement. “Pairing Bayada’s deep expertise and insights around community health needs and patterns, with CareBridge’s technology-enabled intervention approaches, allows health plans to better predict the risks facing the most vulnerable in society and keep them safe at home, where they thrive best.”

Through the partnership, Bayada will gain access to CareBridge’s portfolio of data analytics tools and other technology designed to manage complex patient populations.

On its end, CareBridge will be able to glean insights from Bayada’s on-the-ground operations. The provider has over 26,000 nurses, home health aides, therapists, medical social workers and other home health professionals in its network.

“We couldn’t think of a better first partner to introduce our technology into home health care than Bayada,” CareBridge CEO Mike Tudeen said in a statement. “As the population continues to age and the demand for home health care increases, it’s important to have collaboration and integrated solutions to ensure care is delivered with quality, efficiency and cost-effectiveness.”

Adults older than 65 account for up to 20% of all emergency department visits and 36% of all hospitalizations, despite representing just 13% of the U.S. population, according to The Journal of Gerontology.

Those statistics suggest there’s a vast need for improved care coordination and predictive modeling in home-based care. 

Nashville, Tennessee-based CareBridge formally launched in early January after announcing an initial $40 million funding round. The startup’s advisers include former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and other well-known in-home care operators, including Bayada’s David Baiada.

CareBridge was formed following the strategic acquisition of HealthStar and Sinq Technologies.

Its investors include Oak HC/FT and GV, the venture capital arm of Google’s parent company.

Prior to serving as CareBridge CEO, Tudeen was CEO of PopHealthcare, a risk-adjustment and complex care company that sold to Guidewell in 2017. He also previously served as CEO of INSPIRIS, an in-home complex care company that sold to Optum in 2011.

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Hackers accessed vaccine documents in cyber-attack on EMA

Papers relating to Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine reportedly targeted in attack on European Medicines Agency

German biotech firm BioNTech said on Wednesday that regulation documents related to the Covid-19 vaccine it has developed with Pfizer were “unlawfully accessed” after a cyber-attack on Europe’s medicines regulator.

Earlier, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) – which is responsible for assessing and approving vaccines for the European Union – said it had been targeted in a cyber-attack. It gave no further details.

Continue reading…

Looking to Improve Care Coordination, PointClickCare to Buy Collective Medical for Reported $650M

PointClickCare Technologies has reached an agreement to acquire Collective Medical. The deal is for nearly $650 million, according to Business Insider, which first reported the news on Tuesday.

Mississauga, Ontario-based PointClickCare is a cloud-based software vendor for more than 21,000 skilled nursing facilities, senior living communities and home health agencies. As a company, PointClickCare’s solutions help providers optimize financial performance, retain staff and gain insights needed to manage risk.

Meanwhile, Collective Medical is a Cottonwood Heights, Utah-based company that delivers a nationwide network for care collaboration, operating in 39 states. The company’s platform connects over 1,300 hospitals, ambulatory practices, long-term organizations, post-acute care providers and accountable care organizations (ACOs).

The deal has roots in a partnership between PointClickCare and Collective Medical that first began in 2019.

The original partnership resulted in the combination of Collective Medical’s care coordination tech and PointClickCare’s platform.

“Given the strong demand for the initial partnership and the expanded need for integrated care coordination solutions offered by both companies, we are excited to be able to bring these solutions together to benefit care teams, post-acute providers, hospitals and health plans across North America,” Mike Wessinger, founder and CEO of PointClickCare, told Home Health Care News in an email.

Once combined, the companies aim to improve care for seniors by connecting “disparate points of care.”

“The health care ecosystem is a mix of disconnected providers, systems, processes and data. Health care costs and risks are on the rise, patient care is inconsistent, and provider collaboration is ineffective,” Wessinger said. “Systems need to break down the data silos across community-based health care to create a connected care network, powered by insights with a commitment to value, outcomes and innovation, all in the name of patient centricity.”

Through the acquisition of Collective Medical, PointClickCare will become the largest combined acute and post-acute care network in North America, according to the company.

“We’ll be able to connect care teams, post-acute providers, hospitals and health plans with better real-time, deep insights about their patients, ultimately reducing administrative burdens and the high costs of complex care,” Wessinger said. “Our combined market share will allow us to provide these connections at scale.”

As an organization, Collective Medical’s platform and reach will bolster PointClickCare’s efforts to solve the gaps within complex care management and improve outcomes, according to Wessinger.

The purchase also addresses the need to build strong relationships with referral and payer partners.

“Together we are best positioned to support our customers to work with their partners across the care continuum,” Wessinger said.

Moving forward, Wessinger believes efficiency when it comes to care coordination and transitions will be more important than ever.

“As we face the second wave of COVID-19 infections, the health care industry as a whole is facing more pressure than ever to deliver repeatable, high-quality care in the most efficient way possible,” he said. “In order to address these multifaceted challenges, and combat nurse burnout, there needs to be a standard by which care is delivered and decisions are made.”

The acquisition is slated to be completed by the end of December 2020.

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Led by Uber Health Veteran Dan Trigub, MedArrive Launches with $4.5M in Funding

Dan Trigub — the recent head of Uber Health and a former member of Lyft’s health care arm — has always been passionate about home care

Before joining Uber (NYSE: UBER), Trigub owned his own startup focused on the aging population. For the past 15 or so years, his family has even operated one of the largest privately owned home care agencies in the San Francisco Bay Area, From the Heart Home Care.

Trigub, who left Uber in September, is now launching an in-home care startup of his own: MedArrive.

“At the end of the day, Uber is a massive technology company with lots and lots of competing priorities,” Trigub told Home Health Care News. “I don’t think anyone would disagree, but it’s really not a health care company as its primary initiative. For me, I really wanted the opportunity to do more in health care.”

Along with co-founder Inna Plumb, Trigub officially unveiled MedArrive to the world on Thursday.

Backed by Redesign Health, Kleiner Perkins and Define Ventures, the San Francisco-based startup is built to be a bridge between increasingly popular telemedicine services and in-person, physical care.

With the launch, MedArrive likewise announced $4.5 million in seed funding.

“Our core belief is that clinical care is moving away from the traditional four walls of a clinical setting or a hospital setting, with more and more care being delivered into the home,” Trigub, the CEO of MedArrive, told Home Health Care News. “And frankly, [care] has to, given the environment we’re in with the pandemic.”

As part of its business model, MedArrive is looking to help payers and traditional health care providers extend more services into the home. That includes vaccinations, testing, urgent care, chronic care management and more.

The main labor force in MedArrive’s model is made up of EMTs, paramedics and other emergency medical service (EMS) professionals.

“For a variety of reasons, we think it’s one of the most underutilized, understaffed resources in health care,” Trigub noted

In addition to its in-person, hands-on care, however, MedArrive will also coordinate physician-led telemedicine services in the home.

“Telemedicine has grown at an exponential rate because of the pandemic,” Trigub said. “But telemedicine can’t do everything. There’s no physical contact. There’s no, as we like to say, ‘humanity.’ MedArrive is a bridge between on-site clinical care and telemedicine.”

Bringing services into the home

In part, MedArrive’s entrance into the in-home care market reflects the success of similar startups.

Since its inception in 2013, for example, DispatchHealth has grown from mostly an on-demand urgent care company to a diversified home-based care provider that has raised more than $203 million.

The new startup’s launch is also emblematic of the wave of health care innovation brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially around the home.

The Andreessen Horowitz-based Tomorrow Health launched in April with its sights set on becoming an Amazon-like service for in-home medical equipment. Papa, Ready and Honor have all raised millions of dollars in recent months.

Looking back at this year, Trigub said, it’s likely that 2020 accelerated innovation around in-home health care by years — maybe even decades.

“There’s always going to be a need to go into a hospital setting. Obviously, you’re not going to get a surgery done in your home,” he said. “We see the ‘health hub’ being the home environment, where people are comfortable, where they feel safe. And certainly, many of our underserved populations lack transportation or lack the ability to go to see a primary care physician, so we want to bring those high-quality services into the home.”

Currently, MedArrive — which already has more than 20,000 EMS providers in its national network — is targeting Florida as its first market. Its $4.5 million in seed funding will allow the startup to continue building out its platform while expanding into additional markets in months to come.

“We hope to be live with a handful of payers and providers by the middle of or early Q1 of this coming new year,” Trigub said.

In the nick of time

Timing wise, it was important to get MedArrive up and running sooner rather than later. Among its early goals, the startup hopes to assist health care organizations looking to distribute flu vaccines and, when available, COVID-19 vaccines.

As recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), older adults and high-risk populations are among those who will get priority access to a vaccine. Some health care experts have argued that “the home” should be the primary vaccination site.

“[For this population], just going to the clinics, to the hospitals, to the drive-thru testing centers, wherever the COVID-19 vaccine is going to be made available, is a challenge,” Marc Rothman, chief medical officer of Signify Health, previously told HHCN.

On his end, Trigub is walking away from Uber Health after a highly successful run.

Over the past few years, Uber Health has made major inroads with Medicare Advantage (MA) plans looking to address social determinants of health. It has also steadily added to the list of home health and home care organizations it works with.

“I always believed in the concept of creating marketplaces and efficient platforms, especially in health care,” Trigub said. “When most people think of Uber, they think of an Uber picking up a millennial at a bar on a Friday night or delivering a burrito. But frankly, we had a tremendous impact on our most underserved populations.”

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FDA Signs Off on First At-Home Coronavirus Test

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Tuesday issued an emergency use authorization for the first COVID-19 diagnostic at-home test.

The move will not have an immediate impact on in-home care providers, but it could give them one more tool in their pandemic toolbox in weeks to come.

The FDA specifically signed off on the Lucira COVID-19 “All-In-One Test Kit,” a molecular test that provides results in 30 minutes or less. Currently, the test is authorized for use by prescription only.

In an announcement on the authorization, U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) officials described the news as another major advancement for the country’s COVID-19 testing ecosystem. The newfound availability of the Lucira test “represents a leap ahead” in terms of bringing the convenience of home testing to Americans, they noted.

“Making it possible for Americans to do their own rapid COVID-19 self-test at home by prescription is the latest addition to our constantly expanding arsenal of COVID-19 testing options,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said.

Moving forward, the Lucira All-In-One Test Kit test will be authorized for home use with self-collected nasal swab samples in individuals age 14 and older who are suspected of COVID-19 by their health care provider.

Although the idea is for individuals to test themselves, home health and home care professionals will likely play a huge role in supporting their high-risk patient populations during the process. If agencies can secure the newly authorized Lucira test themselves, it could also serve as a safer and more accurate method for screening in-home workers.

Due to accessibility and cost challenges, many agencies are using digital screening tools to best identify COVID-positive workers.

“Today’s authorization for a complete at-home test is a significant step toward FDA’s nationwide response to COVID-19,” Dr. Jeff Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said. “A test that can be fully administered entirely outside of a lab or health care setting has always been a major priority for the FDA to address the pandemic.”

The Lucira at-home test works by swirling the self-collected sample swab in a vial that is then placed in the test unit. In 30 minutes or less, the results can be read directly from the test unit’s light-up display, which shows whether a person is positive or negative for the coronavirus.

Lucira said in a news release that the test will be available on a limited basis while it builds up further manufacturing capabilities.

“We look forward to proactively working with test developers to support the availability of more at-home test options,” Shuren continued.

Aging services providers across the continuum of care continue to face COVID-19 hardships.

In a new survey from Washington, D.C.-based trade group LeadingAge, for example, over half of respondents said they currently have diagnosed or suspected COVID-19 cases among residents or clients. Nearly all of them — 91% — said they have current diagnosed or suspected cases among staff.

The survey included 193 respondents from nursing homes, senior living communities, home health agencies and other senior care organizations. 

While the FDA’s emergency use authorization for the Lucira at-home test is encouraging, some experts have called for caution, pointing out that at-home tests aren’t always as accurate as those carried out in a facility or office.

“Some of these tests have never been checked for reliability or accuracy,” Liz Richardson, who studies the regulation of medical products for the Pew Charitable Trusts, told the Los Angeles Times. “Even very good tests sometimes get it wrong.”

The Lucira All-In-One Test Kit test costs about $50, according to USA Today.

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In-Home Care Workers Increasingly Prefer Virtual Training

Virtual tools have quickly turned into the preferred method of training for in-home caregivers since the start of the COVID-19 public health emergency. That trend will likely continue beyond 2020 as well.

