FOR THOSE OF YOU INTERESTED IN HOW the development of accountable care organizations (ACOs) in a community causes a realignment among providers and the clinical laboratories serving them, I offer you the example of Genesis Health System in Davenport, Iowa.
As you will read in this article, this five-hospital health system has just acquired the clinical laboratory assets that were owned by Metropolitan Medical Laboratory, Inc., and were operated inside two of the Genesis hospitals. The owner of Metro Lab was a local pathology group that, not surprisingly, has service contracts and client relationships with many different providers in the Davenport metro.
What motivated the administrators at Genesis Health to change its longstanding contract relationship with Metro Lab was its need to more comprehensively integrate its clinical services and its operations. This is necessary to meet the needs of the multiple ACOs for which Genesis Health is a participant.
Among the reasons for the lab acquisition discussed by the laboratory administrator in our exclusive interview was the need for Genesis to achieve a more effective integration between its hospital information system (HIS) and the laboratory information system (LIS). Support for CPOE was one such requirement for the HIS/LIS integration at Genesis Health.
Another element motivating this acquisition was the fact that Metro Lab, like any good community laboratory company, was serving a wide range of providers within the community. However, this was sometimes putting it at cross-purposes with the interests of Genesis Health System.
Collectively, these are two reasons why Genesis wanted to own and operate the clinical laboratories in its two biggest hospitals. In my view, this lab acquisition represents an early marketplace example of how health systems will be paying closer attention to the role of laboratory testing in the operation of ACOs and how the ACOs deliver clinical services.
There are several hundred ACOs now launching clinical services. Administrators of these ACOs will be looking at lab testing services with the goal of improving patient outcomes and reducing the cost of care. Hospitals and the pathologists serving them are sure to be relating to each other differently because of the need for these ACOs to integrate clinical services.