What Are Lab Industry’s True Major Issues?

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WE’VE JUST FINISHED A FASCINATING WEEK IN NEW ORLEANS, at the 23rd annual Executive War College. More than 820 lab leaders were present to hear 104 interesting speakers in 65 unique sessions. Collectively, this group represented as much as $20 billion in annual clinical lab and pathology revenue.

These statistics are important for a strategic planning reason. Our Executive War College brings together a substantial critical mass of lab leaders annually to discuss and debate the state of laboratory medicine. This is an opportunity for pathologists, lab administrators, and lab executives to get the latest business intelligence about what is working and what is not from the nation’s most innovative lab organizations.

There is much positive news for our industry, along with recognition of what investors call “headwinds”—factors that make it more difficult to grow, increase market share, and build revenue. The most significant headwinds are familiar. Payers, including Medicare, are cutting lab test fees. Networks continue to narrow and hospital labs and local labs find it difficult to negotiate managed care contracts. It remains tough for new molecular and genetic tests to win favorable coverage and reimbursement decisions.

But many speakers at this year’s Executive War College were excited about the opportunities available to those clinical labs and pathology groups willing to be innovative and that are prepared to invest the needed resources to provide hospitals, physicians, payers, and patients with specific lab testing services that deliver recognized value. The benefits can include early detection of disease, helping with decisions as to how to treat patients, or even working with select payers on population management initiatives that use lab test data—combined with other clinical data—to identify patients who would benefit from programs to help them manage their chronic diseases. Some of these primary themes are presented on the story which follows on pages 3-6. Other important developments and insights will be shared in coming issues of THE DARK REPORT and our special webinars.

The most important message that came out of last week’s conference, however, is that a substantial number of those leading many of the nation’s best-known laboratory organizations are optimistic about the future of lab medicine, but only if the lab industry acts collectively to create and demonstrate new ways to add value to patient care and patient satisfaction.


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