That’s according to a new survey conducted by Medflyt, a HIPAA-compliant web-based workforce management platform for home care agencies. The Forest Hills, New York-based company works with more than 100 providers and 100,000 caregivers across the U.S.

As part of the survey, released Tuesday, Medflyt gathered data from roughly 11,000 in-home care workers across the U.S. Overall, the survey found that 60% of surveyed caregivers would rather be trained online instead of in person.

“This pandemic kind of flipped the way agencies were operating on their backs, with agencies saying, ‘We should think broader. We should think smarter,’” Levi Pavlovsky, COO and co-founder of Medflyt, told Home Health Care News.

In addition to caregivers’ preference for virtual training, a key finding of the survey was that 38% of respondents wanted to onboard remotely. This percentage is much higher than before the public health emergency began, Medflyt noted.

Throughout the COVID-19 emergency, technology has been a critical tool in facilitating the delivery of care, a point reflected in the rise in telehealth utilization among home-based care providers.

But technology has also played a significant role in the operations side of the in-home care business as well. Since spring, many providers have shifted existing training and onboarding processes into the virtual realm.

“It’s an ever-changing environment. We’re going more to tech,” Pavlovsky said. “Technology is bringing efficiency. Now agencies can really focus on improving the quality of care for their patients.”

Another important finding from the survey: When it comes to retention, accessibility of staffing and onboarding processes plays a huge role. In fact, 62% of caregivers said that easy and quick onboarding staffing functions are deciding factors when considering one agency versus another.

For providers that have historically struggled with retention, these findings should encourage them to throw their efforts behind streamlining the recruitment and onboarding process, according to Pavlovsky.

Agencies that aren’t moving fast enough may find themselves unable to keep up with their competition, he added.

“Agencies that are not able to quickly pivot, quickly adapt technologies, they’ll be out of the game,” Pavlovsky said. “They won’t be able to continue to fight with agencies that are pivoting and adapting into the new era of this unfortunate pandemic.”

In addition to the previously aforementioned findings, the survey also revealed that 44% of caregivers believe “better communication and flexibility” from agencies would improve training.

On top of that, 54% of respondents said they want to be educated on topics related to the public health emergency such as social distancing, regulations and sanitation, in relation to their work.

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Amazon Unveils ‘Care Hub,’ a New Alexa Tool Designed for Aging in Place

Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) has taken another step toward taking over the aging-in-place space. Earlier this week, the online retail and technology giant announced it is rolling out a new health care feature through its Alexa device aimed at helping informal caregivers monitor seniors inside the home.

The new feature — dubbed “Care Hub” — allows Alexa voice assistant users to link their account to the account of the senior they are taking care of. Once the senior accepts the invitation to link accounts, the caregiver can then view information on their daily activity and send alerts.

“Once that connection is established, the care recipient doesn’t need to do anything and can go about their day as normal,” Toni Reid, vice president of Alexa Experiences and Echo Devices at Amazon, told CNBC.

In a blog post, Amazon noted that users have praised “the simplicity of the voice service.”

In addition to supporting general connectivity, Care Hub also allows seniors to reach their caregivers by saying a command — “Alexa, call for help” — when emergency situations occur. In these instances, the caregiver will receive an immediate push notification, allowing them to respond to avoid a potential hospitalization.

While Care Hub is marketed towards informal caregivers — spouses, family, friends or neighbors supporting a senior — the offering could eventually make a difference in the professional home care world. Many home care companies have experimented with in-home monitoring through Alexa or similar voice-enabled devices, though actually leveraging those tools on a day-to-day basis is still relatively uncommon.

One example is Wilmington, Delaware-based ChristianaCare, which recently unveiled its “Home Care Coach,’ a HIPAA-eligible Alexa tool that was designed specifically for the company.

“Voice assistants are in millions of homes in the U.S.,” Randy Gaboriault, chief digital and information officer at ChristianaCare, told Delaware Business Now. “By leveraging this technology, we are creating a new model of care within patients’ homes to support the best health outcomes possible.”

ChristianaCare provides skilled nursing, rehab, after-hospital care and other services to more than 8,000 patients in Delaware.

It’s easy to see Care Hub quickly building momentum and attracting new users, considering both the nation’s aging population and Amazon’s position in the smart-speaker market. According to some estimates, nearly 70% of U.S. smart-speaker owners use an Amazon device, with rivals like Google and Apple lagging behind.

Care Hub isn’t Amazon’s first foray into the home. In September, the company announced plans to expand Amazon Care, a virtual care clinic that allows its employees to gain access to in-home care and telehealth services.

The company has also dipped its toes in the senior care space, with talks of a possible partnership with AARP back in 2018. The nature of a partnership was centered around designing technology for aging populations.

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BrightStar Care Targets Health System, Payer Partnerships with Latest Pilot

Two Chicago-based in-home care companies are teaming up in a move that illustrates bigger home care trends.

On Tuesday, BrightStar Care — one of the largest home care franchisers in the nation — announced it’s joining Dina’s digital home care coordination network. In doing so, the home care and senior living franchise organization hopes to enhance its ability to work with hospital and health plan partners.

“We felt Dina’s vision for enabling greater coordination of care really aligned with our vision of leveraging BrightStar’s network to provide solutions for health systems and payers,” Dean Ulizio, BrightStar Care’s chief strategy officer, told Home Health Care News in an email. “We also were impressed by how their platform automates communication and referral-process workflow at a time when traditional approaches and methods have been tested by the COVID pandemic and changing health care landscape.”

While its headquarters is in Chicago, BrightStar Care’s overall franchise network spans 340 locations, with about 75% of the U.S. population able to reach a local office within a 30-minute drive. BrightStar’s care portfolio ranges from medical-level home care and hospice services, to companionship support and other non-medical offerings.

Its new partner — Dina — is an in-home care technology provider that helps providers, hospitals, payers and others coordinate services around the home. Founded in 2015 as “Prepared Health,” the company initially started out as a health care communication platform inspired by social media.

Since then, however, Dina has evolved to also help its partners collect all sorts of patient data from inside the home. The tech company additionally helps partners by using AI to recommend evidence-based, non-medical interventions that can lead to fewer ER visits and unnecessary hospitalizations.

Recently, Dina expanded its services to include a light-weight remote patient monitoring package, too.

“Dina’s model of care is coming together around this label we’re using more and more called ‘care traffic control,’ which really helps hospitals and health plans up-level or upscale their traditional case management or population-health functions,” Dina President and CEO Ashish Shah told HHCN. “That’s to be able to more closely coordinate and monitor patients in the future care setting — the home.”

BrightStar Care will initially work with Dina in the Philadelphia market, where Dina has built a strong partnership network of home health, hospital and skilled nursing facilities (SNFs).

Through the Dina platform, all of those groups can now turn to BrightStar to fill non-medical home care needs focused on social determinants of health.

“They’re going to be a good, large player in that market,” Shah said. “And they’ll join in with groups like Bayada Home Health Care, Holy Redeemer and others that we have partnered with in that region.”

There are a few use-cases that BrightStar Care is particularly excited about, including the automation of the referral process.

Broadly, Dina makes it easier for discharge planners and case managers to choose providers based on quality and geography, streamlining communication and workflows, Ulizio said.

“Dina also has a capability around coordinating care throughout the client’s journey, where family members, providers and home care staff can communicate with each other and create a circle of care around the individual,” he added.

Although BrightStar Care plans to first test out Dina in Philadelphia, there’s a good chance the partnership will grow to additional markets in the not-too-distant future.

“Over the years, we’ve learned that successful rollouts start with successful pilots,” Ulizio said. “They give you the opportunity to learn what you don’t know, gain understanding of how the marketplace and end clients will react, and identify what challenges our franchisees will have. While we often launch in selected markets with a new program, it is almost always with the intent of vetting the program to prepare it for a systemwide launch.”

On a general level, the new partnership between BrightStar Care and Dina reflects the increasingly important role home care plays in managing populations. That role will likely grow more critical in days to come.

As a result of record-breaking COVID-19 numbers this November, health care organizations continue to look for ways to shift care into the home and out of facilities.

“COVID has definitely accelerated at-home care delivery models, whether it’s high-acuity hospital-at-home services, SNF-at-home services or dialysis at home,” Shah said. “We’re just seeing an explosion of care being transitioned to the home. That’s one major driver of our model, because it’s not any one provider that can deliver everything you need. It’s often a collection of different service providers that need to be tightly coordinated.”

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FTSE 100 recovers to highest level since June after vaccine unveiled

Promising clinical data from Pfizer and BioNTech help the index to a £28bn one-day gain

Optimism that a mass rollout of Covid-19 vaccines will lead to an economic recovery lifted stocks in London again on Tuesday, to their highest closing level in over four months.

London’s FTSE 100 index of blue-chip shares rallied by nearly 1.8% to finish at 6,296 points, the highest close since 23 June. This added £28bn to the index’s value, taking its gains so far this week to nearly £100bn after it surged 4.6% on Monday on news of a vaccine breakthrough.

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UnitedHealthcare Advances Home Strategy, Expects to Make 1.7M House Calls in 2020

A number of major Medicare Advantage (MA) carriers are expanding their supplemental benefit offerings shaped around in-home care next year. UnitedHealthcare, the insurance arm of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), is among them.

Overall, UnitedHealthcare partners with more than 1.3 million physicians and care professionals across the U.S., plus another 6,500 or so hospitals and other care facilities. In 2020, UnitedHealthcare had more MA enrollees than any other group.

“We know the majority of older adults want to stay in their homes and communities as they age, and UnitedHealthcare continues to design plans that place the home at the center of health care support and delivery,” Steve Warner, senior vice president of Medicare Advantage in UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare & Retirement division, told Home Health Care News.

America’s largest health insurers — UnitedHealthcare, Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM), Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield plans and others — have built out their home strategies in a variety of ways.

In some cases, that has meant the launch of internal in-home primary care and remote monitoring programs to better track members’ social determinants of health. In others, it has meant partnering with in-home care providers to offer the types of new supplemental benefits that the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has increasingly signed off on over the past few years.

“The interconnectedness of the health care system means that every touchpoint along a consumer’s health care journey is important,” Warner said. “Particularly for high-risk individuals and others who depend on a variety of needs being addressed from home, the people who provide these services are an integral piece of a shared community of support.”

On its end, UnitedHealthcare says it’s doing more than ever to support health and wellness from the comfort, safety and convenience of the home.

In 2021, most of its plans, for example, will include HouseCalls, a program that offers Medicare and Medicaid members a yearly in-home visit with a licensed clinician. The company expects to complete nearly 1.7 million HouseCalls visits for members in 2020.

HouseCalls has been particularly valuable during the COVID-19 pandemic, too, with the number of home visits in the third quarter growing by nearly 30% year over year, according to UnitedHealth Group CFO John Rex, who addressed the topic during an Oct. 14 earrings call.

“We continue to deepen our engagement with those seniors most in need, increasing the distribution of remote digital sensor kits to collect and monitor vital health data and address gaps in care generated by the pandemic,” Rex said at the time.

‘Health is more than medical care’

Apart from its HouseCalls program, at least six UnitedHealthcare plans are offering in-home support services under the “primarily health-related” supplemental benefit pathway in 2021, according to state-level data compiled by Washington, D.C.-based research and consulting firm ATI Advisory.

In comparison, only two UnitedHealthcare plans offered in-home support services supplemental benefits this year.

Geographically, the two UnitedHealthcare plans offering in-home support services in 2020 covered slightly more than two dozen counties. Next year, the six plans doing so will cover more than 250 counties, according to ATI Advisory’s data.

“They have made a very significant, clear increase in the coverage,” ATI Advisory CEO Anne Tumlinson told HHCN. “I think it speaks a lot to the power of these benefits.”

Overall, 429 MA plans will offer in-home support services across 36 states and Puerto Rico next year. Many more will also likely offer home-focused supplemental benefits through the Special Supplemental Benefits for the Chronically Ill (SSBCI) pathway in 2021.

These trends in supplemental-benefit design are, in part, linked to the realization that a large chunk of a person’s health is ultimately impacted by functional ability and social factors, including access to food, friends and transportation.

“We know that health is more than medical care, and that factors outside a doctor’s office play a significant role in influencing a person’s health and well-being,” Warner said. “This reality factors into how we design our plans and support older adults.”

