Health IT Roundup—Flatiron Health executive heads to FDA; Jonathan Bush speaks out

FDA recruits Flatiron CMO

Flatiron Health’s chief medical officer is heading to the Food and Drug Administration, Forbes reports.

CMO Amy Abernethy has been named as the agency’s principal deputy commissioner for food and drugs. Abernethy has been credited with helping Flatiron use EHR data for use in FDA drug approval. The company was purchased by Roche for $1.9 billion earlier this year.

The appointment is the highest position at the FDA that isn’t politically appointed. Abernethy will oversee initiatives that cut across all sectors. (Forbes)

Jonathan Bush talks about Athenahealth, Elliott

Former Athenahealth CEO Jonathan Bush made his first public appearance last week, joining CBC’s “Squawk on the Street” to discuss the future of the EHR company and his interactions with Elliott Management.

"My experience is running a company with a gun to your head is no way to run a company. Better to just say, 'Pull the trigger,'” Bush said, referring to his interactions with the activist investor.

He also raised questions about how he was forced out of office through a series of media stories about his past indiscretions, including an allegation he attacked his then-wife 13 years ago. He didn’t name Elliott specifically but insinuated an outside force was behind the stories.

Bush added that public pressure from Elliott damaged company culture and made “everybody afraid all the time.” But he said his “fondest” wish is that the company becomes a “secure, reliable, connected tectonic plate that allows liquidity in the healthcare system.” (CNBC)

UPMC puts telehealth kiosks in grocery stores

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) has partnered with a grocery store chain to add telehealth kiosks in the pharmacy area of several stores.

The partnership with Giant Eagle, the largest supermarket chain in the region, will give shoppers access to UPMC’s AnywhereCare. The kiosks will connect users to a UPMC clinician using connected blood pressure cuffs, thermometers and otoscopes. The service is intended for non-urgent symptoms for patients three years old and older.

“With UPMC AnywhereCare already available on smartphones, tablets and personal computers, our partnership with Giant Eagle is one more way to make our high-quality care accessible to patients when and where they want it,” Natasa Sokolovich, executive director of telehealth for UPMC said in a statement. (Release)

Amazon shows interest in home diagnostics

Amazon recently considered an acquisition of a diagnostics startup called Confer Health, a move that would it put it squarely in competition with companies like Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp, according to CNBC.

Citing people familiar with the tech giant’s plans, CNBC reports Amazon considered buying the company that develops hardware for at-home diagnostic tests. The manufacturer would have fit into the company’s “Grand Challenge” group focused on diagnostics. (CNBC)