“January 20, 2003 Intelligence:  Late Breaking Lab News”

December proved to be an eventful month for many companies in the lab industry. Here’s some key items of interest, many to be followed in more detail in coming issues of THE DARK REPORT:

AmeriPath, Inc. is to be sold to Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe, a private equity firm in New York. Welsh Carson will pay approximately $840 million and take AmeriPath private. However, a dissident shareholder believes the deal is structured to favor Welsh Carson and AmeriPath executives over existing shareholders. A spicy legal fight may be brewing.

Cytyc Corporation was hit with numerous shareholder suits in December. Even the infamous Milberg Wiess Bershad Hynes & Lerach piled on. Cytyc was accused of issuing “false and misleading statements to the market.” Cytyc’s share values plummeted during 2003.

Beckman Coulter, Inc. purchased SNP genotyping instruments and other assets from Orchid BioSciences, Inc. as a way to beef up its genomics-based technology and product offerings for research and clinical use.

CONSUMER USE OF PAYER WEB SITES GAINS FAVOR

During 2002, consumer use of on-line self-service options offered by health insurers increased by an average of 8% per month! In the sixth semi-annual survey conducted by Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, 23 payer Webmasters managing 97 managed care Web sites were interviewed. More payers are increasing the Web-based services they offer their beneficiaries. Cap Gemini Ernst & Young report that 30% more payers now allow members to order prescription drugs online, 10% more offer on- line explanations of benefits, 8% more allow patients to change physicians online, and 8% more allow online claims tracking.

MORE ON: Web Services

A monthly growth rate of 8% in consumer use of Web-based health insurer services is significant and will soon affect laboratories and pathology group practices. As consumers become Web-savvy and use the Internet to conduct more business with their health insurers and physicians, it is logical to expect that they will want to interact with their laboratories in the same fashion. Labs should be developing a Web strategy that responds to these changing consumer expectations.

Major laboratory consolidation and restructuring is under way in the United Kingdom. It involves almost every hospital in the nation. To help educate our British cousins about the lessons of lab consolidation learned in the United States and Canada before they embark on consolidation projects, THE DARK REPORT and its editor, Robert Michel, will be in London on February 3-4, 2003 to co-produce “Frontiers in Laboratory Medicine” (FiLM). This meeting will bring British laboratory leaders face-to-face with their North American counterparts to learn what really works— and what doesn’t—when consolidating multiple hospital laboratories. It will be the first opportunity for most British laboratorians to learn the best and worst of the Canadian and American lab consolidation experience.

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