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DARK Daily Laboratory and Pathology News

DARK Daily is an e-briefing service providing up-to-the minute news of relevance for anyone working in diagnostic medicine, from clinical laboratories and pathology groups to lab industry suppliers and diagnostic technology companies. DARK Daily is part of The Dark Intelligence Group, Inc. and is dedicated to bringing useful business and management intelligence to laboratory managers, pathologists and diagnostic executives. Our recognized expertise in the strategic direction of laboratory medicine and the management of laboratories is available through DARK Daily, The Dark Report, free White Papers, Lab Resource Directory, the Executive War College on Laboratory and Pathology Management, Lab Quality Confab, and strategic consulting services.

Latest E-Briefings

Using the Reference Pricing Strategy, Safeway and its Employees Reduce Spending on Clinical Laboratory Tests by 32% in Only 24 Months by Selecting Lab with Lowest Prices

Researchers at the University of California Berkeley tracked how the incentives of Safeway’s reference pricing program caused patients to reduce their use of medical labs with the highest prices

It took just 24 months for Safeway and its employees to pay 32% less for clinical laboratory tests using a new health benefits strategy called “reference pricing.” This strategy targets the large variation in prices that different medical laboratories charge for the same tests and incentivizes employees in a consumer-friendly way to select medical laboratories with lower prices over labs with higher prices.

Dark Daily’s sister publication, The Dark Report recognized how Safeway’s use of reference pricing to reduce the overall cost of what it and its employees pay for clinical laboratory tests by about a third in just 24 months could turn out to be a sentinel event of a wider trend. This trend would put those medical labs with the highest lab test prices under significant financial pressure if other employers and health insurers were to incorporate a reference pricing arrangement in their health benefit plans.

This is why, on September 6, 2016, The Dark Report devoted an entire issue to the topic of reference pricing and its potential to trigger powerful downward pressure on the highest lab test prices charged by some labs. This is essential reading for senior lab administrators, executives, CFOs, and their financial advisors. continue reading

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine Develop Cutting-Edge Test to Identify Whether an Infection is Bacterial or Viral

Early results are promising and this technology could lead to a clinical laboratory test that would give microbiologists and pathologists a new tool for helping diagnose infections

Infectious disease physicians and clinical laboratory scientists will be interested to learn that researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine recently developed a new blood test that can identify whether the source of an infection is bacterial or viral.

These findings were published in Science Translational Medicine in July. The paper was authored by Stanford staff members Timothy Sweeney, MD, PhD, and Purvesh Khatri, PhD, Assistant Professor (Research) of Medicine (Biomedical Informatics Research-ITI Institute) and of Biomedical Data Science. Hector Wong, MD, of the University of Cincinnati was the third co-author of the study.

These findings are timely because, starting on January 1, 2017, hospitals and health systems will need to implement more rigorous antimicrobial stewardship programs to comply with new requirements of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and The Joint Commission (TJC). A clinical laboratory test that makes it easier to determine whether the cause of an infection is bacterial or viral would be a welcome tool for physicians, pharmacists, pathologists, and microbiologists involved in a hospital’s infection control program. continue reading

Lean-Six Sigma Medical Laboratories Begin to Innovate in Ways That Add Value to Physicians, Payers, and Patients

With record attendance of 300 Lean-Six Sigma experts, this week’s conference was a high-energy event that provided medical lab professionals and pathologists with case studies of how to improve lab operations and contribute to better patient care

DATELINE: NEW ORLEANS—Yesterday was the conclusion of the 10th Annual Lab Quality Confab, which showcased innovators in clinical laboratories and anatomic pathology groups. Attendees traveled here from six different countries.

One new trend that emerged from this year’s presentations is that progressive medical labs are beginning to direct their Lean-Six Sigma, and process improvement efforts toward projects designed to add value to client physicians and hospitals. These projects include added-value features of benefit to patients and health insurers.

How Clinical Laboratories Are Succeeding with Lean Projects

This is a shift from prior years. At earlier Lab Quality Confabs, most speakers were describing how their labs were using Lean and quality management methods to improve workflow within their labs, increase the productivity of automation and staff, reduce errors, and cut costs. This was an “inside-the-lab” mindset.

