Health IT Update; Plus, The Covid Vice Age - freetxp

Health IT Update; Plus, The Covid Vice Age

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While a minimum viable product may be key for startups to attract first investors and customers, Micky Tripathi, the federal national coordinator for health information technology, warning against this approach when it comes to health IT compliance. “Don’t do the minimum viable compliance thing,” Tripathi said this week at the ViVE conference in Miami. “Don’t let the lawyers determine your business strategy. There’s a huge strategic opportunity out here.”

After ten years and $40 billion in federal Medicaid and Medicare incentives to get a foundation of electronic health records in place, Tripathi argued we are finally on the precipice of thinking about healthcare as “something that’s digitally native.” (Based on my personal experience at the doctor’s office last week where they emailed me a form to print, fill out by hand, and scan back, I’d say this is a bit optimistic.) But what’s he’s talking about from an infrastructure perspective are the industry standards that allow the exchange of health data in ways that are actually useful to patients, providers, insurers, software developers and everyone else.

One piece of this is the so-called “information blocking rule” that went into effect on April 5, 2021. It’s intended to promote interoperability and the sharing of electronic health information by including penalties for entities that interfere with the access or exchange of data . Enforcement is ultimately up to the Office of the Inspector General. Tripathi said the government is getting around one complaint a day to its information blocking portal. Of 274 claims related to information blocking, around 75% were filed by patients (or a third party on behalf of a patient) and the vast majority of them (211 claims) were filed against healthcare providers, according to data released at the beginning of this month.

“I don’t believe that every organization has a chief information blocking officer that is standing at the gate shutting all information from flowing out,” Tripathi said. “I think it’s much more about priorities.” The hope is all interested parties will move compliance up the list now that the rule has gone into effect. He listed other key priorities as standard APIs, network interoperability, health equity and the coordination of federal agencies.

Former Livongo Team Launches A New Startup To Improve Rural Healthcare

For her next act, Jennifer Schneider, the former president of Livongo Health, which applied technology to treat chronic conditions, is using technology to improve rural health. Her new startup, Homeward, aims to boost access to specialty care, like cardiology, in rural communities by providing a hybrid of virtual and in-person health services. The San Francisco-based company has raised a $20 million Series A round funding, led by General Catalyst, where Schneider currently serves as a part time executive-in-residence. Her cofounders are former Livongo colleagues Amar Kendale and Bimal Shah. Read more here.


Deals Of The Week

Dollars For Diagnostics: Sherlock Biosciences, which uses Crispr and synthetic biology to develop new diagnostics, raised $80 million in a Series B funding round led by Novalis LifeSciences. In 2020, the company got the first-ever emergency use authorization for the gene-editing technology Crispr for its coronavirus diagnostic test. Sherlock’s cofounders include Omar Abudayyeh and Jonathan Gootenberg, who were 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30 honorees.

Brand Name Meds: GoodRx, best known for its coupons that offer significant savings for cash pay patients for generic drugs at the pharmacy counter, is expanding its solutions for brand name drugs. This week the company announced plans to acquire vitaCare Prescription Services from TherapeuticsMD for $150 million in cash, with an additional $7 million contingent on financial performance. VitaCare helps patients navigate the maze between insurers, providers and the pharmacy to access savings programs and take care of prior authorization requirements.

Health IT: Health Gorilla, a software solution based on the FHIR standard that enables patients, doctors, insurers and labs to exchange healthcare data, raised a $50 million Series C funding round led by SignalFire.

mRNA Cancer Vaccine: BioNTech and Regeneron announced Tuesday that they are expanding their strategic collaboration. The two companies will be working to advance BioNTech’s cancer vaccine candidate BNT116 in combination with Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody cemipilimab as a treatment for non-small cell lung cancer.

Health Plans-as-a-Service: New York-based startup Flume Health announced it raised a $30 million series A round led by Optum Ventures. The company is focused on building digital-first health plans for its customers, which include Firefly Health and Hue Health. Flumes software platform aims to allow health insurers and providers to tailor plans to specific patient populations.


Noteworthy

Rite Aid shakes up management and eliminates COO role to cut costs.

A study finds “dangerous” and “discredited” LGBTQ+ conversion therapy costs the US an estimated $9.23 billion each year.

Kurbo and WW International—formerly Weight Watchers—agreed to pay $1.5 million to resolve claims their weight management app illegally gathered personal information from children, according to the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission.

A man who made medical history in January by receiving a heart from a genetically altered pig has died, according to the University of Maryland School of Medicine, though the cause of death was not immediately clear.

Coronavirus Updates

On February 24, the United Kingdom eliminated the last of its Covid-19 restrictions. Since that time, the country has seen an uptick in its Covid cases – about 46% more new cases in the past 7 days than in the week prior. The country also saw a 12% week-over-week increase in the number of people being hospitalized for Covid. The numbers are still well below the peaks seen during the recent omicron surge, and it’s not clear yet if this is a statistical blip or a trend. Still, as states and municipalities across the US lift public health measures, there may be a similar uptick in cases in this country, too. Only time will tell.


Welcome To The Vice Age: How Sex, Drugs And Gambling Help Americans Cope With Covid

The pandemic caused millions to lean in to good old-fashioned bad behavior. Two years later, business has never been better for cannabis, gaming and porn—and the high times are here to stay. Read more here.

Other Coronavirus News

Hawaii plans to drop the nation’s last remaining statewide indoor mask mandate later this month, Gov. David Ige announced Tuesday.

Pfizer announced Wednesday that it’s started a clinical trial of its Covid antiviral medicationPaxlovid, for non-hospitalized pediatric patients aged 6 to 17.

Across Forbes

Fintech Startup That Helps Families Keep Track Of Food Stamps And Other Government Benefits Raises $50 Million

Google’s $5.4 Billion Acquisition Of Cybersecurity Firm Mandiant Comes As Tech Leaders Brace For Escalating Digital Threats

A Guide To All The Outrageous Mansions And Estates Owned By Sanctioned Russian Billionaires

What Else We are Reading

Lululemon founder commits $100M to cure his rare disease (Endpoints News)

Insurers Refuse to Pick Up Bill for Billions in Opioid Claims (Bloomberg)

South Africa’s Aspen signs deal to package and sell J&J COVID vaccine (Reuters)

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