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In brief: Vent study, Itamar acquisition, PHE extension 

In brief: Vent study, Itamar acquisition, PHE extension 

LAFAYETTE, La. – Viemed Healthcare has published a study that shows non-invasive ventilation at home improves survival and decreases health care utilization in Medicare beneficiaries with COPD with chronic respiratory failure. 

“This study is the first of its kind published in the U.S. and represents a significant milestone in our mission of educating the medical community on the benefits of NIVH,” said Casey Hoyt, Viemed CEO. “The data supports that NIVH is the best-in-class treatment for chronic respiratory failure consequent to COPD. We are excited to share the results of this study with not only our physician referral sources but also with our colleagues and payers throughout the industry.” 

The study, which has been published online and in print by the peer-reviewed journal Respiratory Medicine, evaluated clinical outcomes in COPD patients with COPD-CRF treated with NIV at home compared to similar patients who did not receive NIV at home. 

Highlights from the study include: The group treated with NIV at home had: a 50% decreased in all-cause mortality during the study period; a 28% decline in the risk of hospitalization; and a 52% reduction in the risk of an emergency room visit. 

All data for the study, which was led by Dr. William Frazier, Viemed’s chief medical officer, in conjunction with Precision Health Economics, a bio-statistical and analytics firm, was obtained from the Medicare Limited Data Set and included patients who were diagnosed with COPD and CRF between 2012 and 2018. 

Itamar Medical ‘jump starts’ RPM initiatives with Spry Health acquisition 

CAESAREA, Israel – Digital health company Itamar Medical plans to buy San Francisco-based Spry Health, which makes a wrist-based remote monitoring solution. 

Spry’s Loop System, a watch-like, home-based device, uses sensing technologies and algorithms that contextualize real-time, continuous physiologic data to flag signs of patient deterioration using bio-markers such as SpO2, respiration rate and heart rate. These three signals, combined with Itamar’s core expertise in Peripheral Arterial Tonometry (PAT), form the foundation for continuous sleep apnea monitoring.  

“As we sought opportunities to build on our vision of expanding sleep apnea diagnostics from a single-night test to continuous remote patient monitoring, we identified the technology commercialized by Spry Health as a perfect fit,” said Gilad Glick, president and CEO of Itamar Medical. “The acquisition of their FDA-cleared, wrist-worn technology and the addition of a knowledgeable pool of selected talented engineers, led by Spry co-founder and CTO Elad Ferber, provides an excellent platform for us to jump start our development initiatives to bring to market a continuous sleep apnea monitoring device to further support chronic disease management, particularly as it contributes to the added burden on cardiovascular disease.” 

Itamar expects to begin development of a new wrist-worn device immediately, with initial market launch timing anticipated in 2022. 

The global RPM market in 2019 was estimated to be approximately $800 million and expected to reach approximately $2 billion in 2027, according to Itamar. 

NHIA, NAHC press for vaccine access 

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The National Home Infusion Association and the National Association for Home Care and Hospice urge the federal government to ensure home infusion pharmacies have access to COVID-19 vaccines. 

The two trade associations have asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and state health departments to ensure state-licensed infusion pharmacies are able to supply vaccines, either directly or in collaboration with home health agencies. They also ask CMS to recognize the role of each entity as essential to the process and to provide adequate reimbursement for providing the vaccine. 

“NHIA and NAHC members can play an essential role in expediting access to COVID-19 vaccines for rural and vulnerable patients; however, doing so requires home health and home infusion providers to invest substantial time and resources to procure, prepare, deliver and coordinate the administration of vaccines,” say the associations. “Collectively, we ask for consideration and assistance with the distribution of vaccines to higher-risk patients currently receiving care in the home.” 

Sleep, oxygen patient volumes to improve in 2021, survey shows 

NEW YORK – Providers expect high-single digit growth in sleep patient volumes in the next year, according to Needham’s “1Q21 HME Oxygen and Sleep Survey.” 

Respondents saw their sleep patient volume increase by only 0.8% in the last 12 months but expect it to grow by 7.6% over the next 12 months, the survey says. These rates are mixed from the prior survey results of 5.5% and 5%, respectively. 

Overall, respondents reported that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a neutral impact on their sleep resupply businesses. 

