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Weekend Rounds: Amazon.com-esque portal for health insurance?

Here were some of the top stories at MedCity News this week: — Can UnitedHealth Group Inc. become the health care industry’s version of Amazon.com? Well, not for a while, if at all. But the nation’s largest private payer, based in Minnetonka, already is laying the technological groundwork for a system that can quickly collect […]

Here were some of the top stories at MedCity News this week:

— Can UnitedHealth Group Inc. become the health care industry’s version of Amazon.com? Well, not for a while, if at all. But the nation’s largest private payer, based in Minnetonka, already is laying the technological groundwork for a system that can quickly collect and analyze patient data from multiple sources, spot trends, and even predict consumer behavior. The result would be an Amazon-esque Internet portal that can market health care services to patients based on their personal behaviors.

— Medical device companies agree the fast-growing peripheral vascular market is the place to be. The question is how are they going to get there? Devices that open clogged arteries below the waist are growing 10 percent to 12 percent a year, more than twice the growth rate of coronary products. Doctors have been generally unhappy with the lack of durable, easy-to-use peripheral vascular stents, analysts say. But what makes the market so interesting is that it’s completely up for grabs.

— The Cleveland Clinic has launched a mobile version of its Website that will allow smartphone users to search for doctors and access general information about the hospital. The mobile site, m.ClevelandClinic.org, is the latest initiative in a series of Health 2.0 projects the Clinic has rolled out in recent years.

— Love ’em or hate ’em, U.S. News & World Report’s hospital rankings have become a gold standard by which consumers make healthcare choices. But in an Annals of Internal Medicine article published Tuesday, a Northeast Ohio researcher and public health professional pokes holes in the consumer-venerated rankings that consistently put institutions like the Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital at the top.

— Fresh from passing a landmark angel investor tax credit, Minnesota lawmakers are advancing a bill that would, in time, radically alter high-tech economic development in the state by concentrating authority in a single public-private entity. The proposed Minnesota Science and Technology Authority, modeled after programs like Third Frontier in Ohio and The Ben Franklin Technology Partners in Pennsylvania, would craft a long-term science and technology strategy. More importantly, it would oversee economic development efforts, including money to retain local grown companies and attract out of state ones.