Innovation is all around us, and this week’s BioBlog from Innovation Partners examines innovation in all its forms. Two women entrepreneurs are working to develop an at-home cervical cancer screening test that will make it easier for women to test for the deadly disease, while an at-home test for breast cancer was recently approved by the FDA. In the realm of healthcare industry business, Cigna attempts new measures to streamline the medical supply chain and physicians groups are starting to make bundled payments work.
Some observers believe that the medical supply chain has become too cumbersome. Cigna’s acquisition of Express Scripts for $54 billion is yet another signal of this issue. Companies like Cigna are focusing now on streamlining the system with an eye towards lowering patient costs.
The comment window on CMS’ planned Medicare Advantage policy changes closed on Monday with groups issuing a variety of responses. The notice letter issues by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services proposed a 1.84% Medicare Advantage rate increase and other policies that would take aim at the opioid epidemic and redefine home health supplemental benefits. The suggested increase is 0.45% higher than expected.
HHS Secretary Alex Azar outlined the major points he plans to tackle in his new role. Issues on which he plans to focus include value-based payment systems, reducing healthcare costs, and others.
The FDA just approved the first-ever direct to consumer test for the breast cancer gene. The DNA test, from California-based company 23andMe, analyzes DNA from saliva. Although a step in the right direction, the test only detects 3 out of 1,000 possible known inherited BRCA gene mutations and cannot predict the overall risk of developing cancer.
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine announced findings from a new clinical trial that indicate that a simple scan and imaging agent can help predict the effects of a widely-used cancer drug. PET-scan imaging agents, engineered to seek out specific mutations found in nonsmall cell lung cancer, seek, find, and bind to it, exposing the roots of the tumor and helping to reveal potential weak spots where drugs can be administered to counteract pro-tumor mutation.
Anya Roy and Chantelle Bell, two women entrepreneurs, are in the process of building an at-home early detection test for cervical cancer. One in every 100 European women develop cervical cancer, and if not detected early, it can spread throughout the body, leading to death. PAP smears are one way to detect it, but women tend to avoid the discomfort and expense of a trip to the doctor’s office for the test. Instead, Roy and Bell believe that an at-home test similar to a pregnancy test will make it easier for women to detect the life-threatening cancer early.
Signature Medical Group, Inc., an independent, multispeciality group based in St. Louis, Missouri, has succeeded in making bundled payments work. Bundled payments are part of the shift toward reimbursements based on value and not simply on the volume of services provided. The article examines four key areas that, if addressed, will help bundled payments work on a larger scale.