Respondents report that flow generator prices increased 2.6% in the last 12 months (vs. 1.3% in the prior survey) and mask prices increased 0.6% (vs. 0.5%). 

For oxygen, respondents saw their patient volumes increase by 3.1% in the last 12 months and expect it to grow by 5.6% in the next 12 months. These rates are mixed from the prior survey results of 3.4% and 3.9%, respectively. 

Of note: For POCs, specifically, respondents expect a 0.7% decline in unit purchases over the next 12 months, down from the 3.5% they reported in the prior survey. 

PHE extended through April 

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has extended the public health emergency for another three months. On Jan. 7, HHS Secretary Alex Azar announced the extension of the PHE, which was set to expire Jan. 21. HHS extended the PHE, originally declared on Jan. 31, 2020, multiple times last year. There are several HME-related provisions tied to the PHE, including Medicare’s 75/25 blended reimbursement rates in non-rural, non-competitive bidding areas; and waivers of certain telehealth restrictions and other waivers and policy changes

NCART makes case for telehealth 

EAST AMHERST, N.Y. – NCART and the CRT Remote Services Consortium on Jan. 4 submitted comments to the Telehealth Workgroups of the Senate and U.S. House of Representatives making the case for a permanent telehealth option for people with disabilities who require complex rehab technology. The comments are another step toward getting Congress to include in legislation the ability for CMS to “make permanent” the temporary COVID-19 policies that designate physical therapists and occupational therapists as authorized telehealth practitioners and allow the use of related billing codes. NCART is asking stakeholders to join them in communicating the importance of this legislation. 

Knit-Rite, Therafirm acquired by Thuasne 

KANSAS CITY – Knit-Rite and Therafirm have been acquired by Thuasne, a European medical device manufacturer with 2,200 employees and 233 million euros in revenues in 2019. Knit-Rite and Therafirm, which represent Thuasne’s fourth largest acquisition in the United States in 10 years, solidify the company’s presence in the O&P and compression markets, and open up a new market, devices for orthopedic prothesis (post-amputation prosthetic socks and prosthetic textile interfaces). “The combination of Knit-Rite and Therafirm with Thuasne both enhances the ability to serve the orthotic and prosthetic profession in the U.S. and abroad, and provides a solid platform via Therafirm to expand the range of medical compression technologies to the global vascular and lymphology communities,” said Thierry Arduin, president of Thuasne. Thuasne highlighted the similarities between the three companies, including their emphasis on innovation, with a large number of patents filed each year; and their “integrated industrial strategy,” allowing them to master all stages of manufacturing. 

Study boosts case for telehealth for complex rehab 

PITTSBURGH – Telehealth can be effective in providing complex rehab technology, including custom-designed and custom-fitted manual and power wheelchairs, to veterans, according to two recent studies published in the International Journal of Telerehabilitation. The first study involved a cohort of veterans with disabilities who were assessed by a therapist through telehealth in their home for CRT and then compared to a matched sample of non-veterans who were assessed through traditional in-person methods. The study found pre- and post-scores on the Functional Mobility Assessment questionnaire were similar. The second study found veterans and providers were satisfied with using telehealth for complex rehab technology needs and that veterans often preferred telehealth. “Providing properly fitted mobility equipment is a consumer-centered process that involves several steps, interdisciplinary communication and assessment of the person’s natural living situation,” said Dr. Brad Dicianno, study investigator and medical director at the Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL), which conducted the research with the University of Pittsburgh’s Rehabilitation Science and Technology Department. “Regardless of the current pandemic, for people with disabilities, accessing appropriate services can be a challenge, especially given limited mobility, medical conditions that prevent travel, equipment that is in disrepair or inaccessible transportation.” The research was funded through the MyVA Access Improvement Project, a partnership between the VA’s Office of the Under Secretary for Health and the Office of Rural Health. The findings provide further understanding to the benefits of telehealth for complex rehab technology and can serve as evidence to support continued investigation and use of these methods beyond the current public health emergency, says Mark Schmeler, an associate professor with the Rehabilitation Science and Technology Department. “I have personally noted more meaningful information when I can observe a person engaged in mobility related activities of daily living in their natural environment versus what is assessed in a clinical setting,” said Schmeler, an OT/ATP. 