That was not the case here in New Orleans this week. Yes, there were plenty of sessions where workflow redesign, productivity improvement, and cost reduction were discussed. But, at the same time, a significant number of labs doing presentations were describing projects that took the lab team outside of their laboratory to engage with physicians and nurses specifically to help them use clinical laboratory test data in ways that would improve patient care, reduce length-of-stay for hospital patients, and trigger worthwhile reductions of the cost of care. This is an “outside-the-lab” mindset. continue reading

New 3D Sutures Enable Collection of Biodata In Vivo Using Thread-Based Diagnostic Devices

Engineers have designed a microfluidics and nano-scale diagnostic toolkit suitable for attaching directly to muscle and tissue to monitor biomarkers and stream results wirelessly to care providers and medical laboratories

What would change in medicine if physicians had sutures that could collect and report biomarker data, including the kinds of biomarkers that are used in clinical laboratory tests? Such a product may be feasible, based on newly-published research.

“Smart sutures” are a joint project between Tufts University, Harvard University, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) engineers. They announced a thread-based diagnostic device (TDD) system capable of detecting biomarkers and analytes using 3D sutures composed of cotton and synthetic threads.

Processing the cotton and synthetic threads in various ways enhances their natural properties. The toolkit of different sutures developed by the team has exhibited a range of uses—including measuring physical stress at an incision, monitoring pH of tissues and fluids, and measuring glucose. continue reading

Mayo Medical Laboratory’s Mary Bonnerup Combines Heartland Values with Mayo Founders’ Legacy of Putting the Patient First to Win the National Lab Sales Excellence Award for Specialty Testing

Providing physicians with the clinical context and knowledge for the best use of specialty clinical laboratory tests helps this highly successful lab sales professional establish win-win client relationships

In support of the many local clinical laboratories and hospital lab outreach programs across the United States that continue to regularly add new clients and take market share away from their national lab company competitors, The Dark Report organized the 2016 National Lab Sales Excellence Award.

The award winners were announced at this year’s Executive War College in New Orleans on April 26–27. Reporting on the lab industry’s top sales producers serves two worthy goals. First, it brings recognition to the accomplishments of these lab sales professionals. Second, it helps medical laboratory administrators and pathologists at other labs and hospital outreach programs learn more about what it takes to use lab sales reps to win new clients.

What follows is a profile of the 2nd winner of the 2016 National Lab Sales Excellence Award. Dark Daily will publish profiles for each of the five laboratory sales professionals who were recognized with this unique national sales award. continue reading

Daily E-Briefings

DARK Daily

DARK Daily is a free e-briefing service that provides one short, easy-to-read news item every weekday, highlighting noteworthy developments in the clinical laboratory industry. First alerts to important news events, incisive assessment of best-practice breakthroughs, and strategic insights on important trends make these e-briefings timely and invaluable. Sign up for the DARK Daily today and receive the special report Trends In Clinical Pathology Laboratory Management free.

The Dark Report

Since its founding in 1995, The Dark Report has been the laboratory industry’s most reliable source for useful business intelligence and innovations in the management of clinical laboratories and pathology group practices. Widely-read and much discussed, The Dark Report is respected as a source of knowledge and information that allows lab administrators, pathologists, and industry executives to be first to learn about the latest facts and trends that affect medical laboratories of all kinds.

Professional Services

Strategic Consulting

With a demonstrated track record of success, Robert Michel and the team at The Dark Intelligence Group, Inc. deliver strategic insight and market analysis that directly leads to increased revenues, improved profitability, and operational excellence. Having continuously worked with and visited laboratories, pathology groups, and lab industry vendors for more than 12 years, Robert Michel brings a unique set of skills and experience to any strategic challenge or opportunity.

Meeting Facilitation

Energize your next public meeting, strategic retreat, or corporate event. Widely-recognized and often asked back for a second and third year, Robert Michel has a recognized ability to help audiences get more from the speakers and advance their knowledge and understanding about key trends and management innovations. One- and two-day management retreats are a specialty.

Public Presentations

For a dynamic and knowledgeable public speaker to turbo-charge your next meeting, contact The Dark Intelligence Group. When it comes to management of clinical laboratories and pathology group practices, Robert Michel and his colleagues are consistently ranked among the industry’s keenest minds.

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