DIGITAL HEALTH BRIEFING: Cerner, Surescripts bring transparency to drug costs - Ericsson, Sony plan wearable for diabetics - Practice Fusion scraps free EHR service
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CERNER INTEGRATES SURESCRIPTS' PRESCRIPTION PRICE TOOL INTO ITS EHR SYSTEM: Cerner, the health information technology company, is partnering with Surescripts to implement a prescription price transparency tool into its Millennium electronic health record (EHR) systems. The Real-Time Prescription Benefit tool supplies providers with prescription data from some of the largest pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) in the US - Surescripts' PBM partners, which include CVS Health and Express Scripts, represent nearly two-thirds of US patients. This data is directly integrated into a physician's workflow to provide patient-specific prescription information at the point-of-care, including any potential out-of-pocket costs patients will face, a list of therapeutic alternatives, and medication restrictions.
Why is this important?
Surescripts' Real-Time Prescription Benefit tool will make it easier for providers using Cerner's Millennium system to ensure their patients can afford and are willing to pay for their prescribed medication. This should improve adherence rates. About 25% of new prescriptions go unfilled by patients due to increasing drug costs. These unfilled prescriptions are contributing to the more than $317 billion in annual healthcare costs due to a lack of medication adherence, according to data from the American Journal of Managed Care cited by FierceHealthcare.
With competition in the EHR industry heating up, more system providers will have to turn to value-added solutions to keep up with competitors.
Over the last year, several EHR companies have made moves to improve their position in the growing market and boost revenues. For example, in 2017, Allscripts acquired two EHR systems to strengthen its share of the market. But, as the market consolidates, the EHR firms that remain will need to differentiate themselves from competitors. Partnerships that can offer providers improved workflows and patient outcomes, like the one between Cerner and Surescripts, is one way to achieve this, and will likely become more common as vendors vie for a piece of the lucrative market. The global EHR market is projected to grow at an annualized rate of 6% from $23 billion in 2016 to $38 billion by 2025, according to Transparency Market Research.
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SONY, ERICSSON TO DEVELOP LTE-ENABLED WEARABLE FOR DIABETICS: Sony and Ericsson have joined forces to develop a glucose-monitoring wearable for diabetics, according to Wareable. The prototype device will be able to track users' blood sugar levels, activity, sleep, and heart rate. Sony and Ericsson are also adding an LTE chip, which means the device won't need to be tethered to a smartphone to be used - like Fitbits and early versions of the Apple Watch do - and will provide an uninterrupted stream of user health data. The companies are preparing to unveil the concept device at MWC 2018 in Barcelona. And while the device will be joining an increasingly crowded wearables market, the focus on diabetes management could give Sony and Ericsson a ready-made audience - globally, 422 million people live with diabetes, and management of the disease is invasive. A painless management solution would be highly appealing to these consumers. However, Sony and Ericsson aren't alone in the space. Some companies, such as Cardiogram, are leveraging established wearables makers, including Apple and some Android device makers, to bring diabetes diagnostics and management solutions to consumers.
PRACTICE FUSION TO START CHARGING FOR EHR SOLUTION: Practice Fusion, the electronic health records company acquired by Allscripts, is abandoning its ad-based revenue model and is set to begin charging customers for its service, according to CNBC. Beginning this summer, Practice Fusion customers will be charged $100 per month for the software. The decision comes after Allscripts inked a $100 million deal to acquire Practice Fusion in January with an eye to strengthen its outpatient EHR offerings and expand its reach - Practice Fusion supports 30,000 urgent care practices with five million patient visits each year. However, the move could polarize users who initially turned to the vendor because of its free EHR software, which contrasted with other offerings in the high-cost EHR market. On the other hand, at $1,200 annually, Practice Fusion's new price point still comes in below the US market average. The upfront and yearly cost of cloud-based EHR systems can run as much as $37,000, according to Michigan Center for Effective IT Adoption.
PRECISION MEDICINE FIRM RAISES $40 MILLION LED BY MAJOR HEALTH SYSTEMS: New York-based healthcare data and analytics platform Cota raised $40 million in Series C funding, led by data science company IQVIA. Memorial Sloane Kettering (MSK) and existing investors, Boston Millennia Partners and Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, also took part in the funding round. Cota plans to use the funds raised to scale its solutions, and advance its proprietary Cota Nodal AddressTM (CNA) precision medicine system. Precision medicine platforms, like CNA, are gaining popularity among payers, providers, and data science companies because they allow them to analyze and research the costs, treatments, and quality of care of specific populations at a more granular level. Health organizations can use the platforms to optimize the efficiency of treating patients by taking relevant data and analytics information such as how genetic differences in populations can impact the effectiveness of certain antidepressant medications, resulting in some patients requiring smaller doses. This can help lower the overall cost of the patient population and improve patient outcomes. CNA is already being used by healthcare organizations like MSK to categorize patient factors, diseases, and therapies to enable medical aid at scale. Globally, the precision medicine market is projected to hit almost $90 billion in value by 2022, up from $55 billion in 2018, according to Markets Research Future.
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