Payer Roundup—Ohio's biggest Medicaid payer ditches CVS for Express Scripts

CVS | April 10, 2019

Pharmacy benefit managers in Ohio’s Medicaid program have been under fire for using spread pricing to maximize profits, and amid that debate the state’s largest Medicaid insurer is breaking up with CVS to contract with Express Scripts instead.  CareSource, which provides Medicaid managed care to 1 million Ohioans, said it “saw an opportunity” to rethink its PBM model2 with a focus on greater transparency.  CVS Caremark, the healthcare giant’s PBM arm, has been under major scrutiny in the state for its pricing practices. A state report found that in 2017 it earned $200 million through spread pricing in Ohio’s Medicaid program. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas announced that it plans to open 10 medical centers by the beginning of next year. The facilities will offer primary care, lab testing, urgent care, imaging and wellness services in the Dallas and Houston markets. The insurer says the clinics will help it manage rising healthcare costs.

Spotlight

As healthcare providers move away from their paper-based comfort zones and into a digital environment or ecosystem that includes dashboards, visualization tools, and, in some cases, uncertainty, HIT adoption has been slow. The transition from paper to digital HIT is getting easier as more healthcare providers learn the principles of technology and informatics, as well as how data can be used to influence practice and policy, says Sreenivasan Venkata Patnam, Senior Business Analyst, Cigniti Technologies Inc.


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MEDICAL DEVICES

Lark Health Builds AI-Driven Heart Health Program

Lark Health | March 17, 2022

Lark Health today announced the development of a novel AI-driven program for the prevention and management of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and coronary artery disease in collaboration with Roche Diagnostics. The program, named Lark Heart Health, is an AI-driven virtual care solution that provides personalized health coaching anytime, anywhere. The new Heart Health program is planned to launch later this year. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally, and nearly half of all adults in the U.S. have some form of CVD. It's also one of the most expensive chronic conditions, with heart disease and stroke costing the U.S. healthcare system roughly $214 billion annually. Yet, provider shortages and siloed care teams leave patients with limited care options, gaps in care, and insufficient education and empowerment to self-manage their heart health. Additionally, high treatment costs and resource constraints often limit care to those with the highest acuity conditions. Built using a Cognitive Behavioral Therapy framework and designed in accordance with guidelines from the American Heart Association (AHA), Lark Heart Health will provide a cost-effective, scalable solution for continuous, person-centric remote heart health coaching intended to help users improve their healthy lifestyle behaviors, reduce stress levels, and ultimately decrease risk factors for heart disease. Through an evidence-based educational curriculum and real-time personalized coaching, Lark will provide users with the tools they need to make meaningful lifestyle changes that can help them better prevent and manage ASCVD and CAD. Earlier this year, Lark announced it had joined the AHA's Network at American Heart Association Center of Health Technology & Innovation, which is focused on building and fostering health technology relationships to develop innovative and scalable solutions. "Lark Heart Health will help those at high risk prevent and actively manage cardiovascular disease through personalized digital coaching. By leveraging our AI technology, we can deliver meaningful and engaging care at an unprecedented scale, and this collaboration with Roche Diagnostics will support the expansion of our proven tech platform into one of the costliest chronic disease markets." Julia Hu, co-founder and CEO of Lark About Lark Health Lark is a healthcare technology company aimed at delivering infinitely scalable, virtual chronic and preventative healthcare through conversational AI. To date, Lark has provided nearly 2 million people with unlimited, 24/7 personalized care delivered through an easy-to-use, text message-like interface that integrates remote patient monitoring tools and is built on a cognitive behavioral therapy framework. Lark's platform seamlessly integrates with health plans' and employers' existing healthcare infrastructure to help them scale their chronic disease prevention and management programs, boost engagement, and improve health outcomes. Lark currently works with many of the largest health plans and across four programs: Prevention, Diabetes Prevention, Diabetes Care, and Hypertension Care. Lark's Diabetes Prevention Program, which is the fastest growing and lowest cost DPP, has received the highest level of clinical recognition—Full Recognition—from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The company has received numerous accolades, including having been named as one of CB Insights Digital Health 150 (2019), a finalist for the UCSF Digital Health Awards one of Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies and one of Fierce Healthcare's Fierce 15.

