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NYT reports good, bad, uglyHansen buys stake in cardiac therapy firm
Whether scans help or not, insurers pay, reports The New York Times, whose article March 2 illuminated a dark corner of the medical reimbursement world. As many as 20% to 50% of imaging procedures produce results that do not help diagnose ailments or treat patients, according to studies cited by the NYT. There can be many reasons. The paper noted that insurers pay the same for a scan done on a 10-year-old machine as for one on the latest model, "though the differences in the images can be significant." A policy change favoring more reimbursement for newer and better technology could mean a lot to manufacturers, but it's not likely to come any time soon. Among the cash-strapped community of hospitals and outpatient centers, old machines are likely to get older.
Hansen Medical is investing in Advanced Cardiac Therapeutics (ACT) by purchasing an equity stake that will secure the surgical robotics company exclusive rights to intellectual properties important for its interventional system. The technology at the center of this investment measures the temperature in cardiac lesions, which could prove critically important in monitoring the effect of Hansen's Sensei Robotic Catheter System, which assists cardiac ablation procedures by improving control over catheter movement in the heart. Hansen is banking on the potential of building this technology, called the Microwave Radiometry System, into its catheters. Although promising, ACT's technology has not yet been clinically tested or received regulatory approval.