In brief: Temporary payment for home infusion passes House, Stratice partners with athenahealth

 - 
Friday, July 28, 2017

WASHINGTON – A bill that reforms several Medicare benefits, including home infusion and O&P, sailed through the House of Representatives last week.

H.R. 3178, the “Medicare Part B Improvement Act of 2017,” includes a provision that would create a temporary payment for home infusion therapy to close a gap created by another bill, the 21st Century Cures Act. The Cures Act requires Medicare to pay for services associated with providing Part B drugs, but not until 2021. Meanwhile, a second provision in the act cut payments for those drugs on Jan. 1.

The provision, originally introduced by Reps. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, and Bill Pascrell, D-N.J., as H.R. 3163, would put a temporary payment in place for 2019 and 2020.

H.R. 3178 also includes a provision that would allow the documentation produced by an O&P practitioner to be considered part of a patient’s medical record for purposes of determining medical necessity. The provision was originally introduced by Reps. Mike Bishop, R-Mich., and Mike Thompson, D-Calif., as H.R. 3171.

The bill has moved with lightning speed: It was introduced on July 11 by Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., and nine co-sponsors.

The bill does not include a provision that would strengthen protections requiring mail-order contract suppliers to include at least 50% of the types of diabetes testing supplies that were available before the implementation of the program. That provision, which also would prevent suppliers from encouraging beneficiaries to switch brands, still exists as a standalone bill, H.R. 3271.

NSM tapped to distribute WHILL wheelchair

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – National Seating & Mobility will be the exclusive national distributor for WHILL’s Model M power wheelchair, the companies announced July 24. NSM’s national distribution channel and expert clinical field team “vastly increase” the Model M’s service area in the complex rehab and access industries, according to a press release. “We’re excited to have NSM’s clinical experts providing product evaluations on the Model M, ensuring the chair fits and meets the versatile needs of their clients,” said WHILL CEO Satoshi Sugie in the release. The Model M will be available through NSM and AccessNSM branches nationwide. WHILL received clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the Model M last year, paving the way for doctors to prescribe the wheelchair as a medical device. WHILL also offers the Model A for cash sale. Model M keeps the four-wheel drive, patented all-direction wheels and sleek design of the Model A, but also offers customizable features like arm and back supports, and ankle huggers.

Stratice partners with athenahealth

CARMEL, Ind. – Stratice Healthcare, vendor of an EHR integrated e-prescribing platform connecting medical professionals with their suppliers, has partnered with athenahealth and its “More Disruption Please” program. The goal of the program: to make athenahealth’s eOrdersPlus application available to its growing network of 100,000 healthcare providers. eOrdersPlus users can access an efficient platform while eliminating phone calls, faxes and manual processes to receive detailed written orders with electronic integration to the prescriber’s EHR platform.athenahealth offers medical record, revenue cycle, patient engagement, care coordination and population health management services.

DarioHealth enters strategic agreement with Byram

CAESAREA, Israel, and NEW YORK – DarioHealth has expanded its insurance coverage provider network by entering into a strategic agreement with Byram Healthcare, the two companies announced July 25. DarioHealth, which makes the Dario Blood Glucose Monitoring System all-in-one blood glucose meter and native smartphone app, recently expanded its third-party insurance coverage option for consumers in the U.S. who want their products reimbursed by insurance. “DarioHealth initiated the provider network approach earlier in the year and it has been met with much success,” said Erez Raphael, chairman and CEO of Dario Health, in a press release. “By partnering with only the most reputable third-party providers, our team is fully committed to help consumers take control of their self-diabetes management.” With the addition of Byram, DarioHealth expects to cover 30% of consumers in the U.S. diabetes market, according to the release.

Miller takes reins at Mediware

LENEXA, Kan. – Bill Miller has been name CEO of Mediware Information Systems, the software company announced July 27. He succeeds Kelly Mann, who has served as CEO since 2007. Miller has more than 20 years of healthcare and technology experience, most recently as CEO of OptumInsight at Optum, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group. Prior to OptumInsight, Miller served as vice president of technologies at Cerner Corporation. “Having spent my entire career in the healthcare and technology industries, I have known Mediware as an industry leader with a deep understanding of the marketplace and an ongoing commitment to quality and client service,” said Miller in a press release. “I am excited about their strong position in the expanding markets they serve, and look forward to working with TPG and the Mediware team to build on the momentum that the company has achieved to-date.”

