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In brief: Viemed deal, oxygen reform, sleep study 

In brief: Viemed deal, oxygen reform, sleep study 

LAFAYETTE, La. – Viemed Healthcare has finalized its strategic partnership with East Alabama Health, providing the company with a controlling interest in East Alabama HomeMed. 

East Alabama HomeMed provides HME services to patients within the EAH network, which encompasses East Alabama Medical Center in Opelika, Ala., and EAMC-Lanier Hospital in Valley, Ala., with a combined medical staff of 380 physicians, as well as those in the surrounding areas of Eastern Alabama. 

"We are thrilled to join forces with the exceptional team at East Alabama Health to deliver best-in-class home medical services to their patients and expand HomeMed’s business through the strategic partnership," said CEO Casey Hoyt. "This marks a significant milestone in our ongoing growth strategy, which includes hospital joint ventures and institutional partnerships. We view this transaction as a blueprint that can be replicated nationwide, enhancing care quality while simultaneously creating value for healthcare systems." 

EAH will retain a minority, non-controlling interest in East Alabama HomeMed. 

Viemed expects incremental annualized revenue from the acquired operations of about $4 million. 

Oxygen bill introduced in House 

WASHINGTON – A bill to reform the home oxygen therapy benefit has now also been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

The Supplemental Oxygen Access Reform (SOAR) Act, H.R. 7829, introduced by Reps. David Valadao, R-Calif.; Julia Brownley, D-Calif.; Larry Bucshon, R-Ind., and Adrian Smith, R-Neb., would: 

  • Remove supplemental oxygen from Medicare’s competitive bidding program 

  • Permanently extend Medicare’s blended reimbursement rates 

  • Establish a separate payment system for liquid oxygen  

  • Reimburse for respiratory therapist services 

  • Mandate the use of a template for documentation 

“CQRC applauds Representatives Valadao, Brownley, Bucshon, and Smith for their leadership on this important bill and calls upon Congress to support comprehensive oxygen reform,” said Dan Starck, interim chair of the Council for Quality Respiratory Care. “Doing so will help protect access to respiratory care for patients. CQRC is proud to advocate for this bill alongside patients, family advocates, physicians, and providers, and we urge lawmakers to pass the SOAR Act.”   

Sens. Bill Cassidy, MD., R-La., Mark Warner, D-Va., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., introduced a similar bill in the Senate earlier this year. 

Medline celebrates latest robot installation 

WILMER, Texas – Medline hosted more than 100 community leaders, local officials and health care partners on March 28 to celebrate the AutoStore installation at its Wilmer, Texas, distribution center. Today, the 800,000-square-foot distribution center manages more than $1 billion in medical supplies. “This distribution center and Medline’s other recent investments in infrastructure, operations and technology reflect our unwavering commitment to making healthcare run better in Texas,” said Steve Miller, Medline executive vice president, supply chain. “We know that our health care partners rely on us to provide consistent, timely delivery of vital medical supplies. These robotic upgrades help us to do just that.” Medline has a total of 20 AutoStore installations featuring 1,700 robots. The installations are part of the company’s Healthcare Resilience Initiative, a more than $2 billion investment to support the supply chain needs of health care providers. The energy-efficient, LEED-certified Wilmer distribution center delivers medical supplies to local hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, clinics, physician offices, rehabilitation centers, long-term care facilities and patient homes – the full continuum of care – in northern Texas. 

UPitt seeks feedback on potential new policy 

PITTSBURGH – The University of Pittsburgh, in collaboration with other investigators, seeks feedback on a new coverage policy for complex rehabilitation technology. UPitt has launched a short survey with a series of 10 questions asking for stakeholder feedback on certain elements that should be included in a new policy, such as timeliness, repairs/maintenance, communication, accountability and durability. It seeks feedback from a variety of stakeholders, including people who use wheelchairs, caregivers, clinicians, suppliers, manufacturers, technicians, policy makers and funding sources. UPitt will not gather any identifiable information on those who complete the survey, but it does ask some demographic questions, such as country of residence, first three digits and/or letters of zip/postal code, and primary stakeholder group. It will aggregate the results and use them for consideration in developing a new policy. To take the survey, go here. To learn more about the project, go here.  

