Health News Today – April 17, 2014

Today’s health news headlines include:

  • Deloitte LLP tapped to help MNsure fix its website
  • STDs on the climb in Minnesota
  • State Security Hospital proposes $56 million in upgrades
  • St. Jude Medical focused on six new products


MNsure chooses Deloitte as lead vendor (

Minnesota’s online health insurance marketplace announced Deloitte Consulting on Wednesday as the lead manager to overhaul its troubled website and computer systems, citing the company’s record of success in other states.

MNsure’s contract with Deloitte is worth $4.95 million and will run for nine months. Details of Deloitte’s plans were scheduled to be presented to MNsure’s board of directors Wednesday afternoon.   Read More…


Sexually transmitted diseases rose 10% in Minnesota last year (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

A 10 percent increase in sexually transmitted infections last year has Minnesota health leaders concerned that people are unaware of the risks and that doctors aren’t pushing testing hard enough.

A record 18,724 chlamydia infections were reported last year, a 4 percent increase from 2012, the Minnesota Department of Health reported Wednesday.  Read More…


Case made for $56M Minnesota Security Hospital project (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

The Minnesota Security Hospital is a dangerous place by its nature, but its narrow hallways, poor sight lines and mixing of the sickest and newest patients makes it more dangerous than it should be.

Lucinda Jesson, the state’s human services commissioner, visited the Regional Treatment Center in St. Peter Wednesday to talk with staff and reporters about the importance of securing state money for a $56 million expansion.   Read More…


Six products St. Jude Medical is banking on in 2014 (Medical Device and Diagnostics)

St. Jude Medical reported a solid first quarter Wednesday beating analyst estimates of earnings per share by a penny. The Minnesota medical device maker had revenue of $1.36 billion in the quarter ended March 29, up 2% from $1.34 billion it garnered in the same quarter a year ago. Profits climbed to $249 million, or 96 cents per share from $223 million, or 94 cents in the quarter.   Read More…

Health News Today – April 16, 2014

Today’s headlines:

  • City of St. Paul one of largest recipients of Medicare payments
  • Grant cuts could take toll on Hennepin County health and wellness programs
  • Mobile app on the hook to reach Mayo Clinic customers


Medicare data: Minnesota providers collect less on average than peers (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

The federal Medicare health insurance program winds up paying the fare for many of the ambulance rides provided by the city of St. Paul.

That’s why the city in 2012 was one of the largest single recipients of the program’s payments among nonhospital health care providers in Minnesota, according to data released this month by the federal government.

Of more than 19,000 providers who in 2012 cared for Medicare patients in Minnesota, St. Paul’s take of more than $2 million was the ninth-largest individual sum.   Read More…


Short-sighted cuts could hurt community health advancements (

The Community Transformation Grant (CTG) program was initiated in 2011 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in an attempt to address health disparities, help control health care spending, and create a healthier future. To this end, federal funds from the Affordable Care Act were allocated to select communities across the U.S. to help support community-level efforts to reduce chronic diseases by expanding efforts in “tobacco-free living, active living and healthy eating, and quality clinical and other preventative services.” Minnesota fared well in the selection process: the state was awarded $4.7 million per year (including $1.1 million for Hennepin County) for what was supposed to be a five-year program.   Read More…


Mayo Clinic reaches out to consumers with a mobile app (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Back in the day, the Mayo Clinic relied on its reputation to draw patients in need of its rarefied expertise to Rochester or its other campuses in Arizona and Florida. But in the changing world of health care reimbursement, where Mayo faces likely revenue cuts of 20 percent or more, that’s no longer good enough.

Now, Mayo has ambitious plans to push its expertise out to 200 million people, and one of its first steps toward that goal is a new service called “Better” that was built around a mobile app developed in Silicon Valley.   Read More…

In The News – April 15, 2014

It’s tax day in the United States, but there’s still health news happening. So file those taxes, if you haven’t already, and read on!

