In brief:Brightree buys MedAct, OIG releases strategic plan
ATLANTA – Brightree has acquired McKinney, Texas-based MedAct, adding 330 HME providers to its customer base. “With the addition of MedAct, we are expanding our market reach to include some of the industry’s most nimble HME providers,” said Dave Cormack, president and CEO of Brightree, in a release. MedAct’s customers will join Brightree’s more than 3,000 customers. Under the terms of the agreement, MedAct CEO Gregg Timmons joins Brightree as executive vice president, MedAct Division. Brightree will continue to provide development and customer support for current MedAct solutions. In addition to MedAct’s customer base, Brightree will be able to leverage the company’s headquarters in Texas, giving it a presence in the central U.S.
OIG releases strategic plan
BALTIMORE – One of the Office of Inspector General’s (OIG’s) four goals for the next four years is to fight fraud, waste and abuse, according to a strategic plan released Nov. 21. The OIG says it plans to continue and expand existing initiatives in this area, like the Medicare Fraud Strike Force and the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Program. The agency also says it plans to focus on compliance issues related to fraud, waste and abuse. It plans to promote compliance, resolve noncompliance issues and help the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) assess whether providers are qualified to take part in government healthcare programs, according to the report. Additionally, the OIG plans to take successful models, such as the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, and use them in other HHS programs, focusing on discouraging waste and promoting Medicare and Medicaid integrity. Other goals in the plan include promoting quality, safety and value; fostering financial stewardship and a high-performing healthcare system; and promoting expertise while leaning on leading-edge technology and tools.
ResMed advances patent case
SAN DIEGO – ResMed has won preliminary injunctions in Germany against two medical device manufacturers for alleged patent infringements. The initial orders prohibit Apex Medical, a Taiwanese manufacturer, and BMC Medical, a Chinese manufacturer, from selling or marketing certain products in Germany without a court order, according to a press release. ResMed has also filed lawsuits in Germany that seek damages and permanent injunctions for certain products. "We will continue to defend our investment in intellectual property and pursue all legal remedies to prevent infringement in any country where that infringement exists," said David Pendarvis, global general counsel and chief administrative officer at ResMed. Earlier this year, ResMed pursued similar legal actions against Apex and BMC in the United States. The investigation into BMC is ongoing, while the investigation into Apex resulted in a consent decree requiring Apex to stop importing and selling infringing products.
Stakeholders increase outreach for complex rehab bill
WASHINGTON – The sponsors of a bill in the Senate to create a separate benefit for complex rehab are circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter to ramp up support. With little time left in the current legislative session, the bill, S. 948, has only six supporters in the Senate. “We need to increase our Senate outreach and build on the substantive positives we have,” wrote Don Clayback, executive director of NCART, in a bulletin. Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Thad Cochran, R-Miss., introduced S. 948 in May. Some of those positives: Schumer and Cochran are two of the most senior senators; both Democrats (four) and Republicans (two) support the bill; and members of the Finance Committee and the Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee are represented among supporters. NCART asks providers to contact their senators and follow up with them about the letter. A similar bill in the House of Representatives, H.R. 942, has 85 supporters, with a goal of 100. A list of the supporters for both bills, as well as Schumer and Cochran’s letter, is available at www.access2crt.org.
PFQC to providers: Encourage bennies to report problems
WATERLOO, Iowa – The number of Medicare beneficiaries calling the People for Quality Care (PFQC) hotline to report problems related to competitive bidding continues to climb. The organization recently released an updated report containing 2,614 complaints. Because the number of complaints coming into the hotline, however, has slowed, the PFQC is calling on providers to encourage beneficiaries to report problems. The organization, which shares the reports with Congress, is releasing new fliers to help providers educate beneficiaries about the hotline.