UnitedHealthcare isn’t just coordinating and covering services that take place within its members’ homes.

At times, it’s even helping to provide the home in the first place.

“At an enterprise level, UnitedHealthcare continues to make significant investments in affordable housing as part of the company’s ongoing efforts to remove social barriers to better health for people in underserved communities,” Warner said.

Since its affordable housing initiative kicked off in 2011, the company has worked with a range of advocates to invest more than $500 million in developments that increase access to housing, health care and social services.

Telehealth is ‘here to stay’

The U.S. tallied 91,530 new COVID-19 infections on Election Day, adding to the skyrocketing cases numbers reported in the past week.

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the health care landscape, Warner recognized, but it isn’t altering UnitedHealthcare’s commitment to helping members access the care they need. That’s true whether they reside in a clinical setting or at home, he added.

To maintain that commitment, UnitedHealthcare has turned to more telehealth solutions.

“In just one month earlier this year, for example, more than 12% of our UnitedHealthcare Medicare members had a telehealth visit with their doctor – up from just a fraction of a percent last year,” Warner told HHCN.

In 2021, all standard MA plans from UnitedHealthcare will offer telehealth visits with a $0 copay.

“As in-person visits resume, telehealth utilization is moderating, but remains significantly higher than the pre-COVID baseline,” Warner said. “We believe higher utilization and increased comfort level in embracing telehealth is here to stay.”

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How Excelin Home Health Used Telehealth to Automate Its COVID-19 Return-to-Work System

Between mid-March and mid-August, more than 12.1 million Medicare beneficiaries received some sort of telemedicine service for their health and wellness.

The numbers don’t lie: The COVID-19 emergency has officially ushered in a new age of telehealth in the U.S.

But while in-home care providers and other organizations have embraced telehealth to deliver virtual visits to patients, many have also leaned into it as a way of streamlining operational processes.

One such company is Excelin Home Health, which has been using telehealth to automate the return-to-work assessments the company conducts on a daily basis with its staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, Excelin turned to Synzi, a St. Petersburg, Florida-based company that provides virtual visit and messaging tools via its telehealth platform.

“We populate a daily screening questionnaire, and it comes up on [our clinicians’] app every single day,” Alicia Marr, CEO of Excelin, told Home Health Care News. “The clinicians can open that app and answer that line of questions first thing in the morning.”

After completing the questions, their responses are sent back to the Excelin manager for that particular location. In turn, managers can automatically know which staff members are available to safely work with patients based on their symptoms.

Moulton, Texas-based Excelin is a Medicare-certified home-based care provider that has 12 locations across Texas and California. Its service lines include home health, hospice and private-duty home care services.

Currently, the company has roughly 500 employees and serves about 2,000 clients.

Prior to implementing its automated return-to-work assessments, Excelin relied on a manual process to help with COVID-19 staffing protocols.

In order to get an accurate headcount of which caregivers were available to work and which had COVID-19 symptoms, agency administrators had to individually text or call each one of their staff members, using spreadsheets to track responses. 

“Think about the time spent calling and asking every staff member those questions, keeping a manual log that risks information being inaccurate,” Marr said. “It was really burdensome for the staff.”

A number of other issues also resulted from Excelin’s previous manual process, she noted.

“Sometimes, the staff member wouldn’t answer all the questions. There would be interruptions, or it would just take such a long time for one or two callers to get through the list of all the employees,” Marr said. “It was a very tedious process. If there was a symptom that was identified, that meant you had to stop, call the manager and reconcile that. That means everybody still left on the list is delayed from receiving a call.”

Having caregivers independently submit questionnaires through the app has allowed for greater operational efficiency, according to Marr.

That’s particularly important at this point in time, when agency margins have been tightened due to rising personal protective equipment (PPE) costs and other expenses. 

Additionally, the company’s current return-to-work assessments system has been an asset when it comes to staying compliant with regulatory requirements.

In general, telehealth has been at the forefront of Excelin’s COVID-19 response. The company began offering telehealth services to all of its patients at the start of the public health emergency.

“We were very committed to wanting to support our communities and caring for the COVID-19 population,” Marr said. “When we developed our internal protocol for caring for patients, telehealth was very much a part of that protocol. We felt it was very important to protect our staff, to preserve our PPE and to protect our patients.”

Excelin’s is using telehealth services with roughly 15% to 20% of its patient population. This includes care coordination, medication reconciliation and touchpoints for high-risk patients.

“That was very much a part of the dialogue that we had with our referral sources from Day 1,” Marr said. “‘Let’s talk about telehealth and how we’re going to incorporate it into that plan of care.’”

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Comcast NBCUniversal, Independence Health Group Offshoot Quil Launches Aging In Place Platform

The brainchild of Comcast NBCUniversal and Independence Health Group — Quil — has set its sights on solidifying its place in the home. The company recently unveiled plans to launch Quil Assure, a sensor-based technology platform that aims to keep seniors and their informal caregivers connected.

Quil Assure, which is slated to launch in 2021, is designed to help caregivers monitor senior’s movements. It incorporates ambient sensors and voice-activated technology in order to accomplish that mission.

A voice-based unit, which is 4G-enabled, is placed in the senior’s home. The caregiver then downloads the Quil Assure app to stay connected with that older adult.

Here’s how it works after being set up in the home: Quil Assure sensors monitor and gauge what is considered “normal” activity for an individual senior. Over time, it learns patterns and is able to alert caregivers when something unexpected happens.

Remote patient monitoring tools like Quil Assure have seen exponential growth in terms of utilization during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the global market is forecast to reach $2.14 billion by 2027, according to a June analysis by Reports and Data.

“That’s an ambient experience for the senior at home,” Carina Edwards, CEO of Quil, told Home Health Care News. “Those ambient sensors detect falls. they can also connect you to a 24/7 call center if you need some help. But more importantly, they’re able to use the voice-based speaker. The senior doesn’t have to use any technology outside of a button on top of the speaker to connect with those folks on their mobile devices and coordinate their caregiving needs.”

Digital health platform Quil is the result of a joint venture first formed in 2018 between Comcast NBCUniversal and Independence Health Group. The Philadelphia-based company serves providers and consumers.

Working under the Comcast NBCUniversal and Independence Health Group umbrella gives Quil distinctive positioning as a company, according to Edwards.

“I think being the joint venture of Independence Health Group, with their deep knowledge of health care from the payer perspective, and also the tech-savviness and scale of Comcast are what gives Quil a unique advantage in the marketplace,” she said. “When you think about our technology at scale, we’re not your traditional startup.”

Edwards pointed out that when Quil launched its Quil Engage product offering last year, the company was able to quickly scale the technology and deliver it to 1.3 million Independence Blue Cross members during the public health emergency. Quil Engage uses in-home motion sensors to help patients post-surgery.

Additionally, the company was also able to scale Quil Engage to 83 million viewers on the Comcast network.

Quil’s latest product is focused on informal or unpaid caregivers, meaning the spouse, the daughter, the niece, the nephew, the neighbor and others supporting the senior, according to Edwards.

In the U.S. alone, roughly 44 million people take on informal caregiver responsibilities. These caregivers assist with activities of daily living (ADLs) and possibly even medical tasks, according to San Francisco-based nonprofit Family Caregiver Alliance.

In the future, the company would like to roll out a B2B version of Quil Assure that could be offered by health care providers as well.

In-home care providers, in particular, aren’t far from the company’s mind. The company’s senior leadership has aspirations that include home health companies.

As aging in place remains the overwhelming popular preference among seniors, with COVID-19 further fueling this desire, it follows that technology will play a key role in making this feasible.

It will be especially important to create new technology that adapts to seniors instead of making seniors adapt to technology.

“Nine out of 10 seniors want to stay in their current home for over the next 10 years,” Edwards said. “When you start thinking about new technology, no senior wants cameras on them. They don’t want to feel like they’re being watched. When we brought this solution from concept into what we’re going to be piloting in December, it was really to have simple technologies that stayed into the background.”

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Honor Raises $140M to Fuel National Expansion

Honor — the technology-enabled home care startup that partners with independent agencies through the Honor Care Network — is gearing up for a major expansion.

Those expansion plans are built around a substantial infusion of new capital, too. The San Francisco-based Honor announced Tuesday it has raised $140 million in Series D funding, led by Baillie Gifford, plus funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates Inc. Rocks Springs also participated in the fundraising round, in addition to existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, Thrive Capital, Prosus Ventures and 8VC.

To date, Honor has raised $255 million since its launch in 2014.

Timing wise, the Series D news comes at a time when home-based care is more important than ever due the COVID-19 virus and all the challenges it presents in terms of facility-based care and senior isolation, co-founder and CEO Seth Sternberg told Home Health Care News.

“We’re in an environment right now where caring for the elderly in their homes is super critical,” Sternberg said. “And caring for the elderly in a completely safe way, with completely consistent protocols and completely consistent standards.”

Originally founded as an on-demand home care company, Honor has since pivoted its business strategy to one based on integrated partnerships with independently owned and operated home care agencies. Through its partnership model, Honor uses its technology infrastructure to take over billing, scheduling, staffing and other back-office functions for a negotiated share of agency revenue. 

The startup currently partners with more than 40 home care agencies in six states, serving more than 1,000 total communities. Its “Care Pros” have helped provide more than 5 million hours of care to older adults and other individuals since 2014.

“We believe investing is about identifying companies that can deliver transformational growth on the back of long-term structural changes,” Baillie Gifford’s Anika Penn said in a press release. “Honor has demonstrated their ability to leverage technology to elevate and expand services to older adults who want to remain in their homes, and to improve conditions for home care aides. We are excited to partner with the team as they scale up and drive improvement throughout the ecosystem of this $30 billion industry.”

This is a developing story. Please check back shortly for updates.

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[Updated] Lawmakers Introduce New Bill Paving the Way for Home Health Telehealth Reimbursement

Home health providers are one step closer to getting the No. 1 thing they’ve been asking for since the COVID-19 pandemic began: reimbursement for telehealth-driven visits.

On Friday, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) introduced the Home Health Emergency Access to Telehealth (HEAT) Act, a bipartisan bill to provide Medicare reimbursement for audio and video telehealth services furnished by home health agencies during the COVID-19 emergency.

U.S. Representatives Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Terri Sewell (D-Ala.), Jodey Arrington (R-Texas) and Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) introduced similar legislation in the House.

“Home health serves a vital role in helping our nation’s seniors avoid more costly hospital visits and nursing home stays,” Sen. Collins, chairman of the Senate Aging Committee, said in a statement. “The COVID-19 emergency has further underscored the critical importance of home health services and highlighted how these agencies are able to use telehealth to provide skilled care to their patients.”

If finalized, the HEAT Act would pave the wave for home health telehealth reimbursement during the current pandemic as well as future public health emergencies, when appropriate. The newly introduced legislation outlines that services would not be reimbursed unless the beneficiary consents to receiving services via telehealth, however.

To ensure that the Medicare home health benefit does not become a telehealth-only benefit, Medicare reimbursement would only be provided if the telehealth services account for no more than half of the billable visits made during a 30-day payment period.

“I know firsthand the benefits of home health care,” Rep. Sewell said in a statement. “When my dad was left wheelchair-bound after a series of strokes, we were fortunate enough to find home health care from highly skilled and caring health care professionals right where he wanted to be — at home in Selma. As a passionate supporter of protecting home health services, I’m proud to introduce the bicameral and bipartisan [HEAT Act], which will ensure that home health providers have the resources necessary to protect patients in their homes and health care professionals during the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Overall, the utilization of telehealth services has exploded since the middle of March.

In fact, more than 34.5 million telehealth services were delivered in Medicare and other government programs from March through June, according to recently released data from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). That’s a more than 2,500% increased compared to the same period in 2019.

While home health providers have certainly been a part of that boom in Medicare, they’ve typically had to provide telehealth services out of their own pocket. As currently structured, the home health benefit does not include a pathway for paying for any types of visits not furnished directly in person.

Industry advocacy organizations LeadingAge, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare (PQHH) and others have been working toward the HEAT Act for months, often pushing for telehealth payment during the discussions before each of the COVID-19 relief measures that have been passed.

“Many of our home health members have been providing critical services without reimbursement during the pandemic,” Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge, said in a statement. “The HEAT Act would resolve this inequity and put our home health members on par with all other providers with regards to flexibility during this and future public health emergencies.”

