“August 9, 1999 Intelligence:  Late Breaking Lab News”

Contrast the double digit premium increases demanded by HMOs for 1999 and 2000 with the recent Medicare announcement. Medicare will add 1.1% to hospital payments for overnight stays as this year’s inflation adjustment. With annual inflation under 2%, it certainly causes one to wonder what HMOs really do with their premium dollars.

It seems to be resurrection time for ex-National Health Laboratory (NHL) executives. First, Tim Brodnick surfaced at American Medical Labs in Chantilly, Virginia. Next, Bert Koch joined Dynacare Inc. in Dallas, Texas. The latest ex-NHL exec to land a plum position may be Bob Whalen. Grapevine chatter says Whalen is slated to become the new President of Unilab Corporation in Tarzana, California later this year. Kelso & Company is purchasing Unilab and intends to take it private. Sources say Whalen would become its President and Unilab’s current CEO, David Weavil, will assume a different role at the lab.

PULSED-LIGHT CAN INACTIVATE VIRUSES IN BLOOD PRODUCTS

Maxwell Technologies, Inc. of San Diego, California announced that its pulsed-light technology inactivates viruses that can contaminate blood products and biopharmaceuticals. It works on blood plasma products, but not whole blood. The white pulsed-light process has “inactivated every virus we have tested it against without the assistance of chemicals or any other treatment,” said Tom Horgan, Maxwell’s CEO. Further testing is needed to identify whether or not there are aftereffects on relevant proteins or other molecules. The technology is at least two years away from commercialization.

Laboratory executives and pathologists should make the effort to get a copy of the upcoming August issue of CAP Today. It features a story on the current status of total laboratory automation (TLA) and includes some fascinating comments by individuals very close to the truths about TLA. It does what CAP Today does best—offer statements and observations by the entire spectrum of experts on the subject. A careful reading of the “safe” statements quoted in the article hint at a very different perspective on TLA’s effectiveness to date than publicly declared by its most ardent advocates.

ADD TO…TLA

CAP Today’s TLA story provides useful insights into the experience and capabilities of upcoming TLA technology. To add spice to the public debate, THE DARK REPORT hopes to follow up CAP Today with its own survey of TLA advocates and operators. The question is: who will talk candidly on the public record? Stay tuned, because it’s sure to be informative!

Dynacare, Inc. officially announced the creation of a strategic laboratory partnership with the University Health System, Inc. of Knoxville, Tennessee. The partnership will operate the lab at the University of Tennessee Medical Center and intends to launch an outreach sales program into East Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky.

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