  • Medical marijuana gets support from majority of Minnesotans
  • Children’s Hospital raises $2 million at annual Star Gala
  • DiaMedica CEO scheduled to talk diabetes at health conference


Minnesota medical marijuana receives 68% poll support (

It’s roughly 3-to-1 in favor of medicinal pot. The latest KSTP-TV/SurveyUSA poll says, “Do you think Marijuana should or should not? be legal … when used for medical purposes? Asked of 600 Minnesotans. Of the group’s 543 registered voters, 68 percent said it should be legal, 24 percent said not.   Read More…


Star Gala raises $2 million for fetal care (Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal)

The 2014 Star Gala raised more than $2 million for the fetal care program at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.

The 23rd annual fundraiser, at the Depot in Minneapolis April 5, raised at least $2 million for the third straight year.    Read More…


DiaMedica to present at 2014 GTC diabetes summit (News Release)

DiaMedica Inc. (TSX VENTURE:DMA), a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the treatment of diabetes and its complications, today announced it will be presenting an overview of preclinical and Phase 1 clinical results for its lead product DM199, at the 2014 GTC Diabetes Summit taking place from April 23-25, 2014, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Read More…

In The News – April 14, 2014

Health news headlines for today include:

  • Uninsureds get public health coverage at record levels
  • Eye doctors are top Medicare billers in Minnesota
  • “On The Move” program gets Allina Health and Mayo Clinic support in Owatonna


Minnesota’s uninsured get public aid at historic levels (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

On a recent weekday evening, Ibrahim Hassan was pacing the narrow corridor outside a Somali mosque in south Minneapolis, buoyantly shaking hands and waving like a politician at a campaign stop.

His mission: To sign up every eligible uninsured person he met for public health coverage through the state’s MNsure website.   Read More…


Eye docs are Minnesota’s top medicare billers (Minneapolis/St Paul Business Journal)

Ophthalmologists were among Minnesota’s top recipients of Medicare payments in 2012, according to data released by the federal government.

Thirteen doctors statewide earned more than $1 million through Medicare billings for services and equipment.  Read More…


Owatonna clinic, partners encourage exercise during “On The Move” program (

Motorists traveling around Owatonna may notice more people exercising outdoors in a couple weeks. But it isn’t just because of the weather.

Mayo Clinic Health System — Owatonna announced that it will be holding its five-week “On the Move” wellness program in partnership with Steele County Public Health, Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism, Owatonna Parks and Recreation, Allina Health, area schools and area businesses starting on April 21.   Read More…

In The News – April 11, 2014

Today’s health-related news headlines include:

  • Healthcare Engagement Solutions raises $550k
  • Auditor plans MNsure review
  • Are VCs shifting funding from med-devices to technology?


Local healthcare app creator raises $550,000 in financing (TwinCities Business Magazine)

Minneapolis-based Healthcare Engagement Solutions, the developer of Uniphy, announced Thursday that it closed on a $550,000 angel investment.

Founded in 2013, the company is in the process of rolling out its suite of mobile technologies, Uniphy.   Read More…


Legislative auditor plans comprehensive review of troubled health exchange launch (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Minnesota’s legislative auditor said Wednesday he plans to conduct a thorough, independent review of the troubled launch of Minnesota’s health insurance exchange.

“The evaluation will be a comprehensive, in-depth evaluation of many issues related to the development of the website but also many other issues as well,” Legislative Auditor Nobles told a House-Senate MNsure oversight committee. The exact scope of the inquiry is still being determined, he said.   Read More…


Will other Minn. VCs shift from med-device to tech? (Minneapolis/St Paul Business Journal)

Venture capital firm Split Rock Partners’ recent shift away from med-tech deals isn’t just a reflection of the challenges facing health care investors. It’s also a statement about the upside of tech investing.

