“April 17, 2000 Intelligence: Late Breaking Lab News”

Here’s an update on the number of integrated healthcare networks in the United States. SMG Marketing Group, Inc. of Chicago reports that IHNs seem here to stay. Between January 1999 and January 2000, the number of IHNs decreased from 604 to 595. That number is misleading, however. SMG says that “evidence of the staying power of IHNs is the fact that, although 27 IHNs closed or merged since January 1999, 18 networks opened during that same period.” It also notes that mergers may have reduced the number of IHNs, but the hospitals involved still remain in an IHN.


Since January 1999, the total number of hospitals participating in IHNs dropped by only 38, from 3,096 to 3,058. SMG claims at least 50% of these were related to the developments at Allegheny Health Education and Research Foundation and Columbia/HCA Health-care Corporation.


Expect the race to bring clinical laboratories into the Internet age to be similar to the nuclear arms race between the former Soviet Union and the United States. Vendors of all sizes and stripes are furiously competing to sign up their first laboratory customers. At the Weill Cornell Medical Center of New York-Presbyterian Hospital, an RFP for Web-based lab ordering/results reporting for the lab’s physician outreach clients was won by Abaton.com. Apparently it was a hard-fought competition between Abaton.com, Advanced Health Technologies, Healtheon/ WebMD, and Medical Logic.


All four companies considered the Weill Cornell account to be a prize. Harlan Bass, Administrative Director of Laboratories at the hospital, was eagerly pursued by the prospective vendors. Apparently one goal of the lab outreach program was to implement this new Web-based feature as soon as possible, since, in the competitive Manhattan marketplace, physician office clients have high expectations for laboratory services.


Healtheon/WebMD finally woke the sleeping giant. THE DARK REPORT has predicted that the nation’s health insurers would not cede claims processing and administration to Healtheon/ WebMD without a fight. On March 30, Aetna, Cigna, WellPoint, Oxford, Foundation Health, and PacifiCare announced that they would enter the healthcare E-commerce arena. Together, they are forming a company to be called MedUnite. This new company will offer electronic claims processing. Med Unite can potentially serve 30 million customers. This is about 15% of the 200 million Americans with health coverage.


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