“July 15, 2002 Intelligence: Late Breaking Lab News”

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In many states, pathologists were hit by substantial increases in the cost of malpractice. In some states, like Pennsylvania, the market for medical malpractice insurance has deteriorated substantially. In the case of AmeriPath, Inc., the nation’s largest operator of hospital-based pathology groups, the increase in malpractice claims caused the company to budget an additional $6-$8 million for malpractice premium costs during the last six months of 2002.


At this year’s CLMA exhibit hall in New Orleans, several major diagnostics vendors did not have booths, but supported the CLMA Annual Meeting in other ways. It was a visible sign that the nation’s largest diagnostics manufacturers are dissatisfied with the current status quo, which has CLMA and AACC producing annual meetings and exhibit halls within weeks of each other. Negotiations between all parties are ongoing.


Look for growing numbers of large health insurers to implement Web-based services for their beneficiaries in the next 18 months. Two examples show the speed of this transformation. Last month CIGNA Corporation launched a Web portal called myCIGNA.com. This portal allows CIGNA customers to see personalized information about both their health care and retirement accounts. This service is available to 16 million health and retirement plan participants. Meanwhile, Humana Inc. is preparing to roll out health insurance products that give employers and beneficiaries Web access to a variety of services and functions. Called “Emphesys”? the system was implemented on trial basis in Memphis last October. It allowed the first six employers to reduce their health premium costs from a projected increase of 18% to an actual reduction of 12%. Web-based services triggered a 30% reduction in the year-to-year premium costs!


  • Two decades of lab executives involved in managing Moraine, Ohio-based Compunet Clinical Laboratories (CCL), came out of the woodwork following publication of TDR’s assessment that joint ventures between commercial labs and hospital labs are on the decline. (See TDR, June 3, 2002). CCL is a three-way JV originally involving Miami Valley Hospital, Valley Pathologists, and International Clinical Laboratories (ICL). For the record, it was founded on January 1, 1986. During the life of the JV, it has had four General Managers: Louis Schnierer, Ph.D. (1986-1991), Bill Pesci (1992-1995), John Charles (1996-1998) and Edward Doucette (1998 to present). The JV survived two commercial partner acquisitions, when SmithKline Beecham Clinical Laboratories (SBCL) purchased ICL in 1988 and when SBCL sold to Quest Diagnostics Incorporated in 1999.


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