ABL Healthcare Member News & Industry Trendletter * April 6, 2022
  • 4/06 - Orange County IN-PERSON Table - Discussion Topic: "Is the Healthcare Market Still Hot?" - Featured Member Presenter: Mike McKinnon, Partner in the Corporate Practice Group of Sheppard Mullin

  • 4/12 - Silicon Valley IN-PERSON Table - Discussion Topic: "Especially in light of the 'GREAT RESIGNATION,' What do ZILLENNIALS want in their Workplace?" - Featured Member Presenter: Rama Penta

  • 4/15 - Los Angeles IN-PERSON Table - Discussion Topic: "Mail Order-Pharma in The Age of Telehealth" - Featured Member Presenter: Robert Nickell, CEO of Pharmco, Enovachem Pharmaceuticals, and Nubratori Rx - all under the umbrella of Nickell Professional Pharmaceutical Services

  • 4/21 - Bay Area IN-PERSON Table - Discussion Topic: "Leveraging Impact Investing in Telehealth" - Featured Guest Presenter: Jack Higgins, MD, President and Chief Medical Officer of the Global Telehealth Network

  • Explore Membership in ABL's Executive Round Tables >>>
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To Boost or Not to Boost: That Is THE Question

                     Blog by Mimi Grant

At a recent ABL Technology Round Table, several fully-vaxxed and boosted Members, questioned the urgent need to roll up their sleeves for another booster. Turns out, Tech CEOs aren't the only ones questioning the need for a second one, some highly placed Advisors to the FDA and CDC are, too.

Far from being anti-vaxxers, several of our Members raised thoughtful concerns that prompted me to do a deeper dive into the medical literature. So here are the top eight FAQs - that you might consider before getting your second booster:

Why did the FDA approve both Pfizer-BioNTech's and Moderna's boosters in record time? Turns out they're greatly concerned about the highly contagious Omicron sub-variant BA.2, that's already the dominant strain in Europe and the U.S., and the latest, potentially even more transmissible Omicron variant, XE.

Is it really necessary - and for whom? Generally speaking, according to The New York Times, "the scientific evidence for a fourth dose is incomplete, at best, and researchers do not agree on whether the shots are needed." And while the FDA's approval allows anyone over 50 to receive a second mRNA booster, experts have pointed out that the limited research so far supports a fourth shot only for those over 65 or who have underlying conditions that put them at high risk.

What if your first vaccine was by Johnson & Johnson? The CDC now says that all adults 18 and older who received two doses of the J&J vaccine may also opt for a booster dose of either Moderna or Pfizer, largely because a new study showed that two doses of the J&J vaccine offer less protection against COVID-related ER visits than an mRNA booster.

So who should get the shot? Dr. Robert Wachter, chair of the Department of Medicine at UCSF, recommends a second mRNA booster if you're more than five or six months out from your first one, and you're at high to very high risk." He adds: "As a healthy 64-year-old man whose third shot was seven months ago, I will get one this week if I can."

And if you've had Omicron recently? Dr. Wachter adds that those who've suffered through Omicron "in the last three months [as I did] are likely as protected as if they got a second booster."

Should I wait to get it? According to The New York Times, a booster's immunity wanes in just a few months. So a booster today won't offer much defense for that big trip you're planning in July or August. In fact, it takes the immune system about a week to rev up after the shot. From that peak, antibodies taper down over the next two to three months. So if you qualify for a booster, you may want to have the maximum protection starting a week before your trip - or before the next surge.

What's the downside of getting a booster? Again, according to the Times, since the vaccines are overwhelmingly safe, getting an extra dose is not dangerous. But it can induce the usual side effects like fever, headache, fatigue, and joint aches. And, some clinicians argue that evidence does not suggest that a fourth exposure to the virus — whether through infection or the vaccine - will make immunity any stronger than it was after the third shot.