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FUTURE OF HEALTHCARE

Medicago Announces Publication of Phase 3 COVID-19 Vaccine Study Results in New England Journal of Medicine

Medicago | May 06, 2022

Medicago announced the publication of the results from the Phase 3 study of COVIFENZ®, COVID-19 vaccine recombinant, adjuvanted, in the New England Journal of Medicine. The Phase 3 trial studied the two-dose regimen of COVIFENZ® given 21 days apart versus placebo in over 24,000 subjects aged 18 and above. Common side effects in the vaccine group included injection site pain, headache, fatigue, fever, muscle aches, and chills. COVIFENZ® is indicated for active immunization to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 in individuals 18 to 64 years of age. The safety and efficacy of COVIFENZ® in individuals younger than 18 years of age or 65 years and older have not been established. COVIFENZ® has not yet received approval in other jurisdictions. “We are proud to have our Phase 3 clinical trial published in the esteemed New England Journal of Medicine to be shared with the larger scientific community. Medicago’s scientific team has dedicated decades to the development of our proprietary plant-based vaccine manufacturing platform, and we are thrilled to see our results disseminated in this way. We hope that this exchange of research and knowledge will encourage and inspire future innovation in biomedical science and clinical practice.” Marc-André D’Aoust, Executive Vice President, Innovation, Development and Medical Affairs at Medicago COVIFENZ® was authorized for use by Health Canada on February 24, 2022. This is the first authorized COVID-19 vaccine developed by a Canadian-headquartered company, and the first that uses a plant-based protein technology. “The world needs a diverse range of vaccine options to continue to fight COVID-19, and we are proud to be able to contribute,” said Toshifumi Tada, CEO and President at Medicago. About Medicago Medicago is on a mission to help improve global public health using the power of plants. Founded in 1999 with the belief that innovative approaches and rigorous research would bring new solutions in healthcare, Medicago is a pioneer in plant-based therapeutics. We are proudly rooted in Quebec, with manufacturing capacity in both Canada and the US. Our passionate and curious team of over 500 scientific experts and employees are dedicated to using our technology to provide rapid responses to emerging global health challenges, and to advancing therapeutics against life-threatening diseases worldwide. Medicago is an affiliated company of Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation. About Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation, the majority parent company of Medicago, is one of the large Japanese pharmaceutical companies, with its headquarters in Osaka, Japan. It positions vaccines as one of its key R&D areas and is also working to develop new modalities of vaccines. MTPC will further contribute to the prevention of infectious diseases which is one of the world’s important social issues, by delivering a new option of plant-based VLP vaccine as a new type of vaccine. MTPC is a member of Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings Group.

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HEALTH TECHNOLOGY

HONEYWELL AND NARAYANA HEALTH PARTNER TO EXPLORE CO-CREATION OF HEALTHCARE TECHNOLOGIES

Honeywell | May 27, 2022

Honeywell announced the signing of a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Narayana Hrudayalaya Limited to identify, assess and collaborate on opportunities for the latter's digital transformation journey. This will enable Narayana Health to offer technology-driven, affordable and accessible healthcare for all. The MoU is subject to definitive agreements to be executed between Honeywell and Narayana Health. "These are times of great promise and even greater opportunities in healthcare innovation. At Honeywell, we recognize this and have pivoted towards the development of technologies that will shape the future of healthcare delivery. The MoU with Narayana Health – one of India's foremost healthcare service providers – offers us an opportunity to create a strategic technology development roadmap that will eventually transform India's healthcare industry," said Suresh Venkatarayalu, Chief Technology Officer, Honeywell. "Sensors and digital technology will disrupt health care delivery. Narayana Healthcare is delighted to work with Honeywell to develop digital technologies for making health care safer, more accessible, and more affordable," said Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty, Chairman and Executive Director, Narayana Healthcare. Honeywell's Advanced Sensing Technologies (AST) healthcare business builds on the company's global leadership in sensors to offer devices and software for hospitals, clinics and elderly care facilities to improve communication, collaboration and coordination of clinical care. "The pandemic made it abundantly clear that healthcare organizations need technology that can be seamlessly integrated into existing systems and processes to streamline error prone tasks, enhance patient experience, and improve organizational agility," said Robert Robinson, Vice President and General Manager, Advanced Sensing Technologies Healthcare, Honeywell. Based on the terms of the MoU, Honeywell and Narayana Health will work towards co-innovation and introduction of new products, establish technology development centers, co-create joint capabilities in technology development and research, and undertake the development of fire safety codecs that ensure an end-to-end life safety system to make hospitals safer. As a technology partner, Honeywell will also help enhance and optimize Narayana Health's digital processes and offer training to its employees. The healthcare industry is continuously evolving to keep up with increasing regulatory pressures, while maintaining an environment where patients and staff feel safe. COVID-19 highlighted the need for bringing efficiencies in healthcare delivery to enable fewer personnel to do more onsite. The growth in telemedicine also opened newer avenues for hospitals to manage patient care. Healthcare providers often struggle with developing the right approach to stay ahead of these changes. To help meet some of these challenges, last year Honeywell launched its Real-Time Health Monitoring System (RTHMS). This is a smart edge-to-cloud communication platform for remote and real-time patient monitoring that acts as a bridge between caregiver and patient. This offering integrates hardware and software to improve care delivery, enhance healthcare worker productivity, and enable process efficiency. By digitizing and automating critical tasks, RTHMS can reduce hospital administrative tasks by 35%.1 "Narayana Healthcare has made remarkable progress in using technology to improve clinical outcomes and increase healthcare delivery efficiency. Honeywell's sensor-based applications will complement our efforts in real-time patient monitoring and fire safety, raising the bar for others to meet," Dr. Emmanuel Rupert, Managing Director and Group Chief Executive Officer, Narayana Hrudayalaya Limited Honeywell has a robust portfolio of healthcare technologies – from a patient's first visit, to diagnosis, and returning home from care, Honeywell has the technologies to help healthcare providers increase productivity, efficiency, and shape the future of their organizations. About Honeywell Honeywell is a Fortune 100 technology company that delivers industry-specific solutions that include aerospace products and services; control technologies for buildings and industry; and performance materials globally. Our technologies help aircraft, buildings, manufacturing plants, supply chains, and workers become more connected to make our world smarter, safer, and more sustainable. For more news and information on Honeywell, please visit www.honeywell.com/newsroom.

