News

Incentive-based payments for Minnesota providers (Weekend Rounds)

Here are some of the top stories at MedCity News this week: — To improve healthcare in Minnesota, the state is offering providers more than the proverbial pat on the back. Earlier this month, Minnesota health officials launched an incentive-based payment system for hospitals and ambulatory firms that treat state employees and patients enrolled in […]

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

— To improve healthcare in Minnesota, the state is offering providers more than the proverbial pat on the back. Earlier this month, Minnesota health officials launched an incentive-based payment system for hospitals and ambulatory firms that treat state employees and patients enrolled in the state’s health insurance programs. Providers who compare favorably to benchmarks measuring the quality of diabetes, heart disease and pneumonia care, and who improve over time will receive extra money. The program is the first step of an ambitious healthcare reform law, passed in 2008, that eventually will allow consumers to compare the cost and performance of all providers in Minnesota, a process known as peer grouping.

— After listening to the two-hour, patience-testing, mind-numbing, butt-hurting endurance test otherwise known as Boston Scientific Corp.’s (NYSE: BSX) earnings conference call, two things came to mind. One: I never want to do that again. Two: the medical device giant, based in Natick, Massachusetts, but with major operations in Minnesota, continues to struggle to ignite a sales spark. In many ways, the conference call reflected the state of BSX these days: a complicated, confusing mesh of uneven-to-poorly-performing businesses, legal woes, FDA run-ins and vague turnaround promises. The best thing CEO Ray Elliott could say about the quarter: the company recovered faster than expected from the temporary shutdown of its implantable cardioverter defibrillator business — an FDA paperwork snafu that by some accounts cost BSX nearly $5 million in lost sales a day.

presented by

— Medical device reprocessor SterilMed Inc. has been bought by two private equity firms for an undisclosed sum. The company’s new owners are Boston-based Great Hill Partners and Cleveland-based Primus Capital Funds, according to a statement from SterilMed. Maple Grove, Minnesota-based SterilMed reprocesses a vast array of single-use medical devices including guidewires, catheters, laser probes and chest retractors. The company says reprocessed devices typically cost about half the amount of new devices. SterilMed also repairs small healthcare equipment.

— Contract product developer and manufacturer New Product Innovations has opened a gateway for U.S. medical device makers that want to do business in China. As the U.S. branch of the Shanghai Pudong Medical Device Trade Association, the Columbus, Ohio, company will usher investors and manufacturers into the WaiGaoQiao Free Trade Zone, the largest free trade zone in China, which is linked to the Shanghai International Medical Zone. So, in addition to helping medical device companies design, engineer and make their products, New Product Innovations can help them research Chinese markets, modify products for those markets, deal with government regulations and go to market.

Akron and its Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron are getting a big boost from Ohio. The city has been designated an Ohio Hub of Innovation and Opportunity in biomaterials, bringing with it a grant of $250,000 and support from the Ohio Department of Development to help it become a global leader in the commercialization of biomaterials technologies, products and services. The institute — which will be the center of the city’s innovation hub — is getting a commitment for a $2.5 million research and development loan to help pay for its headquarters. The $10 million renovation of the first three floors of a Summit County-owned building at Main Street and Perkins Avenue is expected to open next summer.

— Invacare Corp.’s high-profile chairman and CEO A. Malachi Mixon III plans to return to his chairman’s seat by the end of July. The hard-living entrepreneur who threw in his life’s savings of $10,000 to lead the buyout of the home healthcare equipment and supply maker in 1979 has been on medical leave since late April. He is recovering from a mild stroke. Securities analysts, investors and leaders in the medical equipment industry — for which Mixon has become a national spokesman — had begun to wonder when the 69-year-old “Mr. Invacare” would come back. No word on whether Mixon also will resume his CEO role.