“March 19, 2001 Intelligence:  Late Breaking Lab News”

It’s one more market sign of the continuing turmoil still transforming the traditional healthcare marketplace. New numbers reveal another decline in the membership of the American Medical Association (AMA). During 2000, the AMA lost 3,000 physician members. Only 290,357 physicians, or 32%, of the nation’s 901,147 physicians retain AMA membership. More significantly, at least 82,000 of the AMA members are medical school students or residents paying deeply discounted fees.

ADD TO: AMA’S DECLINE

As most laboratorians know, the AMA’s struggles to refocus on the new needs of its physician members are similar to struggles occurring among the lab industry’s professional associations. CLMA, AACC, CAP, ASCP and others have experienced changes in revenues and member interests. Some of these associations are doing serious soul searching and considering radical changes to their programs and services.

MANAGED CARE LOSING CLOUT OVER PROVIDERS

Is the balance of power shifting in the managed care wars? “Yes!” says a new report by the Center for Studying Health System Change in Washington, DC. After studying 12 nationally representative communities, the Center says that consolidation of hospitals and physician groups is increasing the leverage providers have against managed care companies. But the Center also predicts dramatic changes in coming years, attributable to a replay of the medical “arms race” of the 1980s involving hospitals and specialty physicians.

EXPECT STIFF RISE IN HEALTH PREMIUMS

There’s been plenty written about impending increases in health premiums for 2002. But proof is in the pudding. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (Calpers) recently opened HMO’s bids for 2002 premiums. Prospective premium rate increases varied from 5.5% to 41%! Calpers officials characterized these bids as “so out of sight” that they were obliged to “throw them out” and request new, lower bids. Reportedly, Kaiser Permanente, a major Calpers insurer, tendered a premium bid that was 30% higher than for 2001.

HOMETOWN HOSPITALS EARN “TOP 100” HONORS

Here’s a little local boosterism. The Providence Portland Medical Center and Providence St. Vincent Medical Center earned a spot on Modern Healthcare annual “100 Top Hospitals” list. Both hospitals are located in Portland, Oregon, home to THE DARK REPORT.

ADD TO: “TOP HOSPITALS”

Lab executives would find the “100 Top Hospitals” list to be interesting reading, since well-managed hospitals tend to have well-managed laboratories. The study was done for Modern Healthcare by Solucient (formerly HCIA-Sachs), consultants in Evanston, Illinois. In aggregate, if all American hospitals operated like the Top 100, overall expenses would fall by $12 billion annually and deaths would decline by as much as 87,000.

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