November 6, 2007 Boston Scientific announces sale of cardiac surgery and vascular surgery businesses Boston Scientific Corporation announced the signing of a definitive agreement for the sale of its Cardiac Surgery and Vascular Surgery businesses to the Getinge Group, a global provider of healthcare equipment and systems. The transaction will be for a cash price of $750 million and is expected to close within the next 45-90 days, subject to regulatory approvals and customary conditions. The Company announced its intent to sell the Cardiac Surgery and Vascular Surgery businesses on August 16, as part of its plan to divest non- strategic assets and increase shareholder value. Boston Scientific acquired the Cardiac Surgery business in April 2006 as part of the Guidant transaction. The Cardiac Surgery business is a developer of medical technologies designed for use in surgical cardiac procedures, including beating-heart bypass surgery systems and endoscopic vessel harvesting for coronary bypass surgery. The business employs approximately 450 people. Boston Scientific acquired the Vascular Surgery business in 1995. The Vascular Surgery business develops synthetic grafts and patches used to surgically treat vascular disease, including the repair of abdominal aortic aneurysms and peripheral vascular anatomy. The business has approximately 250 employees. The combined revenues of the two businesses in 2006 were approximately $275 million. WellCare posts huge profit gain WellCare Health Plans, the largest HMO provider under Broward County, FL’s Medicaid reform program, said profit rose 67 percent in the third quarter on gains in government revenue. WellCare has 28,700 members in Broward County, 40,400 in Miami-Dade County and 12,900 in Palm Beach County. Net income increased to $72.4 million, or $1.71 a share, from $43.3 million, or $1.06 a share, a year earlier, the Tampa-based company said Monday in a preliminary earnings statement. The profit beat the $1.53 average estimate of 14 analysts. Revenue rose 42 percent to $1.43 billion. The biggest share of WellCare’s revenue gain came from profitable drug and medical plans subsidized by the government Medicare program for the elderly and disabled, which account for about half the company’s business. The rest of its revenue comes from U.S.-state Medicaid plans for the poor, with Florida’s being its largest. “'For a small company with limited resources and nothing like a national footprint, they’ve picked very smart ways to expand their business,” Matt Perry, an analyst with Wachovia Securities in New York, said. He has rated WellCare “market perform” since February and said he will wait for more information about the investigation before considering a revision. WellCare surged $12.63, or 46 percent, to $40 in early trading Monday. If it stands at the end of regular trading, it will be the biggest gain ever for the company. WellCare may have kept more than $35 million it should have given back to Medicaid by inflating how much it spent on mental health services over five years, according to an account in the Wall Street Journal that appeared over the weekend. A former employee sued the company in U.S. District Court in Tampa on Friday, alleging the company engaged in potentially illegal activities in its Medicaid operations. Glenn Hutton, a former employee at WellCare's Harmony Behavioral Health unit, said WellCare insiders artificially inflated stock prices by withholding information from investors as they sold two million shares of stock for $108.5 million. The stock doubled in a year to a high of $122.27 on Oct. 23 before plummeting 82 percent over the following seven days. The company provides health coverage solely through government-sponsored Medicare and Medicaid. (Bloomberg News) To read the original article see http://www.miamiherald.com/news/breaking_news/story/296291.html Humana reports third quarter 2007 financial results; strong performance fueled by Medicare plans Humana Inc. reported financial results for the quarter ended September 30, 2007 (3Q07) including diluted earnings per common share (EPS) of $1.78, significantly above the company’s previous guidance for 3Q07 EPS of $1.45 to $1.50. The company earned $0.95 per share for the quarter ended September 30, 2006. The company’s 3Q07 performance was also $0.05 per share better than expected due to ongoing improvements in the company’s Commercial operations and stand-alone Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (PDPs) that are expected to positively impact fourth quarter 2007 and full-year 2008 results. The company now estimates EPS for the year ending December 31, 2007 (FY07E) will be in the range of $4.75 to $4.80 versus $2.90 for the year ended December 31, 2006 (FY06). The company also projects its EPS for the year ending December 31, 2008 (FY08E) to be in the range of $5.30 to $5.50, an increase of 10 to 16 percent over FY07E EPS, or 16 to 22 percent versus the non-GAAP EPS for FY07E. 3Q07 consolidated revenues rose 12 percent to $6.32 billion from $5.65 billion in 3Q06, with total premium and administrative services fees