Health Care Checkup: Sprint accelerator adds partner, BJC proposes hopsice

The Health Care Checkup is a weekly rundown of the state’s top health care headlines.

The Sprint Mobile Health Accelerator celebrated the start of its first class at a March event. | Courtesy of Sprint Accelerator
The Sprint Mobile Health Accelerator will partner with Providence Health & Services. | Courtesy of Sprint Accelerator

Sprint Mobile Health Accelerator partners with Providence Health

The second year for Sprint’s Mobile Health Accelerator brings a leap forward for its development potential: a health care provider looking to invest in technology. The accelerator announced a partnership with Providence Health & Services and its investment branch, Providence Ventures, that will take root when the three-month program begins with a new set of startups in the spring of 2015.

Providence Health began Providence Ventures, its venture capital fund for technological innovation, in September with a $150 million fund to invest in startups; part of that money that will now go into funding the accelerator. Each participant receives an injection of capital up to $120,000 during its three-month stay. In addition, Techstars, which runs the accelerator, announced a equity-back guarantee beginning in 2015 if any participating startups are dissatisfied with the results of the program.

Could a prescription drug database be on the way?

Legislative discussion about bringing a prescription drug database to Missouri could be back on the table in the near future. Representative Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, pre-filed a reintroduction of a bill brought before last year’s General Assembly to install such a database. Missouri is currently the only state in the union without such a system, which other states use to track and prevent buyers going from one doctor to the next to stockpile a drug to sell later. Rehder’s bill would keep patients’ prescription records closed but would make them available through a subpoena or court order. The exact same bill passed the Missouri House last year but stalled in a Senate committee. Opponents of the bill say it could be twisted into a violation of privacy.

BJC HealthCare proposes 32-bed hospice center

BJC HealthCare, the parent company of Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, proposed a building a 32-bed hospice center on its campus in Creve Coeur, a plan that will go before the Creve Coeur City Countil on Monday for discussion. The hospital project is laid out in one story and 38,000 square feet, though no timetable for completion has officially been included with the proposal. A vote on the full proposal appears unlikely before January, but it’s worth noting that 16 of the 32 beds for the hospice center were already approved last week.

Shots in the Arm

Proteon Therapeutics Inc., founded by Kansas City entrepreneur Nick Franano and now based in Massachusetts, raised $70.3 million in its initial public offering last week. The company is currently developing a product called PRT-201 to help connect kidney patients to dialysis equipment. PRT-201 is set to begin Phase III clinical trials in humans soon.

Number of the Week: 45

The percentage of companies in a recent Mercer survey that say they will switch to a private health insurance exchange within the next five years. Mercer says the number of companies it has participating in private exchanges almost quintupled year over year. One of the biggest advantages given for the private exchanges compared to those set up by the federal government is the relative simplicity of the private version for shoppers and the hands-off approach employers can take with administering them.

Quote of the Week

“There is nothing you can do with it. It completely negates employee choice.”

— Emily Bremer, a Clayton-based insurance broker and president of the Missouri Association of Health Underwriters, on the state of the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) in the state. The idea of “employee choice” is rooted in SHOP’s ability to let people working for businesses with 50 or fewer employees choose from among a selection of plans in different tiers; each tier comes with a different level of cost sharing between the employee and the company. However, SHOP’s plan broke down in Missouri when Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield became the only SHOP insurance provider in the state for 2015 and placed only one plan in each tier level, eliminating selection and the price checks that could come with competition.

Video of the Week

If you’re company is starting a wellness program or is considering doing so, the Kansas City Business Journal’s recent interview with Kim Klosak, director of human resources at Service Management Group, offers some tips for getting started.

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