In brief: ConvaTec shrinks manufacturing, Apria shifts order management

Friday, January 29, 2016

GREENSBORO, N.C. – ConvaTec, a manufacturer of wound care and ostomy products, will begin closing its manufacturing facility here, resulting in 250 layoffs, according to news reports. It expects to complete the closure during the first quarter of 2017. The company announced in 2014 that it would shutter its office in Skillman, N.J., resulting in 118 layoffs from its sales, marketing and human resources division. ConvaTec is owned by Avista Capital Partners and Nordic Capital. The firms have been seeking a corporate suitor or IPO for the company, but have not succeeded, according to reports. Avista and Nordic purchased the wound care unit from Bristol-Myers Squibb for $4.1 billion in 2008. Nordic Capital formerly owned Permobil. ConvaTec has more than 9,000 employees, with 11 manufacturing facilities in eight countries. It owns 180 Medical, a provider of catheters and urological medical supplies.

Apria shifts order management to the web

LAKE FOREST, Calif. – Apria Healthcare has launched ApriaLink, an electronic order management system that it says will help it work smarter and more efficiently.

Apria says it’s the first national provider to launch such a system, which, among other things, allows physicians to sign electronically certificates of medical necessity, or CMNs, for oxygen orders for Medicare beneficiaries.

“Healthcare professionals can quickly and efficiently shift patients from the high-cost acute setting to the lowest-cost home setting through electronic means,” said Dan Starck, CEO, in a press release.

ApriaLink also provides instant, real-time access to the status of orders; simple, clear guidance about resolving issues around orders, including instructions for pending documentation requirements; and the ability to place new prescription orders online.

In these ways, the system not only empowers physicians but also patients, Starck says.

“With this ground-breaking portal, Apria is investing in our customers and leading the industry by putting powerful electronic homecare order management in the hands of our customers—giving them more control over the process,” he said.

ApriaLink is a web-based tool that is HIPAA-compliant, encrypted and secure from inappropriate access, according to the release.

AHP to close billing center

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – American HomePatient plans to close a regional billing center in Buffalo, N.Y., in April, eliminating 42 jobs, according to Buffalo Business First. A company representative told the news agency that the move will not affect AHP’s branch locations in the area and the employees who work there providing HME. “We have been working on initiatives to drive cost out of our organization,” the representative said. The representative also told the agency that the move is not related to the pending acquisition of AHP by Lincare.

Sleep therapy reduces readmissions for CHF patients, study shows

PHILADELPHIA – Early diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea may reduce six-month readmissions for patients hospitalized with heart failure, according to research recently published online by the American Journal of Cardiology. "Our research showed that early recognition and treatment of patients hospitalized with decompensated congestive heart failure is associated with a reduction in readmissions for patients who use their positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy on a regular basis," said first author Sunil Sharma, M.D., FAASM, associate professor of pulmonary medicine in the Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University. "Importantly, hospitals can implement cost-effective screening programs to catch sleep apnea in hospitalized, high risk patients." Dr. Sharma and the team screened patients admitted to the hospital with heart failure for underlying sleep disordered breathing. Of the 75 patients that followed up with an outpatient polysomnography, 70 received the diagnosis of sleep-disordered breathing. Over the next six months, the team tracked patients' PAP compliance, ER visits and readmissions. By comparing pre- and post-treatment readmissions in compliant and non-compliant patients, the researchers found a reduction in hospital visits for those who used their PAP regularly over a period of six months.

MED Group expands payer network

LUBBOCK, Texas – The MED Group has signed an agreement with America’s Choice Provider Network, expanding its payer network by an additional 22 million covered lives, it announced Jan. 26. “We are confident this agreement will provide our members a great opportunity to continue to grow their business,” said Jeff Woodham, senior vice president and general manager. “With ACPN’s established network of healthcare providers, our members will now have access to more than 175 million covered lives.” In 2015, the member services organization expanded its payer network through agreements with several plans. The MED Group is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Managed Health Care Associates.

Former provider launches employee newsletter

COCONUT CREEK, Fla. – Valumatrix has launched The Fifth Element, a weekly newsletter to help engage employees, it announced Jan. 26. Each month the newsletter will have an overarching theme and each week it will have a different focus, including work, self, family and relationshipsAt a time when it is getting more and more difficult for companies to raise their prices, productivity improvements are becoming a preferred approach to shoring up the bottom line,” said Lynn Everard, managing director. “Our goal with this publication is to assist companies in increasing employee ultimately leading to productivity improvements and better work/life balance.” FMI:

Humana opens first of six pharmacies

New Braunfels, Texas – Humana opened its first community pharmacy in Texas at the Partners in Primary Care medical practice. The new pharmacy, an extension of Humana's mail-order prescription drug service, will provide clinical support and full pharmaceutical services to Humana customers. The insurance company intends to open a second pharmacy in Texas and four more in Florida over the next few months.

NCPA wants pharmacists included on chronic care teams

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The National Community Pharmacists Association has provided Senate Finance Committee leaders a range of proposals aimed at improving care for the panel’s Chronic Care Working Group. “Our recommendation is to include pharmacists as essential health care providers on chronic care teams and the designated lead in coordinating safe and effective medication management,” wrote the NCPA in a letter to the committee. The NCPA also suggested improving care management services for individuals with multiple chronic conditions; expanding access to prediabetes education; and medication synchronization.

Össur, Ottobock fund research

REYKJAVIK, Iceland – Össur and Ottobock have joined forces to fund breakthrough research in mind-controlled prosthetic limbs. The companies have contributed a combined $1 million to the Össur and Ottobock Research Trust Fund at the University of Iceland. The fund will award international grants for scientific research and innovative projects in the field of advanced neural control of prosthetic limbs. It will award the first grants within one year. The fund will be governed by a four-person committee comprised of two University of Iceland representatives and one representative from each company.

Short takes: Active Healthcare, Executive Infusion Services

Lisa Feierstein, co-founder and president of Active Healthcare in Raleigh, N.C., was selected from more than 5,000 submissions to be featured in “The 2016 Woman’s Advantage Shared Wisdom Calendar.” The calendar provides advice for women business owners from influential women leaders across the U.S. and Canada. Featured on Jan. 30 and 31, Feierstein’s quote states: “Sleep is the ultimate detox”…Executive Infusion Services, an independent home infusion pharmacy based in Dearborn, Mich., has been accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Health Care.