Invacare to relocate wheelchair production

ELYRIA, Ohio – Invacare said it plans to shift production of its Invacare Rea manual wheelchairs from its facility in Dïo, Sweden, to its wheelchair manufacturing facility in Fondettes, France. The move will allow the company to better optimize its wheelchair manufacturing facility in Fondettes, while enabling its Dïo facility to focus on its production of beds for the Nordic market, along with being the distribution center for lifestyle products, the company said in a press release. “As we continue to make progress in Phase Two of our strategic transformation, we will continue to leverage our existing global infrastructure and further increase efficiencies,” said CEO Matthew Monaghan in the release. “By transferring wheelchair production from Dïo to Fondettes, we are able to create a European wheelchair center of excellence that is centrally located to our European customers.” The move is expected to be completed in January 2018.

Philips shifts workers

MURRYSVILLE, Pa. – Royal Philips has relocated more than 100 employees to a new 14,000-square-foot space in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood, where they are closer to universities, medical centers, research partners and innovation leaders, the company announced in a press release. “Working in close proximity to hospitals, universities, and start-ups alike will enable us to incubate our regional research partnerships and, ultimately, accelerate our ability to develop new solutions to drive the future of health technology,” said John Frank, CEO of Philips’ sleep and respiratory business. Philips, which acquired Respironics in 2008, has in the past two years established new professional and distribution facilities in Murrysville and New Kensington, and completed construction of a brand new, state-of-the-art distribution and service facility in Mount Pleasant.

Aetrex re-launches website with tech focus

TEANECK, N.J. – Aetrex Worldwide has re-launched Foot.com. The website, originally launched in 2009, now highlights “the intrinsic benefits of foot scanning,” according to a press release. Aetrex recently rolled out its next gen foot-scanning technology, Albert, and it continues to invest in the development of new software that elevates what customers can learn from their feet. “Users of the Albert scanning technology have the option to explore foot care, health and wellness topics as part of their foot scanning experience, which really drives the in-store experience home,” said Melissa Libner, vice president of marketing for Aetrex’s Technology & Orthotics division. Aetrex says more than 40,000 users visit the website each week.

Home Because connects consumers with providers

PORT ORANGE, Fla. – Home Because has launched a new website to connect consumers and caregivers with local providers online. “We realized how many consumers and caregivers were turning to online resources for purchase decisions on HME and in-home services, but they could make much better decisions with local, in-person provider support,” said Carol Lockett, creator of HomeBecause.com. “Our website bridges that gap.” The key to HomeBecause.com is its “provider search” feature: A consumer can select a product or service category, research the topic, then click the search feature to point them to a local provider. Providers can sign up to be listed on the website, including premium listings within their geographic areas.

AASM adds app to telemedicine platform

DARIEN, Ill. ­– The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has launched the SleepTM app to directly connect patients to sleep medicine professionals and accredited sleep centers through its SleepTM telemedicine platform. The app provides patients with convenient access to sleep medicine services on their mobile devices, AASM says. “The AASM SleepTM app promotes affordable, convenient, patient-centered care by eliminating common health care obstacles such as distance, travel costs and wait times,” said Steve Van Hout, AASM SleepTM’s chief architect. “This app will significantly enhance the ability of sleep specialists to meet the growing demand for sleep care, while reducing costs and improving efficiency.” Through the app, patients request a live video visit with a sleep medicine provider who is licensed in the state where they live or the state in which they are traveling. The app works on Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G and LTE connections, and it is currently available in the App Store for iOS devices (iPhone and iPad). An Android-compatible app is scheduled to be released on Google Play in August 2017.

SoClean surveys users

OXFORD, Mass. – CPAP sanitizing device company SoClean recently polled more than 300 customers about their experience with sleep apnea and CPAP. Since starting CPAP therapy, 43% of SoClean users said they have noticed results almost immediately and 93% said that they have been sleeping better. The survey also showed that: 77% of SoClean’s customers are male; 48% are between the ages of 56 and 70; and 57% have high blood pressure and 38% were able to decrease their high blood pressure since starting CPAP therapy.

Short takes: WVU HME, Vertess

WVU Home Medical Equipment held a ribbon cutting ceremony this week for its new store in Bridgeport, West Va. The store gives WVU HME, part of St. Joseph’s Hospital, a central location to provide everything from chair lifts to wrist splints to customers in north central West Virginia…New York-based Vertess continues its national expansion with the addition of Tucson, Ariz.-based Hilsman Knight as managing director. “I am very excited to join the Vertess team and hope my strong healthcare M&A background will help us expand, especially in the Western U.S.,” he said. Knight recently facilitated the sale of the largest Miracle Ear franchise in Arizona to a West Coast private equity group.