The discovery of dual-purpose condons, called ‘duons’ opens the door to creation of more precise diagnostic and medical laboratory tests, as well as better treatment choices
New insights into the human genome have led to the discovery of a second “code” or “language” within human DNA. Pathologists performing genetic testing will be particularly interested in the implications of this discovery, which the researchers have dubbed “duons.”
It was a research team at the University of Washington (UW) that discovered evidence of a second type of DNA code overlying the protein code that controls transcription factors (TFs). TFs regulate flow of genetic information from DNA to messenger RNA, which manages the synthesis of proteins described by the DNA. (more…)
Unexpected opposition to EHR incentive program should be watched by pathologists and clinical laboratory managers
Questions about the value of the federal government’s program to encourage provider adoption of electronic health record (EHR) systems were raised by Republican leaders in both houses of Congress just weeks before the election on November 6.
Because clinical laboratories and pathology groups have a big stake in interfacing their laboratory information systems to physicians’ EHRs, this new development bears watching.
In October, GOP Senators and House Republicans joined together and issued a call for an immediate halt to distribution of incentive payments to providers for implementing electronic health record (EHR) systems. This program is now in its second full year of implementation. (more…)
With $175 Million in Funding, Human Microbiome Project is Making Rapid Progress
Research into the human microbiome is expected to trigger development of new diagnostic tests that will be offered by clinical pathology laboratories. That’s because the organisms that live on us and in us are as unique to individuals as their DNA, and scientists believe these microbes may be just as important to health. Which microbes and how much they matter to the host’s health are the questions a consortium of researchers involved in the Human Microbiome Project (HMP) hope to answer.
This five-year, $157-million project, funded by the National Institutes of Health, will sequence and classify 900 microbes believed to play a role in human health. Analysis of the sequences of the first 178 microbes, which was published in the May 21 issue of Science, held some surprises, particularly in regard to the extent and complexity of microbial diversity. About 90% of their DNA was previously unknown. The study also identified novel genes and proteins that contribute to human health and disease.
One approach is to bundle payments to hospitals, physicians, labs, and other providers
Momentum is building around a new effort to drive down existing rates of hospital readmissions. Different reimbursement proposals to encourage hospitals and physicians to reduce current readmission rates will likely also change the reimbursement status quo for laboratory testing. For example, bundling Part A and Part B payments may be one approach.
Experts increasingly believe one game changer in lowering healthcare costs and improving outcomes is avoidable hospital readmissions. One in five Medicare patients returns to the hospital within 30 days. Overall, readmissions cost Medicare an estimated $17 billion yearly. Of this total, about $12 billion are believed to be avoidable cases
Influenza Outbreak Calls Attention to Shortage of Medical Technologists, other lab staff
It took the threat of an influenza pandemic recently to get at least one news reporter to realize the shortage of medical laboratory technicians has reached epidemic proportions.
While the recent outbreak of A/H1N1 influenza turned out to be a dress rehearsal, it inspired Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reporter Laura Landro to focus on the critical role played by medical technologists, clinical laboratory scientists, medical laboratory technicians, and other lab professionals, along with the potential consequences of this clinical laboratory staffing shortage when a killer bug turns out to be “for real.”