VGM launches Moxie 

WATERLOO, Iowa – VGM Group has merged three of its marketing and events businesses into one business called Moxie. Hellman, a marketing agency acquired by VGM in 2018, has joined VGM Marketing and VGM Events, bringing 30 professionals together. “We are very excited to introduce Moxie,” Christa Miehe, the company’s president. “This strategic alignment blends three very talented teams and allows us to expand our capabilities and offer current and new clients a broader range of services.” Moxie’s services include strategy, branding, design, content, video, experiential marketing and event planning. When it’s time to return to the office, Moxie will be located at VGM’s main campus in Waterloo, Iowa. 

CMS approves block grant waiver in Tennessee 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – CMS has approved Tennessee’s request for a block grant waiver for its state Medicaid program, TennCare, AAHomecare reports. The new program will allow TennCare to administer Medicaid with less oversight from the federal government, increasing its flexibility. The new block grant waiver – known as TennCare III – came after the General Assembly passed a law in 2019 directing Gov. Bill Lee’s administration to negotiate with CMS. TennCare must maintain current levels of service and populations served, but it now has increased flexibility to add new benefits without prior approval from CMS. Any savings the state achieves under the yearly cap will be eligible to be shared with Tennessee, as long as certain quality and access metrics are achieved. AAHomecare worked with HME stakeholders in Tennessee and TennCare leadership to ensure the program includes strong oversight mechanisms, while maintaining patient benefits and access to care. The association also submitted comments on the proposal. 

Nonin names new board members 

MINNEAPOLIS – Nonin Medical has appointed four new members to its board of directors. They are Brett Edelson, CEO, United Healthcare of Minn., N.D. and S.D.; Rob Kill, CEO, Parata Systems; Jennifer Myster, president, Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital and HealthPartners Home and Community Services; and Sven Wehrwein, director, Atricure, SPS Commerce and Proto Labs. “Looking to the future of Nonin, we are confident the new board members are uniquely qualified to support the next critical growth phase of the company," said Phil Isaacson, executive chairman, chief technology officer and founder, Nonin Medical. 

RESNA supports dynamic seating 

WASHINGTON – RESNA has released a new position paper on dynamic seating. The paper, an official statement by RESNA on clinical and professional practice, is available for free download at It shares typical clinical applications and provides evidence from the literature supporting dynamic seating to assist practitioners in decision-making and justification. It is not intended to replace clinical judgment. 

Golden recognizes front line ‘warriors’ 

OLD FORGE, Pa. – Golden Technologies has awarded its 2020 President’s Award to its entire front-line team of “warriors.” The annual award typically recognizes an individual whose performance has gone above and beyond, and who supports Golden’s mission. “Under unprecedented conditions, each team member in production, traffic, customer and technical service, accounting and sales showed up day after day and did everything they could to continue to provide customers with the power lift recliners they so desperately needed,” said CEO Rich Golden. “I am very proud of everyone, and congratulations on this special achievement.”  

Permobil to offer, support LUCI in VA clinics 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Permobil and LUCI have partnered to provide LUCI’s smart wheelchair technology to Veterans Affairs clinics nationwide. Through the partnership, Permobil sales and clinical education teams will be responsible for sales, installation and training for all available Luci models, including on non-Permobil wheelchairs. “Permobil has a rich history of servicing and supporting the VA and we are committed to bringing the most advanced technologies in the industry to help improve veterans’ lives,” said Chuck Witkowski, president of Permobil Americas. “We’re excited by this partnership with LUCI to bring their smart wheelchair technology to the individuals who put our safety first – our veterans.”  LUCI’s technology uses a patented sensor-fusion safety system to combine data from cameras, ultrasonics and radar into a single, 360-degree view of the world. In November, it was named to Time Magazine’s annual 100 Best Innovations

United Healthcare extends suspension of prior auths 

MINNEAPOLIS – United Healthcare will extend the temporary suspension of certain prior authorization requirements for in-network hospitals and skilled nursing facilities through Jan. 31, AAHomecare reports. They were originally set to expire Jan. 8. The suspensions include COVID-19 oxygen-related requests. In those cases, oxygen can be delivered without a prior auth and does not need to meet current clinical criteria. UCH also noted that it may perform retrospective reviews for services provided during this time period. Providers should visit for up-to-date information. 

