eNews September 29, 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.

What about value-based care?

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is in peril as the Senate moves to confirm a replacement for the Supreme Court in the next month. It is unclear whether certain parts of the law—chiefly those that have helped spur the healthcare industry’s transition to value-based care—could survive a constitutional challenge the court will hear next month, reports Fierce Healthcare. Several key provisions in the ACA helped the federal government accelerate the transition from Medicare fee-for-service to value-based care. For instance, the law gave authority to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) to experiment with different voluntary or mandatory payment models, including for oncology, bundled payments and dialysis. Some experts say that even if the entire law is struck down, private payers could step in to fill the void created by the loss of the ACA’s value-based care programs.

And we’re still talking about vendor credentialing?

Last year, nurses in Minnesota asked M Health Fairview administrators to provide better protection in the hospitals’ parking areas, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. On Sept. 14, a doctor was shot in the head in Fairview Southdale hospital’s parking garage in an attempted robbery as he walked to his car. The attack was the latest to expose the daily dangers that hospital workers face in their employer designated parking areas and how violence against healthcare workers on the job has long been overlooked by hospital administrators, regulators and lawmakers. An investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published in August detailed how hospitals across the country fail to adequately protect employees from violence in parking garages, opting not to monitor cameras, improve lighting or offer employees feasible escorts to their cars and take other safety precautions.

Digital health solutions

The National Institutes of Health awarded seven contracts to companies and academic institutions to develop digital health solutions that help address the COVID-19 pandemic. The work could lead to user-friendly tools such as smartphone apps, wearable devices, and software that can identify and trace contacts of infected individuals, keep track of verified COVID-19 test results, and monitor the health status of infected and potentially infected individuals. Among the recipients was the University of California, San Francisco, for a GPS-based retroactive contact-tracing tool for alerting users about contact with SARS-CoV-2–infected individuals, identifying businesses that were visited by someone who later tested positive for COVID-19, and working with those businesses and public health departments on strategies to reduce the spread of the virus.

Balloon catheter with smart sensors

Researchers developed a new class of medical instruments equipped with an advanced soft electronics system that could improve the diagnoses and treatments of a number of cardiac diseases and conditions, according to George Washington University. The researchers, led by engineers at the George Washington University and Northwestern University, applied stretchable and flexible matrices of electrode sensors and actuators, along with temperature and pressure sensors, to a balloon catheter system, often used in minimally invasive surgeries or ablations to treat conditions such as heart arrhythmias. The new system, which conforms better to the body’s soft tissue than current devices, can perform a variety of functions, including: simultaneous in vivo measurements of temperature, force of contact and electrophysiological parameters; the ability to customize diagnostic and therapeutic functions; and real-time feedback. The new system can also dramatically reduce the length of invasive ablation procedures and exposure of patients and doctors to X-ray radiation.