This week's highlights: Anthem agreed to acquire myNexus for an undisclosed amount, Amazon has been granted an FDA Emergency Use Authorization for its COVID-19 test kit, and MEDITECH published a blog post on their collaboration with Google to deliver access to the cloud.
• The Senate passed a bill Thursday delaying Medicare sequester cuts for the rest of the year, a win for hospitals and providers. The legislation passed the Senate by a 90-2 margin and now heads to the House for final passage.
• The Senate confirmed Vivek Murthy as President Joe Biden’s surgeon general Tuesday by a vote of 57 to 43, his second tour in the role, having previously served under former President Barack Obama.
• Boston Scientific will pay 47 states and Washington, D.C. nearly $189 million to settle claims that it misrepresented the safety and effectiveness of vaginal mesh products and that it didn't sufficiently disclose the associated risks.
• A proposed executive order would set new rules on the disclosure of data breaches that also affect United States government agencies, according to a Reuters news report.
• Micky Tripathi, Ph.D., the new National Coordinator for Health IT, gave the opening keynote of the ONC’s annual meeting on Monday, outlining ONC’s top policy priorities and interests. These include an ongoing focus on leveraging healthcare IT to support ongoing work to end the COVID-19 pandemic; a strong new emphasis for the agency on health equity; and ongoing efforts to help the U.S. healthcare industry achieve authentic interoperability.
• Anthem agreed to acquire myNexus, a home-based nursing management company, for an undisclosed amount. MyNexus currently provides clinical support services to 1.7 million Medicare Advantage members across 20 states.
• Everlywell, a leader in the at-home diagnostic testing space, has acquired PWNHealth and its subsidiary Home Access Health to form a new parent company called Everly Health.
• Total corporate funding for digital health, including venture capital, debt, and public market financing, reached $21.6 billion in 2020, according to Mercom Capital Group. The pace of investment has not slowed down in 2021 with a flurry of digital health company venture capital investments in March.
• Cardiac remote patient monitoring and data management company PaceMate raises $8 million.
• Amazon has been granted an FDA Emergency Use Authorization for its COVID-19 test kit with at-home sample collection.
• LeadingReach announces GA of OutReach CRM, a physician marketing tool designed to improve referral management.
• GoodRx develops a Vaccine Guide to help users find COVID-19 vaccine appointments by state, site, or pharmacy, and to determine what type of vaccine is available at a specific location.
• Slack became a public messaging platform with the wider rollout of a new cross-organizational direct messaging feature, and now it’s already taking steps to mitigate the dangers of operating such a platform without well-thought-out moderation protections.
• In the last few weeks, the ransomware hackers behind Conti, Babuk, and Avaddon posted data they claim to have stolen from at least five healthcare entities, serving as a warning that extortion attempts will continue to plague the sector in 2021.
• Security researchers at Zimperium say powerful new Android malware masquerading as a critical system update can take complete control of a victim’s device and steal their data.
• Suspected Russian hackers gained access to email accounts belonging to the Trump administration’s head of the Department of Homeland Security and members of the department’s cybersecurity staff whose jobs included hunting threats from foreign countries.
• After months of recurring symptoms, some long COVID patients are reporting that their symptoms ease after getting a vaccine. Although there is no definitive data on how many are experiencing this, informal surveys report up to 30 per cent of long-haulers whose symptoms have improved following vaccination.
• MEDITECH published a blog post on their collaboration with Google to deliver access to the cloud.
• COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer with BioNTech SE and Moderna reduced risk of infection by 80% two weeks or more after the first of two shots, according to data from a real-world U.S. study released on Monday.
• The proliferation of therapy apps obscures the core issue of a lack of psychologists to meet demand. An overwhelming demand for counseling has spawned slickly marketed companies promising a service they cannot possibly provide.
• Nearly 40% of hospitals could operate in the red this year even if the vaccine rollout is smooth and COVID-19 hospitalizations decline, a new analysis estimated. The study, conducted by Kaufman Hall on behalf of the American Hospital Association, gives a glimpse of the lingering financial impact of the pandemic on hospitals.
• Scientists at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have identified a potential way to head off heart attacks and strokes by strengthening the fibrous caps overlying atherosclerotic plaques that naturally accumulate inside our arteries.
• University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers have identified the most toxic proteins made by the virus that causes COVID-19 and then successfully tested FDA-approved cancer drug Selinexor to blunt the viral protein's detrimental effects.