“September 16, 2002 Intelligence: Late Breaking Lab News”

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It’s another sign of change that benefits clinical laboratories. The journal Quality and Safety in Health Care published a study recently which determined that 86% of mistakes in family care offices are administrative or process errors. Most involved misfiling patient information, ordering the wrong tests, or prescribing the wrong medication. Many of these errors would be eliminated by use of an effective electronic clinical information system. The study is one of the first to specifically study the sources of errors which occur outside a hospital. Laboratories would obviously benefit if more physicians ordered tests and received the results electronically.

HMOS’ PROFITS CLIMB

Higher health premiums are boosting profits at insurers. News that health insurance prices climbed 12% in 2001 received wide play as the largest jump in 11 years. Now comes news that the S&P managed care index climbed 42% during the first half of 2002, showing that HMOs are much more profitable.

USE OF “PREDICTIVE MODELING” GROWS AMONG PAYERS

Health insurers like Aetna, United Health Group, Cigna and Blue Cross/Blue Shield are expanding use of “predictive modeling” software programs to identify beneficiaries who are likely to have health problems. The technology is widely used by weathermen and financial analysts. Health insurers plug in data on age, prescription drug use, claims data, and laboratory test results, among other factors, and the software program identifies individuals likely to have a health problem.

ADD TO: “Predictive Modeling

Laboratory test data plays a key role in predicting which individuals are likely to encounter health problems. Depending on the level of data available, companies claim these programs can accurately identify patients who will become ill 40% to 90% of the time. Although the companies say they only use predictive modeling to identify individuals who can benefit from preventive care, consumer advocates are concerned. They are worried about privacy violations in the use of the data and whether insurers might have a financial incentive to use the data to cull patients because they may generate higher medical costs in the future.

LABORATORIAN GETS TV CAMEO…

Recently the Home And Garden (HGTV) cable television channel featured a barn renovation done by Richard Novak and his wife Laura. Novak is Executive Vice President and COO of Laboratory Corporation of America . The Novaks moved an 1850s-era barn from New Jersey to North Carolina and renovated it into their residence. An 18-century West Virginia log cabin has also been moved onto the property.

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