In brief: PHE renewal, telemonitoring collaboration, WellSky investment

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Friday, July 24, 2020

WASHINGTON – Alex Azar, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, signed a renewal of the COVID-19 national public health emergency on July 23. 

“The administration will continue its whole-of-America response to ensure Americans can get the care they need throughout the pandemic,” Azar tweeted. 

The renewal is effective July 25 for 90 days. 

The PHE was first declared on Jan. 31 and renewed on April 21. 

Several relief efforts related to HME are tied to the duration of the PHE: 

 SuperCare, Optum collaborate on telemonitoring 

DOWNEY, Calif. – SuperCare Health has collaborated with Optum to create a COVID-19 telemonitoring program that allows asymptomatic patients to be monitored and to recover in their homes, avoiding unnecessary hospitalizations. 

Close respiratory monitoring is vital to setting up alternative care for people who are confirmed for, or potentially have, COVID-19 but who don’t require hospitalization, says Dr. Curtis Sather, medical director and pulmonologist at Optum. 

“I knew SuperCare Health had the background and the know-how to put something like this together,” he said. 

SuperCare leveraged a framework within its iBreathe COPD Readmission Prevention Program that includes a clinical pathway for spot checking SpO2 blood oxygen saturation and capturing responses to daily health monitoring questions based on the Borg dyspnea score and other ADLs, and transmitting that data electronically. 

This daily tracking allows SuperCare to intervene in patient care promptly and appropriately, and to work with Optum on ongoing communication and escalations. 

“Monitoring is important because when you see someone at one point in the disease, you don’t necessarily know its trajectory,” Sather said. 

SuperCare describes itself as a high-touch, high-tech, post-acute health care organization that manages chronic care patients and provides a broad range of therapies, including oxygen, ventilation and CPAP/BiPAP. 

WellSky receives new investment from private equity investors 

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. – WellSky and TPG Capital have entered into a definitive agreement to add Leonard Green & Partners, a private equity firm, as a new capital partner. 

As part of the agreement, TPG will also make a new equity investment in WellSky. 

The agreement will allow WellSky to expand the depth and breadth of its solutions, strengthen its relationships with its 15,000 payer and provider clients, and further invest in its capabilities, says Bill Miller, CEO of WellSky. 

“TPG and LGP are strongly aligned with our vision of delivering the best and most comprehensive suite of solutions to advance care,” he said. “We’re excited to drive ongoing innovation and deliver new technology and services to help WellSky clients grow their businesses and improve outcomes for their communities.” 

TPG Capital first invested in WellSky in 2016. 

Prochant offers resupply guidance 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – HME resupply is a smart solution for operating in the new normal, according to a new best practices white paper published by Prochant. Key building blocks to a strong resupply program include engaging patients early, educating referral sources and partnering with outreach vendors, the company says. “Profitable and stress-free resupply programs are born out of opportunity and preparedness,” says Rachel Schools, senior consultant, who contributed to the white paper. “In today’s world of technology and workflow automation, reactive resupply management should no longer be an issue for HME providers.” The contents of the white paper include: current state of HME resupply, basics of resupply programs and guidelines for best managing resupply. In addition to Schools, Shannon Guilfoil, reimbursement success advocate, also contributed to the white paper. 

MAMES transitions to virtual event in fall 

DULUTH, Minn. – The Midwest Association for Medical Equipment Services has announced its 2020 Midwest Conference & Exhibit Hall will take place virtually Oct. 6-9. “The surging numbers of COVID-19 and the current social distancing and safety guidelines now in place preclude us from holding this event in a live setting,” said Rose Schafhauser, executive director. The event will include management and staff level training spread out over the course of four days, with rotating morning and afternoon sessions. It will also include a virtual exhibit hall. “We are very excited to be bringing a virtual exhibit hall to this event,” Schafhauser said. “Our exhibit halls are known for their lively, interactive and fun atmosphere and we look forward to providing this same valuable time for our vendors and attendees to our virtual event.” Registration for the event will open in mid-August with a new format featuring a single fee per company and unlimited attendees. 

