“March 28, 2005 Intelligence: Late Breaking Lab News”

For lab managers and pathologists tracking the growth of e-commerce, here’s a revealing statistic. The Federal Reserve Bank released numbers showing that 2003 was the first year where the number of electronic payment transactions exceeded the number of trans- actions paid by check. During 2003, there were 44.5 billion electronic payment transactions compared to 36.7 billion checks. “It’s all about convenience,” noted Richard Yamarone, an economist at Argus Research. “No longer do consumers want to write checks with two forms of identification. It’s too cumbersome. It’s much easier to swipe and sign.” Changing consumer expectations will mean that labs should be preparing to handle electronic payment transactions.


American Esoteric Laboratories, Inc. (AEL) announced on March 21, 2005 that it had hired Chuck Locke to be its Vice President, Development and Administration. Locke had been the Vice President of Operations for MDS Diagnostics Services.


It’s been a standing prediction of THE DARK REPORT now for several years: performance data on providers will be posted where it can be accessed by the public. Seven big medical groups in the state of Washington are in their fourth month of doing exactly that. These seven medical groups are posting data in 12 clinical performance categories and five measurement areas of their patient-satisfaction survey scores. This information is maintained and updated on the Web site of Premera Blue Cross. It includes graphs and side-by-side comparisons of all the groups together. The graphs also show statewide averages developed from aggregated data of other, unnamed providers in the state of Washington.

ADD TO: Provider Performance Data

The participants include Rockwood Clinic (Spokane), Wenatchee Valley Medical Center (Wenatchee), Everett Clinic (Everett), Virginia Mason Medical Center (Seattle),Pacific Medical Centers (Seattle), and PolyClinic (Seattle). “What a gutsy move by these clinics,” observed Dave Johnson, M.D., Medical Director at Premera. Over a three-year period, Johnson helped these medical groups develop their public “report card.” In some cases, there is significant variation in the data. For example, in child wellness visits, there is up to a 21% spread between the highest and lowest performance among the seven medical groups. Over time, THE DARK REPORT predicts that laboratories and pathology groups will be included in similar types of rankings.


• Ever wonder what happened to the lab industry’s self-defined “Rhino” and “Sherpa”? The irrepressible Doug Jaciow, who left Bay State Healthcare in Springfield, Massachusetts after several decades of service in its laboratory division, can now be found at Microtest Laboratories, Inc., based in Agawam, Massachusetts. He is a Vice President at Microtest.


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