However, medical laboratory billing/collections is often weak, even at top-performing outreach programs
If there is one bright spot in the revenue picture for many hospitals and health systems, it is how well-run hospital laboratory outreach programs produce strong growth in net revenue and contribution margin. Because of double-digit growth rates for outreach and outpatient procedures, clinical laboratory programs that target office-based physicians can produce impressive results.
“In our annual survey of hospital and health system laboratory outreach programs,” a significant number of participating hospitals report very strong rates of growth in specimen volume and net collected revenue,” stated Kathleen Murphy, Ph.D., who is CEO of Chi Solutions, Inc., based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “We are regularly surprised at how many of these better-performing hospital lab outreach programs are growing at rates of 12% to 25% per year, sustained over three to more consecutive years. (more…)
Inadequate number of anatomic pathologists is a factor in lengthy delays in pathology test reporting
Even as the Province of Manitoba deals with some highly-publicized issues in anatomic pathology, over in the neighboring Province of Saskatchewan, a sizeable backlog in anatomic pathology cases earlier in the year caused the Saskatoon Health Region to refer pathology cases to another region within the province.
As happened in Manitoba, journalists are reporting regularly on the problems with Saskatechwan’s anatomic pathology service. That has made the public aware that a shortage of pathologists in Saskatoon played a significant role in lengthening the time required to process tissue specimens and deliver a completed pathology report to physicians.
Speakers from the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada provide useful prospectives
Too often, pathology laboratory testing is treated as a commodity by government health officials in the United States and other countries. But treating lab testing as a commodity has negative long-term consequences for health systems which try to pay the cheapest price for medical laboratory testing.
As pathologists and clinical laboratory managers know all too well, clinical pathology laboratory testing delivers incredible value when physicians order the right test and do the appropriate thing with the lab test results. Examples abound where proper use of laboratory testing contributes to improved patient outcomes while reducing the overall cost per episode of care.
Less funding for clinical pathology laboratory testing is just one of several market developments
Australia’s competitive market for clinical pathology laboratory testing seems poised for some major changes. Unfolding events are upsetting the pathology testing status quo in at least three ways. Caught in the middle of these disruptive forces are Australia’s big three of pathology testing: Healthscope Limited (ASX:HSP), Primary Health Care Limited (ASX:PRY), and Sonic Healthcare, Ltd. (ASX:SHL ).
The first change is linked to the federal government’s decision in recent years to scrap a decades-long pathology testing reimbursement arrangement. In 2009, it allowed the most recent price contract with the pathology testing industry to expire without renewal. Then, in November 2009, the government instituted a reduction in pathology testing fees.
TLA and other laboratory automation solutions help clinical labs cope with shortage medical technologists
It’s been about 15 years since the first total laboratory automation (TLA) solutions were introduced into clinical laboratories in the United States. Starting in the mid-1990s, several commercial laboratory companies and a handful of hospital laboratories took the plunge and installed total laboratory automation systems in their high volume core laboratories.
Today, hundreds of clinical pathology laboratories in the United States have turned to laboratory automation as one approach to improving quality, reducing turnaround times for lab test results, to save money, and to improve staff productivity. Starting around the year 2000, an ever-growing number of in vitro diagnostics (IVD) manufacturers and other companies have introduced laboratory automation solutions and systems. This has widened the choices of medical laboratories, who often prefer a task-targeted automation solution to the “whole enchilada”—total laboratory automation.