"Lab Industry Briefs"

Pathologist Income Symposium, Healtheon, Biogenetics, Healthworks Alliance

PATHOLOGIST INCOME SYMPOSIUM DATES ARE NOVEMBER 12-13, 1999

SCOTTSDALE IS AGAIN SLATED TO HOST the upcoming private Pathologist Income Symposium, scheduled for November 12-13, 1999.

This year’s symposium tackles the toughest of all topics: increasing the compensation paid by hospitals for pathology Medicare Part A technical services. Compelling case study presenters will offer effective techniques for protecting and enhancing Part A compensation.

“We believe that this year’s Pathologist Income Symposium will be the first meeting to report positive developments in the effort by pathologists to establish fair Part A compensation arrangements with hospitals,” stated Robert Michel, Editor-In-Chief of THE DARK REPORT and producer of the symposium. “Several pathology practices will share their successes and demonstrate how specific negotiating strategies were used to develop win-win Part A agreements with their hospitals.”

The symposium will include the full range of business, financial, and marketing topics needed by pathologists to preserve and increase group revenues and income. Of particular interest will be the analysis of three recently constructed off-site pathology labs, in Connecticut, Tennessee, and Alabama. All three laboratories are generating black ink and helping their affiliated pathologists to increase specimen volume and the revenues associated with those specimens.

“Faculty for this year’s symposium represent some of pathology’s most effective organizations,” noted Michel. “These are growing, dynamic groups who are willing to share the details and secrets about their successes and their defeats. This is timely information, based on practical experience.”

To obtain details about the private Pathologist Income Symposium in advance of the regular mailing, call 800-560-6363.

HEALTHEON SELECTED BY LABCORP TO PROVIDE LAB ORDERING/REPORTING

HERE’S A SIGNIFICANT LAB INDUSTRY story which is still unfolding. Laboratory Corporation of America announced the selection of Healtheon Corporation to provide a web-browser solution for lab test ordering and results reporting.

With this contract, Healtheon is now provider to two of the three national laboratory systems. As reported earlier in THE DARK REPORT, Healtheon was selected by SmithKline Beecham Clinical Laboratories (SBCL) to similarly move its test ordering/test reporting functions away from line printers and onto a web-based system.

By contracting to serve the LabCorp and SBCL systems, Healtheon has effectively positioned itself as a provider of choice for laboratories seeking to upgrade their information links to physician offices.

THE DARK REPORT believes that the laboratory industry is about to undergo a rapid transition onto web-based lab test ordering and lab results reporting. This information service upgrade will occur more rapidly than the movement, in the first half of the 1990s, to convert physician offices away from paper requisitions and onto computer-generated requisitions.

Healtheon is moving rapidly to become the preferred pipeline for healthcare transactions. Its impending acquisition of WebMD makes it a dominant player in the emerging field of web-based healthcare informatics.

BIOGENETICS SHOWS THAT PHARMACOGENOMICS IS CAPABLE OF SPURRING REVOLUTIONARY CHANGE

PHARMACOGENOMICS WILL PROBABLY SPUR more change to clinical laboratories than any other area of science.

Not only will these changes be revolutionary, but they will trigger a new class of winners and losers among laboratories and pathology practices. For that reason, laboratory executives and pathologists will find the impact of biogenetics to be an excellent precursor to how pharmacogenomics can change things.

Monsanto was first to trigger widespread changes in agriculture. The company figured out a way to genetically engineer seed to be resistant to its popular herbicide, Roundup. This meant that Roundup would kill all the weeds and plants, except the farmer’s transgenic crop.

Introduced in 1996, farmers are now buying enough modified seed to plant 35 million acres of soybeans, about half of American production. Since that date, while sales of Roundup soar, sales of herbicides at Cynamid, a Monsanto competitor, have dropped by 50% since 1996. Prices for its flagship product, Pursuit, have declined by 32% in just the last 12 months.

A similar thing is happening among pesticide manufacturers. Biogenetics companies have developed transgenic seeds which are resistant to certain insect pests, thus reducing or eliminating the need for farmers to apply pesticides. For example, there is now a cotton seed with the Bt gene, which instructs the cotton plant to make a protein poisonous to the tobacco budworm.

Conclusion? Biogenetic science is disrupting long-established business relationships between farmers and billion-dollar suppliers. The benefits of the scientifically-altered agriproducts are too compelling for farmers to ignore. Thus, market leaders find themselves pushed out of their markets in the space of only three or four years.

The message for the clinical laboratory industry should be clear. Pharmacogenomics promises to revolutionize diagnostics and therapeutics in the same radical way that biogenetics is now transforming certain aspects of agriculture.

When these changes happen, there will be little time for lab executives to wait and see what happens. By the time they know the answer, a competitor will have captured their business!

HEALTHWORKS ALLIANCE CHUGS ALONG WITH ITS COMPLIANCE PRODUCTS

ALTHOUGH Healthworks Alliance, Inc. never scored the home run it sought with its lab clearinghouse product, it’s still active in the marketplace. (See TDR, August 25, 1997.)

It’s laboratory compliance program, called Compliance Checker™, has become a bread and butter product for this application software company.

Healthworks Alliance recently announced two contracts involving this software product. Shared Medical Systems, Inc. (SMS) will offer the Compliance Checker as part of its software suite of LIS options. The North Carolina Hospital Association (NCHA ) also signed an agreement to make Compliance Checker available to its member hospitals.

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