Shrinking Reimbursements and Increasingly Complex Regulations Will Squeeze Profits and Harm Valuations of Clinical Laboratories That Fail to Strengthen Their Strategic Positions
Operational efficiencies, strong management teams, and successful outreach business are key clinical laboratory success in today’s era of mergers and acquisitions
Fierce economic headwinds are taking aim at the entire pathology industry, as shrinking Medicare reimbursement rates, shifting federal regulations and compliance requirements, and changing care models squeeze profit margins and threaten valuations of most clinical laboratories and anatomic pathology groups.
The reimbursement rate changes mandated by the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (PAMA), which took place January 1, 2018, loom as the most immediate danger to the long-term financial health and viability of medical diagnostic laboratories.
“Medicare reimbursement rates to labs providing essential testing services are estimated to drop by $670 million this year, and additional reductions scheduled for 2019 and 2020 will cut payments by nearly 30% for many tests critical to caring for Medicare beneficiaries,” noted Julie Khani, President of the American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA), in “Patient Care Is Put to the Test as Clinical Laboratory Services Are Hit With a One-Two Punch in Rate Cuts,” an article she penned for the ACLA website.
“For some labs, such as rural hospitals and labs serving patients in skilled nursing facilities—which already have significantly higher operating costs—this could be a death knell that would precede a devastating loss of patient access to necessary testing services,” she concluded.
Assessing Financial Solvency to Survive Impending Mergers and Acquisitions
The ACLA has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for what it called a “flawed and misguided” implementation of the law. For now, however, the roll out of reimbursement rates cuts will continue, an ACLA blog post reports.
As a result, post-PAMA pressures combined with other factors are forcing clinical laboratory leaders to consider their strategic options, including:
- Merging/consolidating with another laboratory; and,
As GenomeWeb pointed out prior to PAMA’s implementation, “All clinical labs in the U.S.—from the largest reference labs to in-hospital labs to physician-practice labs—will be touched by the changes to varying degrees.” The future, GenomeWeb predicts, “may be a market with fewer independently operated small and regional labs, as well as fewer outreach labs owned by hospitals. Instead, such operations could become part of [Quest Diagnostics’] and LabCorp’s networks.”
This changing landscape means laboratories need to be assessing their financial solvency and maximizing their valuation even if they are not currently candidates for either side of the merger and acquisition equation. Failing to anticipate and respond to unfolding changes could leave laboratory executives courting a financial reckoning.
Pathway to Driving Valuation for Your Laboratory
To help clinical laboratory owners, CEOs, administrators, and pathologists understand the forces driving today’s mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures—and to guide their future decision-making—Dark Daily is presenting a new webinar at 1:30 p.m. EASTERN on Thursday, June 28, 2018, titled, “The Pathway to Driving Valuation for Your Laboratory: Your Roadmap to Achieving Success, and How to Sustain Growth Despite a Changing Lab Environment.”
One speaker is Vicki DiFrancesco, Chief Strategy Officer, XIFIN, San Diego. DiFrancesco has an insider’s understanding of mergers and acquisitions and 25 years of executive leadership experience. Prior to joining XIFIN, DiFrancesco served as President and CEO of Pathology Inc., the West Coast’s premier women’s health laboratory, which was acquired by LabCorp in March 2016.
The other speaker is David Nichols, Founder and President at Nichols Management Group (NMG) in York Harbor, Maine. NMG provides laboratory consulting services for healthcare organizations. Since its founding in 1988, NMG has provided expertise in improving overall effectiveness and in implementing such strategies as sales force development, market planning, compliance/financial auditing, and in selected cases, hands-on management responsibilities by working onsite with senior personnel in each area of need.
During their 90-minute presentation, you will learn:
- Market factors creating financial challenges for your laboratory;
- How revenue compression and compliance issues are driving merger and acquisition activity;
- Steps to optimizing your lab’s reimbursements, a key to improving financial performance;
- Revenue cycle management’s importance as a valuation driver;
- Strategies to significantly improve your market position;
- Components of an effective compliance program and why compliance is so important to laboratory valuation;
- Value drivers that attract buyers, such as profitable growth, a strong compliance program, competent management teams, EBITDA, cash flow and gross margins; and,
- Specific challenges that should be addressed in any merger or consolidation plan.
To register for this critical webinar, use this link (or copy and paste this URL into your browser: https://www.darkdaily.com/product/the-pathway-to-driving-valuation-for-your-laboratory-your-roadmap-to-achieving-success-and-how-to-sustain-growth-despite-a-changing-lab-environment/.)
Despite the financial pressure on many existing laboratories, the medical laboratory industry continues to play a vital role in the healthcare system, with clinical laboratory tests guiding more than 70% of all medical decisions made by healthcare providers, according an ACLA fact sheet.
The industry also contributes more than $100 billion in annual economic impact and produces more than 622,400 jobs. While the role of diagnostic laboratories will continue to grow in an era of personalized medicine, only laboratories that optimize their strategic position in response to the changes taking place may be left standing when the predicted industry consolidation is complete.
—Andrea Downing Peck