And last, what about mixing or matching boosters? Researchers at Harvard suggest that if you've had Pfizer shots in the past, make your next booster a Moderna, and vice versa. By mixing COVID mRNA boosters "you can diversify your immune response as much as possible to get maximal protective immunity," as they prompt different immune responses, according to Galit Alter, PhD, and his colleagues at Harvard Medical School. They said that "Moderna appeared to have an advantage in mucosal immunity, as measured by immunoglobulin (Ig)A, while Pfizer had a "really functional IgG response."

By the way, IgA is an antibody blood protein that's part of your immune system to help you fight off sickness. And, according to WebMD, IgG is the most common type of antibody in your blood and other body fluids that protects you against infection by "remembering" which germs you've been previously exposed to.

So what was the takeaway at the Round Table? The good news was that one of our Tech Members was so reassured by our discussion that getting a fourth shot made sense for him, that he signed up for a Pfizer jab right at the Round Table! And, according to CBS News, they're available for free at CVS, Walgreens and Albertsons.


Marcia Augsburger Joins Change Healthcare

Marcia Augsburger has joined Change Healthcare, which is focused on insights, innovation, and accelerating the transformation of the U.S. healthcare system through the power of its Change Healthcare Platform. Marcia is serving as in-house counsel to all business units within the company - on healthcare regulatory compliance, privacy, and litigation management. Change Healthcare was recognized in the 2022 Best in KLAS awards, where the company's Healthcare Consulting Services division was named Best in KLAS for Payer IT Consulting Services for the third time in four years. Prior to this new role, Marcia was a Partner in King & Spalding's healthcare practice, to which she brought 29+ years of experience. (Marcia Augsburger, JD, Bay Area)

Choice in Aging Recognizes Women Leaders & Anticipates Choice in Learning Grand Opening

Choice in Aging (CiA) recently celebrated Women's History Month with notable women guests on episodes of its "Dishing with Debbie" video series including... (click links to watch):
>> Guest Erika Jenssen, the Deputy Director of Contra Costa Health Services.
>> Guest Lori D. Wilson, the first Black female Mayor to serve in all of Solano County.
>> Guest Kim McCoy Wade, the first Senior Advisor on Aging, Disability, and Alzheimer's in the Office of the Governor, and previously Director of the California Department of Aging.
>> Guest Marivel Mendoza-Matheu, Branch Manager with Kindred at Home in Livermore and President & Co-Founder of Hijas del Campo.
MEANWHILE, on April 21, CiA will celebrate the grand opening of its new Choice in Learning Montessori Preschool space in Pleasant Hill. (Debbie Toth, OAK)

Cigna's CareAllies to Participate in CMS Global & Professional Direct Contracting Model

CareAllies, a Cigna company that helps providers simplify and accelerate value-based care, announced that it's contracting with health care providers to offer coordinated, value-based care for Medicare beneficiaries. Participation in the CMS Global and Professional Direct Contracting (GPDC) Model makes it easier for providers to meet the health care needs of Medicare beneficiaries more effectively and expands CareAllies' national footprint of 60+ provider groups managing care for nearly 500,000 patients. (Chris De Rosa, OC)

El Camino Named One of the World's Best Hospitals for 2022 by Newsweek

El Camino Health (ECH)'s Mountain View hospital was named one of the World's Best Hospitals for 2022 by Newsweek and Statista, based on recommendations from peers, patient experience, and medical key performance indicators. A global board of renowned experts validated the ranking with ECH placing number one among non-academic medical centers in the San Francisco Bay Area and among the top 100 hospitals in the U.S.
ALSO, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation named ECH an "LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader" in their 15th anniversary edition of the Healthcare Equality Index, AND ECH was recognized by GHX as one of the top 50 best healthcare supply chains in North America. (Cecile Currier, SV)

Elemeno Health Praised by Children's Hospital New Orleans

In this video, Amy Waldrup, Senior Director of Patient Services at Children's Hospital New Orleans, explains how Elemeno is different from Learning Management Systems. MEANWHILE, Elemeno congratulates its partner Children's Hospital New Orleans / LCMC Health on achieving Magnet recognition. (Arup Roy-Burman, MD, Bay Area)

HHS Strengthens Safety Net for Seniors & People with Disabilities; Increases Funding to Expand Availability of Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics; & More

