HEALTH CARE HELPS BUOY JULY JOB NUMBERS: Health care employers added an estimated 70,000 jobs in July as hiring rose from the previous month, according to preliminary U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data released Friday.
Health care jobs accounted for 13.3% of hires across the economy last month, with ambulatory services, including health practitioners and hospitals seeing the largest gains, Crain's sister publication Modern Healthcare reports.
The sector has added 380,100 jobs in the past year and is at near pre-COVID levels.
Public companies are reporting that volumes are close to pre-pandemic, and demand is coming back, said Matt Wolf, director, health care senior analyst at RSM US.
"Providers are trying to meet that demand, which is lower acuity and more on the outpatient side," Wolf said. "But on the financial side, it’s still difficult to unsustainable."
Wolf said that the growing health care hiring is a good sign that demand remains high and, perhaps, workers who left the profession during the pandemic are now returning.
But most health care providers won't simply be able to hire their way out of the financial dire straits caused by low reimbursements and higher costs, he said. They'll need to revisit care models to use technology more effectively and move patients to less expensive outpatient settings.
WEARABLES COMPANY SIBEL HEALTH RAISES $33M: Another medical technology company spun out of the John Rogers Research Group and the Querrey Simpson Institute for Bioelectronics at Northwestern University, Niles-based Sibel Health, has raised $33 million in Series B financing, bringing its total funding to more than $50 million, the company said in a statement.
Sibel manufactures the FDA-cleared ANNE platform for remote monitoring, particularly as an ICU-grade wireless sensor for cardiopulmonary monitoring of babies with congenital heart defects.
The funding round was led by the Steele Foundation for Hope, a private foundation. Also, Dräger, a medical and safety technology company, changed its previous convertible note into equity, the statement said.
"Sibel was founded by the world's leading engineers and scientists," Joe Exner, CEO of Steele Foundation for Hope, said in the statement. "We invested in their ingenuity to advance bio-integrated sensors and wireless data collection to promote better care, especially for mothers and newborns in developing countries."
Sibel has also appointed Jon Otterstatter, the former CEO and co-founder of Preventice as chairman of the board and Matthew Banet, previously the chief technology officer and co-founder of toSense and Sotera, as president.
ELI LILLY WARNS INDIANA ABORTION LAW MAY MAKE IT EXPAND OUTSIDE THE STATE: Eli Lilly & Co., one of Indiana’s largest employers, said the state’s freshly passed restrictions on abortion would force the drug maker to “plan for more employment growth outside our home state.” READ MORE.
A growing list of companies, including Citigroup, Apple, Bumble and Levi Strauss & Co., are offering benefits for reproductive-care services in states that have imposed restrictions. But Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly’s announcement marks a swift escalation by a multinational that employs more than 10,000 people in Indiana, where the drugmaker was founded in 1876.
Indiana on Friday became the first U.S. state to pass anti-abortion legislation since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. About a dozen other states had so-called “trigger laws” pre-approved by legislatures to go into effect in the event that Roe was struck down.
Lilly recognizes “that abortion is a divisive and deeply personal issue with no clear consensus among the citizens of Indiana,” the company said in a statement Saturday. “Despite this lack of agreement, Indiana has opted to quickly adopt one of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the United States.”
As of June 30, according to the company's website, Lilly employed just over 10,500 people in Indiana, the vast majority in Indianapolis. It employs another nearly 6,000 people elsewhere in the United States and a total of more than 35,000 people worldwide.
UCHICAGO GETS TO WORK ON INDIANA 'MICRO-HOSPITAL:' The University of Chicago Medicine has started construction on a two-story, 130,000-square-foot multispecialty care center in Crown Point, Ind., the South Side health system's largest off-site facility.
The facility, dubbed a microhospital, is expected to open in 2024 at a cost of $121 million, UChicago Medicine said in a statement.
“The University of Chicago is home to physicians and physician-scientists who are pioneers in their field. They bring research to the bedside with the most advanced treatments and high-quality, specialized care,” Dr. Kenneth S. Polonsky, executive vice president for Medical Affairs at the University of Chicago and president of the UChicago Medicine health system said at a groundbreaking last week. "We wanted to be able to offer people in Crown Point the same level of care that we do in Hyde Park on Chicago's South Side—and to make it more accessible and convenient for them."
The original plans for the facility called for 116,000 square feet but was increased by almost 14,000 square feet to meet growing demand, the statement said.
The facility will have an eight-bed emergency department and short-stay inpatient unit, a cancer center with infusion therapy as well as radiation, medical and surgical oncology, and imaging center and more.
