New Year’s Day 2007 marked more than the start of the New Year. It was also the effective date for a new exclusive national laboratory services contract for Laboratory Corporation of America with UnitedHealth Group. Also on New Year’s Day, Quest Diagnostics lost its status as a national laboratory provider for UnitedHealth. (See the Dark Daily “United Health Disrupts the National Contract Status Quo Between the Two Blood Brothers” from October 4, 2007.)
Although New Year’s Day was the effective date for both major contract changes, the two national laboratories turned up the competition more than six weeks earlier. In New York City and selected cities around the United States, LabCorp and Quest have run radio ads and newspaper advertisements to get their message out to the public and the physician community. As well, LabCorp has scrambled to create the service organization it needs to compete for UnitedHealth beneficiaries in such cities as New York and Chicago.
Dark Daily observes that these advertising efforts by LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics represents the largest consumer advertising blitz ever mounted by clinical laboratories. The Internet is also now a marketing channel. Lab directors and pathologists interested in how LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics are advertising themselves in this battle over UnitedHealth patients can see the full media campaigns of both companies. Quest Diagnostics established the Web site “MyLabIsQuest.com” as an information center for physicians and patients. On this Web site, it has posted radio ads and print advertisements run during this advertising campaign.
Similarly, LabCorp created “ChooseLabCorp.com” as its Web site to present information to physicians and patients about the new UnitedHealth contract. This Web site contains radio ads, public statements, and other information about LabCorp. Of interest to lab executives and pathologists, LabCorp has created a sign-up page and a LabCorp welcome kit for physicians.
Now that the UnitedHealth-LabCorp national contract is effective, it means that the flow of reimbursement dollars will begin to change for both LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics. As the exclusive national network provider, LabCorp is working aggressively to sign up as many physician accounts as possible. At the same time, Quest Diagnostics is working just as aggressively to convince physicians to continue using it, even though it is an out-of-network laboratory for most UnitedHealth plans.