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Harvard Researchers Demonstrate a New Method to Deliver Gene-editing Proteins into Cells: Possibly Creating a New Diagnostic Opportunity for Pathologists
This technology has potential to create a demand for pathologists to do genetic analysis as a companion diagnostic in support of physicians treating patients with gene-editing proteins
Researchers at Harvard University have demonstrated a new method to deliver gene-editing proteins into cells. This breakthrough could eventually trigger a demand for pathologists to do genetic analysis as the companion diagnostic needed to help clinicians select appropriate gene-editing therapies for their patients.
Of course, it will be several years before such a scenario is feasible. The related example are the companion diagnostic tests that clinical laboratories perform to guide a physician’s decision on an appropriate therapeutic drug. Continued development of gene-editing therapies has the potential to increase the need for pathologists and medical laboratory scientists to do genetic analysis as a companion diagnostic for patients who would benefit from a gene-editing therapy.
The Harvard University researchers used commercially available cationic lipids to deliver genome-editing proteins into cells. The system works on living animals and humans, and the technology enables scientists to precisely and easily change DNA sequences at exact locations. The full study was outlined in an October Nature Biotechnology article. continue reading
Sustained Growth in Medicare Advantage Plans Threatens Financial Health of Smaller Pathology Groups and Local Medical Laboratories
Surging enrollment in Medicare Advantage moves patients out of Medicare Part B and thus reduces the ability of regional clinical labs to have access to these Medicare beneficiaries
Smaller clinical laboratories and pathology group practices are facing an inauspicious trend. It is the fast growth of enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans that has reached record high numbers each year since 2010.
This is not a positive development because it moves Medicare Part B patients out of the fee-for-service program and shifts them into Medicare Advantage plans. These plans tend to sign contracts with the national laboratory companies, such as Quest Diagnostics Incorporated (NYSE: DGX) and Laboratory Corporation of America (NYSE: LH) because of their lower lab test prices while excluding most local medical laboratories and pathology groups from their provider networks. The net effect of this trend is that local labs lose access to those patients who were formerly in the Medicare Part B program, but are now enrolled in Medicare Advantage. continue reading
More Hospital Closed Due to Empty Beds as Providers Succeed in Reducing Hospital Admissions: Pathologists Should Respond with Outpatient/Outreach Services
With patient care shifting to outpatient clinics and home-based medical care, clinical laboratory managers should beef up outreach lab testing services
Declining patient volume is shuttering hospitals across the United States as hospitals lose patients to ambulatory care centers and home-based medical care. This trend directly impacts the pathologists and medical technologists who work in the clinical laboratories of these hospitals.
Empty Beds Indicator of Failing Hospitals
Most pathologists are unaware that, between 2008 and 2013, nearly 130 community hospitals closed. That left 4,974 hospitals operating in the United States, according to American Hospital Association (AHA) 2015 Hospital Statistics, which are based on data from the 2013 AHA Annual Survey.
It is no surprise that below-average occupancy rates are a common denominator of most failed hospital, noted the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC). The 14 hospitals that closed in 2013 had an average occupancy rate of 34%. This is lower than the 48% average occupancy rate of the hospital nearest to the closing hospital, MedPAC stated in its March 2015 report to Congress. continue reading
Physicians May Soon Say Goodbye to the Stethoscope, as Digital Devices Take Over the Job of Monitoring Patient Bodily Functions
One device that uses computer algorithms to analyze bodily sounds has undergone clinical trials and is awaiting clearance by the FDA
Is technology poised to render the iconic stethoscope passé? For centuries, doctors have used stethoscopes for listening to functions in different parts of the body. However, new devices now exist that employ electronic biosensors to “listen” in on those same sounds and analyze them with computer algorithms. The devices then deliver assessments to attending physicians.
The concept remains the same. Place a device against the body, listen for sounds, and use those sounds to identify a patient’s symptoms. Since the goal is to monitor sounds, it is not likely that “digital stethoscopes” will impinge on the clinical laboratory testing services provided by pathologists and medical laboratory scientists. continue reading
More collaboration between radiologists and pathologists could speed up diagnoses, increase accuracy, and improve patient outcomes, say advocates of an integrated diagnostic service
For years, certain pathologists and radiologists have floated the idea that an integrated diagnostic service involving both medical specialties could improve patient safety and contribute to improved patient outcomes. Now that the U.S. healthcare system is encouraging tighter integration of clinical services, advocates of an integrated diagnostic service involving radiology and pathology believe that the era of integrated diagnostics may be soon upon us.
There is appeal to the concept of an integrated diagnostic service that would deliver a single, unified report to the referring physician. For example, pathologists and radiologists often work together to work up certain types of cancer. They bring complementary skills to the diagnostic process. Often, particularly in complex cases, their collaboration improves the precision of their respective diagnoses and points the physician to the most appropriate therapies for the patient. continue reading
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