Rehab Medical honored for culture 

INDIANAPOLIS – Rehab Medical has made the Indiana Chamber of Commerce Best Places to Work in Indiana list for the third time. The list recognizes and celebrates businesses for creating cultures that attract and retain employees. “To fulfill our vision of being the national leader of custom advanced medical equipment, we must have the best employees,” said Jason Carney, vice president of human resources. “To have the best employees, we must be a premier employer. This award represents the hard work everyone does to make rehab Medical an employer of choice in Indiana and 17 other states.” Rehab Medical says it improves the lives of its employees through four programs: a core value program, a financial wellness program, a leadership development program and a mentorship program. The chamber, in partnership with TrueU, will formally recognize awardees at a public celebration on May 8. Rehab Medical has also received a Better Business Bureau Torch Award for Ethics for building a culture of trust through clarity of purpose, empowering employees and creating opportunities for growth. President Kevin Gearheart spoke with HME News recently about how Rehab Medical prioritizes employee development to make sure it has the leaders it needs to open new offices at the ready.     

Study: Risk of increased health care utilization for children with sleep disorders 

DARIEN, Ill. - Among children who had a chronic medical condition, those who also had a diagnosed sleep disorder were nearly two times more likely to have increased health care utilization than those who had no sleep disorder, according to a new study. The study, "Association between sleep disorders and health care utilization in children with chronic medical conditions: A Medicaid claims data analysis.” appeared in the April 1 issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, the official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “The results were impressive, suggesting a clear role of sleep disorders in health care utilization in children with chronic medical conditions,” said principal investigator and lead author Dr. Pranshu Adavadkar, associate professor in the department of pediatrics at the University of Illinois Chicago and director of pediatric sleep medicine at the UI Health Sleep Sciences Center. To conduct the study, researchers extracted Illinois Medicaid claims data for 16,325 children up to 18 years of age. Each child had at least one chronic medical condition such as asthma, obesity, diabetes, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and 77% had multiple chronic medical conditions. Children were divided into three levels of health care utilization based on their hospitalizations and emergency department visits in the 12 months prior to study enrollment: low (no hospitalization or ED visit), medium (one to two hospitalizations or one to three ED visits), and high (three or more hospitalizations or four or more ED visits). Adavadkar noted that children with chronic medical conditions tend not only to have disproportionately higher health care utilization but also to have higher costs, with families with lower socioeconomic status bearing the brunt of these costs, highlighting the need to treat comorbid sleep disorders. “Understanding the specific sleep disorders that significantly increase health care utilization risk can inform targeted interventions and screenings for better management of these high-risk children,” he said. Researchers also noted that sleep disorders tend to be underdiagnosed in pediatric populations, so the association between sleep disorders and health care utilization may be even stronger than the results of this study demonstrate. 

Tennr raises funding 

NEW YORK – Health care startup Tennr has raised $18 million on its mission to use AI to power the fax machine to automate referral processing, payment posting, claims auditing and medical record management. “When building Tennr and this health care integration, we looked at what’s actually needed and saw what was possible with technology,” said Trey Holterman, CEO and co-founder of Tennr. “Our No. 1 integration today is across fax providers, on-prem file storage systems and EHRs from the 90s. And this is the real life need of the industry. But beyond that, what people miss the most in all of this is that it’s not about just automating work or making teams faster. Lots of people can build tools that make admins marginally faster – that just doesn’t move the needle. Instead, our research team is building models based around this very complex information flow, being able to parse it for one practice at a time, and then do the work so well that you can turn it into very clear growth for a business. And yes, the e-fax ends up being in the middle of it all.” The Series A funding round was led by a16z, with participation from Foundation Capital and The New Normal Fund. Other investors include YCombinator, Zaza Pachulia and Jennifer Kaehms. In all, Tennr has now raised more than $25 million.   

Analytix Solutions names Sheehan as growth advisor 

BOSTON – Analytix Solutions, a provider of business solutions to the HME market, has welcomed Gary Sheehan as a strategy and growth advisor for Appoint360, a tool offering patient self-scheduling capabilities. “Appoint360 is the first solution of its kind, focused solely on the scheduling needs of HME providers,” Sheehan said. “I am beyond excited to expand visibility of the solution within the market and watch it modernize the service that HMEs and DMEs provide their patients." Appoint360, which recently reached a milestone of facilitating more than 10,000 self-scheduled appointments a month, provides patients a secure and unique link they can click on to self-schedule, confirm or reschedule appointments – providing convenience to patients and helping providers prevent no-shows and cancelled appointments. Sheehan, who grew his family business, Cape Medical Supply into a regional leader, is now the founder and managing director of Scorton Creek Capital, which invests and advises primarily early-stage health care and health-tech companies. 


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