Recent news from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) includes:
>> CMS will offer $110+ million to expand access to home and community-based services through Medicaid's Money Follows the Person program, which helps seniors and people with disabilities safely transition from institutional care to independence in their homes and communities.
>> HHS through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is announcing two Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics funding opportunities to expand and increase access to evidence-based mental health and substance use services for all Americans.
>> HHS through the Health Resources and Services Administration announced $413+ million in Provider Relief Fund payments to 3,600+ providers across the country - the fourth round of PRF Phase 4 payments. (Bonnie Preston, Bay Area)

Hospice of Santa Cruz County Provides Newsletter for Medical Professionals

The recent issue of Hospice of Santa Cruz County's Quality of Life newsletter for medical professionals includes the following articles: >> Seriously Ill Patients Want Most to Be Heard and to Participate in Care Decisions, National Survey Finds; >> For Substantial Proportion of Heart Failure Patients First Diagnosis Occurs in Acute Care Settings; >> Worsening Pain Management in Cancer Patients May Be Unintended Effect of Tighter Opioid Restrictions; and >> Communication Skills Crucial to Building Trust, Promoting Connection with Seriously Ill Patients. This newsletter is recommended as an educational resource by the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. (Cathy Conway, SV)

Illumination Foundation to Present Consortium to Address Equity on April 19

On April 19, Illumination Foundation (IF) will present its 2022 consortium Together We Can - Solutions to Address Equity, at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim. The event will bring together speakers and panelists from governmental agencies, non-profits, for-profits, healthcare providers, private foundations, and educational institutions to drive solution-driven conversations around inequity and inequality in housing, healthcare, workforce, and education.
ALSO, IF is spotlighted in this article from the Center for Health Care Strategies - Forming Cross-Sector Partnerships to Improve Care for People Experiencing Homelessness. (Paul Leon, OC)

Kaiser Permanente Among World's Most Ethical Companies & a Leader in LGBTQ+ Equality

For the fourth consecutive year, Kaiser Permanente (KP) has been named one of the World's Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute - 1 of 135 honorees worldwide, and 1 of only 2 organizations recognized in the Integrated Healthcare System category in 2022.
AND, KP has been recognized for the 12th time in a row by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, with the highest possible score on its Healthcare Equality Index and giving all 39 of KP's hospitals the LGBTQ+ Healthcare Equality Leader designation. (Marcos Vasconcelos, Bay Area)

LifeLong Medical Planning New East Oakland Health Center

LifeLong Medical Care is preparing to break ground in July of this year on a new health center in East Oakland, which will offer a continuum of care encompassing prenatal through geriatrics and will expand offerings to include dental care. LifeLong looks forward to welcoming patients to the new center by the end of 2023. (Mike Stacey, MD, Bay Area)

LigoLab Awarded for Competitive Strategy Leadership by Frost & Sullivan

LigoLab was recently honored with the 2022 Competitive Strategy Leadership Award by Frost & Sullivan, after analyzing the North American Laboratory Information Systems Industry. The firm credited LigoLab for improving the efficiency of its diagnostic lab partners and transforming them into thriving businesses.
MEANWHILE, recent articles from LigoLab include: Differences Between Laboratory Information Management Systems and Laboratory Information Systems; as well as Telehealth and Direct-to-Consumer Testing Give Patients a Prominent Seat at the Healthcare Table. (Suren Avunjian, LA)

Mazzetti: New Research Finds Healthcare Electrical Systems for Plug Loads Significantly Oversized

In New Research Finds Healthcare Electrical Systems for Plug Loads Significantly Oversized, Mazzetti shares that the Fire Protection Research Foundation, with funding support from the American Society of Health Care Engineering and the National Fire Protection Association, initiated a project with Mazzetti to collect and analyze electric circuit data from multiple occupancies. In the infancy stage of the project, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the Foundation refocusing this effort solely on healthcare facilities. The article goes on to describe the findings and next steps. (Walt Vernon, JD, Bay Area)

