“September 4, 2001 Intelligence:  Late Breaking Lab News”

Here’s early warning: Medicare and Medicaid funding will become high-profile issues during 2002. Numbers just released by the Congressional Budget Office indicate that Medicare spending will increase by 10% during fiscal 2001 over fiscal 2000. Increased provider payments are contributing to part of the increase. Meanwhile, the nation’s economic slowdown is slashing state tax collections, causing experts to predict that many states will be forced to squeeze Medicaid funding in the next budget cycle.

PROMPT PROVIDER PAY

Overly-long delays in payments to providers have been a major issue in recent years. In Texas, the Department of Insurance has levied fines totaling $9.6 million against six insurers. By state law, “complete and accurate claims”? must be paid within 45 days or fines of up to $1,000 per day per incident can result. Other states are becoming more assertive in supporting speedy payment of provider claims.

SIEMENS BECOMES FIRST HEALTH INFO FIRM TO GET ISO-9000

After nine months of preparation, Siemens Medical Solutions Health Services Corporation, a division of Siemens Medical Solutions of Malvern, Pennsylvania, was granted ISO-9000:2000 certification following its audit last month. This division of Siemens now has the distinction of being the first large healthcare information company in the United States to earn its ISO-9000 certification.

ADD T0: SIEMENS MEDICAL

THE DARK REPORT believes that other healthcare IT companies will work toward ISO-certification during the next few years. Most diagnostic manufacturers have been ISO-certified for years. As more healthcare IT companies gain this certification, it will benefit the clinical laboratory industry. ISO principles require vendors to pay close attention to the needs of their lab customers.

WEB-BYTES

  • Canadian consumers are using the Internet to do extensive health research. The
    Canadian Online Health Monitor released a new study which reveals that 80% of all Canadians who use the Web seek out health information. Moreover, the Internet is now the second most common way that Canadian consumers gather health information! In fact, the only source of healthcare information that ranks higher than the Internet is face-to-face interaction with health professionals.
  • Internet-surfing consumers are also the target of the recently-introduced the recently-introduced “www.labtestsonline.com.” Operated by a consortium of six lab trade groups, along with a starting initial group of six major diagnostics sponsors, the Web site provides noncommercial information about most common lab tests.
  • Remote monitoring of diagnostic instruments by vendors is gaining momentum. Beckman Coulter will use eMation, Inc.’s system to monitor the operation of its Synchron LX Chemistry analyzers. The first lab sites will become operational during the next few months.

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