eNews November 4, 2020

The latest news affecting you and your customers… from the Independent Medical Specialty Dealers Association

How is COVID-19 affecting your business, your people, your customers? IMDA is a membership organization, and in times like these, we can all use some camaraderie. If you have a COVID story to share, advice to offer, or a warning to sound, send it to Mark Thill, IMDA’s communications director, at mdthill1913@gmail.com, with the subject line “IMDA COVID story.” We’ll compile them and send them back out to you.

When hacking becomes dangerous

The FDA recently unveiled a new scoring system for assessing medical device vulnerabilities, which takes into account the potential impact on patient safety, reports Health IT Security. Awareness of medical device security has grown rapidly in recent years. Since the FDA unveiled its cybersecurity guidance for medical devices in 2016, vendors reported 400 percent more vulnerabilities per quarter. The previous scoring system was made for traditional IT devices, such as work computers, noted one expert. But hacking a medical device – e.g., an anesthesia machine – can directly threaten a patient’s life.

Remote monitoring is great, except …

Remote monitoring tools for physicians to keep a watch on their patients from outside doctors’ offices have grown in popularity, especially during COVID-19, reports STAT. But for all the benefits they offer — such as reaching people who may have trouble coming in for in-person checks — these tools have significant hurdles to overcome, including a lack of consistent Internet access by patients. And concerns remain about consumers’ privacy, since companies that make many of these tools haven’t always been transparent about what data they are collecting. 

Wanted: Anything in your bag to help hospitals avoid readmissions

Hospitals can use help preventing readmissions of Medicare patients, reports Kaiser Health News. Nearly half the nation’s hospitals, many of which are still wrestling with the financial fallout of COVID-19, will get lower payments for all Medicare patients because of their history of readmitting patients, federal records show. The penalties are the ninth annual round of the Hospital Readmissions Reduction Program, created as part of the Affordable Care Act’s broader effort to improve quality and lower costs. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced in September it may suspend the penalty program in the future if the chaos surrounding the pandemic — including this spring’s moratorium on elective surgeries — makes it too difficult to assess hospital performance.

Made in the USA

The U.S. needs to overhaul its medical supply chains in response to COVID-19, lawmakers agreed in late October at an event sponsored by the publication The Hill. Michigan Democratic representative Elissa Slotkin said the U.S. needs “a soup-to-nuts look and identification of the very specific supply chains with national security importance. [Given] my experience in the Pentagon and in the national security world, it kind of blew my mind that while we still really have a preference for making things in America — [like] our military equipment, our body armor, our meals-ready-to-eat — we didn’t have the same Buy America requirements on other things like medical supplies and pharmaceuticals.” Slotkin is lead sponsor of the Made in America Medical Supply Chain Initiative, a package of six bills aimed at decreasing dependence on foreign medical supply manufacturing. The initiative includes a $500 million pilot program to incentivize domestic manufacturers to produce critical items like personal protective equipment.

Spine-tingling!

Spine chisels, bloodletting tool, cervical dilators and dental saws are a few of the exhibits and devices on display at the Mutter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, reports Medical Design & Outsourcing. Some exhibits and devices are intriguing, while others are downright terrifying, warns the publication. Take a look.