Micro Power (Beaverton, Oregon), a maker of portable power systems for mission-critical equipment, said that it manufactured a custom lithium battery pack specifically for an automated external defibrillator (AED) to be implemented aboard the International Space Station that was launched by NASA aboard space shuttle Discovery on May 31.

The primary battery pack is a variant of an existing pack already manufactured by Micro Power for a leading AED manufacturer, and was customized to comply with space flight requirements. NASA rigorously tested and approved the battery packs to ensure they would perform to space flight specifications for batteries.

"Of course, it is our hope that the defibrillator is never used during any space station mission, but should a cardiac arrest emergency arise, the Micro Power battery pack is designed to power up safely the first time, and to provide enough power to save a life in this unique, on-board environment," said Jeff VanZwol, marketing manager for Micro Power.

Availity gains more hospitals and practices

Availity (Jacksonville, Florida), a leader in health information exchange, and Health Care Service Corp. (HCSC; Chicago), which operates the Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans in Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, reported the completed migration of more than 11,000 medical practices and hospitals from The Health Information Network (THIN) platform to the Availity platform.

The effort involved successfully testing and moving electronic transactions for more than 11,000 health care provider sites, 450 vendors, 40 clearinghouses, and more than 200 health plans and other health claim systems across the nation. The transition empowers providers with a secure, real-time web portal for health information exchange, fostering improved communication and decision-making before, during, and after the patient visit.

Health Net of Calif. gives loans to clinics

As part of its commitment to help keep financially threatened Central Valley health clinics open during California's continued budget negotiations, Health Net of California (Woodland Hills) has disbursed more than $5 million in no-interest loans to 12 clinics.

"Health Net's loan means we haven't had to cut staff or shut down temporarily," said Aurora Garcia, CEO of Merced County's Livingston Medical Group. "We're still open and providing full services to our patients."

"Without these loans, many of our clinics, which form the backbone of California's safety net system, would have been forced to close or severely cut staff and services until the budget is resolved," said David Quackenbush, CEO of the Central Valley Health Network.

Biosciences tech belt makes first-year progress

In 2007, the Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse (PLSG) and BioEnterprise (Cleveland) reported a strategic collaboration to work together in creating a "Biosciences Tech Belt" linking the biosciences assets of the two metro areas. The objective of the collaboration is to leverage the existing resources of both regions to draw greater levels of funding and talent into the areas.

In 2007, the area had significant success in bioscience venture activity:

The combined regions drew $343 million in healthcare venture investment in 2007 across 45 companies.

PLSG and BioEnterprise have made cross-introductions of venture capital firms and initiated the exploration of 18 company collaborations.

Several venture firms from each region have opened offices in the adjacent metro area including Chrysalis Ventures, Draper Triangle Ventures, and iNetworks.

The regions have hosted and leveraged four healthcare venture investment conferences in thee last years, including the Global Healthcare Investing Conference in conjunction with IBF (International Business Forum), the Cleveland Clinic Medical Innovation Summit, the Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Conference, and the 3 Rivers Venture Fair.

"The ultimate measure of successful biosciences business development is the amount of venture capital dollars flowing into a region," said Baiju Shah, president/CEO of BioEnterprise.

Nations CareLink approved as provider agency

Nations CareLink (Eden Prairie, Minnesota), a subsidiary of Long Term Care Group (LTCG), has been approved by the State of California's Department of Health Care Services as a care management provider agency for the California Partnership for Long Term Care.

The designation allows Nations CareLink to provide care-management services to the policyholders of insurers who sell approved California Partnership Long Term Care Insurance policies.

"Being able to serve the insureds and carriers in the California Partnership is a natural extension of our nationwide care management services," said LTCG president Peter Goldstein. "We're proud to be only one of a few organizations that has been able to satisfy California's strict requirements and high standards to offer these important services."