Google Aims To Kill Passwords

May 27, 2016

Google aims to kill Passwords by the end of this year.

Google will begin testing an alternative to passwords next month, in a move that could do away with complicated logins for good.

The new feature, introduced to developers at the company’s I/O conference, is called the Trust API, and will initially be tested with “several very large financial institutions” in June, according to Google’s Daniel Kaufman.

Kaufman is the head of Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects group, where the Trust API was first created under the codename Project Abacus. Introduced last year, Abacus aims to kill passwords not through one super-secure replacement, but by mixing together multiple weaker indicators into one solid piece of evidence that you are who you say you are.

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Gyms bet on equipment that can help keep itself healthy

May 26, 2016

Rosemont-based Life Fitness says it has brought the connectivity of the Internet of Things to gyms with its new remote monitoring service.

 

The company recently rolled out LFconnect Protect to more than 10,600 hotels, residential exercise rooms and fitness clubs using its premium lines of machines.

The service attempts to minimize machine downtime by timing repairs before issues become problematic. It also helps gyms plan future purchases based on the machines exercisers use most.

And Life Fitness is looking at other ways of using data to help gyms better connect and advertise to customers.

With the product, machines run a constant diagnostic check of sorts. Life Fitness employees can remotely monitor equipment error codes related to motor controllers or connectivity, as well as monitor trends and equipment stress to predict when gyms should fix or replace machines.

“They can look at information in terms of how much distance is being accumulated on these machines, how many hours people are using it, how many workouts are being performed on the machine,” said Amad Amin, senior digital product manager at Life Fitness.

The service is free for gyms that own certain types of Life Fitness high-end cardio machines.

As Life Fitness technology develops, the company said it could one day better help gyms use data to market to its customers. Machines, for instance, might be able to recognize that an exerciser was a pre-spring breaker on the market for fat-burning shakes or a personal training session.

“Every club is a business of its own; they have other products and services they’re offering,” Amin said. “So what kind of insights can we help our club owners, our customers, decipher for this equipment and help them with some type of modeling for how to sell other services they offer within the facility?”

The Illinois Valley YMCA in Peru, Ill., which with a nearby sister facility has 9,000 members, tested LFconnect Protect before it rolled out to all customers. Sixteen of the facility’s 100 cardio machines run LFconnect Protect, and the YMCA branch’s chief operating officer, Mike Wallaert, said the product has kept machines from having problems.

“If somebody’s favorite machine is down, it’s not really good for our own business,” he said.

He said the connected machines, which also offer consoles that let customers run virtual race courses or access the Internet, might one day help the facility target advertising for products or classes to customers.

Using sensors for preventive maintenance is a trend that’s been seen in airplanes or oil pipelines, said Angela McIntyre, a research director for Gartner, an information technology research and advisory company. But businesses need to assess whether one-off repairs are worth it to their bottom line.

“Is it more cost-effective to have a person come around and fix one piece of equipment when it needs it, or more cost-effective to go and do an annual or quarterly tune-up of every piece of equipment?”

Figuring out when equipment needs repair is just one of the ways gyms are becoming increasingly connected. Life Fitness also offers an app, LFconnect, that allows patrons to connect with the company’s equipment as well as set goals and track workouts outside the gym.

That’s part of a growing trend, McIntyre notes.

“Now, with activity trackers and smartwatches and the gym apps, they can get all that information about what a member does wherever they are,” McIntyre said.

mgraham@tribpub.com

CLICK HERE to read the original story in the Chicago Tribune


States announcing details surrounding Olympus settlement over anti-kickback violations

May 25, 2016
 
 

More details are being made public about Olympus America’s agreement to pay approximately $306 million as part of a settlement with all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and the federal government over allegations of numerous anti-kickback violations.

Back in March,  news broke that Olympus had resolved two separate government investigations related to claims the company was providing physicians and hospitals with kickbacks.

States have been issuing statements on what they are receiving as part of the settlement. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office  announced that Florida would receive $1.6 million as part of the settlement. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s office  announced Massachusetts would receive $1.9 million.  Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh,  Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane,  and others also made similar statements.