MedWand Among List of Most Innovative Gadgets in 2022 So Far

Gadget Flow released its list of "most innovative gadgets we've seen in 2022 so far" and MedWand is at the top of the list. Gadget Flow describes the MedWand as a handheld medical gadget that allows doctors to more effectively examine patients no matter where they are, providing real-time monitoring of core temperature, heart rate, blood pressure, blood oxygen, electrocardiogram, and more. It can also capture critical high-definition images, and can host FDA-approved Anomaly Indication Algorithms to help detect life-threatening conditions. Plus, MedWand comes in multiple kits depending on whether you need it as an individual, a health care provider, or a workplace. (Bob Rose, OC)

Mission Hospice Shares Video Workshop on "The Many Griefs of COVID"

Mission Hospice & Home Care has made available an on-demand video of its recent workshop, The Many Griefs of COVID, from which we can "harvest useful skills to support those whose griefs concern us even as we better understand and care for our own losses."
MEANWHILE, on the evening of June 4, Mission will present That's Amore, A Tribute to Dean Martin, in downtown San Mateo. (Dolores Miller, Bay Area)

Nelson Hardiman Comments on Next Stage of Pandemic & Social Media Addictions

Spectrum News recently interviewed Harry Nelson, of Nelson Hardiman (NH), on the next stage of the pandemic and possible new restrictions, such as a return to mask mandates in some cities.
ALSO, NH has published Combatting Social Media Addiction Among Children, which discusses a California bill, introduced in March, which would impose a duty on social media platforms not to addict child users. The legislation provides that a parent or guardian of a child harmed by an entity violating the statute could recover actual damages and additional civil penalties up $250,000 per child user. At the federal level, the Kids Online Safety Act, introduced in February, would impose responsibilities for tech platforms to protect children from harmful content and create settings enabling families to deactivate potentially addictive features. (Harry Nelson, JD, LA)

On Lok PACE Spotlighted in New York Times

The Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), created by On Lok to help older adults age in place, was featured in the New York Times, in an article entitled, Meet the Underdog of Senior Care. On Lok PACE is a full-service healthcare program that helps seniors age from home with medical, home care, transportation, and senior services. (Grace Li, Bay Area)

OneLegacy Highlighted in Feature Articles + Announces Upcoming Donate Life Run/Walk

The Los Angeles Business Journal article, Tackling the Healthcare Inequity Challenge, features OneLegacy and CEO Tom Mone and their work to eliminate healthcare inequities in the areas of organ and tissue transplant rates. The article shares that 40% of the U.S. population are persons of color, yet those communities make up nearly 60% of the 107,000 Americans waiting for a transplant.
ALSO, OneLegacy is highlighted in a recent Antelope Valley Press article - Liver transplant recipient grateful for changed life.
AND, on June 4, after two years of virtual gatherings, the 20th annual Donate Life Run/Walk, hosted by OneLegacy and celebrating the power of donation and transplantation, will return to an in-person event at Azusa Pacific University. (Tom Mone, LA)

Parentis Health Receives Outstanding Nine Star Rating from CMS

Parentis Health received a nine-star rating from CMS's Hospice Care Index (HCI). The rating is a single measure comprised of several, equally weighted indicators calculated from Medicare claims data, which represent different aspects of hospice service. Parentis Health attributes its high rating to several factors - including the exceptional quality and experience of its clinical staff, its strong focus on ethical considerations, and its compliance structure, which includes a Compliance Officer who is also an experienced Registered Nurse. (Tarek El Nabli, OC)

PreludeDx Closes $20 Million to Advance Growth Initiatives & Development of Precision Medicine Portfolio

Prelude Corporation (PreludeDx) has closed a $20 million funding round led by Evidity Health Capital and joined by existing and new investors. Proceeds from this round will be used to advance the commercial market expansion of DCISionRT and the continued development of the company's precision radiogenomics platform for early-stage breast cancer and other cancers. (Dan Forche, OC)

PRODEO to Share Proven U.S. Market-Entry Methods with Early-Stage Global Companies

