Health Care Checkup: Cerner makes ‘Most Admired’ list, Mercy nabs Aetna exec

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

Checking the Pulse

Courtesy of Cerner/Twitter
Courtesy of Cerner/Twitter

Cerner makes Fortune’s “Most Admired” list 

Cerner landed a spot on Fortune’s list of “Most Admired” companies. The North Kansas City-based health care IT company was ranked No. 1 in the category of “Health Care: Pharmacy and Other Services.”

Mercy names new chief marketing officer

Mercy has tapped Joseph Kelly as its new senior vice president and chief marketing officer. Kelly previously served as senior VP of marketing at health insurance giant Aetna. As part of a transition process Kelly has worked since last fall alongside Judy Akins, who is Mercy’s former marketing senior VP and has assumed the role of senior VP and special assistant to Mercy President and CEO Lynn Britton.

MRIGlobal wins contract for diagnostic work

Kansas City-based research institute MRIGlobal won a three-year contract, awarded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, to develop to a genome-sequencing diagnostic system for identifying deadly microorganisms.

The system aims to more rapidly and accurately identify the microorganisms, cutting the wait time for certain clinical information down from about a week to 24 hours. The work is expected to produce a system that will apply for FDA approval and eventual commercialization.

Immunophotonics adds two executives 

Biotech startup Immunophotonics, which aims to develop a vaccine for cancer, has added two executives to its team. The St. Louis-based company hired Dr. Joe Raker as its first chief drug development officer and Dr. Siu Kit “Samuel” Lam as its vice president of science and research.

Ascension unit to buy Michigan health insurer

A Michigan subsidiary of St. Louis-based Ascension is planning to buy U.S. Health and Life Insurance, a company that has received approval to sell policies for small employers under the Affordable Care Act. The $50 million acquisition would allow a health network co-owned by Ascension and Michigan-based Trinity Health to participate in Michigan’s health insurance exchange.

Reading the chart

Express Scripts earnings rise 16 percent

Express Scripts Holding reported its fourth-quarter 2014 earnings rose 16 percent, to $581.8 million, or 79 cents a share. That’s up from $501.9 million, or 63 cents a share, for the same period the year before. Fourth-quarter revenue for St. Louis-based pharmacy benefits manager increased 2.1 percent, to $26.31 billion.

Last week, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway liquidated its 449,489 shares in Express Scripts, which Buffett’s firm purchased last year.

Ascension posts $115 million profit in Q2

Ascension, the parent company of St. Louis-based Ascension Health, reported improved profits in the second quarter of fiscal 2015. The company posted a profit of $115 million for the quarter after reporting a loss of $87 million in the first quarter. Ascension managed the profit despite losing $108 million on investments in the quarter.

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