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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Three Trends Now Fueling Wider Adoption of Digital Pathology

Upcoming Pathology Visions conference will tackle digital pathology advances

Digital pathology is entering a new phase of adoption marked by three significant trends. This is the assessment of Dirk Soenksen, Founder and CEO of Aperio Technologies, Inc., in Vista, California. He believes these three trends are working together to accelerate the adoption of digital imaging and digital pathology systems by pathology laboratories across the nation.

Soenksen has observed the following three trends in recent months:

  • The desire by some pathologists who already use digital pathology in niche settings to expand the use of digital pathology within their laboratories to partial or full adoption.
  • A heightened interest by laboratory information system (LIS) vendors to integrate their software with digital image management (pathology PACS) software, as a way to improve their competitive advantage.
  • Widespread support for the newly formed Digital Pathology Association (DPA) a not-for-profit group comprising industry and non-industry members, and its mission to focus on education, best practices, and increasing awareness.


Boston’s Caritas Christi Health Sells its Lab Outreach Business, Forms Alliance with Quest Diagnostics

It’s the second acquisition of a hospital lab outreach program in past six days

Several days ago, a two-part deal was announced between Quest Diagnostics Incorporated (NYSE:DGX) and Caritas Christi Health Care of Boston, Massachusetts. Caritas sold its clinical laboratory outreach business to Quest Diagnostics and both parties formed a “strategic alliance” going forward that centers upon laboratory testing and informatics integration. Caritas will continue to own and manage the laboratories in its six hospitals.

This is the second sale of a hospital laboratory outreach business in the past two weeks. On August 12, Sonic Healthcare (SYD:SHL) acquired Piedmont Medical Laboratories (PML) of Winchester, Virginia. PML was owned by Valley Health, an eight-hospital health system. (See Dark Daily, ‘Sonic Healthcare’s Latest Lab Buying Spree Nets Two U.S. Labs for $20 Million”, August 13, 2009.)

Sonic Healthcare’s Latest Lab Buying Spree Nets Two U.S. Labs for $20 Million

Sonic purchased Piedmont Medical Laboratory of Winchester, Virginia, and Axiom Laboratories, of Tampa, Florida

Yesterday, Sonic Healthcare, Ltd., of Sydney, Australia, officially recognized the acquisition of two clinical laboratories in the United States: Piedmont Medical Laboratory of Winchester, Virginia, and Axiom Laboratories, of Tampa. The Axiom transaction was closed earlier this summer.

For both labs, Sonic will pay $20 million in cash and could pay $2.5 million more in performance-based bonuses over the next two years. As an indication of current pricing for laboratory services, the $20 million purchase price bought Sonic a total of approximately $16 million in annual revenue.

Consolidation of Nation’s Health Insurers Is Bad Medicine for Local Labs and Pathologists

While no one was looking, nine big insurers grabbed 76.7% of privately-insured patients!

Consolidation of major health insurance companies in recent years is a trend which reinforced the market clout of the nation’s two largest lab companies at the expense of local laboratories and pathology groups. However, few pathologists and clinical lab managers know precisely how much market power is currently concentrated into the hands of only a few health insurance companies.

Dark Daily now unveils a remarkable analysis. At this moment, just nine companies control 76.7% of all privately-insured individuals in the United States! Moreover, the three biggest of these health insurance firms—UnitedHealth Group, WellPoint, and Aetna—collectively cover 85.6 million of the185 million Americans enrolled in private health plans. That’s 48.3% of the total U.S. market.

As shown in the table below, when the other six companies are added—Humana, HealthCare Service Corp., Cigna Group, Kaiser, Highmark and Health Net—the nine biggest health insurers cumulatively insure 141.9 million of the 185.1 million Americans with private health insurance—or 76.7% of the total.

Whole Animal Assays Use Lab-On-A-Chip at MIT

MIT researchers expand genetic screening with new diagnostic technologies

Make way for what is being called “whole animal assays.” This new approach utilizes a lab on a chip to allow researchers to perform whole animal screening at sub-cellular resolutions in what is described as a “high throughput” manner. The new diagnostic technology was developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

MIT researchers developed this unique whole animal assay testing chip using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. The resulting lab-on-a-chip makes it easier to conduct  genetic research into neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. The traditional method of manipulating C. elegans involves using small glass and metal picks and anesthetizing the animals before submitting them for high-resolution imaging, according to Mehmet Fatih Yanik, an Assistant Professor at MIT, and Christopher Rohde, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT. Yanik and Rohde wrote about their research in a report published in Biomedical Optics & Medical Imaging earlier this year. Yanik runs the BioPhotonics, BioScreening and NanoManipulation Group lab at MIT. (more…)