Wisconsin Provides Peek at Pathology’s Future

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BIGGER PATHOLOGY GROUPS AND METROWIDE OR STATEWIDE COVERAGE will be major characteristics in the anatomic pathology profession as healthcare continues to transform in new ways. That is why the reasons for the substantial growth in case volume and revenue at North Shore Pathologists (NSP) in Milwaukee should be studied by pathology groups everywhere.

It was a practice with six pathologists as of 2017. Today, it has 21 pathologists and its case volume has quadrupled over the past 16 months. This success came because the pathologists at NSP were forward-looking and had strategies in place to help them win a statewide pathology services contract for Ascension Wisconsin, which operates 27 hospitals and 110 clinics throughout the state.

There are key insights to be gleaned from the successes of North Shore Pathologists.

First, this is an example of how, as health networks grow and expand their regional coverage, they need anatomic and clinical pathology services that are integrated and offer standardized clinical services with the required pathology subspecialty expertise.

Second, this trend toward regionalization means that small pathology groups are at a disadvantage. They are at increased risk of losing their independence, whether through acquisition, merger, or a decision to close the practice because of deteriorating finances and/or partners who are retiring.

Third, as regional consolidation happens, the same volume of pathology cases continues and there is need for the same number of pathologists to handle this work. But regional consolidation means that only forward-looking pathology groups will end up handling those cases on behalf of the regional health network.

The Wisconsin statewide pathology contract represents an excellent case study for any pathologist or pathology practice administrator who wants to understand today’s healthcare marketplace and how they can keep their group positioned at the cutting edge of clinical excellence in a financially-sustainable manner. Effective strategy is always informed by a perceptive analysis of current market developments and ongoing trends. That’s why the upcoming Executive War College on April 30-May 1 has sessions on what’s changing in the pathology market and how pathologists are being paid.


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