RESNA names Carmen DiGiovine president-elect 

WASHINGTON – RESNA has announced the results of its annual board elections, including Carmen DiGiovine, PhD, ATP/SMS, RET as president-elect. DiGiovine is a rehabilitation engineer and clinical associate professor in the Occupational Therapy Division-School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at Ohio State University. He will serve a two-year term as president-elect and then become president. Maureen Linden, MS, will become president Aug. 1, replacing Mary Ellen Buning, PhD, OT, ATP/SMS, who will become immediate past-president. Other results: Rita Stanley, vice president of Sunrise Medical, as secretary (two-year term); Anne Cronin, PhD, OTR/L, professor of human performance and applied exercise science at West Virginia University, as board member (three-year term); Mary Goldberg, PhD, associate professor at the Human Engineering Research Laboratories and professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology at the University of Pittsburgh, as board member; and Perry Loh, MBA, ATP, founder and CEO of Loh Medical, as board member. 

CareCentrix adds UnitedHealth exec to board 

HARTFORD, Conn. – CareCentrix has added Charles Berg, a former senior executive at UnitedHealth Group, WellCare and Oxford Health, to its board of directors. He previously served on the board of Turn-Key Health, a palliative care company that was acquired by CareCentrix in May. The acquisition of Turn-Key Health and Berg’s position on the board represent the next stage in CareCentrix’s plan to provide more access to home-based services for all patients, including those with advanced illnesses. Berg also serves on the board of DaVita and Justworks. Previously, he was executive chairperson of WellCare Health Plans; and president and CEO of Oxford Health Plans, which was acquired by UnitedHealth Group. He was also the founder and served as CEO of HealthPartners, a physician network-management company. 

Eppic Medical buys Mobul 

CARLSBAD, Calif. – Eppic Medical has acquired Mobul: the mobility store in Long Beach, Calif. As part of the acquisition, which is Eppic Medical’s third, Mobul will also provide custom complex rehab products to customers requiring more than just standard medical equipment. Eppic Medical, an HME retailer based here serving customers in Palm Desert and San Diego, is affiliated with Access Medical, a provider of complex rehab products with offices in Carlsbad, Anaheim, Palm Desert, Burlingame, Honolulu and Saipan. Eppic Medical will also leverage the Mobul business model to grow its own business. “The quality of the products, the outstanding service provided by the staff and the beauty of the store are exactly what attracted us to Mobul,” said Blaine Hunt, president and CEO. “We want to utilize the Mobul platform and expand our operations further.” Hunt says he will seek out additional acquisitions. 

Prime Engineering rises from humble beginnings 

FRESNO, Calif. – Prime Engineering celebrates its 36th anniversary this year. “We have gone from our humble beginnings of rolling carts out onto the driveway each morning to have room in the one-care garage to make room to cut and weld frames,” said Mary Boegel, president. “We were making one Grandstand at a time and selling it out of the back of our van. We would use that money to make two more.” Prime Engineering has since grown to an international company with 36 employees, 40 sales reps across the county and distributors worldwide. Its product line now includes 15 models, with more on the way. The company is well known for features like “No transfer – no lift” technology, proper standing positioning, advanced adjustability and multi-functional frames. 

F&P ramps up manufacturing staff amid pandemic 

IRVINE, Calif. – Fisher & Paykel Healthcare has hired about 600 additional manufacturing staff in New Zealand and more than 500 in Mexico, according to the New Zealand Herald. Lewis Gradon, managing director and CEO, told the newspaper the company first started ramping up hiring in February and plans to continue to add staff through the end of the year in both New Zealand and Mexico. “We do constantly grow, just not at that kind of rate in manufacturing,” he told the newspaper. “(Without the COVID-19 pandemic), I don’t think it would have been more than 50 or so (new hires).” F&P Healthcare has about 5,081 employees worldwide. The company recently reported an 18% increase in revenues for fiscal year 2020 compared to 2019. 

