IMDA eNews 031423

The latest news affecting you and your customers…

from the Independent Medical Specialty Dealers Association

Real-time imaging for needle injections

Is it possible to deliver shots to babies and toddlers without tears and trauma? University of Oklahoma researcher Qinggong Tang believes it is, according to The Oklahoman. Tang received $500,000 in funding through the National Science Foundation to develop technology that will provide real-time images for doctors administering needle-based medical interventions. A tiny imaging device in the tip of a needle will give doctors information about soft tissues in front of the needle before penetration. Doctors currently rely on X-ray or ultrasound technologies to deliver anesthesia or epidurals, and to perform tumor biopsies, he points out. But these technologies do not provide adequate detail about tissue depth, or muscle and fat under the skin, which can have adverse impacts, such as puncturing blood vessels when needles are placed imprecisely.

Noncompete issue under debate

The Federal Trade Commission has extended the comment deadline to April 19 for its proposed rule to ban contractual terms prohibiting workers from pursuing certain employment after their contract with an employer ends. The American Hospital Association, which has already submitted detailed comments, urged the agency to extend its original March 20 deadline by 60 days, as well as to withdraw the rule or exempt the hospital field, or at least doctors and senior hospital executives. “The proposed regulation errs by seeking to create a one-size-fits-all rule for all employees across all industries, especially because Congress has not granted the FTC the authority to act in such a sweeping manner,” according to the AHA. “Even if the FTC had the legal authority to issue this proposed rule, now is not the time to upend the healthcare labor markets with a rule like this.”

3D printing of medical devices

Additive manufacturing technology – or 3D printing – has enabled medical researchers to create customized medical devices. Unfortunately, the ability to design and print the smart, flexible materials this type of equipment requires is lacking, according to researchers at Penn State University and The University of Texas at Austin, according to AM Chronicle. Now, thanks to a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation’s Leading Engineering for America’s Prosperity, Health and Infrastructure (LEAP-HI) program, they can begin to tackle the challenge of designing and 3D printing smart devices using multiple materials.  The researchers will work with Pennsylvania-based medical device company Actuated Medical Inc., to use 3D printing techniques to design pediatric ventilation masks and other medical devices that can be customized into different shapes during use.    

Smartphone app could monitor TB

Researchers have used a smartphone app to assess cough frequency in people with tuberculosis (TB) and other respiratory diseases, according to MedTech Dive. In an article in the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, they describe using the Hyfe Research cough tracking app to monitor 565 respiratory disease patients. According to the study, patients with TB cough more than people with other respiratory diseases and experience distinct responses to treatment. If validated in further studies, the work could support the use of the digital biomarker to stop overtreatment of TB and improve disease detection.

Healthcare remains a ransomware target

Ransomware groups continue to threaten the healthcare industry, reports HealthExec. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued an alert about a significant ransomware threat – this time attributed to the Russian-linked ransomware group Clop, which managed to breach major healthcare systems. Clop has been responsible for a mass attack on more than 130 organizations, according to HHS, including Tennessee-based Community Health Systems, which was recently impacted by a major cybersecurity attack through its third-party vendor Fortra. “Healthcare is particularly vulnerable to cyberattacks, owing to their high propensity to pay a ransom, the value of patient records, and often inadequate security,” HHS said. In 2022, 24 hospitals and multihospital healthcare systems were attacked, and more than 289 hospitals were potentially impacted by ransomware attacks.

More ambulatory surgery centers for Tenet

Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare, parent company of ASC chain United Surgical Partners International, will spend $250 million on ASC mergers and acquisitions, according to Becker’s ASC Review. In 2022, the company added 45 centers to the portfolio through M&A and de novo development, in addition to the SurgCenter Development centers, according to CEO Saum Sutaria. It also continues to build surgery centers through its USPI development team and from its partnership with Towson, Maryland-based SurgCenter Development. And in June, USPI and United Urology Group formed a partnership for 22 ASCs.