“April 18, 2005 Intelligence: Late Breaking Lab News”

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This may be one of the laboratory industry’s biggest “oops” ever! As part of a laboratory proficiency testing pro- gram, 4,000 laboratories in 18 countries were sent live samples of the H2N2 flu virus. In 1957, H2N2 is believed to have caused between one and four million deaths. Last week, the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control(CDC) went public with its concerns and an order for all laboratories to destroy the live virus. This episode demonstrates how changing healthcare standards can affect overlooked sectors of healthcare services.

MORE ON: Proficiency Test

For the College of American Pathologists, (CAP), this is proving to be a significant public relations gaffe. Meridian Bioscience, Inc., of Cincinnati, Ohio, had been shipping proficiency testing kits with the live H2N2 flu virus since last September to labs participating in the proficiency programs of CAP, Medical Lab Evaluators, the American Association of Bioanalysts (AABA), and the American Association of Family Practitioners
(AAFP).

FLORIDA DOCTORS ESTABLISH THEIR OWN MEDICARE HMO

In Miami and Dade County, Florida, 175 physicians pro- vided the venture capital funding to launch DoctorCare. It is a doctor-owned and doctor-managed private Medicare insurance company. DoctorCare opened for business in January, following a two-year effort to obtain state and federal licenses. It has a simple concept. Eliminate administrative hurdles and barriers and allow physicians to provide the care they believe is needed by their patients. DoctorCare is starting with 650 physicians and 500 patients. It expects to add about 5,000 new Medicare beneficiaries annually. DoctorCare was also recently selected by UnitedHealthcare as a provider for the insurer’s 10,000 Medicare beneficiaries in the Miami-Dade County area.

ADD TO: DoctorCare

DoctorCare is an example of how the free market can work. Its physician-owners believe they can operate an insurance plan more effectively than the health insurance industry. Joseph Caruncho is CEO of PreferredCare, the only other provider-owned Medicare insurance plan in the Miami area. He said, “I see this model taking root in the future. Doctors don’t need training wheels anymore. Doctors are fed up with HMOs. They don’t have a lot of impact other than diverting a lot of funds [to administrative costs].” DoctorCare will provide an interesting case study. Its physicians will be under the same pressure to manage utilization against a fixed premium as other insurers.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

IMPATH, Inc.’s turbulent years of 2002 and 2003 caused a number of its higher-level staff to resign and find positions in other laboratory companies. Here’s where some ended up. • Heather Creran, formerly IMPATH’s V.P. of Operations, is now at Clarient, Inc. (formerly known as ChromaVision Medical Systems, Inc.). • Marilyn Owens, formerly IMPATH’s Senior V.P of Operations, is taking a sabbatical in Southern California. • Paul Esselman, formerly IMPATH’s Senior V.P. of Sales and Marketing, is now LipoScience Inc.’s V.P. of Sales.

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