This week's highlights: A recent Supreme Court ruling gives healthcare providers a little more freedom to send automated text messages to patients using mHealth, Moderna plans to make a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot available by the fall, and the government announced that about half of all adults in the U.S. have received at least one COVID-19 shot.
• The White House announced plans on Friday to invest $1.7 billion to ramp up efforts to identify and track coronavirus variants that could spark another severe wave of infections. At least $1 billion of those funds will be used to expand genomic sequencing efforts.
• The HHS tells hospitals to stop hiding their federally required pricing transparency information by adding website code to make it invisible to web searches.
• A recent Supreme Court ruling gives healthcare providers a little more freedom to send automated text messages to patients using mHealth platforms about updates on upcoming appointments, prescription notifications and exam reminders, though they still have to adhere to HIPAA privacy and security requirements.
• The FDA revoked emergency use authorization that allowed for the investigational monoclonal antibody therapy bamlanivimab, when administered alone, to be used for the treatment of mild-to-moderate COVID-19 in adults and certain pediatric patients.
• Health data interoperability startup 1UpHealth raises $25 million in a Series B funding round.
• Home blood-drawing startup GetLabs raises $3 million in a seed funding round led by PivotNorth Capital. Its main goal is to eventually partner with telemedicine companies.
• Health insurers estimate they will return $2.1 billion to members this year in medical loss ratio rebates, according to an April 12th data note from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
• Mayo Clinic launched two new companies to support its newly developed Remote Diagnostics and Management Platform, which connects data with artificial intelligence technologies for clinical decision support.
• Google Earth launches a new Timelapse tool that lets users explore how the world has changed over the last four decades. The tool will be built into the existing Google Earth platform.
• A new Lyft feature lets patients call their own rides while healthcare clients foot the bill with the launch of Lyft Pass for Healthcare, a voucher tool that lets patients plan their own rides to providers.
• Moderna plans to make a COVID-19 vaccine booster shot available by fall, offering a third shot that will protect people from variants going into the fall and winter season.
• FBI agents executed a court-authorized cyber operation to delete malicious web shells from hundreds of previously hacked Microsoft Exchange servers in the United States, unbeknownst to their owners.
• Siemens released a total of 14 new advisories on Tuesday, including five describing the impact and remediations for the NAME:WRECK vulnerabilities disclosed on the same day. These vulnerabilities could affect billions of devices that use these TCP/IP stacks for network communications.
• Digital.ai released the Digital Transformation Progress Report, based on a survey of over 600 enterprise IT, security, and business decision makers on the state of digital transformation in their business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Some healthcare associations, eager to ramp up one of their most important revenue streams, are bringing back in-person events this summer.
• In India, New Delhi reports a record 25,500 COVID-19 cases in a 24-hour period as nearly one-third of people who are tested are found to be positive. The city of 20 million people has fewer than 100 available ICU beds and hospitals are running out of oxygen and drugs.
• Half of all adults in the U.S. have received at least one COVID-19 shot and about a third of the population have been fully vaccinated, the government announced Sunday.
• Healthcare Dive provides an overview of the keynote panels from the recent CHIME 21 Spring Forum.
• Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital found that redheads have a high pain tolerance due to a mechanism that increases their susceptibility to sunburns. The research found the cells that determine skin color, called melanocytes, play a large role in determining how people experience pain.
• A team of healthcare researchers has determined that the costs of Medicare reimbursing for remote patient monitoring equipment could become very high, even as clinical effectiveness standards have not yet been developed. The expansion of fee-for-service reimbursement for RPM services provides incentives for rapid uptake and with more and more devices available, providers may enroll large numbers of patients in RPM programs with little regard for who will see a meaningful benefit.
• Moves to reimburse hospitals the same amount as physician offices may threaten access to care, according to a new study from the American Hospital Association on site-neutral payments, conducted for the AHA by KNG Health Consulting.