Increased Test Volumes in Recent Years Trigger an Important Review of Coverage and Funding for Pathology Testing Services
DATELINE: MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA—Pathology testing is under the gun in Australia. Fast-rising utilization of pathology testing over the past decade has caught the attention of health system policy makers. They are concerned about the funding and clinical service implications in downstream years should these growth rates in the volume of tests performed continue to increase at comparable rates into the future.
At the same time, a five-year master contract between the Australian national government and a representative group of national pathology and clinical laboratory associations that has brought some predictability in year-to-year spending on pathology testing expired on June 30, 2009. This contract is known as the Pathology Quality and Outlays Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). The MOU process was launched in 1989 and continued for 20 years. Since expiring in June, this MOU has not been renewed and the pathology profession in Australia is waiting to learn what new approach may be proposed by government health officials.