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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Capitol Hill Hears Message from Independent Clinical Laboratory Owners: Additional Medicare Cuts in 2013 Can Be Financially Devastating

Nation’s smaller independent medical laboratories and pathology groups provide clinical lab testing services in many under-served communities

Nov. 21, 2012, WASHINGTON, DC—Last Thursday, owners of independent clinical laboratory companies fanned out across Capitol Hill to meet with their respective Senators and Representatives. Probably the number one concern of these lab owners was further cuts to the Medicare Part B Clinical Laboratory Test Fee Schedule.

Congress is preparing to tackle a host of spending issues, not the least which is the Medicare Sustainable Growth Rate sustainable growth rates(SGR). Earlier this year, in February, Congress raided Medicare Part B Clinical Laboratory Test Fees by $2.7 billion over 10 years to provide a source of funding to temporarily fix SGR. (See Dark Daily, “In Fixing Physician Medicare Pay, Congress Enacts Yet Another Cut in Clinical Laboratory Test Fee Schedule,” February 20, 2012.) (more…)

Owners of Regional Independent Clinical Pathology Laboratory Companies Gather in Washington DC with Plans to Visit Senators and Representatives

Organized by the National Association of Independent Laboratories, this effort attempts to educate lawmakers about the negative impact of cuts to Medicare Part B Clinical Laboratory Test fees

November 16, WASHINGTON, DC—This week, an intrepid group of clinical laboratory owners gathered in the nation’s capital specifically to visit their Senators and Representatives. The goal was to educate these elected officials about the tenuous financial condition of independent medical laboratory companies.

In particular, ongoing budget cuts to the Medicare Part B Clinical Laboratory Test Fee Schedule are undermining the ability of medical laboratories to deliver top-flight lab test services. This is particularly true for smaller independent clinical laboratories, particularly these located in communities not well-served by national lab companies. (more…)

Two U.S. Studies Show Home-based Hospital Care Lowers Costs while Improving Outcomes and Patient Satisfaction

Studies show home-based hospital acute care results in fewer medical laboratory and diagnostic tests

Home-based hospital care (HBHC) is a care delivery model that is evolving at a rapid pace. To be effective, HBHC must improve patient outcomes while avoiding the expenses associated with an inpatient stay at a hospital.

However, significant growth in the number of patients treated in home-based hospital care programs would directly affect hospital-based clinical laboratories and pathology groups. Among other things, this would reduce the volume of inpatient testing while increasing the number of outpatient/outreach specimens.

Evidence is accumulating in favor of HBHC. New research shows that a New Mexico home-based hospital care (HH) program demonstrated cost savings and equal or better patient outcomes and patient satisfaction for acutely-ill patients compared to similar patients receiving in-hospital care. These new findings affirm similar results from a 2005 study of HBHC. (more…)

Survey of EMR Adoption by Doctors Provides “Best Data There’s Ever Been!”

It’s tough to get an accurate picture of EMR (electronic medical record) adoption by office-based physicians. That’s important information for clinical laboratories because they must often provide an electronic gateway interface with physicians’ EMR systems for laboratory test ordering and results reporting.

Now comes help for clinical laboratories and pathology groups seeking to understand the pace of EMR adoption by physicians. This summer, The Institute for Health Policy published the results of a six-month study on the use of electronic health records (EHRs) in physicians’ offices in the New England Journal of Medicine. “This is the best data that there has ever been on the adoption of electronic health records by physicians,” said William Jessee, M.D., the physician president and chief executive officer of the Medical Group Management Association.

According to the abstract of the NEJM article, 4% of physicians reported having an extensive, fully-functional electronic-records system, and 13% reported having a basic system. Another finding was that the physicians most likely to be currently using EMRs were: 1) primary care physicians; 2) those physicians practicing in large groups, in hospitals or medical centers; and, 3) physicians practicing in the western region of the United States. Physicians reported positive effects of these systems on several dimensions of quality of care, as well as high levels of satisfaction in how their system performed. Financial barriers were viewed as having the greatest effect on decisions about the adoption of electronic health records.

The survey was conducted between September 2007 and March 2008 at the 902-bed Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston; the Harvard School of Public Health; George Washington University; and RTI International, working under a contract with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS and grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Despite the fact that the survey revealed that 83% of physicians don’t have an EHR, the NEJM authors pointed out some good news. They noted that 16% of physicians with no EHR responded that their medical practice had purchased an EHR at the time of the survey, but it had yet to be implemented. Another 26 % of surveyed physicians said their practice was planning on implementing an EMR system in the next two years.

The conclusions of the report were that “Physicians who use electronic health records believe such systems improve the quality of care and are generally satisfied with the systems. However, as of early 2008, electronic systems had been adopted by only a small minority of U.S. physicians, who may differ from later adopters of these systems.”

The pace and nature of physician adoption and use of EHRs are important issues for medical laboratories and pathology labs. Lab managers and pathologists will want to be ahead of physician EHR adoption curve by preparing their laboratory information system (LIS) to interface with these EHRS to accept electronic test orders and directly download lab test results into the physician’s HER system.

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