PRODEO is looking for promising companies in the field of brain health. Its methodology leverages streetwise experience informed by the most contemporary deep analytics and proven frameworks. The goal is to deliver actionable, data-driven guidance in the following areas: best-fit market segments and targets, potential strategic and channel partners, recent acquisitions, investor trends and global competition. More Information.
ALSO, CEO Mark Heinemeyer co-authored an article in the Psychiatric Times - Brain Capital: An Emerging Investment Opportunity. (Mark Heinemeyer, OC)

Royal Ambulance CEO Featured in Recent Podcast

Steve Grau, CEO of Royal Ambulance, is interviewed in a recent Food for Thought podcast episode with host Roman Polnar, about Steve's journey from Ukrainian immigrant to successful entrepreneur. (Steve Grau, SV)

Satellite Healthcare Partnering with Dialyze Direct & Northwest Kidney Centers; + President/COO Featured in Podcast

Satellite Healthcare and Dialyze Direct, a leading provider of home hemodialysis services in skilled nursing facilities, announced that they have executed a Letter of Intent to enter a strategic collaboration. Both organizations will actively pursue new business opportunities together, including home hemodialysis and chronic kidney disease management, to patients in SNFS in several states across the nation.
ALSO, Satellite and Northwest Kidney Centers have formed North Star Kidney Care LLC. The partnership is focused on expanding the organizations' approach to impacting the lives of kidney dialysis patients and related patient services, and will extend their legacy of mission-driven, high-quality care to individuals in the Pacific Northwest.
MEANWHILE, Satellite Healthcare President & COO Bernadette Vincent is interviewed in a recent episode of Follow the Brand Podcast. (Bernadette Vincent, Bay Area, & Jeff Goffman, SV)

Savi Group Examines Telehealth's Popularity & Retaining Great Healthcare Workers

In Telehealth Continues Popularity Among Physicians, Savi Group finds that telehealth demand amongst physicians remains strong. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and moving forward, there will be room to improve upon current telehealth usage and look into the impact this model has had on quality, cost, and scalability amongst medical practices.
AND, in How to Find and Retain Great Healthcare Workers, Savi Group discusses creating a healthy environment that reduces the likelihood of burnout for staff members. Also, ensure your operations are running efficiently and integrating the latest technological innovations within the industry. (Sumit Mahendru, OC)

Wipfli Discusses Expanded Compliance Requirements for Hospice Providers

In Hospice providers: Get ready for expanded compliance requirements, Wipfli reports that growing concerns about the quality of care and service outcomes for hospice patients has led to a new set of survey rules governing the ways provider oversight is handled industrywide. Wipfli provides a rundown of the key new elements in the hospice survey process that hospice providers need to be aware of.
AND, in Successful employee retention requires new approaches, Wipfli discusses optimizing onboarding, internal development, redefining collaboration, evolving engagement, and becoming an employer of choice. (Jeff Johnson, John Dao & Steve Rousso, Bay Area)

GIDEON is Providing "Infectious Diseases of Ukraine" eBook Free-of-Charge to Aid Medics

In support of medics and humanitarians battling infectious diseases on the frontlines in Ukraine, GIDEON Informatics is offering the download of the latest edition of the "Infectious Diseases of Ukraine" ebook, completely free of charge - Use coupon code SLAVAUKRAINI.
MEANWHILE, read GIDEON's article - What are Population Health, Public Health, and Community Health? (Uri Blackman, ABL-Tech WLA)

Tanner Research CEO to Present Virtual Nutrition Science Workshop on April 7

On the evening of April 7 (click here), John Tanner, Ph.D., of Tanner Research, will present his free Nutrition Science Virtual Workshop, via Zoom, where he will relay to participants the scientific information they need to avoid heart disease and other leading killers with a proper diet. The group will discuss strategies for change and John will field questions, plus give a free book to participants. (John Tanner, Ph.D., ABL-Tech SGV)

