Healthcare’s Ongoing Struggle: Patients or Profits?

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ALL THE MISPLACED INCENTIVES OF A HEALTHCARE SYSTEM that uses fee-for-service to reimburse providers continue. The diverse spread of lab industry business intelligence presented in this issue of THE DARK REPORT vividly demonstrates that there continues to be a “best” and a “worst” in provider motives and behaviors during the last days of fee-for-service payment.

On the “best” side, we present the experience of a quality improvement team at Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City. At the inception of a project to attack severe sepsis and septic shock in its emergency departments and ICUs, Intermountain’s sepsis mortality rate was already at the lowest end of the national average, at 20.2%. You’ll read how the team, after it engaged the expertise of phlebotomy and the clinical lab professionals, drove down the septic mortality rate to under 9%!

Similarly, our interview with Matthew Hawkins, President of Sunquest Information Systems, delivers insights about how the nation’s most progressive healthcare systems are moving forward with patient-centric clinical care. In every case, better use of lab test data is a linchpin to these efforts. He describes the opportunities clinical labs have to leverage lab test data to help clinicians deliver better patient outcomes.

On the “worst” side, you’ll read about two different bills working their way through the Florida Legislature. Our lead story on pages 3-5 provides the details of a remarkable play by one or more of the national lab companies to get the Florida Legislature to pass a bill that would retroactively change a long-standing state law on Medicare pricing—and would thus make a state whistle- blower lawsuit moot. As you will read, the state’s Attorney General showed up at a subcommittee to call attention to the brazen nature of this bill.

The second story deals with an effort by physicians in Florida to support a bill in the legislature that would restrict the use of clinical decision support and laboratory benefit management systems in certain circumstances. This bill is associated with the physician dissatisfaction with UnitedHealthcare’s requirement that they must use LabCorp’s BeaconLBS system before ordering about 80 lab tests.

Judge for yourself whether the main motive behind each of these bills in the Florida legislature is “patient” or “profit.”


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