Big Sky announces new board 

HELENA, Mont. – Big Sky AMES has named its 2021 board of directors. The officers are Eric Ecker, St. Vincent Medical Supply & Mobility, president; Adam Pople, Bozeman Health, vice president; Dedra Haworth, Harrington Surgical, secretary/treasurer; and Alesha Rate, Norco, past president. Board members are Gary Rench, Sandcreek Medical; Jenn Morrisroe, Dillon Medical; Lori Arnold, Cody Regional Health; Mike Calcaterra, Norco Inc., and honorary member Dan Harrington, retired from Harrington Surgical. 

Supreme Medical taps new sales VP 

MOBILE, Ala. – Supreme Medical has named Eugene Keane vice president of sales and marketing. In this role, Keane will work to expand Supreme’s home care and post-acute distribution business serving HME, pharmacy, home health and hospice providers throughout the Southeast. “I am excited to have Eugene leading our sales and marketing efforts,” said Colton Mason, senior vice president of Supreme. “He will be working closely with our manufacturer partners to build out programs that follow the patient from hospital to home – which is becoming the care setting of choice due to COVID-19.” Keane has more than 25 years of home health experience, including roles at Preferred Medical and H.D. Smith. 

NHIA to kick off new event with keynote from Daniel Kraft 

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The National Home Infusion Association has announced Daniel Kraft, MD, a health technology expert, as the keynote speaker for its first-ever Global Congress on Home Infusion Therapy. Held as a pre-conference to its 2021 Annual Conference, April 19-22, the GCHIT will allow clinicians and providers from across the world to share experiences, ideas, accomplishments and challenges associated with the delivery of infused medications in the home. “We’re excited to have Kraft serve as the keynote for our first Global Congress on Home Infusion Therapy,” said Connie Sullivan, NHIA’s president and CEO. “With a 300% growth in the home and specialty infusion industry over the last 10 years, there is clearly a demand for patients to receive care in their homes, and this event offers attendees an opportunity to not only learn more about the industry, but also to share and gain insight from industry professionals around the world.” Kraft is a Stanford and Harvard-trained physician-scientist, inventor, entrepreneur and chairman of the XPRIZE Pandemic Alliance Task Force, an organization working to accelerate treatment breakthroughs for COVID-19 and future pandemics. He has also served as chairman for Singularity University and Exponential Medicine. 

Soleo Health named preferred provider by Cigna’s eviCore 

FRISCO, Texas – Soleo Health has been selected as a preferred provider by Cigna’s eviCore healthcare to participate in its specialty pharmacy network. eviCore serves as the network manager overseeing Cigna’s ancillary service offering of specialty pharmacy and infusion services across its nationwide system, which serves more than 14 million lives. “Partnering with eviCore as a preferred supplier speaks volumes to the proven track record Soleo Health has earned within the complex specialty pharmacy arena,” said Drew Walk, CEO. “This reputation can also be attributed to the expertise we have garnered by helping payers, providers and pharmaceutical manufacturers improve patient care and outcomes, as well as their quality of life through the real-word data reporting capabilities of SoleMetrics.” Effective Feb. 1, Soleo will provide a range of specialty and non-specialty infusion services to Cigna members through eviCore, including anti-infectives, bleeding disorders, inotropic, immunoglobin (IV and subcutaneous), parenteral nutrition and specialty biologics therapies. 

AAHomecare roundup: CareCentrix, OIG 

CareCentrix has notified providers servicing Florida Blue beneficiaries that they will be adding ambulatory aids, such as canes and walkers, to the list of non-life-sustaining products subject to suspension for patient balances that are 180 days past due, starting Feb. 1, AAHomecare reports. CareCentrix first implemented this policy for CPAP and PAP supplies in June…The Office of Inspector General will conduct a report on supplier acquisition costs for urinary supplies to support its recommendation that these supplies should be included in the competitive bidding program, AAHomecare reports. Medicare Part B payments for urinary catheter tips and intermittent urinary catheters with insertion supplies increased by $173 million from 2010-19, according to the OIG. 


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