White House's FY 2023 Budget Request Includes Healthcare Provisions

President Biden submitted his Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 budget request to Congress on March 28, 2022. The budget request is not binding on Congress. Rather, it may serve as a guide for both Congress and the administration as they consider spending issues and priorities for the upcoming fiscal year. The budget gives HHS $127 billion in discretionary spending and $1.6 trillion in mandatory funding. Among other provisions, the President's budget aims to strengthen access to mental health care, increase spending in nursing and behavioral health workforce development, bolster pandemic preparedness, invest in healthcare research, expand support of telehealth, and spend more on the 340B program. (https://kslawemail.com/128/8971/pages/article3.asp?sid=7d63895f-4dd7-4681-955d-3c8af4d0ce15)

Biden Administration's Plan to Close, Build VA Hospitals: Takeaways

The Biden administration released a plan March 14 to restructure the veterans' healthcare system, which includes the closure of hundreds of hospitals and clinics and the construction of several new facilities. Becker's Hospital Review provides 6 takeaways, including:
>> The plan would result in 140 more multispecialty community-based outpatient clinics, 48 more inpatient partnerships, 27 more standalone community living centers, 14 more healthcare centers, 14 outpatient partnerships and 12 more standalone residential rehabilitation treatment programs, according to The Washington Post. There would be three fewer VA medical centers, 86 fewer community-based outpatient clinics, and 86 fewer other outpatient services clinics.
>> The proposal is driven by a main force: The Department of Veterans Affairs is spending billions of dollars to maintain old facilities, according to the Post. About 70 percent of the VA's healthcare facilities were built more than 50 years ago. The health system needs $61.6 billion for construction.
>> Additionally, veterans are moving to different locations and are in need of different care, according to the Post. The veteran population is decreasing in the Northeast and parts of the Midwest but increasing in the South and Southwest. Many will need more outpatient and long-term support, like nursing home care. The VA predicts more veterans will live in rural areas and will have more chronic health conditions. Additionally, there is expected to be a growth in female veterans, who need gynecological care. (https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/care-coordination/biden-s-plan-to-close-build-va-hospitals-6-takeaways.html)

California DMHC Takes Position that Additional California Law Constitutes "Specified State Law" Under the No Surprises Act

The California Department of Managed Health Care recently issued an All-Plan Letter stating that California case law and the Knox-Keene Health Care Service Plan Act of 1975 (the Knox-Keene Act) constitute "specified state laws" within the meaning of the No Surprises Act. DMHC's interpretation of California law is a notable expansion of the scope of California specified state law identified in CMS's letter published earlier this year. The No Surprises Act limits a provider's ability to balance bill consumers in certain nonemergency, emergency, and air ambulance situations and sets forth guidelines for enrollee cost-sharing, dispute resolution, and provider reimbursement. However, the No Surprises Act defers to states when the state has a "specified state law" that addresses the same topics. (https://kslawemail.com/128/8932/pages/article2.asp?sid=d2b38cfb-d5ce-44d0-9d0b-a78f15379fbf)

Omicron XE Variant: 5 Things to Know

The World Health Organization is monitoring a new omicron variant - dubbed XE - that's a hybrid of BA.1, the original omicron strain, and BA.2, a highly transmissible subvariant. Becker's Hospital Review shares "Five things to know:"
1. The strain was identified Jan. 19 in the U.K. As of March 25, authorities had confirmed 637 cases of XE through genetic sequencing.
2. Initial estimates suggest XE is 10 percent more transmissible than BA.2, though more research is needed to confirm this finding, WHO said.
3. XE is a recombinant variant, meaning it comprises genetic materials from two distinct virus strains. "Recombinant variants are not an unusual occurrence, particularly when there are several variants in circulation, and several have been identified over the course of the pandemic to date," Dr. Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser for the U.K. Health Security Agency, said in a March 25 news release.
4. XE will maintain its omicron variant designation unless further research reveals significant differences in transmission and disease characteristics, including severity, WHO said.
5. Chinese health authorities also recently identified two new omicron subvariants - one derived from BA.1 and one from BA.2 - that don't match any existing sequences in China or international databases, according to Bloomberg. Each subvariant was found in just one individual, and it's still unclear whether the cases are one-off events or more significant findings. (https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/public-health/omicron-xe-variant-5-things-to-know.html)