up 11 percent compared to the prior year’s quarter. This year-over-year increase was primarily driven by higher average Medicare membership versus 3Q06. YTD07 consolidated revenues rose 20 percent to $18.95 billion from $15.76 billion in YTD06 with total premium and administrative services fees up 20 percent compared to the prior year’s period, also primarily driven by higher average enrollment in the company’s Medicare plans. Maryland hospital group introduces plan to ease nursing shortage To deal with a statewide nursing shortage, the Maryland Hospital Association offered a $135 million plan Monday to increase the number of nursing students and faculty over the next five years. By 2016, Maryland could be short 10,000 nurses, according to state estimates. In August, the MHA reported a 13 percent vacancy rate in the nursing profession last year, up from 10 percent in 2005. In 2001, Maryland’s nursing vacancy rate hit an all-time high of 15.6 percent. The association, based in Elkridge, organized a task force earlier this year to study the nursing shortage. The panel included state officials and hospital and educational leaders. The task force’s recommendations, which would take effect in 2009, call for: 1,800 first-year nursing students; 360 new nursing faculty members; Increasing nursing faculty salaries to reflect market conditions; Additional nursing education programs; Additional classroom and clinical sites for nursing education. Officials said the plan could cost $34 million over the next year and $25 million in each of next four years. They are looking for initial investments to come from the private and public sector. As the plan leads to more nurses, hospitals will be able to rely less on hiring agency nurses. The savings for the hospitals can also help fund the plan over the next five years, officials said. “A timely response to this call to action can produce immediate tangible results, starting as early as 2009,” said Cal Pierson, president of MHA, on Monday. (Washington Business Journal) California healthcare worker shortage nearing a crisis, study finds California needs to act quickly and dramatically to solve a serious healthcare worker shortage, according to a new study. Researchers with the Oakland-based Campaign for College Opportunity concluded that California’s 109 community colleges in particular need to expand classes in nursing and other allied health fields. The shortage will reach crisis levels once baby boomers start retiring en masse in about five years, noted the study, which was funded by Kaiser Permanente, the state's largest private healthcare employer. There are too few nurses and medical technicians. “In over three-fourths of these professions, we have serious shortages,” said Ed O'Neil, a UC San Francisco professor who helped conduct the study. The shortage is “likely to endanger some aspect of every Californian’s health.” Although the worker shortfall already is affecting several medical-technician fields, California is headed for a “double whammy” once workers retire and the aging population requires more health care, said Marilyn Chow, a Kaiser vice president. The state already has started solving the severe nursing shortage, directing millions into community-college and university programs. But many college nursing programs have been unable to handle demand, with hundreds of students on waiting lists at schools such as Los Medanos College in Pittsburg. The findings should be a wake-up call for California businesses, said Abdi Soltani, executive director of the Campaign for College Opportunity. The state’s growing, aging population will pressure all industries soon, he said. “This is not unique to healthcare,” Soltani said. "Other industries need to be paying attention to this problem because they’re likely to be next.” (San Jose Mercury News) Do women fare worse with some heart devices? While ICDs, implantable cardioverter defibrillators, are the device of choice to manage abnormal heart rhythms, a new study led by cardiologists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine suggests that women with ICDs fare less well than their male counterparts. In a retrospective analysis to be presented at the AHA Scientific Sessions 2007 on November 4, lead researcher Andrea Russo, M.D., Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, suggests that despite the proven overall effectiveness of the devices, women had a greater risk of dying than men. Using data from the completed INTRINSIC RV trial, the researchers compared results from 1237 men and 293 women. (The INTRINSIC RV trial, which was completed in 2006, compared dual- and single-chamber ICDs.) “There is a paucity of data comparing outcome and arrhythmic events in men vs. women with ICDs,” said Dr. Russo, who is also Director of the Electrophysiology Laboratory at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. “We chose the INTRINSIC RV study because it enrolled the largest total number of women.” The researchers found that women with ICDs required hospitalization and had a higher mortality than men with the device. However, after