In addition to her role at LeadingAge, Smith Sloan also serves as acting president and CEO of the Visiting Nurse Associations of America and ElevatingHOME.

William A. Dombi, president of NAHC, also applauded the newly introduced bill.

“From the early onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been well known that limiting person-to-person contact is key in reducing transmission and infection rates,” Dombi said in a statement. “Enabling home health agencies to incorporate telehealth visits into the plan of care, with reimbursement, will unlock new means of safe care delivery bringing peace of mind to Medicare beneficiaries.”

This is a developing story. Please check back later for additional updates.

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CareLinx, Doctor On Demand Team Up to Provide Virtual Care at Home

CareLinx is teaming up with virtual primary care provider Doctor On Demand to give high-risk seniors access to services in their homes. 

Burlingame, California-based CareLinx is a tech-enabled home care platform that connects seniors and their families to its nationwide network of 400,000 caregivers. The company was acquired by Generali Global Assistance in 2017.

Under terms of the partnership, CareLinx clients with high levels of functional needs will receive free initial visits with physicians through Doctor On Demand. In part, the move is a response to the COVID-19 emergency, Robin Glass, president of Doctor On Demand, told Home Health Care News in an email.

“As we all know by now, seniors are at highest risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19, given their age and likelihood of having at least one pre-existing chronic condition,” Glass said. “We believe that by offering high-quality, personal care in their homes, where they can remain safe, we can have a profound impact on their immediate well-being and longer-term health.”

Doctor On Demand is a San Francisco-based health care platform that gives users virtual access to physicians, psychiatrists, therapists and a care coordination team. In July, the company raised a funding round of $75 million, led by private equity firm General Atlantic.

Since the start of the public health emergency, Doctor On Demand has seen a sharp increase in its business.

In March, when the COVID-19 emergency began, Doctor on Demand recorded a 154% year-over-year increase in its new member registrations among the 65-and-older age group.

“COVID showed us all — providers and patients alike — that we can put much of the front-line, day-to-day traditional brick-and-mortar primary care online,” Glass said. “We’ve already seen that once patients try virtual care, they are likely to come back time and time again – even prefer the experience to in-person care.”

While some have predicted telehealth utilization to level off, Glass said she believes that virtual care can sustain its surge if companies focus on forging relationships with patients.

CareLinx’s desire to partner with Doctor On Demand stemmed from the company’s recent move to make its services available to Medicare Part B beneficiaries, Sherwin Sheik, CEO of CareLinx, told HHCN in an email.

“[Doctor On Demand] has done an amazing job building out their capabilities to address the needs of Medicare Part B beneficiaries,” Sheik said. “A large portion of CareLinx customers have Medicare Part B, and we have seen great interest from our clients to be able to access a doctor on demand safely at home amid COVID. We are continuing to explore additional ways our partnership can better serve geriatric and high-risk patients with functional needs at home.”

As a home care operator, Sheik believes the combined efforts with a primary care organization strengthens its services.

“CareLinx’s innovative approach amplifies the effectiveness of remote telehealth clinical teams by using tech-enabled caregivers who serve as their eyes, ears and arms in the homes of patients,” he said. “This partnership of telehealth coupled with tech-enabled home care, we believe, will become the future of health care, as it safely keeps patients at home, thereby reducing the cost of care and improving outcomes.”

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Home Health Providers Find Telehealth Reimbursement in Palliative Care

Telehealth adoption has dramatically increased across health care during the COVID-19 crisis, including in the home-based care space.

On their end, home health providers have built out their telehealth programs to make more comprehensive and safer care plans for their patients. Unlike other health care practitioners, however, it is much more difficult for a home health provider to get paid for virtual visits.

That has forced them to get creative.

For instance, Ohio Living Home Health, a large home- and community-based services provider that conducts over 170,000 home health visits per year, has been able to bill for palliative care remote patient monitoring under Medicare Part B.

It has been unable to bill for those remote services in home health, but still conducts those virtual visits anyway.

“The [reimbursement] is provided under the palliative care program, not home health,” Yvette Valentine, director of office operations at Ohio Living Home Health, said last week at the Vision to Virtual conference hosted by Health Recovery Solutions. “So the patient is on home health, and we’re still billing our home health services under Part A. And then if the patient is on palliative, that billing is done under Part B, along with remote patient monitoring.”

In order to recoup some reimbursement for telehealth labor, it has also worked with commercial groups, such as UnitedHealthcare and other Medicare Advantage payers.

Fairhaven, Massachusetts-based Southcoast Visiting Nurse Association has had similar experiences to Ohio Living Home Health. It is unable to receive reimbursement for home health remote visits, but still receives some payments from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on its palliative care side of the business.

The agency — which serves over 9,000 patients per year in Massachusetts — is also expanding its home health telehealth services, despite the lack of reimbursement.

“We are not currently receiving reimbursement through CMS for home health remote patient monitoring,” Jessica Magalhaes, the agency’s telehealth program leader, also said at the conference. “But we’re working to expand the program by partnering with Southcoast’s ACO group.”

Broadly, palliative care has become increasingly prevalent among home- and community-based organizations’ service lines.

A 2019 report published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management highlighted that serious health-related suffering will almost double by 2060 in the U.S. Those projections suggest that an emphasis is needed on palliative care.

That’s also reflected in recent changes to Medicare Advantage supplemental benefits over the last few years. More and more MA plans are paying agencies to provide palliative care to their beneficiaries, which could provide tailwinds for both home health and home care agencies in the future.

CMS last expanded the list of telehealth services that Medicare fee-for-service will pay for during the coronavirus public health emergency on Oct. 14. As a result of the expansion, Medicare now pays for 144 services performed via telehealth.

Between mid-March and mid-August 2020, over 12.1 million Medicare beneficiaries – or over 36% of people with Medicare fee-for-service — have received a telemedicine service.

Finding partners

Not all home health providers are new to telehealth. As a provider that deals with patients on a slew of islands in the Northeastern part of the U.S., telehealth has been a part of MaineHealth Care at Home’s business since the turn of the century.

Its experience is an advantage in the space. So is the state it operates in, as Medicaid does currently reimburse for telehealth services in Maine.

Still, while telehealth is a must for the organization, its reimbursement still lags, especially in home health care.

“We’re doing quite a bit [of telehealth] in rural Maine,” MaineHealth Care at Home Donna DeBlois said at the conference. “We’re not getting paid very well, but we are trying to pursue partnerships with our Maine medical partners to be able to do Part B billing for telehealth.”

But COVID-19 has helped its patients and their families become more comfortable with telehealth overall, and the strides made over the last year, DeBlois hopes, will pay dividends moving forward.

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ProMedica Home Health Care, Banner Health Home Care Share Best Practices for Virtual Visits

The COVID-19 emergency has triggered a rise in the use of telehealth strategies to deliver care, especially virtual visits.

In fee-for-service Medicare alone, the number of virtual visits delivered each week in the U.S. skyrocketed from 14,000 pre-coronavirus to more than 1.7 million during the pandemic’s peak, according to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar.

Although in-person visits still dominate in the space, many home health providers have added virtual visits to their operating mix, with many planning to continue them even after the pandemic subsides.

Despite their benefits, virtual visits pose unique challenges for providers carrying them out for the first time. To avoid unexpected speed bumps, there are several best practices home health agencies and other providers should consider.

In some ways, the public health emergency has exposed the shortcomings and limitations of current health care delivery systems, Kim Putnam, telehealth supervisor at ProMedica Home Health Care, said Thursday at the Vision to Virtual event, hosted by Health Recovery Solutions (HRS).

“I’m not going to say there’s anything good about this pandemic,” Putnam said. “However, it has certainly catapulted the term ‘telehealth’ out into the public.”

ProMedica Health System includes 13 hospitals across Michigan and Ohio. ProMedica Senior Care, the company’s post-acute care arm, includes skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), outpatient rehab, hospice and home health care.

For providers that are implementing telehealth programs, technical and functionality preparation is crucial.

That includes keeping IT teams connected and updating them about any technical issues that pop up during telehealth implementation. Doing so will go a long way in establishing a provider’s credibility when setting up their telehealth program, according to Putnam.

“When you begin your endeavor to do telehealth, … your IT departments have got to meet, and they’ve got to have support from each other and from your vendor,” she said. “There’s got to be interoperability so that when you get out to the home, you’re not having the frustration of the technology not working. There’s nothing more frustrating for the installer, the nurse and the patient when you get out there and something doesn’t work.”

It’s also important for providers to set up a “telehealth hub,” or central location in the office specifically for virtual visits.

At one of ProMedica’s locations, the telehealth hub is a back area that is walled off from the main office. The necessary equipment is also set up in this space, according to Putnam.

“You want to ensure that you’ve got a quiet zone,” she said. “You want to make sure that others are aware that the virtual visit is occurring. We have a little sign that we put up outside that says ‘virtual visit in progress,’ because there are folks that walk through this area. This ensures they’re not carrying out a conversation that could be overheard by the patient that’s in the home.”

Putnam also emphasized the importance of setting aside time for new nurses to practice using the equipment. This can be achieved by facilitating “mock” virtual visits.

“They may be a little intimidated at first,” Putnam said. “They’re kind of fumbling with the equipment, but once they get a comfort level … that kind of anxiety seems to step away.”

To this end, creating scripted scenarios can also be helpful in getting new nurses acclimated.

When working with patients, Putnam stressed the importance of calling them by their name, making sure they have the provider’s undivided attention and conducting a follow-up call with them the next day.

“Our overall goal should be patient engagement,” Putnam said.

One company, Banner Health Home Care, has been able to leverage virtual visits to better serve their clients that receive social work services.

“We have more patients than social workers,” Mandy Johnson, care coordination and post-acute senior manager at Banner Health Home Care, said during the event. “By using video visits, we’re able to connect with more patients than if we had to drive to each of their homes. We still do in person visits, but this allows us … to meet them where they’re at or to do those check-ins.”

Banner Health Home Care has six branches in Arizona and Colorado. The company’s average daily census is roughly 2,500 to 3,000 individuals served.

The opportunity for increased patient engagement is a key benefit of virtual visits, according to Johnson.

“When you talk to a patient over the phone, you’re not always able to tell if they’re engaging in the conversation,” she said. “You can’t always tell if they’re interested in what you have to say, or if they’re at a place in time where they’re ready to hear that information. By being able to see them, you can truly check and understand that they’re hearing you and they understood what you said.” 

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WellSky to Acquire CarePort from Allscripts in $1.35B Deal

WellSky announced Tuesday it has entered into an agreement to acquire CarePort Health from Allscripts Healthcare Solutions (Nasdaq: MDRX), a health care information technology provider. The deal is for $1.35 billion, according to Allscripts.

WellSky is an international software and professional services company with clients that include home health providers, hospital systems, blood banks, labs, hospices, government agencies and human services organizations. The company is jointly owned by private equity firms TPG Capital and Leonard Green & Partners, which teamed up with WellSky this July.

Boston-based CarePort is a care coordination software company that connects health care providers and payers, an increasingly important function as Medicare Advantage enrollment continues to soar and as the U.S. health care system steadily shifts away from fee-for-service models.

Currently, CarePort serves 1,000 hospitals and health systems, plus 110,000 post-acute provider locations.

CarePort was an attractive acquisition target for WellSky because of the natural alignment between both organizations, Bill Miller, CEO of WellSky, told Home Health Care News in an email.

“WellSky is committed to investing in care coordination and interoperability solutions, and CarePort was the obvious choice — based on its superior technology, market leadership and national presence,” Miller said. “We’ve been impressed with CarePort’s proven track record as the leading post-acute care coordination platform in the U.S.”

CarePort’s $1.35 billion price tag represents more than 13 times the company’s revenue over the past 12 months. It’s also roughly 21 times CarePort’s non-GAAP adjusted EBITDA over the trailing 12 months

As part of the deal, CarePort’s customers and more than 200 employees will join WellSky.

“This agreement is another all-around win for Allscripts, as it unlocks significant value for our shareholders, enables us to increase our focus on our core business and brings our CarePort customers the benefit of continued investment under new and very strong ownership,” Rick Poulton, Allscripts president and CFO, said in the press release announcing the news.