IDPH TO supply MONKEYPOX VACCINE TO CHILDREN EXPOSED AT CHAMPAIGN DAY CARE CENTER: A worker at a daycare center in Champaign County tested positive for monkeypox on Thursday, Illinois Department of Public Health officials said Friday. In response, IDPH will begin giving the monkeypox vaccine to exposed children, their families and other close contacts.
The monkeypox vaccine, manufactured by Bavarian Nordic, is currently approved for use only on 18 and older, but the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has begun making exceptions. Other states have given children monkeypox vaccines on a case-by-case basis.
IDPH is not publicly disclosing the daycare center or the worker for privacy concerns, but the agency said it is contacting every child and family who may have been exposed. The center has been cleaned and Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office is providing financial support to affected families who need to quarantine.
MARPAI TO ACQUIRE MAESTRO HEALTH: New York-based artificial intelligence company Marpai said in a statement it plans to buy third-party administrator (TPA) company Maestro Health for $22.1 million in cash.
Maestro, based in Chicago, services more than 80 self-insured employers, the statement said. The acquisition promises to more than double Marpai's revenues, customers and the members it serves, the statement said.
"There are tremendous revenue synergies. Maestro has in-house care management that helps members live healthier lives, and we intend to roll this out to the Marpai member base,” Edmundo Gonzalez, CEO of Marpai said in the statement. "The Maestro cost containment solutions will also be rolled out to our client base. Marpai's proactive matchmaking of members to the best care will also be introduced to the Maestro client base."
"Combining our TPA experience with Marpai is incredibly exciting. Over the last couple of years, we have made significant investments in cost containment and clinical solutions that are delivering outstanding results for our customers. Marpai brings deep TPA domain expertise, expanded discount network options and incredibly sophisticated approaches to data analytics," said Brandon Wood, CEO of Maestro Health.
Under the terms of the agreement, the purchase price of $22.1 million will be payable in cash on April 1, 2024, the statement said. However, subject to the company meeting its obligations under the agreement, this payment may be financed over four years by the seller with minimum annual cash payments, reflecting a 10% per annum cost of capital, of $5 million, $6 million, $8 million and $9 million, which will be payable on December 31, 2024, 2025, 2026 and 2027, respectively, Marpai said.
In addition, the parties have also agreed that Maestro's free cash position at closing will be $15.79 million and have also agreed that Maestro will have certain minimum working capital amounts at closing. The cash on the combined company's balance sheet, as well as synergies from the transaction, are expected to drive the joint company's plan of integration, which is expected to include a target of reaching positive EBITDA within 18 months, the statement said.
In 2018, Maestro was sold to AXA for $155 million and became a subsidiary of the company.
Marpai and Maestro officials did not return an email requesting comment by Health Pulse deadline.
STUDY SHOWS REMOTE PATIENT MONITORING KEEPS COVID-19 SUFFERERS OUT OF HOSPITAL: A study by researchers at Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin Health Network found that a COVID-19 remote patient monitoring system that had round-the-clock nursing coverage and regular check-ins from home from patients who reported on symptoms and pulse oximeter readings was successful in keeping patients out of the hospital.
The Milwaukee-based health system began using the GetWellNetwork to create a COVID-19 RPM back on March 30, 2020, the study said. Patients either used a responsive web application or downloaded a mobile application and were asked to track their symptoms, temperatures and pulse oximetry readings.
Among more than 9,000 patients using the remote monitoring program, the odds of hospitalization 2 to 14 days after a positive COVID-19 test went down and for those hospitalized, lengths of stay and intensive care use were less than those who did not have remote monitoring, the study said.
ABBOTT, WEIGHTWATCHERS PARTNER ON DIABETES SUPPORT: Abbott Laboratories and WW International, more commonly known as WeightWatchers, plan to work together help people living with diabetes better understand and manage the disease and their weight.
The companies are looking to integrate WeightWatchers' diabetes-tailored weight-management program with Abbott's FreeStyle Libre diabetes-management products.
The integration would allow the FreeStyle Libre continuous glucose monitor and WeightWatchers mobile app to share information and provide ways to adjust diets, Boost glucose levels and "ultimately, gain more control of their health," the companies said in a statement.
"By combining our world-leading FreeStyle Libre glucose monitoring technology with WeightWatchers' number one doctor-recommended weight loss program, people with diabetes, in particular, those with Type 2 diabetes and less intensively managed by doctors, can have the insights they need to take control of their health," Jared Watkin, senior vice president of Abbott's diabetes care business said in the statement.
PEOPLE ON THE MOVE
• Mercedes Carnethon has been appointed president of the American Heart Association’s metro Chicago board of directors.
Carnethon is the vice chair of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. She began her term as president of the heart association on July 1.