This week's highlights: Optum acquires NaviHealth for $1.1 billion, a free version of a wait time application that's customized for COVID-19 testing sites, and Gartner estimates that worldwide IT spending will actually decline 8% from 2019.
• The HHS issues an RFI on re-developing the IT strategy behind its Strategic National Stockpile of items associated with coronavirus-like pandemics. The new strategy would include greater use of analytics to forecast requirements. Comments are due May 29th.
• The Federal Communications Commission approved its seventh wave of COVID-19 telehealth program grant applications, issuing $16.87 million to 43 healthcare providers nationwide.
• The Inpatient Prospective Payment System proposed rule released May 11th suggests nearly 500 new ICD-10-CM codes that would take effect October 1st. View a full list of the proposed codes in Table 6A.
• Scammers posing as contact tracers from public health departments are sending out fake text messages to try to steal people's private information, according to a notice published by the FTC.
• Optum acquires post-acute care management company NaviHealth for $1.1 billion.
• Digital health companies experience record utilization, revenue, investment and stock market surges as healthcare organizations pivot to telemedicine and remote monitoring.
• Merck is publicly unveiling a vaccine partnership with the U.S. government, a biotech buyout and an R&D pact for a potential therapeutic. Merck is buying privately held Swiss biotech Themis for access to a potential COVID-19 vaccine developed by the biotech and its partner, Institut Pasteur.
• An international team of engineers and scientists from MIT, Harvard, Apple, Teman, and top hardware companies have launched UVCWear, a company making Far-UVC wearable technology that is safe for skin and eyes and deadly to viruses and bacteria.
• Microsoft has launched Lists, a new Airtable-like app for Microsoft 365, a tool to “track issues, assets, routines, contacts, inventory and more using customizable views and smart rules and alerts to keep everyone in sync.” It features deep integrations into Teams, SharePoint and other Microsoft products.
• Patient engagement software vendor Conversa Health launches Employee HealthCheck, an automated COVID-19 screening app for employers that was developed with help from UCSF Health. Flagler Health (FL) and consumer digital health company Healthfully develop a similar app that also includes virtual visit capabilities.
• Engage offers a free version of its WaitTimes app customized for COVID-19 testing sites for 90 days.
• A UPMC cardiologist’s app that generates a post-visit summary using AI-extracted speech finds new use in telehealth visits, where patients are more likely to forget their session details due to technology and proximity distractions.
• Adobe informed customers on Tuesday that it has patched memory corruption vulnerabilities, including one that allows arbitrary code execution, in several of its products.
• As Chinese authorities expand the use of health tracking apps, privacy concerns are growing. China’s health tracking QR codes have played a key part in the country’s successful containment of the coronavirus and now look set to play a much broader role in daily life as local authorities dream up new uses for the technology.
• A quarter of Americans have little or no interest in taking a coronavirus vaccine, a Reuters/Ipsos poll published on Thursday found, with some voicing concern that the record pace at which vaccine candidates are being developed could compromise safety.
• A KLAS report on go-live support finds that engagement size is decreasing as the large health system market for new systems has matured. CSI Healthcare IT, Engage, and Medasource excel at executive involvement, while HCI Group and Nuance draw the most customer complaints about employee quality.
• Researchers develop a wearable they hope can successfully predict the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. The patch tracks coughing and respiratory activity, heart rate, and temperature, and then transmits the data to cloud-based data management software, where algorithms transform it into graphical summaries.
• A pre-print study finds that coronavirus levels in a given city’s sewer sludge is highly correlated with the days-later COVID-19 epidemiological curve hospital admissions.
• Worldwide IT spending is projected to total $3.4 trillion in 2020, a decline of 8% from 2019, according to the latest forecast by Gartner. All segments will experience a decline in 2020, with devices and data center systems experiencing the largest drops in spending, while cloud-based services will see growth.
• Physicians and data experts at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, located in one of the first COVID-19 hot spots, have developed a risk score that aims to maximize resources and direct treatment and devised a set of criteria that typically indicate how sick COVID-19 patients will get.