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VOL. 44 | NO. 35 | Friday, August 28, 2020

VUMC awarded $34M to lead plasma study

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Vanderbilt University Medical Center has been awarded a one-year, $34 million grant by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health, to conduct a nationwide study of “convalescent plasma” as a treatment for COVID-19.

The randomized, controlled trial will test whether infusions of plasma, the liquid part of blood collected from COVID-19 survivors, can help other hospitalized patients with COVID-19. The plasma contains antibodies against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Todd Rice, M.D., M.Sc., and Wesley Self, M.D., MPH, will lead the study, which will recruit 1,000 participants in approximately 51 sites across the country. The goal is to complete enrollment by Oct. 31, and report results by November.

In April, VUMC began collecting plasma donations from people who had recovered from COVID-19. To date, it has recruited more than 40 participants. The study, called Passive Immunity Trial for Our Nation (PassItOn), was launched thanks to support from the Dolly Parton COVID-19 Research Fund.

Convalescent plasma, one form of a treatment called passive immunization, has been used for more than a century to treat a wide variety of infections, including pneumonia, meningitis, measles, influenza and Ebola but without clear evidence of safety and effectiveness.

Convalescent plasma from COVID-19 survivors is being used throughout the country to treat people who are seriously ill with COVID-19. However, to date there have been only two randomized, controlled clinical trials and both were ended early without definitive results.

FlexTech acquired by Nashville-based emids

Nashville-based emids, a digital engineering and transformation solutions to the health care and life sciences industry company, has acquired FlexTech.

FlexTech is an information technology consulting company with deep expertise in leading payer core administration and population health platforms.

The partnership, driven by heightened urgency for health plans to adopt breakthrough digital-based strategies, enhances emids’ ability to help its clients accelerate their digital transformation journeys.

The FlexTech acquisition will drive expanded channel partnership opportunities for emids among leading core platform vendors and position emids as the go-to partner for advancing adoption of new digital business models. FlexTech, a KLAS 2020 category leader in payer information technology consulting services, brings a proven and experienced team of 120-plus subject matter experts, each with an average 20 years of experience in managed care, core administration and population health platforms, and strong partner relationships with the leading health care payer technology vendors.

HawsGoodwin Wealth among fastest-growing

Franklin-based HawsGoodwin Wealth, a financial planning and investment management firm, was named to the annual Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies.

The list represents the most successful companies within the American economy’s most dynamic segment – its independent small businesses. Intuit, Zappos, Under Armour, Microsoft, Patagonia and many other well-known names gained their first national exposure as honorees on the Inc. 5000.

The 2020 Inc. 5000 is ranked according to percentage revenue growth when comparing 2016 and 2019. The 2020 honorees have been very competitive within their markets, and the list as a whole shows staggering growth compared with prior years’ lists.

Synchronous teams with Adventist Health

Nashville-based Synchronous Health has entered into a strategic partnership with Adventist Health that provides customized behavioral health care and well-being solutions to key populations.

Synchronous is a behavioral health company that combines the strength of human empathy with artificial intelligence (AI) to increase access and quality of behavioral health services. Adventist Health is a nonprofit integrated multistate health system servicing over 10 million people in more than 80 communities on the West Coast and Hawaii.

Through this partnership, Synchronous Health and Adventist Health will co-develop behavioral health and well-being solutions to address the biggest drivers of health costs and community needs. Synchronous Health’s technology and clinical models have already been tapped by Adventist Health to address the needs of two critical populations during the COVID-19 pandemic: caregiver burnout and resiliency among the health system’s 37,000 associates, and depression and isolation among more than 2 million older adults in communities served by Adventist Health.

Adventist Health is not only fortifying the well-being of its team and community by providing the custom-designed Synchronous platform, but also investing in the dynamically growing company as part of the partnership.

Change Healthcare buys Nucleus.io

Change Healthcare, based in Nashville, has acquired Nucleus.io, a leader in the development of advanced, fully enabled, cloud-native imaging and workflow technology.

Nucleus.io’s state-of-the-art, cloud-native imaging technology, including a zero-footprint diagnostic viewer with patented streaming technology, workflow and image sharing solutions, completes Change Healthcare’s next-generation medical imaging platform.

