It’s a new year, and healthcare technology vendors are rolling out their latest innovations, market approvals, acquisitions and staffing shake-ups.

OptumRx launched Price Edge, a tool that compares pricing for traditional generic drugs to ensure members get the lowest prescription drug prices. A suite of new tools for both patients and providers target aspects of pharmacy logistics that have been known to delay or complicate care, such as getting real-time pharmacy benefits information and obtaining prior authorizations. In October, Optum, UnitedHealth Group’s pharmacy services company, merged with data clearinghouse Change Healthcare. The U.S. Department of Justice tried to block the merger and is appealing the court approval

Selux Diagnostics announced that its Next Generation Phenotyping System – a rapid antibiotic susceptibility testing platform – has been granted 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. To address the need for personalized antibiotic therapy to fight drug-resistant bacterial infections, the in vitro antimicrobial resistance test determines a bacteria’s susceptibility to 14 antimicrobial agents on the Selux Gram-Positive Panel. According to the announcement, the Selux NGP system provides targeted therapeutic results days faster than the current standard of care. FDA is currently reviewing use of Selux’s NGP Gram-Negative panel. 

Inspira Technologies said it received patent approval from the U.S. Patent Office for its convertible dual lumen cannula, a novel medical disposable device that can be used for the simultaneous venous drainage and reinfusion of blood during processes in intensive care units. Use of the device can decrease the amount of incision points, reducing risks and complications. The company said the newly patented device can be used in a wide range of medical settings and is an essential component to its ART system for acute respiratory care that is currently in development.

Uberdoc has partnered with the Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drug Company to offer access to affordable cash pay medications through Uberdoc’s 4,000-strong nationwide physician network. With more than 50 specialties offering more than 20,00 appointments each week, patients without health insurance can book doctors’ visits for a set price with no referrals required. By partnering with Cost Plus Drugs – which boasts a maximum 15% markup on its drug purchase prices, Uberdoc says it aims to decrease patients’ cost savings beyond doctors’ visits.

CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, the largest not-for-profit health plan in the mid-Atlantic region, is now including WellSet as a portfolio option for employer group accounts. The digital holistic health studio said in the announcement that it offers CareFirst, other business and individuals science-backed health practices and provides unlimited access to live and on-demand classes. WellSet’s website says employers can improve health and reduce stress and burnout with a 3:1 return on investment, based on medical cost savings. The company also says 90% of users feel “more calm and less anxious” after engaging with its offerings.

ScionHealth announced it is acquiring Cornerstone Healthcare Group, adding 15 specialty hospitals, eight senior living locations and approximately 3,000 employees. ScionHealth provides community healthcare in 28 states and in August 2022, the Louisville-based provider launched remote care patient monitoring for chronic care at 79 of its hospitals.

Nest Collaborative is partnering with Work & Mother, a consultant and operator of turn-key commercial lactation suites for working parents, to provide telehealth access to its nationwide network of International Board-Certified Lactation Consultants. Through Work & Mother’s app, parents with insurance or Medicaid coverage can access same-day appointments with Nest’s IBCLCs without copays, out-of-pocket costs or deductibles.

More tech layoffs

Despite new funding from CVS Health Ventures and a new partnership with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Carbon Health had two rounds of layoffs in recent weeks. 

But that pales in comparison to the layoff story coming out of Verily Life Sciences, a unit of Alphabet Inc. The company is restructuring and dropping multiple products, including the Verily Value Suite, a medical software program, according to BioSpace, and said it will cut 15% of its staff. The earliest round of layoffs earned jeers for warning that employees would be informed by an email, and they were reportedly subsequently locked out of their computer system after receiving it.

Andrea Fox is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Email: afox@himss.org

Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS publication.

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