January 10, 2022 Intelligence: Late-Breaking Lab News

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Imagine a medical lab temporarily closing because of the demand for too many tests! That’s just what happened at one of Australia’s largest medical lab companies. Australian Clinical Labs had to temporarily discontinue offering COVID-19 testing because test volumes had gotten too large. Australian Clinical Labs operates dozens of drive-through and walk-in testing sites in Sydney, but the company announced on Jan. 3 that many of those locations would temporarily close because of overwhelming demand, reported the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC). The Health Services Union, which represents hospital workers, told ABC that healthcare providers are feeling the strain from “under investment” in COVID- 19-related resources. 

MORE ON: COVID-19 Testing Volumes 

Meanwhile in U.S., Quest Diagnostics in Secaucus, N.J., reported two-to-three-day turnaround times for PCR COVID-19 tests, which the company categorized as abnormally long. To combat the delays, Quest planned to use its ground couriers and aircraft to balance test volume across its two dozen COVID-19 testing labs while also reactivating a partner program to send excess SARS-CoV-2 test volumes to other commercial and academic laboratories. 

RAPID GROWTH IN GENETIC TESTING 

Recently the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released a report on Medicare Part B clinical laboratory testing. For the years 2016-2019, the OIG reported that genetic test claims paid by Medicare jumped from from 627,000 to 2.1 million (up 235%). During that same time, payments for laboratory genetic tests quadrupled from $351 million to $1.41 billion. Investors are responding to this opportunity, because the OIG noted that the number of lab organizations that were paid more than $1 million per year by Medicare grew from 26 in 2016 to 72 in 2019. 

TRANSITIONS 

  • Your Health Lab of Victoria, Texas, named Gary Huff as the new CEO. Huff previously was CEO at Labcorp Diagnostics, and worked at Baylor Genetics, Solstas Lab Partners, and Affinity Solutions International. 
  • Charles Root, PhD, Founder and Senior Consultant of CodeMap, based in Chicago, died on Sept. 15, 2022. He was 79. Root’s PhD was in nuclear physics. He was a serial entrepreneur and co-founded CodeMap with his son, Gregory Root, in 1998. CodeMap was respected for its expertise in coding and reimbursement issues concerning clinical laboratory services, particularly molecular and genetic tests. 

That’s all the insider intelligence for this report.  Look for the next briefing on Monday, January 31, 2022. 

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