This week's highlights: an acquisition of Finnish firm Blueprint Genetics made by Quest Diagnostics, alerts from the FDA on cybersecurity flaws, and a new survey revealing what physicians would give up to achieve a better work-life balance.
• Judy Faulkner urges CEOs at some of Epic’s largest hospital customers to sign a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar protesting the proposed interoperability rule published last year. Although supposedly driven by privacy concerns, the real motivation seems to be an attempt to thwart competition from Silicon Valley companies. The HHS and the ONC continue to promote the push for greater interoperability.
• The CMS announced Thursday that the eight online tools designed for Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers to make healthcare choices will be combined later this year to allow users to have a "streamlined experience" on Medicare.gov.
• The CMS on Wednesday refreshed the overall hospital quality star ratings on Hospital Compare using the current methodology as it works to potentially change the program.
• Lab giant Quest Diagnostics acquired Finnish firm Blueprint Genetics, saying the move would improve its genetic testing capabilities for rare and genetic diseases.
• Imprivata acquires GroundControl, which offers enterprise digital identity authorization and access management for mobile devices.
• Bloomin’ Babies Birth Center in Colorado pilots the Mayo Clinic’s Nest West virtual care program, which offers expectant mothers the option of having four to seven of the typical 12 to 14 prenatal appointments virtually.
• Epic updates its software to include travel screening prompts for patients who may have traveled from China or who are experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus.
• Epic Systems will debut its ambient voice technology voice assistant called “Hey, Epic!” at HIMSS20 in March.
• Surescripts releases a Specialty Patient Enrollment service that automates the specialty drug prescribing process. Several EHR vendors, including Cerner, will implement it.
• Veredus Laboratories, a provider of molecular diagnostic solutions, announced the development of VereCoV detection kit, a portable Lab-on-Chip application capable of detecting the Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) i.e. Wuhan Coronavirus, in a single test.
• The FDA alerts hospitals to cybersecurity flaws found in some GE Healthcare Clinical Information Central Stations and Telemetry Servers that could enable hackers to effectively take over devices and gain access to PHI.
• Google security researchers have discovered that the privacy mechanism implemented by Apple’s Safari browser to prevent user tracking across websites is not efficient at protecting users’ privacy.
• A security flaw in LabCorp’s website exposed thousands of medical documents, like test results containing sensitive health data. It’s the second incident in the past year after LabCorp said in June that 7.7 million patients had been affected by a credit card data breach of a third-party payments processor.
• Half of physicians said they would take a salary reduction of up to $20,000 per year in exchange for working less hours and achieving a better work-life balance, according to a new survey.
• A new nerve-growing method could help injured soldiers and others recover from injuries, according to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh.
• Researchers have created a prototype robot gripper that uses ultrasonics to suspend an object in midair, potentially making it suitable for the most delicate tasks to help out in places like hospitals, labs and phone repair shops, where they’re going to need a light touch.
• A health records access survey of 200 patients conducted by DrFirst finds that 33% have never used a portal to access information, with top reasons being lack of know-how, technology, and time.
• A JAMA Network-published study finds that ED doctors prescribed fewer doses of opioids for discharged patients when the default prescription quantities were reduced. Patients were ordered 0.19 tablets more for each one-tablet increase in the default prescription quantity.
• Cardinal Health is voluntarily recalling 1 million potentially contaminated surgical gowns, 7.7 million of which were distributed to 2,807 facilities worldwide over the course of more than a year.