CEO SUMMARY: Since Dec. 3, four unexpected megamergers became national news. Pharmacy chain CVS Health acquired Aetna. Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care will merge. UnitedHealth Group purchased the 2,000 physicians of DaVita Medical Group. Dignity Health and Catholic Health Initiates decided to create a super-hospital system with 139 hospitals in 28 states. Clinical
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.
1. CMS Sticks by Decision to Deeply Cut Medicare Part B Lab Test Fees
SHORT OF A MIRACLE, the clinical laboratory industry is less than three weeks from the single most financially-disruptive event of the past 30 years. On Jan. 1, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will impose deep cuts to Part B
CEO SUMMARY: In hindsight, 2017 is likely to be remembered as a milestone year that launched several disruptive developments that will reshape the lab industry moving forward. For the clinical laboratory sector this year, CMS confirmed its intent to slash Part B clinical laboratory test prices aggressively, effective Jan. 1. For the anatomic pathology sector
CEO SUMMARY: With each passing year, the primary role of hospital and health system labs evolves in a different direction than that of independent lab companies. This trend is a response to the creation of integrated delivery networks paid on value and how they are scored on their ability to keep patients out of hospitals
CEO SUMMARY: In the past year, both national laboratory companies have increased the number of patient service centers they operate in retail pharmacies and grocery stores. But these PSCs are not serving direct access testing (DAT) customers. Rather, early evidence indicates that patients are finding it more convenient to go to their nearby grocery stores
CEO SUMMARY: News that Quest Diagnostics had exited the long-running CompuNet Clinical Laboratory joint venture in Dayton, Ohio, caught many observers by surprise. The only clues as to possible problems and the motivation of Premier Health, the 51% owner, to buy out Quest’s ownership share are contained in an announcement the health system issued. The
INNOVATIVE CLINICAL LABS are making significant changes to accommodate the shift from volume to values. In one change, they are collaborating with clinicians to use lab test data to improve patient outcomes.
In another, they are collecting the clinical data from these efforts to publish the outcomes in peer-reviewed medical journals to spread the word about
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
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