A growing number of opportunities in the software and Internet sectors played a big role in Eden Prairie firm’s decision to allocate more of its uncommitted capital to tech deals, said Managing Director Michael Gorman in an interview Wednesday.   Read More…

In The News – April 9, 2014

In health news headlines today:

  • Governor calls GOP’s MNsure investigation a farce
  • Council of Health Plans releases 2013 spending report
  • Fitbit taking a bite out of some peoples’ wrists
  • Crow Wing County ends immunization program

Follow us on Twitter @HealthInMinn for all the latest health news from around the state.


Gov. Dayton accuses MNsure’s GOP critic’s of farce (La Crosse Tribune)

Gov. Mark Dayton has lashed out at critics of Minnesota’s health insurance exchange, accusing them of waging a propaganda campaign to destroy it.

The Democratic governor spoke to reporters after GOP members of a legislative oversight committee said they wanted to use a hearing Wednesday to raise questions about the troubled launch of MNsure last October.   Read More…


Minnesota Council of Health Plans releases 2013 spending report (News Release)

Health plans in Minnesota paid $19.7 billion-$54.1 million every day-for medical care on behalf of their members for doctor visits, prescription drugs, hospital stays and other covered medical services in 2013.

In all, spending for care was up nearly $1 billion or 4 percent over 2012.   Read More…


Digital bracelet company may end up in court (

They thought they were buying a popular gadget to give them a better handle on their health. Instead, thousands of people ended up with a bad rash.

The Fitbit Force is a digital bracelet that measures your physical activity and sleep patterns, but it left some consumers with scars.   Read More…


Crow Wing County ends public health immunization program (Brainerd Dispatch)

Last year, Crow Wing County provided immunization shots for 160 children in families where insurance didn’t cover the shots.

That will end April 30. Crow Wing County commissioners voted unanimously to end its immunization program.   Read More…

In The News – April 8, 2014

In health news headlines today:

  • Support groups could save millions in alzheimer’s costs
  • Minnesota Valley Health Center celebrates remodel/grand opening
  • On-screen doctor visits become the new house call


New care model could save Minnesota nearly $1 billion in Alzheimer’s costs (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Karen Ray has been caring for people her whole life — four children, 12 grandchildren, a husband — but when her mother was formally diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease two years ago, she needed some extra help. Ray, 60, started attending a monthly support group where she could talk to other caregivers and get advice on dementia.

That sort of support isn’t available for many of the 245,000 Minnesotans caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. But if it were, the state could save nearly $1 billion over the next decade   Read More…


Le Sueur hospital and clinic celebrates completion of multi-million dollar construction (

Minnesota Valley Health Center in Le Sueur celebrated the completion of a multi-million dollar construction renovation Monday, showcasing its newly remodeled hospital wing with an open house.

All patient rooms in the hospital are now private rooms, something hospital officials say is a major benefit.  Read More…


On-screen doctor visits are the new house call (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Three times a week, Dr. Joseph Olson dons his white coat, but he doesn’t leave his home in Storden, Minn. Instead, he fires up his tablet, peers into the camera and starts “seeing” patients via real-time video chat.

On the other end of the Internet connection are people who have logged on for the virtual visit through their smartphones or tablets.   Read More…

In The News – April 7, 2014

Today’s health news headlines:

  • Legislative commission will decide if MNsure gets audit
  • Patients in safety net insurance pool find other health plans
  • Statewide sepsis awareness project hopes to improve patient outcomes
  • Sometimes people must be prodded to make health changes


Lawmakers to decide if MNsure gets major audit (Minnesota Public Radio)

A state legislative commission decides this week whether the state’s new online health insurance marketplace, MNsure, should get a major, top to bottom audit.

MNsure has received more than $150 million in federal grants and external reviews found poor management and serious software failures. While a change in leadership in December improved MNsure’s operations many questions remain about the reasons for the site’s troubled operations.   Read More…


Many in Minnesota’s high-risk health insurance pool find new plans (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Almost 62 percent of Minnesotans who had relied on the state’s safety net insurance pool have found better health care coverage on MNsure or the individual market, far exceeding goals, officials at the organization said Friday.