For WellSky, the planned purchase of CarePort allows the company to better manage the acute care discharge process, as well as keep track of patients across post-acute care settings, including home health care.

Additionally, the deal will allow home health providers to streamline their referral management and intake processes, according to Miller.

“CarePort’s EHR-agnostic platform allows home health providers to effectively coordinate patient care through real-time collaboration with hospitals, health systems, ACOs, and other post-acute providers to close gaps in care and improve patient outcomes,” he said. “This collaboration has the potential to create a meaningful, measurable difference for patients, providers and payers across even more care settings.”

Overall, CarePort represents about 6% of Allscripts consolidated revenues. Allscripts reported Q2 2020 revenues of $406 million in July.

The sale is slated to close before the end of the year, subject to clearing customary regulatory hurdles. WellSky and CarePort will continue to operate independently prior to that time.

“Joining WellSky means that we can increase vital connections between acute, post-acute and community care providers to make a meaningful difference in the lives of more patients in more places,” Dr. Lissy Hu, CEO of CarePort, said in the press release.

WellSky’s plan to acquire CarePort is closely in line with leadership remarks following the news about Leonard Green & Partners. At the time, WellSky noted the new investment would help it expand current capabilities and service offerings, particularly when it comes to analytics, telehealth and payer relationships.

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GSK tells UK staff: turn off Covid test-and-trace app while at work

Drugs company says infection controls at some of its sites are so secure the app is not needed

The pharmaceuticals firm GlaxoSmithKline has told staff to switch off the contact tracing function that allows the NHS test-and-trace app to monitor the spread of Covid-19 while at work in case it is “disruptive” to business, the Guardian has learned.

GSK, which is among the companies working on a vaccine for Covid-19, sent the instruction to employees at its research and development labs and some of its manufacturing sites.

Continue reading…

Home Health Agencies Keep Getting Hit by Cyberattacks

Preferred Care Home Health Services found unusual activity within its email services in April. On Monday, it notified individuals that personal information may have been exposed during a data-security incident tied to that email activity.

Among the information hacked may have been names, dates of birth, contact information, and Social Security or driver’s license numbers, according to the in-home care provider. Private health insurance data, plus Medicare and Medicaid information may also have been compromised, in addition to sensitive medical information..

Although only information transmitted through email was affected, compromised accounts were subject to unauthorized access between Jan. 13 and April 27 of this year. Once the unusual activity was detected, the emails were secured and an internal investigation was launched.

The details of the investigation’s findings have been made known to current and past patients who may have had personal information hacked.

Naples, Florida-based Preferred Care offers an array of skilled nursing and rehab services, as well as other home health care and social services. It provides over 100,000 visits per year to patients in eight counties.

In addition to notifying patients of the data security incident, the agency also provided resources to help mitigate some of the risks that come with this sort of incident. Preferred Care has set up a toll-free service to answer questions that patients may have about the security breach and is offering identity protection services through risk consulting firm Kroll.

Though there is no evidence yet that the compromised information has been misused, Preferred Care has reported what happened to the FBI.

Preferred Care Home Health Services did not respond to a request for comment from Home Health Care News.

The Florida-based provider is just the latest home health agency to operate through a cyberattack. In 2018, a hacker group reportedly stole personal, medical and financial information from roughly 80,000 patients when they hacked the computer systems of CarePartners.

Universal Health Services experiences cyberattack

One of the largest health systems in the U.S., Universal Health Services (UHS), experienced a major computing outage on Sept. 27 that has been attributed to a significant ransomware attack, according to Wired.

King of Prussia, Pennsylvania-based UHS has more than 400 facilities across the United States, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom. The attack occurred in the U.S. and affected its digital networks at locations around the country.

For now, the cyberattack has forced the health system to move to all-paper documentation. Patients have, in turn, faced facility reroutes and delayed test results, among other inconveniences, Wired reported.

“We are making steady progress and are confident that we will be able to get hospital networks restored and reconnected soon,” UHS officials said in a statement posted online. “Our major information systems such as the electronic medical record (EMR) were not directly impacted; we are focused on restoring connections to these systems. In the meantime, our facilities are using their established back-up processes including offline documentation methods.”

UHS announced in July that it was partnering with Moorestown, New Jersey-based home health giant Bayada on a new joint venture focused on the home. Bayada, however, was reportedly unaffected by the ransomware attack.

The health care industry is the top target for data breaches, according to Wipro’s State of Cybersecurity Report 2018. Over 40% of reported breaches were from the health care world in 2017.

Providers have routinely had to pay out ransoms of over $1 million to get their data unlocked when bad actors have hacked their systems in the past. As the use of telehealth and other remote technologies increases, cyber attacks have also been on the rise.

But it’s not easy for providers to always prevent hacks and nefarious online activity.

“If you are a target, unfortunately, they will hack you,” John Prost, the director of information technology at Mueller Prost, said this summer at the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) 2020 Financial Management Conference.

What separates some health systems and agencies from others is the existing barriers in place to prevent hacking.

“What you need to do is take the measures to protect yourself and put as many hurdles in front of them as you can. Hopefully, they will get tired of trying to hack you and move on to somebody else,” Prost said.

Weak passwords and re-used passwords are one of the simplest ways to get hacked, which means strong passwords and good password management generally is one of the best ways to mitigate these risks. A password manager that can store encrypted passwords online and then two-factor authentication are ways to keep employees safe from online risks.

Educating workers on good online hygiene practices, just as agencies train employees on infection protocol and disinfection techniques, will need to become par for the course for agencies in the future.

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Video: Cotiviti VP Nicole Neumarker on practical applications of AI in healthcare

AI is continuing to prove its value in healthcare as interest and investment in the technology and its offshoots continue to grow during the pandemic. In virtual presentation at Ai4 2020, Cotiviti’s senior vice president of research and development, Nicole Neumarkerexplained how Cotiviti took a deliberate, multi-track approach to AI to deliver new predictive technologies to aid in the pandemic response, such as the COVID-19 Outbreak Tracker

Online Caregiver Platform Carely Acquires CareGiving.com

Carely Inc. — an online referral platform for both caregivers and professional care providers — has announced it has an agreement in place to acquire CareGiving.com, an online community for family caregivers.

The acquisition will help Dayton, Ohio-based Carely with its ultimate goal of enhancing the family caregiver experience through its platforms, Carely CEO and founder Mike Eidsaune told Home Health Care News.

Through an online platform and mobile application, Carely aims to simplify the navigation of the caregiver workforce for providers, caregivers and families.

Its main investor — Guidance Health — helped facilitate the deal. It came about because Denise Brown, CareGiving.com’s founder, reached out to Eidsaune to suggest a deal in the first place.

“She said to me, ‘Hey, listen, I know you guys really understand the technology side of this. If CareGiving.com is going to have a chance competing with what’s out there today in terms of online search and caregiver support, it’s going to need a higher level of sophistication,” Eidsaune told HHCN. “It was good timing.”

CareGiving.com will be revamped under the support of Carely, but will continue to act as its own website despite the sale.

It will help offer “both community and tailored resources for caregivers,” aiding their decisions when selecting care facilities and families as well as offering solutions to issues and other general support.

“We are keeping a distance,” Eidsaune said. “Other than it being a part of our general ecosystem, the site will remain relatively independent.”

The transaction was completed on Aug. 1. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

One of the main drivers of Carely and Eidsaune’s mission is fixing the online environment for caregivers. Right now, it’s driven by corporate interests that turn into sales calls and the wrong incentives, he said.

“It’s our sort of core belief that [these sites] don’t necessarily have the best interest of the consumer in mind when they’re making connections to providers,” Eidsaune said.

Carely is aiming to become not only an alternative solution to those sites, but the antidote to them.

“I shouldn’t have to give up my contact info and become a target, just to get a list of potential resources in my area. That to me doesn’t feel right,” Eidsaune said. “[We want] consumers to have the most real, up-to-date, clear picture and understanding of what each organization is all about.”

On the other side of the coin, that also helps providers paint a clearer picture of themselves moving forward.

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Geisinger Teams Up with AppliedVR to Better Manage Chronic Pain in the Home

Geisinger Health System — known as one of the most innovative and home-focused health systems in the country — is testing out a new way of easing chronic pain. 

As a means to engage with patients and better manage their pain in the home, Geisinger is teaming up with AppliedVR, a Los Angeles-based company pioneering the concept of virtual reality therapeutics, sometimes referred to as VRx. Through the collaboration, Geisinger will use AppliedVR’s platform — goggles, headsets and all — to create an immersive experience that helps people overcome their discomfort and rely less on potentially dangerous painkillers.

The effort is spearheaded by Geisinger’s Steele Institute for Health Innovation, the health system’s cutting-edge innovation center founded in 2018.

“A lot of our work is focused on solving problems,” Emily LaFeir, senior director of operations for the Steele Institute, told Home Health Care News. “We don’t focus on the technology. We look at the problem, then find the technology or a solution that helps solve that problem.”

Founded more than 100 years ago, Geisinger is a regional health care provider with operations across parts of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. It has 11 hospital campuses, plus a 560,000-member health plan, two research centers, a nursing school and the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine.

Among its areas of focus, the Steele Institute and its 240 employees explore ways of using technology to improve health care and the overall wellness of Geisinger’s communities. The innovation hub also looks at ways of transforming health care payment models, LaFeir noted.

“Geisinger has a longstanding reputation for innovation,” she said. “There has been innovation throughout our history, but we wanted to build a hub for people to harness different skill sets and build scalable models with quantifiable outcomes.”

Geisinger is gearing up to go live with its VRx program in September. It had been hoping to launch the eight-week pain-management intervention sooner, but plans were delayed due to the ongoing public health crisis.

“This is a way to engage patients in a different way,” LaFeir said. “It’s also a way to … reduce the need for prescription drugs and specialize in a different form of pain management.”

On its end, AppliedVR works with more than 200 hospitals to provide VRx aimed at alleviating patients’ acute pain. Apart from Geisinger, AppliedVR is also actively working with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Cleveland Clinic.

Through AppliedVR’s technology, users can play games or picture themselves in unique experiences — like swimming with dolphins.

While doing so, AppliedVR helps patients learn evidenced-based pain-management skills and mindfulness strategies. 

It’s all about giving users the tools they need to have a better quality of life, according to co-founder and CEO Matthew Stoudt, who helped launch AppliedVR in 2015.

“Historically, [society] has tried to address pain with focusing just on that biological aspect of it, using pharmacological tools to try to help abate the pain,” Stoudt told HHCN. “We wanted to take a more holistic approach to this and address not only the biological side of it, but also the psychosocial side.”

In a recently published study appearing in JMIR Formative Research, AppliedVR’s platform was found to lower participants’ chronic pain anywhere from 30% to 50%. More than six dozen people with chronic lower-back or fibromyalgia pain participated in the study.

After demonstrating the success of its model with those results, the next step for AppliedVR has been making its technology as user-friendly as possible.

That’s the key to home-based care, Stoudt said.

“It’s always been our vision that we wanted to ultimately be able to bring this powerful new modality into the home,” he said.

For Geisinger, using VRx just adds to its home-based care efforts.

The health system launched Geisinger at Home — a team-based program that brings complex care into patients’ homes — several years ago. Among its benefits, the program has been found to lower emergency department visits and hospital admissions by 35% and 40%, respectively. 

Additionally, Geisinger has a joint venture partnership with Lafayette, Louisiana-based LHC Group Inc. (Nasdaq: LHCG) in a number of its home health and hospice locations.

Geisinger will continue exploring new ways of shifting care into the home moving forward, especially in light of the COVID-19 virus, LaFeir said.

“Geisinger has been very proactive. Even pre-COVID, we’ve had programs like Geisinger at Home and have had really robust home health programs to allow for [in-home] interventions,” she added. “But we need to start getting even more creative to engage our population.”

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Stuck in the Stone Age: 30% of Home-Based Care Providers Aren’t Using Technology Tools

The COVID-19 emergency has underscored how valuable technology can be when it comes to caring for seniors in their homes.

But while home-based care providers are increasingly upping their use of various technology solutions to aid in their virtual care efforts, there is still a number of providers uncertain about the value-add such tools offer. 

That’s according to the recently released 2020 Home-Based Care Technology Survey and Report, produced by Alayacare and Home Health Care News. The report highlights the views of over 300 individuals polled about the home-based care industry. 

