“July 2, 2001 Intelligence: Late Breaking Lab News”

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Late last week DIANON Systems, Inc. announced it had signed a definitive agreement to acquire UroCor, Inc., based in Oklahoma City. In recent years, the two companies have competed intensely for case referrals from urologists. Valued at $180 million, the deal is expected to close by the end of 2001, subject to approval by shareholders and regulators. The pending acquisition indicates that anatomic pathology continues to be a hot segment of the diagnostic testing marketplace.


Since the mid-1990s, the two companies have pursued significantly different strategies within the urology testing marketplace. DIANON Systems posted sustained increases to revenues and profits, while UroCor’s financial performance stalled for several years. THE DARK REPORT will provide a more detailed analysis of this acquisition and its impact upon the anatomic pathology profession in an upcoming issue.


This should increase the importance of laboratories to overall hospital operations. Effective July 1, 2001, new standards by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) require hospitals to tell patients and their families whenever they have been hurt by a medical error. This new requirement is an effort to reduce the estimated 98,000 deaths attributed each year to medical errors. JCAHO believes that reporting errors to patients and family members will cause hospitals to take more effective steps to identify and eliminate situations and procedures which lead to medical errors.


JCAHO’s new disclosure requirement means that a hospital which did not comply could lose its accreditation. It requires hospitals to “actively work to prevent errors; design patient safety systems, such as systems that double-check a drug order before a prescription is filled; and encourage and act on internal reports of errors.” Because laboratory test data is involved in a high percentage of treatment decisions for hospital patients, this new requirement should give laboratories a more important role in evaluating the patient’s condition and the quality of care provided to that patient.


Maybe a long-running identity crisis is about to end. McKesson HBOC, Inc. announced that it would rename itself again. The new corporate name will be “McKesson.” Clients of THE DARK REPORT remember that iMcKesson was the name of choice in 2000 for its short-lived e-health business division. By early this year, that division had been disbanded and the name iMckesson had disappeared.


One key player formerly involved in iMcKesson’s Web-based lab systems product, Abaton.com, is in high demand since departing the company last April. Cory Fishkin was speedily engaged to consult with labs such as MDS and Centrex Clinical Labs on issues of Web- accessed lab test reporting and test ordering.


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