News, Analysis, Trends, Management Innovations for
Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

Hosted by Robert Michel

News, Analysis, Trends, Management Innovations for
Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

Hosted by Robert Michel
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Staffing Shortage Revealed During Site Visits to Medical Laboratories in New Zealand

Pathology and laboratory testing services are contracted by district health boards

Dateline: Christchurch, New Zealand-After two weeks of pathology meetings and lab site visits in Australia and New Zealand, your Dark Daily editor has gained new insights about pathology and laboratory medicine in these two English-speaking countries. One notable point is that, despite the fact that both countries have universal health coverage, their pathology and clinical laboratories are under significant financial stress.

This comes from a combination of factors. Their growing (and aging) populations are utilizing laboratory tests at increased volumes. At the same time, each government health system is using a variety of laboratory contracting practices to control spending on lab testing-thus steadily squeezing down the overall reimbursement paid to laboratories. Medical training programs in both countries are failing to graduate adequate numbers of pathologists and laboratory scientists. This is particularly true in New Zealand, where some rural regions are understaffed with adequate numbers of pathologists.

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New Zealand’s Health System Walks Pathology/Lab Testing Tightrope

Government efforts to reduce funding for lab tests may boomerang in coming years

Dateline: Christchurch, New Zealand-Here in the land of kiwis and enthusiastic rugby fans, pathology and laboratory services don’t seem to get much respect from regional health districts of the New Zealand Department of Health. There are fears that too much of this type of budget cutting will undermine the quality of laboratory testing in those communities.

In at least two major metropolitan regions of New Zealand, the regional health districts are using single-source tenders (contract bidding) for pathology and laboratory testing services as a way to drive down the price they pay for laboratory testing. One consequence of these tender efforts is an immediate reduction in the number of private pathology testing providers in these cities, since just one medical laboratory is granted an exclusive, multi-year contract to provide laboratory testing services to office-based physicians across that region.

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