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Data Sheet—Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Good morning, Data Sheet readers. Sprint could pay a $105 million fine for sneaky cell-phone billing practices, while Google apparently has good reason to be paranoid. Plus, Oracle is scheduled to report its fiscal second-quarter results late this afternoon. Here’s what analysts expect.

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TRENDING

Ongoing search for dirt on Google. Some of the emails stolen by hackers during the Sony Pictures Entertainment breach (and examined by The New York Times for a front-page story Wednesday) document ongoing investigations by state prosecutors into its business practices. At issue: everything from inadequate consumer privacy measures to lax link-removal procedures for illegal and pirated content. These efforts are being abetted by many different competitors, including an industry organization backed by Microsoft, Expedia and Oracle.

Sprint faces whopping $105 million fine. The Federal Communications Commission is figuring out how much to penalize the wireless carrier for “cramming” subscribers’ mobile phone bills with unauthorized charge. The amount being considered would match its biggest fine ever—levied against AT&T in October for the same sin. Reuters

Object lesson: Former employees sue Sony Pictures over security breach. The two plaintiffs haven’t worked for the company in years, but they say their personal information was exposed. They’re asking the court to classify their complaint as a class-action suit and are seeking $1,000 for each party who joins, plus fees to cover credit and identity protection services. Fortune

Is this Samsung’s answer to Apple Pay? Reports suggest it’s discussing an alliance with Burlington, Mass.-based startup LoopPay that will add mobile payments to its smartphones. Meanwhile, the list of companies supporting Apple’s platform is getting longer. The company figures it supports credit cards representing about 90% of card transactions in the United States. Re/code, NYT

Patent pact. Google and Verizon Communications forged a five-year-long, cross-licensing agreement that keeps them from suing each other over intellectual property. The Internet search giant signed similar deals with Samsung Electronics and Cisco earlier this year. Wall Street Journal

Philips pays almost $1 billion for medical imaging company. Volcano makes technology for ultrasound applications that could lead to less-invasive treatments for cardiovascular disease. WSJ

STARTUPS & DISRUPTORS

MongoDB adds notable engineering talent. The NoSQL database software company will pay an undisclosed sum for WiredTiger, a creator of database storage and management software. Just as important, it gains the experts behind the technology including well-known developers (at least in database circles) Keith Bostic and Michael Cahill. Both have done time at Oracle.

OneLogin makes itself known. The San Francisco-based identity management software company has closed a $25 million Series C funding round led by Scale Venture Partners. Its technology adds single sign-on support to more than 4,000 cloud business software applications including Microsoft Office365, Google Apps, Salesforce, SuccessFactors, Workday, ServiceNow, and Zendesk.

 

POLICY & STRATEGY

Hospitals are learning how to share, and it’s saving them millions

Boston-based Cohealo is leveraging the sharing economy to help care providers share costly medical equipment. Fortune.com breaking news reporter Laura Lorenzetti reports on the model.

U.S. health care costs currently exceed 18% of the nation’s $16.8 trillion annual economic output—and are only continuing to grow. At the same time, hospitals are working harder than ever to find and implement cost savings.

One Boston-based startup has an idea to help: sharing.

Much like Uber and Airbnb democratized their industries by aligning underused supply (drivers and empty apartments, respectively) with customers (travelers of different stripes) via a simple, easy interface, Cohealo created a platform for hospitals to share equipment.

It sounds basic, but it’s something that has never existed in the medical industry before now. Prior to Cohealo, hospitals had two options when it came to equipment: They either purchased the item themselves or rented it.

Rental companies often price equipment rentals near the reimbursement total, leaving hospitals with little money to cover their own services. For example, if Medicare reimburses a hospital $2,200 for a hysterectomy procedure, the rental company could charge an equivalent amount to rent the laparoscopic surgery machine.

“They put hospitals in the red almost every time that they engage them,” said Cohealo founder Mark Slaughter.

Owning the equipment, on the other hand, can also be unprofitable. Hospitals use any given machine about 42% of the time, at most, according to a GE Healthcare study. That adds up to a lot of excess capacity, especially as surgery equipment gets more procedure-specific. It also means that it takes longer for the hospital to pay the machine off.

Slaughter used to be part of the system, selling robotic surgery machines: “It kind of creates the perfect storm of inefficiency. The hospitals buy things; they don’t use it enough; and then the manufacturers make the next version, and they can’t afford it,” he said.

Cohealo’s goal is to push medical equipment usage rates closer to 75% to 80% by pooling hospitals resources. It does this by providing a software platform to hospital systems that catalogs and organizes their equipment inventory, and then allows doctors or nurses to simply tap and order what they need when they need it from any hospital in their network.

The startup works with third party logistics across the country that are experienced in packaging, transporting and calibrating machines. They coordinate and deliver the equipment, all within the Cohealo ecosystem.

Hospital networks haven’t completely ignored the possibility of group purchasing. They’ve used their combined purchasing power in the past to buy inexpensive items, like masks and paper towels, but are now leaning on Cohealo for big-ticket items like neurosurgery navigation systems. And it’s saving money.

Hospitals using Cohealo are saving anywhere from $1 million to $2 million in the earliest stages, and that total multiplies the longer a hospital uses the system. Hospitals could find up to $5 million to $7 million in savings, based on Cohealo’s data analysis.

Visit Fortune.com for the rest of the details on how it will use a $9 million venture capital round in September to take its concept coast-to-coast in 2015.

MY FORTUNE.COM BOOKMARKS

10 weird, impractical and creepy gadgets that appeared in 2014 By Daniel Bukszpan

The mysterious banker behind the world’s best-known beer By Patricia Sellers

Panera takes another step toward ethical meat practices By Beth Kowitt

Inside a NYC museum’s radical $81 million reboot By Pat Wechsler

Are telemedicine apps all they’re cracked up to be? By Jason Cipriani

Kabam CEO Kevin Chou: This is when it’s OK to be a workaholic By Kevin Chou

Apple wins a unanimous victory in the iTunes antitrust case By Philip Elmer-DeWitt

Sean Parker gives $24 to Stanford to cure allergies By Jen Wieczner

ONE MORE THING

Famous sci-fi writer joins “augmented reality” startup. Snow Crash author Neal Stephenson—who happens to know a thing or two about virtual reality—is now “chief futurist” for the mysterious Magic Leap. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based software startup raised $542 million in October from a group of investors led by Google. Re/code

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

IBM Interconnect 2015: Cloud and mobile strategy. (Feb. 22 – 26, 2015; Las Vegas)

Gartner CIO Leadership Forum: Digital business strategy. (March 1 – 3, 2015; Phoenix)

Microsoft Convergence 2015: Dynamics solutions. (March 16 – 19, 2015; Atlanta)

Gartner Business Intelligence & Analytics Summit: Crossing the divide. (March 30 – April 1, 2015; Las Vegas)

Knowledge15: Automate enterprise IT services. (April 19 – 24, 2015; Las Vegas)

RSA Conference 2015: The world talks security. (April 20 – 24, 2015; San Francisco)

MicrosoftIgnite: Enterprise tech extravaganza. (May 4 – 8, 2015; Chicago)

NetSuite SuiteWorld: Cloud ERP strategy. (May 4 – 7, 2015; San Jose, Calif.)

SAPPHIRE NOW: The SAP universe. (May 5 – 7, 2015; Orlando, Fla.)

Gartner Digital Marketing Conference 2015: Reach your destination faster. (May 5 – 7; San Diego)