CHS, Tenet and HCA stock prices tumble after ACA ruling

May 24, 2016

Major for-profit hospital operators’ stock prices dropped Thursday after a federal judge ruled the Obama administration has been improperly funding cost-sharing subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.

Franklin, Tenn.-based Community Health Systems’ share price fell 11 percent to $12.56 at the New York close Thursday, according to Bloomberg. Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare and Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA Holdings were also down, with share prices falling 9.8 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively.

The ruling was made in a challenge to the Obama administration’s implementation of the ACA. House Republicans argued the administration overstepped its powers when it began paying health insurers billions of dollars to reduce co-payments for lower-income Americans and families. U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary M. Collyer agreed with the House GOP. She held that Congress never appropriated funds for the cost-sharing subsidy program.

The ruling, if it stands, could discourage patients from purchasing health insurance, which would take a toll on hospital finances.

The ruling also negatively impacted major health insurers’ stock prices, as shares of Aetna were down 3.06 percent and shares of Anthem dropped 2.82 percent in afternoon trading Thursday.


GE Healthcare CEO Sheds Dealmaking Image to Seek Growth Within

May 23, 2016

Bloomberg News
May 16, 2016 — 6:00 AM EDT

John Flannery built a reputation as a prolific rainmaker in his previous role as head of business development at General Electric Co., logging more than $26 billion in deals, yet acquisitions are far from his mind as chief executive of the U.S. conglomerate’s health-care unit.

Instead, Flannery is looking within for growth, even after revenue from diagnostic-imaging machines slowed. The company offers a wide range of products and services, including ventilators, software and tools to support drug manufacturing.

“When we look at the basic position of the company, we like the portfolio,” Flannery said in an interview in Beijing. “So my mandate right now is to get the earnings growth going again, and there’s a lot to just better managing the portfolio we have, align it more with customers and outcomes, for a better margin rate.”

 

GE Healthcare has committed to raising its profit margin by 50 basis points this year with a goal of reaching 18 percent by 2018. Sales were down 4 percent and the profit margin fell by 40 basis points to 16.3 percent last year.

Lower Prices

Lower prices in its health-care system business, including imaging equipment such as X-ray and magnetic resonance machines, were a key reason, according to its annual report.

Government funding pressures, uncertainty related to Obamacare, market saturation, and pricing pressures all hindered sales growth, said Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Karen Ubelhart.

“Margins were hurt by all of the above and cost pressures which GE was slow to respond to,” she said via email.

 

To offset the decline in equipment sales, GE Healthcare is turning to data analysis services and its life sciences business, which sells products and services for drug research and bio-pharmaceutical manufacturing.

The company’s digital business will enjoy the fastest growth as GE Healthcare seeks to integrate its installed equipment with software packages. Flannery expects at least 30 to 50 percent growth from GE Health Cloud, launched last year to develop the company’s ability to operate its traditional imaging business in a cloud-computing environment.

Software Margins

“We are really trying to move from being just a technology provider to being a partner with our customers,” he said.

The software margins are very high, Bloomberg Intelligence’s Ubelhart said. While that segment of the business is too small to help the $18 billion GE Healthcare unit much now, “growing at more than 20 percent, it could be meaningful in five years,” Ubelhart said in an e-mail.

GE Healthcare also expects to sell more pre-made biopharmaceutical factories like the one the company just built in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. It was shipped from Germany in September in 62 containers and assembled in eight days.

A project like that will probably yield about $100 million in revenue over its lifetime, and will generate further revenue as the company supplies consumable products for its operations, according to Flannery. He expects several more such projects in the next year or two at a minimum.

Strong Pipeline

“There’s a lot of potential for this in China,” Flannery said. “We have a very strong pipeline of interest.”

To win market share in developing countries, the company has been developing products with more basic functions and lower prices. Such products will suit day-to-day needs at county hospitals in China where doctors only conduct routine scanning, according to Rachel Duan, president and CEO of GE China.

China has vowed to support local equipment makers, urging public hospitals to buy from Chinese brands. Growth in the country’s public hospital market slowed after a government-led corruption crackdown in the past two-and-a-half years and is now bottoming out, Duan said. The fast-growing private hospital sector will create more opportunities in China, she said.

Sales in China will probably expand by a percentage in the mid- to upper-single digits, Flannery said.