Montreal-based AlayaCare is a software platform and secure cloud-based system that includes clinical documentation tools, client-and-family portals, remote patient monitoring and mobile caregiver functionality.

One of the key findings of the survey: While virtual care services are popular, their utilization among providers isn’t universal. More than 70% of providers currently use some form of technology to provide care, but almost 30% aren’t using anything at all, mostly relying on paperwork, phones and fax machines.

When taking a closer look at types of technology providers are utilizing to deliver care, telephone and live video received the most responses. Specifically, 82% of providers polled said they use telephonic services to provide care, with 66% using live video and 47% using online portals.

Another 14% used some other form of technology entirely.

On their end, the majority of providers that are utilizing technology are offering video conferencing and virtual visits in order to deliver care. About three-quarters of providers are offering video conferencing and virtual visits, while 51% are offering remote patient monitoring (RPM) and 42% online client-and-family portals.

In terms of the impact integrating virtual solutions has on their business operations, the majority of providers see a clear value. In fact, 61% of survey respondents agreed that technology is a value-add to their business.

Still, these opinions aren’t the consensus among all of the providers surveyed.

One-third of providers had “no opinion,” and 5% didn’t agree that integrating virtual solutions would improve their business.

Of the providers that aren’t using any type of technology, 50% responded that the reason for this is there isn’t enough demand from clients. Another 37% said virtual care services aren’t reimbursed in the state they operate in, presenting financial challenges.

Additionally, 27% of providers said technology is too costly; 16% said technology is too complicated.

While caregiver churn remains a top industry challenge, many providers are combating the topic with a number of solutions. More than 60% of providers polled said they offer their caregivers career development programs and 24/7 connectivity to the company’s office via app or website.

Additionally, 24% of providers offer community-development programs offline. Another 16% have implemented daily pay or advances, according to the HHCN-Alayacare survey.

Finally, many providers are looking at artificial intelligence (AI) and how it can potentially impact their business.

In total, 63% of survey participants said they believe that AI would benefit their organization. AI includes tools aimed at optimization or machine-learning.

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‘If You Are a Target, They Will Hack You’: Cyber-Hygiene Increasingly Important for In-Home Care Agencies

As technology becomes a bigger part of the home-based care universe, more agencies are starting to take cybersecurity seriously.

If they don’t, agencies are at risk of losing highly sensitive patient information and leaving their operations vulnerable. If that ends up happening, they could then end up on the hook for thousands of dollars or more.

The health care industry is the top target for data breaches, according to Wipro’s State of Cybersecurity Report 2018. In 2017, over 40% of reported breaches were from the health care world.

“We need to think about some of those things, especially when it comes to ransomware, [which is] on the rise,” Barbara Citarella, the president of RBC Limited, said recently at the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) 2020 virtual Financial Management Conference. “And it is particularly dangerous to us home care and hospice providers.”

RBC Limited assists agencies with strategic planning for leadership, health care reform and business continuity.

Ransomware is a type of cyber attack where the perpetrator withholds stolen data or threatens to publish it until a ransom is paid. There are many examples of this happening to health care providers over the last few years.

In July 2018, for example, as many as 80,000 patients in Canada may have had detailed medical, financial and personal records stolen by a hacker group after it infiltrated the computer systems of home care services provider CarePartners.

Cyber attacks can play out a few different ways. Often, an individual within an agency hits a wrong advertisement or email, which enables a criminal to get into locked information.

Next, the perpetrator locks down the information systems so that no one within the agency or health system can access it. They then demand payment, usually through cyber money such as Bitcoin, Citarella said.

“In the last year, a significant number of health care providers have been hit with ransomware events,” Citarella said. “One particular facility decided not to pay a ransom. And it ended up costing them $10 million. It was a large health care system, and they had to start from scratch. They were working for months with paper documentation.”

Other providers have paid out ransoms as large as $1.5 million after negotiating down from around $5 million in demands. In that case, cyber attackers unlocked the information.

But only two-thirds of criminals typically re-grant access to the data they’ve withheld once a ransom is paid, according to Citarella.

The ultimate question for agencies to consider is how much they are willing to pay if they’re struck by a ransomware attack.

In some cases, perpetrators even contact patients to get money from them as well.

New technological advancements and different usages of computers with remote work during COVID-19 makes providers particularly vulnerable to these sorts of issues. Some are willing to pay a lot to settle the problem once it has happened — and others are completely unwilling to pay.

“We know these types of attacks are happening,” Citarella said. “In the world we’re in right now, we are bringing in other systems [that we didn’t used to work on]. We do third-party billers. We’re doing Zoom meetings. We’re using a lot of different platforms that we don’t normally utilize on our computers.”

Password management

If hackers want to hack you, they most likely will be able to. Their motivation to hack you is usually greater than yours is to protect yourself, at least until something bad happens, John Prost, the director of information technology at Mueller Prost, said at the Financial Management Conference.

“If you are a target, unfortunately, they will hack you,” Prost said. “What you need to do is take the measures to protect yourself and put as many hurdles in front of them as you can. Hopefully, they will get tired of trying to hack you and move on to somebody else.”

Prost is a security and cybersecurity expert.

Agencies’ No. 1 priority should be securing passwords, both at an individual and group level.

Weak passwords and re-used passwords are one of the simplest ways to get hacked. Likewise, strong passwords are one of the best ways to give yourself a fighting chance against hackers. Despite strong-password awareness seemingly being high, reports show that it’s still one of the biggest threats in cybersecurity, Prost said.

Getting a password manager that can store encrypted passwords online is a good starting point. Next is two-factor authentication.

Overall, agencies need to educate themselves and their employees and beware of the threats.

“Agencies need to have a certain hygiene — you wash your hands and you disinfect [your equipment]. The same thing holds true with the cyber world,” Prost said. “You have to have good cyber-hygiene. Use two-factor authentication, be careful where you go on the internet. … Be aware, take precautions and be careful.”

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VNSNY Launches Open-Source COVID-19 Contact-Tracing Tool for Home-Based Care Providers

The Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY) is flexing its data science muscles.

Over the past few months, VNSNY and its data science team have been building a contact-tracing tool to help home- and community-based care providers limit the spread of the coronavirus. Mapping the spread of COVID-19 remains critical to all health care stakeholders, as the number of people known to have been infected by the virus in the U.S. passed 4 million on Thursday.

Broadly, contact tracing is the practice of identifying individuals who may have been exposed to an infectious disease and the other people they came into contact with.

While home- and community-based care providers have long been held to high infection-control standards, actually mapping out the potential spread of disease within an organization’s network is a somewhat novel concept, according to Carlin Brickner, who heads VNSNY’s data science team as director of analytics.

“I think clinicians have always been worried about infectious diseases or just infections, but we’ve never really had a pandemic to worry about,” Brickner told Home Health Care News. “There have been other outbreaks, but this is more of a monumental shift.”

On any given day, VNSNY and its roughly 13,000 employees help provide care for about 44,300 patients and health plan members. Those statistics make VNSNY the largest nonprofit home- and community-based services provider in the country.

VNSNY’s contact-tracing tool — VisitContactTrace — works by analyzing the regular health care data home-based care organizations already keep track of and report. In doing so, the goal is to give providers a better picture of which clinicians are interacting with which patients, Brickner said.

“It’s a common data structure that an electronic medical record for a community-based health care provider will see,” he said. “We’re just basically applying a contact-tracing idea to what a health care provider already collects in their regular day-to-day operations.”

But VNSNY isn’t just using VisitContactTrace internally. It’s also offering the tool up to its home-based care colleagues as well — for free.

Currently, any provider can install the VisitContactTrace tool and run their own contact-tracing models for no cost by visiting GitHub, an online platform that allows users to share open-source code. VisitContactTrace was specifically designed to work with the statistical software program R.

“It’s a program that my team uses on a daily basis for pretty much all of our work,” Brickner said.

As with any data tool, there are limitations to what VisitContactTrace can do, however.

Generally, VisitContactTrace only helps providers better understand direct interactions between their clinicians and patients — not any outside interactions those parties may have on an individual basis.

“It’s only the data that we collect — the encounters between the clinician and patient,” Brickner said. “We don’t take into account other things that are outside the perspective of the home care agency or other community-based health care provider. It’s just what they’re able to observe and what the home care agency should be looking out for from the data that they naturally collect.”

Developing VisitContactTrace is on-brand for an innovation powerhouse like VNSNY.

Since its founding 125 years ago, VNSNY has launched dozens of groundbreaking research projects, even forming an infrastructure within the overall business dedicated to such efforts.

VisitContactTrace was developed in response to the COVID-19 virus, but VNSNY and Brickner hope it will be used to mitigate the spread of future outbreaks, too.

“I think COVID-19 was the motivation to develop this [tool], but I don’t think that will be the end of it,” Brickner said.

Since the coronavirus surfaced, many countries have adopted aggressive contact-tracing efforts, including South Korea, Iceland and others.

Nationally, the cost of an effective contact-tracing program can be substantial.

For the United States, for example, a recent cost estimate for one proposal was $3.6 billion, McKinsey & Company noted in a May report. Still, robust contact-tracing programs can reduce the likelihood of full-scale lockdowns, which come with an even greater price tag.

While the public sector has played a leading part in contact-tracing efforts thus far, private-sector organizations are positioning themselves for bigger roles moving forward, the McKinsey & Company report also highlighted.

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MaineHealth Care at Home CEO: When It Comes to Embracing Telehealth, ‘We Don’t Have a Choice Anymore’

Telehealth usage has flooded into home-based care in an exponential fashion.

Across all of health care, telehealth claim lines increased 8,336% from April 2019 to April 2020, according to data from FAIR Health’s Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker.

Generally, the concern with telehealth has often been centered around the patient and how seniors will react to the technology. A lesser consideration has been made, however, for the workforce deploying it.

That should not be the case, industry insiders caution.

MaineHealth Care at Home has been working with telehealth in one form or another since the turn of the century. Over the years, the in-home care provider realized it needed to have a triage team dedicated to telehealth, President and CEO Donna DeBlois told Home Health Care News.

“Our telehealth visits are predominantly done by our telehealth triage team,” DeBlois said. “That way, it doesn’t take away from the productivity in the field, which works out well.”

Saco, Maine-based MaineHealth Care at Home offers home health services to eight different counties in the Pine Tree State. Its typical average daily census is 1,600 patients.

Like most home health providers, “typical” days are difficult to come by amid the ongoing public health emergency caused by the coronavirus. On its end, MaineHealth Care at Home has cared for 24 COVID-19-positive patients this year, often leveraging telehealth services to provide treatment.

On average, each telehealth visit takes only 10 minutes. It can be even less for patients further along in their care plan, DeBlois said.

But across the home health industry, not every agency has a team dedicated to telehealth like MaineHealth Care at Home. Additionally, some leaders actually prefer that team members work in both telehealth and in-person capacities.

Dr. Ethan Booker, the medical director of the MedStar Telehealth Innovation Center, is one of them.

“We think that there is tremendous value in being able to have a collection of tools to be able to take care of patients, and that includes telehealth,” Booker told HHCN. “But it obviously still includes the ability to see people in the office. We think the vast majority of providers are going to use telehealth to augment their ability to take care of patients, but will still be doing a good amount of their work in person, and that it would be a real rarity for someone to be doing just telehealth work.”

There’s “a lot of value” in being able to move back and forth, he added.

MedStar Health is an integrated health system that offers a wide range of services — including home health care — in the greater Baltimore and Washington, D.C., areas.

Moving back and forth between in-person and remote work will be the future for a lot of health care workers — particularly during the COVID-19 crisis, but likely after as well.

Clinically, working in both areas ends up being beneficial for both the patient and the provider, Booker believes. Clinicians strictly dedicated to telehealth, particularly outsiders, may not grasp the overall system as much as someone who works at both and thus understands the ins and outs of it.

“And so if you’re a doctor who’s working in the office, seeing patients periodically in the hospital, and also interacting via telehealth, you know the system really well and you can navigate people through it,” Booker said.

Telehealth compensation

During the New England COVID-19 surge, Norwell, Massachusetts-based NVNA and Hospice spent a great deal of time coordinating schedules for clinicians to help juggle telehealth and in-person visits.

Full-time clinicians would work with their managers to shuffle patients around appropriately and safely so that they could have a field day and then a virtual day, NVNA Telemedicine Clinical Manager Cheryl Nelson told HHCN.