The high-risk pool is winding down operations and will close for good at the end of the year. Under the Affordable Care Act, such pools are less necessary because insurers now are required to provide coverage even to those who are already sick.   Read More…


As sepsis takes its toll, St. Cloud hospital makes its move (St. Cloud Times)

St. Cloud Hospital kicked off a statewide campaign last week against a serious medical condition caused by an overwhelming immune response to infection.

“This is the first time there has been a statewide project to improve outcomes of patients with severe sepsis/septic shock,” said Roberta Basol, care center director of the intensive care/surgical care and clinical practice.  Read More…


Check-in calls improve health of patients at risk for heart disease (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

For people trying to eat right and get more exercise, some gentle nagging can go a long way. Just ask Pat Rolloff of New Ulm, Minn. After her mom died last May, Rolloff’s doctor recommended that she try a program called HeartBeat Connections, which would hook her up with a health coach to help her reduce her cholesterol and lose the 30 pounds she had gained from grief and stress.   Read More…

In The News – April 4, 2014

In health news headlines today:

  • Sanford Health gets awards for worksite friendliness
  • MNsure CEO takes questions from Congressional Committee
  • Med-tech firm Holaira raises millions for COPD clinical trial


Sanford Health of northern Minnesota recognized by American Heart Association as a fit-friendly work site (Walker Pilot-Independent)

For the third consecutive year, Sanford Health of northern Minnesota (SHNM) has received recognition as a Platinum-Level Fit-Friendly Worksite by the American Heart Association and was also recognized as a Community Innovation award winner for helping employees eat better and move more.

“Physical activity and employee wellness are important priorities at Sanford. We are honored and excited to be recognized by the American Heart Association as a Platinum-Level Fit-Friendly Worksite for the third year in a row,” said Dan Olson, President of SHNM.    Read More…


MNsure chief questioned by Congress (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Members of Congress’ chief investigative committee aggressively questioned MNsure’s interim CEO on Thursday, demanding to know if Minnesota’s health insurance marketplace has rebounded from problems that left it on the brink of collapse last fall.

Citing the findings of a consultant’s report from January that found MNsure’s management in constant “crisis mode,” Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., pressed interim MNsure CEO Scott Leitz for details on the shake-up inside the agency in the wake of a troubled launch.  Read More…


Med-tech firm Holaira raises $4 million, plans clinical trial (Twin Cities Business Magazine)

Plymouth-based med-tech company Holaira announced Thursday that it closed on a round of $42 million in funding.

Holaira is working to develop a lung therapy that will make it easier for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to breathe—the company says the condition affects 15 million people in the United States and almost 190 million people worldwide.   Read More…

In The News – April 2, 2014

Today’s health news headlines:

  • Nonprofit health plans spend more on care
  • Med tech companies fair well with state job creation grants
  • Soda tax will have zero impact on health


Minnesota nonprofit health plans spent 4 percent more on care in 2013 (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

Health plans in Minnesota paid $19.7 billion for medical care in 2013. An increase of nearly $1 billion, or 4 percent, over 2012, the Minnesota Council of Health Plans said in a news release Tuesday.

Overall, medical care spending per person increased 2 percent over 2012.   Read More…


Minnesota issues first round of job creation grants (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

The state of Minnesota approved its first five grants worth $2.27 million to manufacturers as part of the new, $24 million Job Creation Fund. The fund hopes to attract scores of companies to Minnesota and to encourage firms here to stay and expand in the state.

The new fund replaces the JOBZ program that recently expired.  Read More…


Soda taxes won’t make people healthier (

Your recent article “Soda-policy attitudes affected by perceptions of the industry, political leanings, U study finds” warrants clarification for your readers on the so-called soda tax.

Taxes don’t make people healthy. If we want to get serious about obesity, it starts with education – not laws and regulation.    Read More…