"Lab Briefs"

MedTox, Cleveland Clinic Labs, Apollo PACS, Dell, British Columbia Health

GENOME SEQUENCING TO BE OFFERED BY NORWAY IN NATIONAL HEALTH PLAN

HERE’S A MILESTONE ON THE PATH TO PERSONALIZED MEDICINE. Norway is the first nation to announce that its national health system will incorporate whole genome sequencing.

Cancer is the target of Norway’s first genome sequencing program. What sets the Norwegian program apart from gene testing activities in other countries is that Norway is building a new laboratory specifically designed to utilize next generation genome sequencing technologies.

The Norwegian Cancer Genetics Consortium announced that, as part of a three-year pilot, it will sequence the genomes of tumors from 1,000 patients. The study will also take 3,000 tumor biopsies that exist from other cases and seek to identify mutations associated with specific types of cancer.

The goal of the genome sequencing project is to identify which treatments may be most effective for cancer patients, using an analysis of the mutations in their tumors. Norway has a population of 4.8 million people. About 25,000 Norwegians are diagnosed with cancer each year.

Health officials in Norway say the budget for this effort will be about U.S.$6.3 million. This includes the cost of the new genome sequencing laboratory facility, along with the associated clinical and computing infrastructure.

MEDTOX SCIENTIFIC POSTS ANOTHER YEAR OF STRONG GROWTH

IT’S A LAB COMPANY ON A ROLL. In St. Paul, Minnesota, MedTox Scientific, Inc., reported its fourth quarter and full year 2011 financial results. Growth hit double digits in revenue and operating income.

For the full year 2011, MedTox said revenue was $108.1 million, compared to $97.1 million in 2010. This is a growth rate of 11.4%.

MedTox has four core business lines. For the full year, its drugs-of-abuse business grew 4.3%, to $41.3 million. Its diagnostic division makes and sells test kits. In 2011, this business line grew 11.1% and achieved revenue of $22.3 million. The clinical trial business posted revenue of $9.6 million, representing a growth rate of 28.9%.

The interesting evolution at MedTox is happening with its clinical laboratory testing business division. In 2011, MedTox posted revenue of $34.9 million, compared to 2010 clinical lab revenue of $29.9 million. This growth rate of 16.5% shows that MedTox is capturing market share from the office-based physicians in its service area.

Known primarily as a company with expertise in therapeutic drug testing and drugs-of-abuse testing, MedTox launched its clinical laboratory division just a few years ago to diversify its revenue sources and better utilize its laboratory testing facilities. Since that time, the clinical laboratory testing business has grown to where it currently represents almost one- third of the company’s annual revenue.

CLEVELAND CLINIC OPENS NEW LAB FACILITY, PLANS TO GO NATIONAL

OVER IN CLEVELAND, OHIO, the Cleveland Clinic is ready to throw its hat in the ring as a reference and esoteric testing laboratory that has a national presence. In recent months, it officially opened its new, $75 million facility that is designed to help it achieve this and other strategic goals.

The state-of-the-art laboratory building is 135,000 square feet. It will support the Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Institute and Cleveland Clinic Laboratories. Cleveland Clinic says that this division employs 1,300 people and performs about 12 million tests annually.

In recent years, administrators at the Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Institute have laid out a vision that includes an expanded presence as a national source of reference and esoteric testing. Although this is already a very competitive marketplace, the Cleveland Clinic brand is highly respected. That gives its growing sales force a strong card to play when soliciting laboratory test referrals from prospective clients.

APOLLO PACS, DELL INK AGREEMENT TO ADD APOLLO’S IMAGE SOLUTION

IT’S ANOTHER FORWARD STEP TOWARD FULL INTEGRATION of the patient health record. Earlier this month, Dell, Inc., and Apollo PACS, Inc., announced an agreement that forms a strategic alliance between the two companies.

Apollo, of Falls Church, Virginia, will provide its “complete solution to manage, retrieve, and share clinical multimedia images, and data” to Dell for use in Dell’s Unified Clinical Archive (UCA). UCA is designed to be “a data management and archiving solution that makes every diagnostic image for a patient available from one device at the point of patient care.”

Dell is working to solve the “Tower of Babel” that surrounds the multitude of healthcare information products that each handle different pieces of a patient’s clinical record. James Coffin, Ph.D., Vice President and General Manager of Dell Healthcare and Life Sciences, emphasized that goal when he described the addition of Apollo’s Enterprise Patient Media Manager (EPMM) to Dell’s UCA as “an important step toward providing a truly patient-centric view for every medical specialist and provider across the healthcare enterprise.

“The management of both clinical and diagnostic images and related data across multiple specialties is vitally important in the healthcare arena today,” added Coffin.

For pathologists who recognize Apollo PACS as one of the pioneers in solutions to handle and archive digital pathology images, this new strategic collaboration with Dell shows the rapid progress being made toward a unified patient electronic health record (EHR). Providers and payers are demanding integrated solutions for archiving and accessing clinical information. At the same time, advances in information technology are making it easier for companies like Apollo to develop systems that can handle images across the full range of medical specialties—not just anatomic pathology and radiology.

LAB CONSULTANTS: BRITISH COLUMBIA NEEDS YOUR EXPERTISE!

HERE IS AN OPPORTUNITY for talented laboratory management and operations consultants. In Canada, the Province of British Columbia (BC) has issued a request for proposal (RFP).

In response to a 27% increase in the cost of laboratory testing over the past five years (representing C$130 million), provincial health officials are looking for a management consulting firm. In a 10-week contract, it wants the winning bidder to “compare lab services in Canada and other jurisdictions to identify strengths and best practices.”

Meetings will be conducted with stake- holders, including health authorities in the province, the BC Medical Association, the BC Association of Laboratory Physicians, unions, and private laboratory companies operating in the province.

Cost reduction is a major goal. The final report is to include options that will allow the health authority to strengthen the province’s laboratory system, along with recommendations on cutting costs, improving access, and increasing efficiency. The RFP documents can be accessed at www.bcbid.gov.bc.ca.

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