MD Anderson blames EHR costs for 56.6% drop in income

May 20, 2016
 
 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston saw a significant drop in adjusted income in the seven-month period that ended March 31, which it blames on a costly Epic EHR implementation.

MD Anderson recorded adjusted income of $122.9 million in the seven-month period, a 56.6 percent decrease from the same period the year prior.

The UT System said the drop in MD Anderson’s income was primarily attributable to the combination of an increase in expenses and a decrease in patient revenues as a result of the implementation of an Epic EHR.

MD Anderson spent more on salaries and wages and saw consulting expenses increase due to the Epic EHR project.

Although the EHR implementation took a hit on MD Anderson’s finances, the UT System said it had anticipated a material impact on revenues and expenses as a result of the project.

“The post implementation strategy will focus on clinical productivity and operational efficiencies to return to normalized operations by year end,” the system said.

CLICK HERE to see the original story at Becker’s Hospital CFO


Why B. Braun Is in a Spat Over Infusion Pump Ratings

May 19, 2016
Posted in Regulatory and Compliance by Nancy Crotti on May 11, 2016

The nonprofit medtech research group ECRI Institute dubbed a B. Braun infusion pump “fair,” prompting the company to question ECRI’s testing methods.

Nancy Crotti

B Braun Infusomat Space Infusion System
B. Braun’s Infusomat Space Infusion System, as shown on the company’s website. 

B. Braun Medical has accused the ECRI Institute of “lax protocol test methods” after the healthcare research organization gave one of Braun’s infusion pumps a “fair” rating.

ECRI gave B. Braun’s second-generation Infusomat Space Pump a “good” rating in four out of five categories —safety, interoperability, performance, and maintenance —and “fair” in the workflow category, according to a statement from the company. However, the institute assigned the pump only a “fair” rating overall, igniting Braun’s ire.

ECRI is a well-respected institution and we recognize the important role it plays in shaping the opinion of medical device purchasers,” said company spokesman Rob Albert in the statement. “That’s why it’s troubling that the institute doesn’t have a scientific, protocol-driven methodology for evaluating infusion pumps.”

ECRI, a not-for-profit consulting group, said in a statement that it has several safety concerns with the pump’s error-reduction system, or DERS. “Some of the pump’s DERS indications/alerts are unclear, and the pump’s workflow is also limited by its small screen,” the group said.

A Braun spokesperson said the company is a member of the institute, and that it has disagreed with previous designations.

Braun said it had used “rigorous human-factors testing” to help redesign Infusomat, a large-volume pump. Braun also said it found the rating confusing because it redesigned the pump to make its operation more intuitive. The company worked with nonprofit Canadian consulting group Healthcare Human Factors and put the device through 100 hours of usability testing with 100 practicing RNs and anesthesiologists.

ECRI does not have adequate experience or scientific research to support its evaluation of infusion pump workflow,” Albert added. “Opinion is not science.” Healthcare Human Factors, the consulting group B. Braun paid to help test the pump, also piled on, calling ECRI’s track record for assessing infusion pumps “concerning.”

“It’s difficult, if not impossible, to assess a product on these merits without a controlled usability test using actual intended clinical users,” said Joseph Cafazzo, PhD, executive director of medical engineering and Healthcare Human Factors at the University of Toronto.

Over the past six years, two competing pumps made by Baxter and Hospira received “acceptable” or “recommended” ratings from ECRI and later faced FDA-imposed import bans, recalls, discontinuation or destruction affecting a total of more than 200,000 individual devices, Cafazzo noted. A rating of “fair” can hamper sales, added Braun spokesperson Constance Walker.

“We have competitors in the market and we’re all trying to influence the purchasing decisions of healthcare organizations, and an ECRI rating can be used in sales discussions,” Walker said.

Braun was recently in the news for a Class I recall of more than 1000 of its Dialog+ hemodialysis systems due to cracks in conductivity sensors. No injuries were reported.

Infusion pumps have been among the most recall-plagued medical devices in the past decade, leading to more rigorous usability testing requirements for medical devices writ large.

Infusomat was among the first infusion pumps to be cleared by FDA by applying a new human factors and usability engineering process, according to Braun.


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