CEO SUMMARY: Among the major themes to emerge from the more than 60 sessions and 100 speakers at this year’s Executive War College on Lab and Pathology Management were the accelerating pace of integrated care, the growth of precision medicine, and use of big data to guide physicians. Other issues centered on labs’ need to
Clinical Laboratory TrendsSkip to articles
Clinical laboratories, where tests are done on clinical specimens in order to get information about the health of a patient as pertaining to the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease, are facing numerous challenging trends as healthcare reform continues to evolve.
Some of these clinical laboratory trends include:
- The Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA) of 2014.
Under PAMA, many clinical lab organizations will see a substantial decline over the coming years in the prices paid to them for the highest-volume lab tests reimbursed under Medicare Part B. The law specifies that the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) can begin enacting those price cuts in 2017.
- Laboratory benefit management program
The laboratory benefit management program is a controversial program created by UnitedHealthcare in 2014. All outpatient laboratory services for members who are part of the Laboratory Benefit Management Program are subject to new requirements including advance notification and new medical policies.
Physicians serving UHC’s commercial patients in Florida must notify UHC when ordering any of 80 clinical laboratory tests. Pre-authorization is also required for certain tests.
During its introduction phase, the program has generated widespread resistance from Florida physicians, who protest that it will cause unnecessary delays for patient treatment, and undue burdens for doctors ordering tests. In addition to problems with lab test pre-notification algorithms within the BeaconLBS system, other problems cited by physicians include the exclusion of all but 13 Florida labs from the BeaconLBS “laboratory of choice network.”
- Accountable care organizations
ACOs are the product of a provision in the Affordable Care Act of 2010. They are integrated care networks of providers with the ability to provide care to, and manage patients, across the continuum of care that should include different institutional settings, such as ambulatory care, inpatient hospital care, and even post-acute care. Clinical labs have had difficulty gaining entry into newly- forming ACOs.
At the same time, a positive clinical laboratory trend is the increasing popularity of personalized medicine (PM), a medical model that proposes the customization of healthcare – with medical decisions, practices, and/or products being tailored to the individual patient. In this model, diagnostic testing is critically important, as it is often employed for selecting appropriate and optimal therapies based on the context of a patient’s genetic content or other molecular or cellular analysis.
CEO SUMMARY: There’s great news for pathologists and PhDs with expertise in molecular and genetic testing. Salaries are on the rise as more clinical labs build up their molecular and genetic testing programs and need talent to implement and supervise this activity. One experienced medical recruiter recently surveyed all the current pathology openings nationally. He
CEO SUMMARY: UnitedHealthcare will not implement the claims impact part of its laboratory benefit management program in Texas on March 1, 2017, as it had previously announced. Opposition to the program and the requirement that physicians use the BeaconLBS system when ordering about 79 lab tests is building among physicians in Texas. Officials from the
CEO SUMMARY: It is generally recognized that the clinical lab industry faces a financial squeeze of unprecedented dimensions. Lab test prices are falling steadily and more major cuts are coming to Medicare Part B fees in just 11 months. At the same time, obtaining favorable coverage and reimbursement decisions from payers is becoming tougher. This
CEO SUMMARY: In the 1960s, it was a race to be first in space between the United States and the Soviet Union. This decade, it’s a race to be first in genetic and precision medicine between the U.S. and China. To that end, the Chinese government has budgeted $9 billion as an investment to further
CEO SUMMARY: As of January 1, 2017, clinical laboratories and pathology groups in Texas will find it more difficult to serve the 500,000 patients enrolled in UnitedHealthcare’s fully-insured commercial plans in the Lone Star State. That’s because—just as it did in Florida—UnitedHealthcare, with its partners BeaconLBS and Laboratory Corporation of America, is implementing its laboratory
CEO SUMMARY: Month by month, there is increased clarity in the path the American healthcare system will follow as hospitals, health systems, and physicians integrate clinical care, manage populations, and practice personalized and precision medicine. While these changes play out, clinical labs and pathology groups will need to align their diagnostic services to meet the
CEO SUMMARY: In a pilot program started in November 2015, Sonora Quest Laboratories built patient service centers in two Safeway grocery stores. That program went so well that patients filled available appointments in a matter of weeks. Sonora Quest even reported an increase in the number of walk-in, cash-paying consumers as a result of opening
CEO SUMMARY: With a quiet announcement this month that it was bringing its laboratory benefit management program to Texas on March 1, 2017, UnitedHealthcare is taking on a big challenge. Enrollment in UHC’s commercial plans in Texas is 4.3 million. That is twice the two million commercial plan members UHC has in Florida, where it
CEO SUMMARY: For decades, hospitals were reluctant to allow any outside lab company to run their inpatient lab operations because they preferred to maintain control over quality results and turnaround times. That attitude may be changing as health systems face increasing margin compression by moving to value-based reimbursement models and taking on more risk-based contracts.