This week's highlights: Apple announced a number of updates to health and wellness on both the iPhone and Apple Watch, researchers at Sophos report finding a new ransomware strain in the wild calling it "Epsilon Red," and MEDITECH is hosting a webinar on Expanse Patient Connect.
• The FDA approved the first new drug for Alzheimer’s disease in nearly 20 years, Aduhelm from Biogen, based on study results showing it seemed “reasonably likely” to benefit Alzheimer’s patients.
• In Sacramento, California lawmakers are considering a bill that would force hospitals, clinics and skilled nursing facilities to pay medical professionals up to $10,000 in “hero pay” for their pandemic work. The bonuses would be paid out in four installments of $2,500 during 2022.
• Amid an ongoing series of expensive and disruptive attacks on U.S. health systems, energy infrastructure and food suppliers, the U.S. Department of Justice says it will elevate its ransomware investigations to a priority level similar to that of terrorism.
• Police arrested more than 800 people worldwide in a huge global sting involving encrypted phones that were secretly planted by the FBI, law enforcement agencies said Tuesday.
• Canadian health IT and clinic operator CloudMD attributes its record $5.7 million increase in Q1 revenue to its aggressive acquisition strategy, including five in Q1 and 11 over the last year. It plans to launch an automated, connected solution later this year aimed at all points of patient care.
• Digital social services referral company Aunt Bertha raises $27 million in a funding round led by Warburg Pincus, bringing its total funding to $49 million.
• Carbon Health is stepping into chronic condition management with its recent acquisition of Steady Health, an integrated diabetes care platform.
• Virtual health-care startup LetsGetChecked has raised $150 million in new Series D financing to expand its business after seeing a boom in demand for its services during the pandemic. The funding round, which was led by Casdin Capital, valued the startup at more than $1 billion.
• Israeli wearable-tech company Biobeat launched its new continuous ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) tool late last week. It is cuffless and can capture data about a patient's cardiac health throughout the day.
• Apple announced a number of updates to health and wellness features on both the iPhone and Apple Watch. In the newest iPhone operating system, Apple is adding real-time assessment of walking stability and fall risk, additional context for lab test results, new tools for tracking health trends for individuals as well as caregivers, and new integrations with major EHR vendors.
• Amazon Halo, the company's app and wearable, is adding a new feature designed to help users understand their functional fitness, dubbed Movement Health. It is pitching this tool as a way to give users insights about their posture and help them to solve issues with personalized video suggestions.
• Speech recognition company Voiceitt is making it easier for people with non-standard speech to communicate with those around them and to use voice command devices with the release of its app on the Apple Store.
• JBS, the world's largest beef supplier, has been hit with a ransomware attack, threatening some of the U.S. meat supply. It believes the attack originated from a criminal group likely based in Russia.
• The Justice Department has recovered the majority of a multimillion-dollar ransom payment to hackers after a cyberattack that caused the operator of the nation’s largest fuel pipeline to halt its operations last month, officials said Monday.
• Nearly 3.3 million patients from the 20/20 Hearing Care Network were recently notified that their information was accessed and possibly deleted, after an actor hacked into the provider’s Amazon Web Services cloud storage bucket and downloaded or destroyed data.
• Researchers at Sophos report finding a new ransomware strain in the wild calling it “Epsilon Red.” The malware is written in GO, and it was delivered as the final executable payload in a hand-controlled attack against a target in the U.S. hospitality sector.
• Websites and apps around the world went down for about an hour Tuesday after Fastly, a major cloud content delivery network, reported a widespread failure.
• MEDITECH is hosting a webinar on Expanse Patient Connect, a solution that enables convenient bidirectional communications between healthcare organizations and their patients, on June 9th.
• MGMA research shows that total compensation for primary care physicians between 2019 and 2020 increased by 2.6%. Compensation changes for specialists were similarly modest or flat. Practices were resilient in the face of pandemic-related challenges, according to MGMA President and CEO Halee Fischer-Wright, MD leveraging federal programs to cover expenses and staff costs, adapting to virtual care, and pivoting to accommodate in-person visits as COVID-19 cases decreased.
• Researchers are optimistic that there may soon be a market for vaccine administration via microneedle patch technology. Georgia Tech engineers have developed patches for the flu and measles and believe the delivery method could be used for COVID-19.
• Epic delivers a fully integrated product suite and the most adopted patient information interoperability tech to hospitals, but many organizations may see the EHR vendor's significant upfront cost as a barrier, according to KLAS Research. For its June 2021 Epic Complete Look report, KLAS examined Epic's performance and market share based on customer interviews and analysis. KLAS released the report to offer a more comprehensive outlook on Epic's hold on the hospital EHR market share without comparison to other major EHR vendors. KLAS found that Epic maintains 31 percent of the hospital EHR market and 42 percent of hospital beds.