The transaction supports Change Healthcare’s commitment to focus on and invest in core aspects of the business to fuel long-term growth and advance innovation. This will accelerate Change Healthcare’s timeline to implement a complete cloud-based, end-to-end Enterprise Imaging solution with customers. Nucleus.io expands Change Healthcare’s addressable market by leveraging the over 7,500 organizations Nucleus.io currently serves.

Nucleus.io’s market-leading medical image exchange solution is utilized by over 7,500 organizations across the U.S., with approximately 150 new organizations onboarding each month. Their advanced, fully enabled, cloud-native imaging technology includes a zero-footprint diagnostic viewer with patented streaming technology, workflow and image sharing solutions, and more.

ONE22ONE reworked for health, safety

Brentwood’s GBT Realty Corporation has adopted market-redefining health and safety features for its Class AA office tower known as ONE22ONE in downtown Nashville.

The structure is designed from the ground up for a post-COVID-19 environment with considerations made at every level to mitigate the spread of viruses of any kind.

“Direct collaboration and personal connectivity with peers cannot be replicated in an online environment,’’ says George Tomlin, president, CEO of GBT Realty. “To maintain a successful business dynamic, companies considering leasing or renewing office space over the next few years will increasingly seek to relocate to a building with advanced health and safety features.

“ONE22ONE began construction months after the pandemic began, which affords us the distinct design advantage of implementing cutting edge and comprehensive health-first features from the ground up.”

Among the health and safety features:

• Ventilation systems meet CDC and ASHRAE’s latest recommendations addressing infectious aerosols.

• HVAC for each floor to operate independently so as not to share air supply

• Thermal scanning to identify individuals with excessive temperatures upon entry.

• UV lights installed at discharge of cooling coils to reduce microbial growth.

• Elevator controls through destination dispatch, a smart system that allows the concierge to isolate visitors from tenants and direct people to a specific elevator based on destination; reduces overcrowded elevators, minimizes crowds awaiting elevator access, eliminates in-cabin controls.

• Near touchless building access.

Bridge Connector brings in $25.5M in funding

Bridge Connector, headquartered in Nashville, has raised $25.5 million in Series B financing.

The interoperability company changes the way health care communicates.

The latest round, led by Axioma Ventures, was joined by all existing investors, including veteran investor Jeff Vinick, and brings Bridge Connector’s total funding to over $45 million.

After achieving over 1,000% year-over-year growth in 2019, the investment will further support the company’s increasing market share in health care interoperability and growth of Destinations, a new integration-platform-as-a-service that connects health data systems using use-case-based interoperability blueprints to speed integrations with major vendors.

Bridge Connector provides a suite of vendor-agnostic integration solutions and a full-service delivery model, helping health care vendors, providers, and payers more easily share data between disparate systems, such as electronic health records or patient engagement solutions.

First Bank, Franklin Financial merger done

FB Financial Corporation, parent company of FirstBank, has completed its previously announced merger with Franklin Financial Network, Inc., parent company of Franklin Synergy Bank.

The combination significantly enhances FirstBank’s operations in the Nashville MSA, specifically in Williamson and Rutherford counties where Franklin has a strong community presence. Pro forma for the transaction, FirstBank’s deposit market share is No. 6 in the Nashville MSA, No. 1 in Williamson County and No. 2 in Rutherford County.

With the close of the transaction, James W. Cross IV, Melody J. Sullivan, and Jimmy E. Allen join the FB Financial board of directors.

J.P. Morgan Securities LLC served as financial adviser to FB Financial Corporation, and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz served as legal adviser. Evercore served as financial adviser to Franklin Financial Network, Inc., and Alston & Bird LLP served as legal adviser.

OneOncology joins Foundation Medicine

Nashville-based OneOncology and Foundation Medicine, Inc. have announced a new joint initiative.

The partnership is intended to better enable OneOncology partner practice physicians to unlock the potential of precision oncology through comprehensive genomic profiling and research, informed by CGP and evidence.

This will empower physicians across OneOncology’s nearly 170 community oncology care sites to better drive personalized treatment plans, inclusive of targeted therapies, immunotherapies and clinical trials.

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