Biden Administration Launches Nationwide Test-to-Treat Initiative Ensuring Rapid 'On the Spot' Access to Lifesaving COVID Treatments

As part of President Biden's National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan to help America move forward safely, the Biden-Harris Administration is launching a nationwide Test to Treat Initiative this week so Americans can rapidly access needed COVID-19 treatments. Through this program, people who test positive for COVID-19 will be able to visit hundreds of local pharmacy-based clinics and federally-qualified community health centers (FHQCs), and residents of long-term care facilities will in one stop, be assessed by a qualified health care provider who can prescribe antiviral pills on the spot. This ensures that, if people who are at high risk for developing severe disease test positive and if administration of an antiviral is appropriate, they can get treatment quickly and easily. The program is run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and includes a direct allocation of antiviral pills to participating clinics, centers, and facilities. (https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2022/03/08/fact-sheet-biden-administration-launches-nationwide-test-treat-initiative-ensuring-rapid-on-spot-access-lifesaving-covid-treatments.html)

Mix and Match mRNA Boosters? It May Be a Good Idea, Experts Say

The two mRNA vaccines authorized in the U.S. prompt different immune responses - and that could suggest a benefit for mixing and matching booster shots, researchers said. Galit Alter, PhD, of Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues set out to investigate the immune responses driven by three doses of Pfizer or Moderna in a cohort of 73 healthcare workers. Both vaccines induced robust functional humoral immune responses, but there were clear differences, they reported in a paper in Science Translational Medicine. Moderna appeared to have an advantage in mucosal immunity, as measured by immunoglobulin (Ig) A, while Pfizer had a "really functional IgG response," Alter told MedPage Today. (https://www.medpagetoday.com/special-reports/exclusives/97979)

Mayo Clinic Assessing Google AI Tool as It Seeks More Insights from Patient Records

Mayo Clinic said it is assessing a product from Google Cloud that uses artificial intelligence to better track and analyze language-based information in patients' electronic health records, such as doctor's notes. Some 80% of patient data in electronic medical records is unstructured, including transcribed reports and doctor's notes, Vish Anantraman, chief technology officer of Mayo Clinic, said. Natural language processing allows the hospital system to turn the data that isn't organized into discrete fields into structured data, meaning clinicians will have an easier time searching and analyzing it, he said. Once patient data is structured, the hospital will be able to find ideal patients for clinical trials and run various types of prediction tools that look for indicators that certain patients might be at higher risk for certain diseases early on, said Dr. Anantraman. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/mayo-clinic-assessing-google-ai-tool-as-it-seeks-more-insights-from-patient-records-11648159790?mod=hp_minor_pos4)

Healthcare's Next Big Innovative Leap: Holograms?

Last year, Cisco unveiled Webex Hologram, a service that brings augmented reality to its collaboration platform. Now, the tech giant is working with medical professionals to find the right use cases for its hologram technology, betting that the industry is ready to embrace more immersive experiences. Still, deploying hologram technology is a big leap from simply clicking on Webex for a virtual doctor's call. Instead of the virtual avatar many have come to associate with the "metaverse," Webex Hologram users can see photorealistic, real-time holograms of actual people they're communicating with. (https://www.zdnet.com/article/healthcares-next-big-innovative-leap-holograms/)

Map of Our DNA is Finally Complete

Scientists are finally done mapping the human genome, more than two decades after the first draft was completed, researchers announced Thursday. About 8% of genetic material had been impossible to decipher with previous technology. It will be years before there's a concrete payoff to that additional information, researchers said, but those previously missing bits could offer insights into human development, aging and diseases such as cancer, as well as human diversity, evolution and migration patterns across prehistory. (https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2022/03/31/human-genome-dna-mapping-complete/7229428001/)

