Researchers find shopping for medical laboratory tests increased by nearly 50%, and people are saving more than a million dollars annually by shopping for blood tests
Each year, more consumers use online healthcare price-shopping tools to find hospitals, physicians, and clinical laboratories that have the lowest prices. And medical laboratory tests is among the top services on their lists!
Researchers at Vitals of Lyndhurst, NJ, a company that publishes online physician ratings, analyzed how consumers were using its price and quality transparency tools. They confirmed that shopping for medical laboratory tests/blood work is one of the top healthcare procedures checked by consumers.
According to a recent Vitals press release, approximately 46% more people shopped for blood tests in 2015 than the year before, and they saved $1,149,682 by doing so. That’s because their health plans reward them for selecting good quality and low-price providers, as well as adopting healthy behaviors, such as losing weight, exercising more, and lowering high cholesterol scores. (more…)
Use of these new technologies creates opportunities for clinical laboratories and pathologists to add more value when collaborating with physicians to advance patient care
Ongoing improvements in point-of-care testing are encouraging one major academic medical center to apply this mode of testing to the diagnosis of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs). This development should be of interest to clinical laboratory professionals and pathologists, since it has the potential to create a different way to identify patients with HAIs than medical lab tests done in the central laboratory.
Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), Harvard Medical School’s (HMS’) largest teaching hospital, has developed a prototype diagnostic system that works with doctors’ smartphones or mobile computers. The hand-held system can identify pathogens responsible for specific healthcare-acquired infections (HAIs) at the point of care within two hours, according to an MGH statement.
The researchers noted that 600,000 patients develop HAIs each year, 10% of which die, and that costs related to HAIs can reach $100 to $150 billion per year. However, as Dark Daily reported, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) does not reimburse hospitals for certain HAIs. (See Dark Daily, “Consumer Reports Ranks Smaller and Non-Teaching Hospitals Highest in Infection Prevention,” October, 30, 2015.) Thus, the critical need to identify from where the infection originated, which generates a significant proportion of samples tested at the clinical laboratories of the nation’s hospitals and health systems.
Therefore, pathologists and medical laboratory scientists will understand that shifting some of that specimen volume to point-of-care testing will change the overall economics of hospital laboratories.
Smartphone-based Genetic Test for HIAs
The MGH research team created a way to do accurate genetic testing in a simple device powered by a system they call Polarization Anisotropy Diagnostics (PAD). The system measures changes in fluorescence anisotropy through a detection probe’s recognition of bacterial nucleic acid, reported Medscape Medical News. More than 35 probes for detecting bacterial species and virulence factors are available.
Optical test cubes are placed on an electronic base station that transmits data to a smartphone or computer, where results are displayed. “In a pilot clinical test, PAD accuracy was comparable to that of bacterial culture. In contrast to the culture, the PAD assay was fast (under two hours), multiplexed, and cost effective (under $2 per assay), wrote the MGH researchers in the journal Science Advances. (more…)
An earlier Johns Hopkins study looked at diagnostic errors and determined that such errors were the leading cause of malpractice payouts. Can clinical laboratories help?
At a time of heightened transparency in healthcare outcomes, a Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Johns Hopkins) study makes a startling conclusion: medical errors are an under-recognized cause of patients’ deaths in the United States. In fact, medical errors rank third—after heart disease and cancer—in causing patients’ deaths, according to a Johns Hopkins statement.
This finding has many implications for pathologists and clinical laboratory managers. Often, medical errors are associated with the failure of physicians to order correct medical laboratory tests at critical junctures. Alternatively, a medical error can result if the physician fails to take appropriate action after getting an accurate lab test result. Thus, any effort within the health system to reduce medical errors will probably bring pathologists and medical laboratory scientists into closer consultation with clinicians.
What the researchers at Johns Hopkins also learned during their study is that medical error is not reported as a cause of death on death certificates. Further, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has no “medical error” category in its annual report on deaths and mortality, The New York Times (NYT) reported. (more…)
IBM’s Watson continues to seek a role as a cognitive computing tool of choice for physicians and pathologists in need of evidence-based clinical patient data
Remember IBM’s Watson? It’s been five years since Watson beat human contestants on Jeopardy. Since then, IBM has hoped Watson could be used in healthcare. To that end, some oncologists are exploring the use of Watson in cancer care. This could have implications for anatomic pathologists if oncologists developed a way to use Watson in the diagnosing cancers and identifying appropriate therapies for those cancers.
In 2011, IBM’s Watson supercomputer defeated human contestants for a charity prize during the television show Jeopardy. Just days later, Dark Daily reported on IBM’s goal for Watson to play a major role in helping physicians diagnose and treat disease. Since then, IBM has been exploring ways to commercialize Watson’s cognitive computing platform through partnerships with some of the healthcare industry’s biggest brands. (more…)
COPD and gestational diabetes research are the subject of two new projects aimed at intercepting diseases prior to onset and identifying preventive treatments
Can new insights into the human genome make it possible to diagnose disease much earlier—even before symptoms can be observed? Multiple research programs are targeting this possibility. One example is being conducted by Johnson & Johnson (J&J). The American multinational medical-device company wants to leverage recent developments in genetics, data analysis, and its worldwide partnerships, in an attempt to answer two profound questions:
• Can the earliest signals of disease be identified; and
• What treatments will assist researchers who are trying to prevent diseases?
To pursue these two goals, Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) is expanding its existing research project into disease prediction and prevention, which currently involves 24 global partners, according to an Associated Press March story. (more…)