“That did several things,” Nelson said. “It was a day that they could kind of stay in and only focus on the telehealth visits and it was certainly a day of minimizing their exposure.”

NVNA offers home health, hospice and palliative care, among other services, to residents of Massachusetts. It is Medicare-certified home health agency but also deals with managed care organizations, which is a problem some home health providers across the nation deal with.

Managed care, in many cases, will pay for telehealth visits as if they were in-person. It’s been well documented that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has not made that leap just yet.

So even though a clinician may bring the same effort to the table on a remote visit, the money coming in for the agency is not the same. Or, in NVNA’s case, it’s only sometimes the same.

That raises a question over how an agency should pay its workers while dealing with that reality.

While NVNA makes sure to keep track of which telehealth visits it’s being paid for (and which it’s effectively delivering for free), it’s more about finding the right plan of care. The agency does not change payment for full-time clinicians based on whether it got paid for the remote visits that were or weren’t conducted. 

“At the height of COVID-19, [we cared most] about what was best for the patient,” Nelson said. “So the field clinicians were not paid more or less based on what type of care they provided, just assuming that the care they were providing was practice and what was best for the patient.”

Curbing workforce shortages

Coinciding with the growing amount of seniors who will need care over the next decade in the U.S. is the daunting reality of the home-based care worker shortage.

Nursing shortages have been a topic of discussion during COVID-19. Projections suggest that the industry will need to add a staggering amount of front-line workers in the next 10 years — anywhere from 630,000 to over 1 million.

The situation is so dire that presumptive presidential candidate Joe Biden unveiled a $775 billion plan for boosting the caregiver economy on Tuesday.

The workforce realities are one of the biggest reasons why DeBlois finds telehealth to be so imperative.

“I am a huge proponent of telehealth,” she said. “Particularly in nursing, we are looking at a workforce that’s limited. There are not enough nurses for the aging population that we have in front of us or that we’re caring for now. We have got to figure out how to embrace telehealth and do less touch points, get the same outcomes and the same patient engagement as we do with in-person visits.”

Some home-based care insiders believed that the mass unemployment would help with that deficit.

But if the demand is high enough, agencies may have to turn to telehealth in the future to do more with less.

“We don’t have a choice anymore,” DeBlois said. “In Maine, we happen to have an older nursing workforce — we’re already challenged with that. … We have got to figure out how to do this differently. And our only option really is technology and telehealth is right on the forefront with that.”

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WellSky Nabs New Investment from Leonard Green & Partners

Private equity-backed health care software company WellSky has a new investor and a new capital structure, the company announced Monday. 

TPG Capital — the PE platform that currently owns WellSky — has entered into a definitive agreement to add private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners LP (LGP) as a capital partner. As part of the deal, TPG Capital will also make a new equity investment in WellSky.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. However, WellSky CEO Bill Miller provided Home Health Care News with some color on the company’s new structure.

“I think it’s safe to say [the deal] is more like a 50/50 partnership,” Miller told HHCN. “Leonard Green has come in and has taken a meaningful stake on par with TPG.”

WellSky offers technology solutions, analytics and services to post-acute and community care providers. That includes home health agencies, hospices and hospital systems, just to name a few examples.

As an organization,WellSky’s goal is to empower organizations to improve whole person care and care coordination using predictive insights and other services. The Overland Park, Kansas-based tech giant currently serves more than 15,000 client sites around the world.

Meanwhile, TPG Capital — which acquired WellSky, then Mediware Information Systems Inc., back in December 2016 — is the private equity platform of alternative asset firm TPG. Since 1993, TPG Capital has invested $50 billion, with about $11.5 billion of those investments in the health care space.

Kindred Healthcare — which is also co-owned by Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) and Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe — is one notable home-based care example.

LGP, on the other hand, has raised over $40 billion of committed capital since inception. It specializes in consumer, business and health care services providers, as well as businesses in retail, distribution and industrials. 

WellSky will use its new investments from TPG Capital and LGP to grow and expand its current capabilities and service offerings. Miller singled out analytics, telehealth and payer relationships as specific growth areas of interest.

“For our clients, this is great news,” Miller said. “This is just adding to our capacity, capabilities and the ability to support them better. The management team is staying the same, and we’re the same company we were yesterday. We just have the wherewithal to continue to develop solutions that support them — and to use our ears better and really get things done faster.”

The addition of LGP and the new investment from TPG Capital will help the company “be better at everything” it already does, Miller added.

The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2020.

From rumors to reality

WellSky’s Monday announcement doesn’t come as a total surprise.

PE Hub speculated WellSky could be getting new ownership earlier this month, citing “five sources familiar with the matter.”

The publication reported WellSky’s full sale valuation could be around $3 billion, thanks to the company’s EBITDA of about $150 million. It also floated the possibility of the 50-50 joint structure that came to be.

Miller also confirmed other details listed in the report, such as the timing of the transaction.

“This is something we had contemplated doing this year,” he said. “We were definitely contemplating it when the coronavirus outbreak hit … and it gave us some pause.”

When WellSky saw that its business continued to perform “very well” amid the COVID-19 emergency, it decided to move forward with the deal process. It heard from a handful of interested buyers and ultimately went with LGP due to the “aggressiveness of its bid” and its understanding of the WellSky vision and markets, according to Miller.

Growth trajectory

Since being acquired by TPG in late 2016, WellSky has grown significantly, thanks in large part to M&A. Recent transactions include the purchase of ClearCare late last year and another five acquisitions in 2018.

With the help of LGP, WellSky hopes to continue with that trajectory, using both organic and transactional growth methods.

“I fully expect the company to double in size again,” Miller said. “I don’t have any doubt about it. That’s what we do, and that’s what we’ve done. Largely, we’ve tripled in size, and now I suspect, we’ll double and triple again over the next handful of years.”

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After Landing InTouch for $150M, Teledoc Looks to Further In-Home Care Capabilities

Teledoc (NYSE: TDOC) — the virtual health care powerhouse with operations in more than 100 counties — is building on its in-home capabilities and ability to team up with other providers.

Earlier this month, New York-based Teledoc completed a $150 million deal to acquire InTouch Health, a competing virtual care company based in California. Strategically, the acquisition of InTouch allows Teledoc to bridge the entire continuum of care, all the way from acute hospital settings down to the home.

“We have a vision that virtual care is a better way to deliver care, not just domestically but around the world,” David Sides, COO of Teledoc, told Home Health Care News. “We have always been delivering care to consumers. InTouch approached [virtual care] more from a provider-to-provider perspective.”

Timing wise, Teledoc’s deal for InTouch couldn’t come at a more opportune moment for the company, which is coming off a strong 2019. Overall, Teledoc reported annual revenues of about $533.3 million last year, a 32% year-over-year increase compared to 2018.

Then, the COVID-19 emergency struck.

As a result of the coronavirus and the need to avoid person-to-person contact, most health care providers have aggressively shifted their normal in-person operations to virtual care. Although they can’t get directly reimbursed for virtual visits many home health agencies have leveraged telehealth to maintain their patient census and avoid using too much personal protective equipment (PPE).

Consumers, too, have fully embraced virtual care.

The number of claims for medical services provided remotely via telehealth was more than 8,000% higher in April 2020 than at the same time last year, a recent analysis from the health data nonprofit FAIR Health found.

“If you were feeling anxious about COVID-19 and needed mental health support, for example, you couldn’t even go to see a therapist,” Sides said. “For our services, we saw a large increase [in utilization] with the lockdowns. People didn’t really have an alternative to seeking care virtually in their homes.”

Teledoc delivered more than 2 million virtual visits in the first three months of 2020 alone, he noted.

“The world woke up to virtual care and said, ‘Wow. This is exciting.’” Sides said. “I now think this will be a permanent way to deliver health care going forward.”

Teladoc recorded almost $181 million in revenue during the first quarter of 2020, up 41% on a year-over-year basis.

‘It’s a big enough market’

Teledoc unveiled plans to acquire InTouch Health on Jan. 12. Under the terms of the deal, Teledoc bought $150 million in cash and 4.6 million shares of Teladoc Health common stock.

Moving forward with InTouch on board, Teledoc will now be able to better connect health care providers of various types and sizes across the continuum of care. Through Teledoc’s technology, for example, a Philadelphia-based health system can now offer virtual specialist consultations and visits to its hospitals located in rural parts of Pennsylvania.

Founded in 2002, InTouch contracts with more than 450 hospitals and health systems, including 30 of the 50 largest U.S. health systems, Healthcare Dive previously reported.

Teledoc is also better positioned to help home health clinicians and caregivers practice at the top of their licenses, Sides said.

“One of the use cases could be a home health care nurse working with a patient,” he said. “If there’s maybe an adverse reading or a patient isn’t doing well, you could call that person’s doctor and have a consultation. Or maybe a home care aide needs to get in touch with a home health nurse.”

Adding InTouch additionally allows Teledoc to bring more virtual care technology directly into the homes of consumers. Specifically, InTouch developed a Bluetooth-enabled device with a built-in microphone that plugs into television sets, turning any screen into a virtual care platform.

While Teledoc itself does virtual care, a big part of its business model is also helping providers deliver more telehealth-supported services. That may seem like a conflict of interest, but Teledoc isn’t worried about losing any of its direct-to-consumer business.

“All providers should be delivering care virtually. It’s a big enough market,” Sides said. “People might think, ‘Well, you’re enabling people to compete with you.’ That could be, but there’s so much work to be done in [the virtual care space].”

Apart from InTouch, Teledoc has made at least 10 other acquisitions since 2014, data from online data service Crunchbase shows. That includes a $440 million deal for Best Doctors, a $352 million deal for Advance Medical and a $125 million deal for Healthiest You.

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AccentCare Readies Itself for COVID-19 Surges, Adds to Leadership Team

AccentCare, one of the largest home health providers in the U.S., was among the first in-home care providers to publicly discuss its coronavirus response. In early March, AccentCare CEO Steve Rodgers told Home Health Care News that the health care world had never “quite seen a crisis parallel to” the COVID-19 virus.

Since then, the Dallas-based company has battled the virus from coast to coast, from New York to Washington. Now, AccentCare’s expanding leadership team is hoping that the lessons learned along the way will help it manage the new surges emerging across the Sun Belt and other parts of the nation.

AccentCare specifically has its eye on Texas and Florida. Both states are seeing around 10,000 new cases per day, according to NPR.

Dave Davis, AccentCare’s chief clinical innovation officer, told HHCN that his company was ready for the surges.

“We were definitely preparing for it,” Davis said. “We never stopped things like sourcing personal protective equipment (PPE), or continuing to train our staff and ensuring that the majority of them are able to care for someone who is COVID-19-positive. We’ve never slacked for a moment on any of that during the course of this.”

Overall, Accentcare has over 170 locations across the U.S. It provides skilled home health and personal care services, along with hospice care, private-duty nursing and care management services.

Davis, in particular, has been a leader within the company on the COVID-19 front.

“We’re still learning on a day-to-day basis,” Davis said. “We still reach out to referral sources and our strategic partners to let them know what we have done, what we’re prepared for, what we’re bracing for and what our strategies are so we can continue to say ‘yes’ and treat those patients — and also contribute to the throughput so there’s not patients filling beds in the hospital when it’s unnecessary.”

Early on, AccentCare experienced a disruption in line with the rest of the industry after COVID-19 hit. The company saw a significant decline in visits and an uptick in low-utilization payment adjustments (LUPAs).

The census has since mostly recovered, Davis said.

But during that disruption, AccentCare spent its time preparing itself for the rest of COVID-19, a problem it was expecting to deal with for the long haul.

“We have always felt that this was not going to go away fast,” Davis said.

Developing a different plan

When COVID-19 was becoming a crisis, Davis was grateful that the company had done pilots and made partnerships in the remote patient monitoring realm.

It would prove crucial as the company’s COVID-19 plan came together.

“One of the things that became very evident early on was that virtual visits were going to be an integral part of our care planning for these patients,” Davis said. “Being able to say ‘yes’ to our hospitals and being able to say ‘yes’ to [skilled nursing facilities] and the other partners that we work with became very important to us.”

Initially, AccentCare had a team of clinicians specifically set aside to communicate the telehealth portions of care plans to patients, but now it has become an everyday task that most of the workers deal with.

AccentCare has partnered with St. Petersburg, Florida-based Synzi, a telehealth company that partners with agencies across post-acute care, since March 2019.