adjusting for other factors, such as the presence of coronary artery disease, heart failure and medical treatment, these gender differences in outcome were no longer present. According to Dr. Russo, this means that women may be sicker by the time they receive ICDs. In addition, women appear to be under-treated with medications such as beta-blockers and ACE inhibitors in this study. On the other hand, she notes, women appeared to be just as likely as men to receive appropriate shocks from their devices for abnormal rapid rhythms from the lower chamber of the heart. “This research confirms the need for additional studies to learn why there is such a disparity between the sexes,” Dr. Russo said. “Then we also can learn which women will most benefit from the devices.” In conclusion, the researchers postulate that the differences may be related to how aging and lifestyle factors affect women and men who receive ICDs. They recommend that additional research focus on gender differences among patients who receive implantable cardioverter defibrillators. (Science Daily) See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071105141954.htm MedAssets helps hospitals improve revenue integrity with enhancements to CDM Master MedAssets Net Revenue Systems announced the release of enhanced workflow capabilities within its CDMMaster product. CDM Master workflow enhances hospitals’ revenue integrity by enabling managers to disperse chargemaster information and assignments to revenue stakeholders organization-wide and, subsequently, to track task status and completion. The ability to provide actionable information and monitor performance hospital-wide ultimately helps to increase regulatory compliance and reimbursement accuracy. CDM Master, launched in February 2007, raises the bar for chargemaster management by incorporating price defensibility capabilities using proprietary benchmarks that cover 100% of the chargemaster, best practice recommendations for coding and compliance and unmatched capabilities for managing chargemasters for multi-hospital systems. The new CDM Master workflow functions create visibility and accountability into department performance and speed response time for chargemaster additions and updates. The automated workflow process also eliminates the variability of sharing information via email and serves as a single source for chargemaster update/change status and history. These processes reduce the risk of errors, duplication of work and the possibility of overlooking chargemaster change requests. Configurable data access provides customized security levels to share appropriate chargemaster information across the organization without risk. Additionally, CDM Master’s workflow components facilitate compliance with internal controls and regulations. The tracking mechanism prepares an audit trail defining explanation and timing of changes and documentation of staff completing assignments. The defensible pricing component of CDM Master provides the ability to compare a hospital’s pricing against local fee schedules, pricing percentiles and publicly available CMS hospital pricing data. For more information see http://www.medassets.com/RevenueSolutions/cdm.htm. Metrex announces new Metricide OPA Plus high-level disinfectant Metrex Research Corporation introduces MetriCide OPA Plus Solution, a new high-level disinfectant to complement the company’s line of infectionprevention products. Effective for use in both manual and automated reprocessing, the new orthophthalaldehyde (OPA) product is a lower-cost alternative, and can process up to 40% more endoscopes per gallon than Cidex OPA.1 Additionally, Metrex introduces MetriCide OPA Plus Solution Test Strips, which provide a 33% faster reading time compared to other OPA test strips. Through December 31, 2008, Metrex is offering a “Super-Value Plus Package” at no extra charge in each case of MetriCide OPA Plus Solution ordered. Along with the four 1-gallon bottles of MetriCide OPA Plus Solution contained in the case, the Super-Value Plus Package includes 100 MetriCide OPA Plus Solution Test Strips, a 2-ounce sample of EmPower Dual-Enzymatic Detergent for instrument pre-cleaning, and a test strip log book, all at a price well below what you would expect to pay for just the four gallons of OPA solution. MetriCide OPA Plus Solution is non-corrosive, gentle on endoscopes or other surgical instruments, and provides a broad spectrum of kill including Tuberculosis, Hepatitis A (AER), Hepatitis B, HIV-1 and Polio Virus Type 1. It disinfects at 25°C in 5 minutes in a legally marketed automatic endoscope reprocessor and at room temperature (20°C) in 12 minutes with manual reprocessing. This faster turnaround ensures greater staff productivity and instrument throughput, especially important in high-volume situations. MetriCide OPA Plus Solution does not require activation or dilution and may be reused for up to 14 days (when monitored according to label instructions for use). To contact a Metrex representative, call 800.841.1428 or visit www.metrex.com.
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