Digital Health Funding Recap for Q1 2022

Rock Weekly, the "pulse of digital health," reports that Q1 2022 digital health funding closed with $6.0B across 183 deals, and an average deal size of $32.8M. This quarter fell significantly behind Q4 2021's $7.3B and the trailing twelve month quarterly average of $7.1B. It's worth noting that Q1 isn't usually a blockbuster period for funding: at $6.7B, Q1 2021 was the smallest quarter last year for digital health dollars, and three of the past five years (2017-2021) had Q1 as their lowest funding quarter, possibly signaling a seasonality to funding dips. However, in three of the five past years, Q1's funding beat its preceding quarter (Q4 of the prior year) - which isn't the case this quarter. (https://rockhealth.com/insights/q1-2022-digital-health-funding-staying-the-course-in-choppy-waters/) (https://mailchi.mp/7d9a2e04847d/q1-2022-funding-recap-6b-raised-across-183-deals?e=12fad95525)

Walgreens CEO on Branching into Primary Care

Walgreens CEO Roz Brewer plans to reshape the healthcare industry by incorporating coordinated patient care into the pharmacy's primary care strategy, FastCompany recently reported. She said if the company could dispense medication, administer vaccines and have a pharmacist talking to a patient, it could deliver primary care to more localized communities. These are the steps the pharmacy company is making toward prioritizing primary care in 2022:
>> In 2022, Walgreens looks to expand VillageMD, the company's primary care clinics, from 80 clinics across 10 markets to 200 clinics by the end of 2022.
>> With this model, the retailer will devote 3,000 square feet of store space into an eight-room physician's office with a lab testing unit.
>> Rather than serving as in-store urgent care clinics, these clinics will offer coordinated care with Walgreens pharmacists.
>> Walgreens will partner with insurers to open Walgreens Health Corners, in-store spaces staffed by nurses or pharmacists who will provide healthcare services including preventative screenings to members of certain health plans.
>> The company is also building its support capabilities for patients on medication for complex conditions and branching into post-acute care. (https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/pharmacy/walgreens-ceo-on-branching-into-primary-care-5-notes.html)

Healthcare Worker Shortages Go Mainstream

Healthcare's workforce shortages have 80% of Americans concerned, according to new data from the CVS Health-Harris Poll National Health Project. 78% are also concerned about shortages of hospital beds.
51% have experienced one or more healthcare shortages, most of which are centered around their primary care physician: 45% reported trouble scheduling appointments; 36% reported their physician's office operating on reduced hours; 25% have experienced delays in treatments or surgeries; 21% reported their physicians stopped practicing; 13% reported their healthcare facilities closed completely; and 13% said community health initiatives have either stopped or decreased. (https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/workforce/healthcare-worker-shortages-go-mainstream.html)

MEANWHILE, Becker's Hospital Review reports that 90% of nurses are considering leaving the profession in the next year, with 71% of RNs that have over 15 years of experience thinking about leaving as soon as possible or within the next few months. 72% said they were experiencing nurse burnout prior to the pandemic. Also, 45% of RNs said the estimated patient-to-nurse staffing ratios across shifts are currently 5:1, above the standard of 4:1. 84% of emergency room nurses and 96% of intensive care or critical care nurses have 4:1 ratios, double the optimal target of 2:1. (https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/inside-the-nursing-shortage-six-key-survey-findings.html)

Insurtechs' Big Losses Overshadow 2021 Revenue Growth

Oscar Health, Clover Health, Bright Health Group, and Alignment Healthcare's collective valuation has fallen $22.9 billion since their public debuts. (https://www.modernhealthcare.com/insurance/insurtechs-big-losses-overshadow-2021-revenue-growth)

UnitedHealth to Buy Home-Health Firm LHC Group for $5.4 Billion

UnitedHealth Group Inc. has agreed to buy LHC Group Inc. for about $5.4 billion in cash, in the latest tie-up linking a managed-care company to the home-health business. The acquisition by UnitedHealth's Optum health-services arm will add one of the country's largest home-health firms to a portfolio that already includes doctor groups, clinics and surgery centers, as well as some home-based services. (https://www.wsj.com/articles/unitedhealth-to-buy-home-health-firm-lhc-group-for-5-4-billion-11648550701?mod=hp_lista_pos3)

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