The company has leveraged Synzi’s platform — mostly its telehealth app and virtual care technology — to carry out safer interactions during the crisis.

“Whether [these visits] are billable or not billable, we knew it was doing the right thing for the patient,” Davis said. “[We needed] to keep in contact with them and it allowed us to do teaching, training, assessment, observation and medication management, [among other things].”

On its end, Synzi has seen demand increase by as much as 3,000% since March.

“AccentCare has done a great job, and we’ve got a great partnership,” Synzi CEO Lee Horner told HHCN. “We bring new, creative ways and ideas to how to leverage the technology because it’s not a single-threaded type of strategy. But it’s that idea of collaborating [that helps] to solve real time problems that they’re having with different patient populations that are in need of different solutions.”

And one of the patient populations that exists are those that do not need in-person care, but instead just need supervision and guidance through their bout with COVID-19.

Managing that group of patients bodes well for the mission to keep hospital beds open and the risk of spread low.

Telehealth communication also offers a way to decrease that patient anxiety that pops up when a patient may be feeling one or two COVID-19 symptoms, but doesn’t definitively have it.

“Being able to put a set of eyes on the patient to try to determine whether they have the right symptoms is an area that we definitely have seen that anxiety piece, where people may think they have contracted the virus and need us to [ease their minds],” Horner said. “I think the other piece is helping AccentCare relieve some of the stress and burden that’s being put on the health system, to help get their patients on our platform and to move them home.”

Leadership changes

In addition to its coronavirus response, AccentCare has also been busy shaking up its leadership team.

The company announced Wednesday that it has added Anita Messal as chief integration officer and Semone Neuman as the chief administrative officer.

Messal, who will be responsible for “transitioning and integrating major growth projects,” has more than 35 years of experience in health care, insurance and benefits. She most recently served as president and COO for PlanSource Benefits Administration Inc., and also has held numerous leadership roles for Optum Health.

Neuman will be responsible for “advancing AccentCare’s operational capabilities across the enterprise and propagating its innovative shared services structure,” according to the company.

She most recently held executive leadership roles at Health Management Systems (HMS).

“We are excited to have both Anita and Semone join AccentCare,” Rogers said in a statement. “Both are extraordinarily well respected in the health care industry and bring significant experience in building and scaling successful businesses. [Each] will play pivotal roles supporting our continued market-leading, organic growth and M&A strategies.”

The post AccentCare Readies Itself for COVID-19 Surges, Adds to Leadership Team appeared first on Home Health Care News.

eConsult Platform AristaMD Raises Additional $6M to Close $24M Series B Round

AristaMD Joins Epic App Orchard Marketplace to Streamline eConsult Process

What You Should Know:

– AristaMD, a digital health company that provides a
platform to connect primary care providers with timely and documented
specialist insights through eConsults, has secured additional $8M in
investments to top off the company’s Series B funding round at $24 million.

– With non-emergency, proactive care and elective
procedures being canceled during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a backlog of
appointments. eConsults will continue to be an effective triage tool now and
moving forward to improve access to specialist insights, reduce healthcare
strain and decrease costs.

– Annually there are around 20 million routine
clinical referrals to specialists that could be addressed by eConsults
and AristaMD is focused on providing more timely access to specialty
care through its innovative eConsult platform.

AristaMD, a
San Diego, CA-based digital health
company that provides proprietary eConsult solutions
that connect primary care providers (PCPs) with timely, documented
specialist insights, today announced additional  $6M in investments from Ascension Ventures,
a strategic healthcare venture firm representing 13 of the nation’s leading
non-for-profit health systems, and .406 Ventures, a venture capital firm investing in
early-stage disruptive enterprise technology and digital health companies. These
investments top off the company’s Series B funding round, which was co-led by
Cigna Ventures and MemorialCare Innovation Fund, at $24 million. The new
capital will be used to accelerate commercial growth as well as continue the
expansion of its proprietary eConsult platform supporting payors and health
systems across the country.

How eConsults Work

Today, millions of patients struggle to get timely access to specialists – resulting in poor outcomes and higher cost of care, impacting everyone across the healthcare spectrum. By utilizing eConsults, primary care providers retain more low-acuity common condition cases that are frequently referred to specialists, clogging waitlists and limiting specialists’ ability to address higher acuity cases in a timely fashion. Empowering PCPs to operate at the top of their license allows patients to have their needs addressed faster, reducing avoidable ED visits and hospitalizations that can occur when patients have to wait too long to be seen by a specialist. This ultimately improves outcomes and overall patient satisfaction.

Transforming Primary Care & Improving Patient Outcomes

Founded in 2014, AristaMD is focused on accelerating
access to specialty care and reducing unnecessary healthcare expense. Designed
by practicing physicians, its eConsult solution empowers primary care providers
(PCPs) to expand their scope of practice and collaborate on patient care with a
highly respected panel of on-demand, board-certified specialists. AristaMD has
over five years of data demonstrating that its eConsult solution reduces the
need for routine clinical specialist referrals by over 70% and has a
significant positive impact on patient care.

Funding Underscores Market Demand for eConsults

The need for eConsults has never been more critical.
According to recently published data, since the COVID-19 pandemic started, outpatient
hospital visits declined
by 31%
. Additionally, preventative screenings for cervix, colon and
breast cancer have dropped
between 86% and 94%
, compared to the last three years. With non-emergency,
proactive care and elective procedures being canceled throughout the pandemic,
there is a backlog of appointments. eConsults will be an effective triage tool
now and moving forward to improve access and reduce healthcare strain.

“Delivering more timely care to patients has become even more crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic and will remain important in the future, as we must reserve precious in-person specialty appointments for those who critically need them,” said Brooke LeVasseur, CEO of AristaMD. “This additional funding will help us accelerate our vision and contribute to shaping a world where all patients have timely, cost-effective access to health care.”

How a group of CA safety-net clinics mobilized tech to respond to Covid-19

A network of community health centers in northern California quickly built out telehealth tools, mapping services and other technologies to respond to Covid-19.  Leaders with two organizations shared how they did it.

Harbour amid a Slowen down in singer city screening

Struggling to sell one multi-million dollar home currently on the market won’t stop actress and singer Jennifer Lopez from expanding her property collection. Lopez has reportedly added to her real estate holdings an eight-plus acre estate in Bel-Air anchored by a multi-level mansion.

The property, complete with a 30-seat screening room, a 100-seat amphitheater and a swimming pond with sandy beach and outdoor shower, was asking about $40 million, but J. Lo managed to make it hers for $28 million. As the Bronx native acquires a new home in California, she is trying to sell a gated compound.

Black farmers in the US’s South— faced with continued failure their efforts to run successful farms their launched a lawsuit claiming that “white racism” is to blame for their inability to the produce crop yields and on equivalent to that switched seeds.

I’m thinking I’m back you want a war or you want to just give me a gun everything’s got a price rusty, I guess. You stabbed price rusty, the Devil in the back how good to see you again.

Steve Jobs

Struggling to sell one multi-million dollar home currently on the market won’t stop actress and singer Jennifer Lopez from expanding her property collection. Lopez has reportedly added to her real estate holdings an eight-plus acre estate in Bel-Air anchored by a multi-level mansion. The property, complete with a 30-seat screening room, a 100-seat amphitheater and a swimming pond with sandy beach and outdoor shower, was asking about $40 million, but J. Lo managed to make it hers for $28 illion. As the Bronx native acquires a new home in California, she is trying to sell a gated compound.

Lopez has reportedly added to her real home in California

Lo managed to make it hers for $28 million. As the Bronx native acquires a new home in California, she is trying to sell a gated compound in the Golden State. The 17,000 square-foot Hidden Hills property with mountain views boasts nine bedrooms, including a master suite with private terrace and an entertainment wing, which includes a 20-seat theater, dance studio and recording studio. China’s youngest female billionaire has unloaded her triplex penthouse in Sydney.

The 17,000 square-foot Hidden Hills property with mountain views boasts nine bedrooms, includin. master suite with private terrace and an entertainment wing .

Following years of white-hot growth, luxury home prices in Sydney declined for the first time in years, slipping 1% between the second quarter and third quarter of 2018, according to the latest report from brokerage Knight Frank.The nearly 6,500-square-foot apartment has sweeping views.

The property, complete with a 30-seat screening room, a 100-seat amp
hitheater and a swimming pond with sandy beach

She is trying to sell a gated compound in the Golden State. The 17,000-square-foot Hidden Hills property with mountain and city views boasts nine bedrooms, including a master suite with private terrace and an entertainment wing, which includes a 20-seat theater

Lopez has reportedly added to her real estate holdings an eight-plus

  • Struggling to sell one multi-million dollar home currently on the market
  • Lopez has reportedly added to her real estate holdings an eight-plus acre
  • The property, complete with a 30-seat screening room, a 100-seat amphit
  • Lo managed to make it hers for $28 million. As the Bronx native acquires

The 17,000-square-foot Hidden Hills property with mountain and city views boasts nine bedrooms, including a master suite with private terrace and an entertainment wing, which includes a 20-seat theater.

Black farmers in the US’s South—faced with continued failure in their efforts to run successful farms their launched a lawsuit claiming that “white racism”

The secret to moving this ancient sphinx screening

Struggling to sell one multi-million dollar home currently on the market won’t stop actress and singer Jennifer Lopez from expanding her property collection. Lopez has reportedly added to her real estate holdings an eight-plus acre estate in Bel-Air anchored by a multi-level mansion.

The property, complete with a 30-seat screening room, a 100-seat amphitheater and a swimming pond with sandy beach and outdoor shower, was asking about $40 million, but J. Lo managed to make it hers for $28 million. As the Bronx native acquires a new home in California, she is trying to sell a gated compound.

Black farmers in the US’s South— faced with continued failure their efforts to run successful farms their launched a lawsuit claiming that “white racism” is to blame for their inability to the produce crop yields and on equivalent to that switched seeds.

I’m thinking I’m back you want a war or you want to just give me a gun everything’s got a price rusty, I guess. You stabbed price rusty, the Devil in the back how good to see you again.

Steve Jobs

Struggling to sell one multi-million dollar home currently on the market won’t stop actress and singer Jennifer Lopez from expanding her property collection. Lopez has reportedly added to her real estate holdings an eight-plus acre estate in Bel-Air anchored by a multi-level mansion. The property, complete with a 30-seat screening room, a 100-seat amphitheater and a swimming pond with sandy beach and outdoor shower, was asking about $40 million, but J. Lo managed to make it hers for $28 illion. As the Bronx native acquires a new home in California, she is trying to sell a gated compound.

Lopez has reportedly added to her real home in California

Lo managed to make it hers for $28 million. As the Bronx native acquires a new home in California, she is trying to sell a gated compound in the Golden State. The 17,000 square-foot Hidden Hills property with mountain views boasts nine bedrooms, including a master suite with private terrace and an entertainment wing, which includes a 20-seat theater, dance studio and recording studio. China’s youngest female billionaire has unloaded her triplex penthouse in Sydney.

The 17,000 square-foot Hidden Hills property with mountain views boasts nine bedrooms, includin. master suite with private terrace and an entertainment wing .

Following years of white-hot growth, luxury home prices in Sydney declined for the first time in years, slipping 1% between the second quarter and third quarter of 2018, according to the latest report from brokerage Knight Frank.The nearly 6,500-square-foot apartment has sweeping views.

The property, complete with a 30-seat screening room, a 100-seat amp
hitheater and a swimming pond with sandy beach

She is trying to sell a gated compound in the Golden State. The 17,000-square-foot Hidden Hills property with mountain and city views boasts nine bedrooms, including a master suite with private terrace and an entertainment wing, which includes a 20-seat theater

Lopez has reportedly added to her real estate holdings an eight-plus

  • Struggling to sell one multi-million dollar home currently on the market
  • Lopez has reportedly added to her real estate holdings an eight-plus acre
  • The property, complete with a 30-seat screening room, a 100-seat amphit
  • Lo managed to make it hers for $28 million. As the Bronx native acquires

The 17,000-square-foot Hidden Hills property with mountain and city views boasts nine bedrooms, including a master suite with private terrace and an entertainment wing, which includes a 20-seat theater.

Black farmers in the US’s South—faced with continued failure in their efforts to run successful farms their launched a lawsuit claiming that “white racism”