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

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

Hosted by Robert Michel
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MT & CLS Laboratory Certification Agencies Agree to Unite

It’s likely to be a welcome development for Medical Technologists (MTs) and Clinical Laboratory Scientists (CLSs). Two credentialing bodies that certify medical technologists and laboratory scientists have agreed to unite. The American Society for Clinical Pathology Board of Registry (ASCP-BOR) in Chicago, Illinois, and The National Credentialing Agency for Laboratory Personnel (NCA) in Lenexa, Kansas, announced a letter of intent last week to form a unified credentialing agency.

Cynthia S. Johns MSA, MT(ASCP) SHCM, the Chair of the Board of Governors of the ASCP-Board of Registry, explained “the main benefit of the agreement is to create a single major certification organization for new individuals coming into the profession. In other words, this is good news for students, employers, and for the profession at large”. Technologists/technicians or clinical laboratory scientists who are currently certified will not be affected. “No one will need to recertify,” says Johns. As for how soon this will occur, “the precise timeline will be determined by the parties involved; however, our goal is to realize this unification as soon as possible.”

“The goal is simplification,” explained Elissa Passiment, CLS, Executive Vice President for the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science, in Bethesda, Maryland. “Currently, a laboratorian can hold certification as either a Medical Technologist (MT/CP) or Clinical Laboratory Scientist (CLS/NCA)—and it is possible that he or she could be certified by both agencies. For students and employers, this can sometimes cause confusion as to which credential is ‘best.’ This unification would simplify credentialing and create single path for laboratorians. This move also reflects, in part, the globalization of healthcare.”

In the letter of intent, the ASCP, the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS) , and the Association of Genetic Technologists (AGT) of Lenaxa, Kansas, said they reached an agreement to form a unified certification organization for credentialing. “The next step is to work on the memorandum of understanding (MOU) so that these organizations can formally unite,” Passiment said. “When that happens, NCA will go away and the certification activities will be consolidated under reorganized governance. This new governance will represent both Medical Technologists (MTs) and Clinical Laboratory Scientists (CLSs).”

The parties are now developing an agreement on: 1) the details of governance; 2) how the proposed single certification agency will handle the credentials of currently certified individuals; and, 3) what processes will be established to accommodate both re-certification and new applicants. In the interim, it will be business as usual for both ASCP-BOR and the NCA.

Unification will benefit educational program directors; student applicants from institutions accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences (NAACLS) in Chicago and the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP) in Clearwater, Florida; and other eligible individuals who receive on-the-job laboratory training.

Unification of the MT/CLS certification process is likely to be a welcome development across the laboratory profession. It is also in keeping with the well-established trend of consolidation and integration in healthcare and the laboratory industry. Further, the convergence of laboratory operations across the globe is likely to be a factor in the decision of these certification bodies to streamline and unify the credentialing process in this country. Today there are efforts to align regulatory requirements in North America and Europe for laboratory analyzers, systems, and reagents. Similarly, certification agencies for laboratory professionals are recognizing that there will be both a need and a demand for professional certification programs that can be readily accepted by more than one country.

For More Information:
Major Laboratory Certification Agencies Reach Agreement to Unite

United Health Disrupts the National Contract Status Quo Between the Two Blood Brothers

It was major news yesterday when the public learned that UnitedHealth Group Incorporated had awarded an exclusive, 10-year national contract for laboratory testing services to Laboratory Corporation of America. UnitedHealth is the nation’s second largest health insurance company, with approximately 26 million beneficiaries. LabCorp says it should see an additional $3 billion in revenue during the 10-year term of its pact with UnitedHealth.

This new contract takes effect on January 1, 2007. After that date, Quest Diagnostics Incorporated ceases to be a contract provider of laboratory services to UnitedHealth beneficiaries, with a few exceptions. Quest Diagnostics acknowledges that its UnitedHealth book of business represents 7% of total revenues, or about $385 million per year. That business is now at risk, for a number of reasons.

What is big news for LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics is likely to be a “ho hum” for most other laboratories. That’s because they are already excluded from lab testing contracts with UnitedHealth. What may be of more immediate impact to hospital lab outreach programs and independent laboratory companies is the fact that LabCorp will be developing contract networks for UnitedHealth in selected regions around the United States. Depending on the prices and terms of such contract networks, local labs may find it advantageous to participate to gain access to UnitedHealth beneficiaries.

As to the two blood brothers, Dark Daily predicts the capture of UnitedHealth’s business by LabCorp will intensify competition between the two billion-dollar behemoths. Quest Diagnostics will not lie down and cede the UnitedHealth business to LabCorp. Nor will LabCorp be anything but aggressive about exploiting this opportunity. From this perspective, news that LabCorp has been granted an exclusive, 10-year lab testing services contract with UnitedHealth Group is just the first round. Stay tuned, because the battle is about to get nasty. Check out coming issues of The Dark Report for additional intelligence about this tectonic shift in national lab contracts.