Liberator stock heads to NYSE
STUART, Fla. – Common stock of Liberator Medical Holdings began trading on the New York Stock Exchange under LBMH on Nov. 20. “We are confident that our leading market positions and strong customer relationships, combined with the increased visibility of being listed on the NYSE, will help enhance value for all stakeholders,” stated Mark Libratore, Liberator CEO, in a release. Liberator, whose products include diabetic and ostomy supplies, posted strong earnings in the third quarter of 2013.
6-4-18 Series returns to Medtrade
LAS VEGAS – The 6-4-18 Series of educational sessions, which debuted at Medtrade in October, will be part of Medtrade Spring in March, show organizers have announced. Unlike at Medtrade, however, the series will be open to all attendees. “Medtrade is committed to survival and success of the HME industry,” said Kevin Gaffney, show director, in a release. “By making these important sessions open to all, we believe a large number of providers will benefit.” Topics in the series, which is designed to provide six building blocks for success in the next 18 months, include using software as a business management tool and becoming a certified DME specialist. The early bird rate for Medtrade Spring ends Dec. 31.
Alliqua secures $13M
LANGHORNE, Pa. - Alliqua has closed a pair of deals that brings the company two new products and $13 million in investments, the Philadelphia Business Journal reports. “Alliqua now has significant capital to bring our business plans to fruition,” said CEO David Johnson in the story. In a deal with Celgene, Alliqua obtained the rights to develop and market advanced wound care products Biovance and Extracellular Matrix, and Celgene purchased $6 million in Alliqua stock. Separately, Broadfin Capital and Perceptive Advisors rounded up $7 million in investment capital for Alliqua, according to the story.
New CPAP available online only
BOSTON – Human Design Medical released Z1, a new portable CPAP machine, on Nov. 21. The palm-sized machine weighs 10 ounces and uses a lithium ion battery that works for 8 hours without backup power, according to a release. “Our goal was to make CPAP treatment more user-friendly for people with active lifestyles and I think we really nailed it,” said Steve Moore, senior vice president of sales and marketing. “I am a CPAP user myself and have taken the Z1 on business trips across the U.S. and overseas.” The Z1 machine will be available exclusively through the following Internet resellers: thecpapshop.com, cpap.com, cpapsupplyusa.com and directhomemedical.com.
NIH finds poor communication a barrier to COPD treatment
BETHESDA, Md. - To more effectively treat COPD, patients and their doctors need to have open, detailed conversations, a web-based study by the National Institutes of Health has found. Current smokers are likely to talk with their doctors about COPD symptoms (82%), but former smokers, who are also at risk, are not (37%), according to the study, which was released Nov. 15. "A good conversation between patients and providers about COPD can make a real difference for disease sufferers,” said James Kiley, director of National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Division of Lung Diseases. “It’s no secret that early diagnosis and treatment can improve daily living for those who have COPD—but you can’t get there without an open dialogue in the exam room.” The study says continuing to increase awareness of the disease and its symptoms will help improve patient-provider communications and treatment of the disease.
Fifty children and their families attended the Nov. 22 Dallas Mavericks basketball game as part of “One Shot Away,” a diabetes recognition program hosted by Med-Care Diabetic & Medical Supplies, the Mavericks and the North Texas Chapter of the American Diabetes Association…Invacare has donated eight power wheelchairs to Youth Challenge’s new Paralympic Power Soccer program. Participants play four-on-four matches in power wheelchairs fitted with bumpers…Sunset Healthcare Solutions has launched its annual fundraising campaign to benefit the Toys for Tots Foundation. For each 6-foot long CPAP tube sold in the next two months, the company will donate a portion of the proceeds to Toys for Tots…The American Association for Respiratory Care honored Philips Respironics with the 2013 Zenith Award during the 59th International Respiratory Congress on Nov. 16. Philips received the award for the 15th time…Convaid recently volunteered at the fifth annual Strollathon in The Woodlands, Texas. The International Rett Syndrome Foundation organizes the event to raise research dollars and public awareness.