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HEALTH TECHNOLOGY

Mednow Enters Into Agreement to Acquire Mednow East Inc in Ontario

Mednow Inc. | March 08, 2022

Mednow Inc. Canada’s on-demand virtual pharmacy, is pleased to announce that the Company has entered into a share purchase agreement on March 4, 2021 with Mednow East Inc.and the shareholders of Mednow East, pursuant to which the Company shall acquire all of the issued and outstanding shares of Mednow East, in consideration for an aggregate cash payment of approximately C$65,578 and the Company’s agreement to convert approximately C$1,374,422 owed by Mednow East to the Company pursuant to a pharmacy agreement dated September 15, 2020, as amended October 30, 2020 into a non-interest bearing on-demand convertible promissory note. Mednow East is an Ontario company that operates an online pharmacy, delivering prescriptions in the Province of Ontario. Mednow East has its business headquarters in Toronto and employs Mednow’s marketing and technology platform for lead generation, prescription fulfillment and customer services pursuant to the Pharmacy Agreement. Strategically, Mednow is focused on building out a national pharmacy footprint and the acquisition of Mednow East, with their presence in Ontario, helps to accelerate these goals. Prior to this acquisition, Mednow entered into the Pharmacy Agreement with Mednow East, but post-acquisition, Mednow will own 100% of a pharmacy located in Ontario, which will allow Mednow to provide free same-day pharmaceutical delivery services in the GTA and surrounding areas, and free next-day delivery in the rest of Ontario. Upon closing of the Share Purchase Agreement, Mednow East’s revenue and expenses will be consolidated with those of Mednow and the Pharmacy Agreement between the two parties will be terminated. The debt of approximately C$1,374,422 extended to Mednow East by the Company was used to fund Mednow East’s working capital and provide support for its operations. As Amir Ali Reyhany-Bozorg and Felipe Campusano are directors of the Company and Karim Nassar is the Chief Executive Officer of the Company, and each are also shareholders of Mednow East, the transaction contemplated under the Share Purchase Agreement is a related party transaction under Multilateral Instrument 61-101 –Protection of Minority Securityholders in Special Transactions. The Company is exempt from the formal valuation and minority shareholder approval requirements imposed by MI 61-101 pursuant to the exemptions in section 5.5(a) and 5.7(a) of MI 61-101, as neither the fair market value of the Shares, nor the consideration paid therefor, exceeds 25% of the Company's market capitalization. The Transaction is subject to corporate and regulatory approvals, including TSX Venture Exchange approval. About Mednow Inc. Mednow is a healthcare technology company offering virtual access with a high-standard of care. Designed with accessibility and quality of care in mind, Mednow.ca provides virtual pharmacy and telemedicine services as well as doctor home visits through an interdisciplinary approach to healthcare that is focused on the patient experience. Mednow’s services include free at-home delivery of medications, a user-friendly interface for easy upload, transfer, and refill of prescriptions, access to healthcare professionals through an intuitive chat experience, a specialized PillSmart™ system that packages prescriptions and vitamins by date and time, and doctor consultations.

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Spotlight

As healthcare providers move away from their paper-based comfort zones and into a digital environment or ecosystem that includes dashboards, visualization tools, and, in some cases, uncertainty, HIT adoption has been slow. The transition from paper to digital HIT is getting easier as more healthcare providers learn the principles of technology and informatics, as well as how data can be used to influence practice and policy, says Sreenivasan Venkata Patnam, Senior Business Analyst, Cigniti Technologies Inc.

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