This week's highlights: The dramatic surge in cases of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus is now having a major impact on hospitals and health systems, Microsoft is threatening to withhold Windows 11 updates if your CPU is old, & Fitbit released its latest fitness-tracking wearable.
• Delivering another blow to what’s left of former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s legacy, New York’s new governor acknowledged on her first day in office that the state has had nearly 12,000 more deaths from COVID-19 than Cuomo told the public.
• In advance of the next ACA open enrollment period, the HHS announced a major expansion of the number of federally funded navigator organizations for the 2022 plan year.
• The HHS has enlisted several firms, including PricewaterhouseCoopers, to audit billions of dollars sent to healthcare providers during the pandemic. Those audits will start soon for thousands of providers who received at least $750,000 in federal financial assistance last year.
• The HHS launched a new office on Monday aimed at addressing the health impacts and disparities caused by climate change. The Office of Climate Change and Health Equity will have three main jobs: building resilience to climate health impacts; partnering with hospitals to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and build resiliency; and combining climate resilience with health equity.
• The dramatic surge in cases of the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus is now having a major impact on hospitals’ and health systems’ bottom lines, according to the August 2021 “National Hospital Flash Report,” published by the Chicago-based Kaufman Hall consulting firm. Margins and volumes both fell across key metrics compared to pre-pandemic levels seen in 2019. While revenues rose above 2019 levels, those gains were offset by escalating expenses.
• Rezilient Health raises $2.5 million to launch its hybrid clinic concept for employees in St. Louis which includes physical spaces equipped with diagnostic equipment that physicians can control remotely with the aid of on-site nurses.
• Covera Health is raising funds to build out its platform to spot diagnostic errors in radiology. The New York startup raised $25 million in a series C funding round led by private equity firm Insight Partners.
• LG Electronics has teamed up with fellow South Korean company ezCaretech to develop a new telemedicine solution. The ezOntheCall telemedicine platform combines LG Electronics' video conferencing system with ezCaretech's EMR-based telemedicine application.
• Fitbit released its latest fitness-tracking wearable, the Fitbit Charge 5, equipped with a host of health-related features, including stress management and new premium content.
• The FDA issued its first green light for an at-home COVID-19 diagnostic test that delivers results through the user’s smartphone, streamlining self-testing for students and employees as they begin to return to classrooms and the workplace. It was developed by BD in collaboration with the digital testing company Scanwell Health, the tool yields reliable test results in 15 minutes.
• McAfee security researchers, in partnership with Culinda, identified a series of severe vulnerabilities in B. Braun’s Infusomat Space large volume infusion pump and SpaceStation system that they claim could potentially lead to dispensing potentially lethal doses of medication.
• The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued an alert Friday urging enterprises to address a newly disclosed vulnerability in Microsoft Azure Cosmos DB as soon as possible.
• A new phishing campaign is exploiting the ongoing uncertainty about company policies related to COVID-19. The campaign uses emails that purport to come from a company’s HR office informing employees that they’re required to fill out a COVID-19 vaccination status form. Clicking on the link in the email will take the user to a Microsoft Outlook credential phishing page.
• The FBI issues an alert about Hive ransomware, which has attacked nearly 30 healthcare organizations since first detected in June.
• Elizabeth Holmes will be on trial later this month but the evidence will expose a bigger collision between the “move fast and break things” Silicon Valley culture and the more cautious cadence of health care.
• New Zealand has reported what it believes to be its first death linked to the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine. A vaccine safety monitoring board said the woman's death was "probably" due to myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle. It also noted there were other medical issues which could have "influenced the outcome following vaccination".
• Microsoft is threatening to withhold Windows 11 updates if your CPU is old, and even security and driver updates may be withheld.