Ortho Kinematics (OKI; Austin, Texas), a privately held healthcare diagnostic company focused on spine imaging informatics, said that it has entered into an agreement with Medtronic (Minneapolis) giving Medtronic the ability to promote OKI's VMA (Vertebral Motion Analysis) test to spine surgeons.

The VMA is OKI's flagship spine diagnostic test, which recently completed a successful eighteen month limited scale initial launch. The VMA is a diagnostic test that can be prescribed as an alternative to the six million flexion/extension X-ray tests that are prescribed each year in the U.S. for the assessment of spinal motion and instability in the cervical and lumbar spine. The VMA has been shown in studies to produce more accurate and reproducible results than the traditional manual X-ray test, detecting spinal instability with greater sensitivity and with no decrease in specificity. Spinal instability is a condition that may contribute to back and neck pain, and is an important consideration in evaluating candidates for potential spine surgery or spine pain management injections.

Unlike the market for spine surgical technology which is characterized by hundreds of companies and thousands of products, the market for spine diagnostics is comprised of a small handful of on-market and development-stage products.

In other agreements/contracts;

• CarePayment (Portland), a provider of patient financing, said it has formed a strategic alliance with Siemens Healthcare (Malvern, Pennsylvania) a company that specializes in providing clinical, information technology and business solutions engineered to help improve patient outcomes while reducing costs.

Under the agreement, Siemens Healthcare's hospital and physician-practice customers will be able to gain access to CarePayment's affordable and flexible patient financing programs. CarePayment removes financial obstacles to obtaining necessary care, allowing people to manage their medical expenses over time, and helping providers reduce bad debt and increase cash flow.

"With patients responsible for more of their medical costs, there is a growing affordability gap that is hurting our provider customers and their patients. We are dedicated to delivering solutions for the entire range of patient care, so teaming up with CarePayment, a leader in patient financing, enables us to provide hospitals and medical practices an option for an effective solution to help close this gap," says Rick Pettine, director, business & alliance development, Siemens Healthcare.

Siemens Healthcare customers can choose from a variety of CarePayment healthcare financing programs, all of which include a revolving line of credit with terms up to 72 months at 0.00% APR for the life of the account. CarePayment co-brands the programs with healthcare providers in a patient-friendly approach that encourages participation in the program and increases patient satisfaction and loyalty.

• Labsco (Louisville, Kentucky), a specialty sales agent of laboratory technologies and products to hospitals, physician office laboratories and alternate healthcare settings said, effective Oct. 1, 2014, it will serve as Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics' (Malvern, Pennsylvania) exclusive sales distributor in specified hospital market segments and as a semi-exclusive sales distributor in specified POL market segments in the 48 contiguous U.S. Labsco will be responsible for selling, account management, local marketing, and contract presentation / execution for transition contracts and new contracts.

"We are building a platform that combines national reach with best in class technology, operational excellence, and unmatched technical sales expertise," says Hank Struik, CEO of Labsco. "Siemens is the perfect business ally for Labsco and has demonstrated a commitment to excellence through their innovative product portfolio and focus on providing outstanding service to their customers. With this agreement, we substantially broaden our clinical portfolio and take another major step toward fulfilling our value proposition of Delivering Superior Diagnostics for better outcomes."

PatientFocus (Nashville, Tennessee), a medical billing company with enhanced patient billing services, said it has extended its agreement with Choice Medical, (Knoxville, Tennessee), a specialty medical products distributor. The ongoing partnership will provide Choice Medical patients access to Patient Focus' suite of patient-pay account management services.

Florida Blue (Jacksonville, Florida) and Baptist Health Care (BHC; Pensacola, Florida) reported the execution of an accountable care agreement that aims to improve the quality and efficiency of patient care in northwest Florida.

Through this arrangement, the organizations plan to improve the patient experience by enhancing the coordination of care between BHC and Florida Blue. Built around the Baptist Medical Group (BMG) network of physicians, the BHC accountable care organization will provide coordinated care to patients with the goal of eliminating unnecessary spending and improving their patients' health status by seamlessly sharing information and meeting quality targets.

Launching on Oct. 1, 2014, the accountable care program will use a value-based compensation model that rewards quality and efficiency and serve as another example of Florida Blue's payment innovation efforts being deployed across the state.

Florida Blue, Florida's Blue Cross and Blue Shield company, specializes in Florida's healthcare industry. //