“April 5, 2004 Intelligence: Late Breaking Lab News”

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There’s a new national lab company ready to compete. This week American Esoterix Laboratories, Inc. (AEL) announced it was open and ready for business. Based in Brentwood, Tennessee, it has already completed two lab acquisitions (ThromboCare Laboratories and Viral Diagnostics, Inc., both in the Dallas, Texas area). Chairman and CEO is Brian Carr. President and CEO is Jim Billington. AEL received $70 million of equity funding from private equity firm ABS Capital Partners. Look for extensive information on AEL in April 26 issue of THE DARK REPORT.

Esoterix, Inc. has a new Chief Financial Officer. Frank J. Spina is assuming duties as Executive Vice President and CFO for the Austin, Texas-based lab services company. Spina was formerly CFO at Specialty Laboratories, Inc., where he helped Specialty prepare for its IPO (initial public offering) four years ago. Spina’s arrival might be a sign that Esoterix is taking active steps to prepare itself for an IPO within a year or two.


Within 24 months, large employers may be able to purchase healthcare from physicians using “Care Focused Purchasing.” Development work is already under way to create “scorecards” that would allow employees to select physicians based on cost-effectiveness and quality measures. At least 28 large employers, with two million employees among them, are driving this effort. The companies include BellSouth Corp., J.C. Penny Co., Morgan Stanley, Sprint Corp., Lowe’s Cos., and others.

ADD TO: Scorecards

With the help of Mercer Human Resource Consulting, the companies want to use claims and pharmacy data provided by their insurers to create a rating system which is “quantitative and unassailable.” The format would resemble the type of ratings (stars or points) used in consumer publications like the Zagat Guide. “We have an obligation to give our employees more information. We can’t just say, ‘You are responsible for your health care, now go at it,” stated Sharon Leight, Benefits Manager at J.C. Penny. Employers want the doctor “scorecard” to eventually spur higher quality, reduce inconsistencies in care, and help clinicians provide recommended care in a more consistent fashion. Since pathologists don’t see patients directly, it will be interesting to see what types of quality measures are eventually developed for clinical pathology and anatomic pathology.

Pathologists fighting to retain compensation for Part A professional services will want to read the March 2004 issue of CAP Today. Attorney Jack R. Beirig of Chicago-based Sidley Austin Brown & Wood has authored a story called “Spirit of the Law: The Little-Known History of Part A Payments—and Why They Belong to You!” In one of the finest analyses done on this subject, Beirig provides a step-by-step history of Part A payments. He includes references from Medicare going back as far as 1980. Kudos to CAP Today for helping document the legal foundations for Part A pathology compensation.


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