DarioHealth, Williams Medical partner to relieve primary care providers 

NEW YORK – DarioHealth has entered into a new strategic partnership with Williams Medical to make the DarioHealth Remote Patient Monitoring digital therapeutics platform available to health care professionals across the U.K. and Ireland. The RPM solution integrates Dario’s open platform, application technology and coaching platform to allow healthcare professionals to monitor patients remotely. “Dario’s digital solution is intended to provide relief for primary and secondary care providers challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic and facing potential serious winter pressures in the health care system,” the company states. “We believe that equipping practitioners to proactively treat, monitor and manage patients with long-term conditions within the community will ultimately result in reduction of the ongoing pressure on general practitioners, emergency departments and in-patient services.” Williams Medical is a provider of medical goods and services to primary care in the U.K. 

3B Medical expands into disinfection 

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – 3B Medical has expanded its product portfolio to include the Lumin Wand, an easy, fast and chemical free way to disinfect countertops, surfaces, keyboards and phones, the company says. “Our patent-pending technology allows for safe operation of a commercial strength UVC disinfecting wand that is supported by robust independent lab testing,” said Alex Lucio, CEO of 3B Medical. The wand has a five-hour battery, and built-in proximity sensor and accelerometer to ensure safe operation, and a germicidal UVC output that is lab tested to kill most bacteria and viruses, the company says. The wand joins 3B Medical’s Lumin CPAP Cleaner and Multipurpose Sanitizer and the Lumin Bullet. 

Protech checks in with shareholders 

CINCINNATI – Protech Home Medical expects to report revenues of $25.6 million to $25.9 million for the third quarter ended June 30. The company expects to report an adjusted EBTIDA of $5.3 million to $5.5 million, and gross margins similar to the three months ended March 31. “Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we felt it extremely important to continue to keep our shareholders apprised with our financial performance in real time,” said Greg Crawford, CEO and chairman. “We look forward to sharing our full financial results and commentary in August.”Protech says it has now reached $100 million in run-rate revenue. The company says its revenues and adjusted EBITDA continue to accelerate at a higher rate than other providers. “We are confident in our ability to continue with this trajectory and our focus remains driven by process improvement and cost rationalization,” said Hardik Mehta, CFO. Protech provides home delivery and online set up of equipment for primarily chronic conditions, operating 42 locations in 10 states. It has a network of 17,000 referring physicians and 85,000 active patients. 

Pride launches multi-pronged campaign for power recliners 

EXETER, Pa. – Pride Mobility has launched a new marketing campaign for its VivaLift! power recliners that includes TV commercials airing in July, August and September. Based on internal intelligence, the company has geotargeted areas in the following states for the commercials: Florida, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The campaign also includes digital teaser ads on Facebook and Google, as well as direct mail pieces, in those areas. “When conjuring up the VivaLift! campaign it was very clear to me we needed to reach our consumers through every medium,” said Rhonda Perko, vice president of marketing at Pride Mobility. “Whether through print, in-store, digital, social media or streaming television, we are always looking for ways to provide our consumer with the full experience of the brand journey. Our strategy behind this campaign was to harness consumers’ needs for a power recliner and to create a smart, strategic and cheeky campaign that delivers a journey, tells a story and is presented at all touch points of consumer contact.” The commercials tell the story of a neighbor who gets a VivaLift! Atlas Plus and makes their neighbors across the street envious. The campaign coincides with the VivaLift!’s increased weight capacity of 400 pounds. 

SoClean expands into air purification, device disinfection 

PETERBOROUGH, N.H. – SoClean has expanded its product portfolio to include the SoClean Air Purifier and the SoClean Device Disinfector. The company says the air purifier eliminates up to 99.9999% of airborne viruses, bacteria and allergens, surpassing HEPA standards. It says its disinfector kills up to 99.9% of bacteria and viruses on high-touch everyday items, including smart phones and key fobs. “We are always looking for new ways to expand our presence within the health technology industry and offer meaningful and relevant products to consumers,” said Robert Wilkins, CEO of SoClean. “By leveraging SoClean’s proprietary technology, we’re offering two new devices that will provide hands-free solutions that kill viruses and bacteria in the air and on high-touch everyday items.” SoClean says the air purifier, which will retail for $599, and the disinfector, which will retail for $299, are only the start of a brand expansion that will go into 2021.