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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Research Study Involving Northwestern Medicine and Harvard Indicates that Telomeres Could Be the Next Biomarker Pathologists and Clinical Labs Use to Detect Cancer

Researchers demonstrate that the length of blood telomeres may follow a specific pattern before cancer is detectable, which could lead to new diagnostic tests for detecting cancer in its early stages

Pathologists and Clinical pathology laboratories could soon have another tool to aid in the early detection of cancer. New research findings indicate that telomeres could serve as biomarkers for cancer if the right testing is done at the right times.

This study was conducted by Northwestern Medicine, (a collaboration between Northwestern Memorial HealthCare and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine) and Harvard University. It was titled “Blood Telomere Length Attrition and Cancer Development in the Normative Aging Study Cohort”. The findings bring scientists a step closer to understanding how telomeres change with the onset of cancer.

Predictive Biomarker for Cancer Might Be Used in Clinical Lab Testing

“Understanding this pattern of telomere growth may mean it can be a predictive biomarker for cancer,” said Lifang Hou, MD, PhD, the study’s lead author and a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in a Northwestern Medicine news release. “Because we saw a strong relationship in the pattern across a wide variety of cancers, with the right testing these procedures could be used to eventually diagnose a wide variety of cancers.” (more…)

Growing Wave of Hospital and Health System Mega-Mergers Means Changing Dynamics for Pathology and Clinical Laboratory Medicine

Accelerating pace of hospital consolidation brings new pressure to pathologists and clinical laboratory directors to maximize the value of pathology services

Large and financially-stable multi-hospital health systems are racing to form regional mega-systems. It’s a strategy to get ahead of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) mandate to improve quality and increase efficiency through coordinated care across the entire care continuum.

This growing national trend means further consolidation of clinical laboratory testing services within the merging organizations. For pathology groups, the new super-systems may encourage the different pathology groups within the system to consolidate into a single practice entity. This would help improve how pathology services are more deeply integrated into the care continuum. It would also facilitate contract negotiations between the pathologists and the parent health system. (more…)

Higher Annual Deductibles and Co-Payments Cause Hospitals to Intensify Efforts to Collect Directly from Patients; Medical Laboratories Now Feel Similar Financial Squeeze

Hospitals and physicians are acting quickly to improve their ability to collect directly from patients as vendors enter market with new collection tools; clinical labs are slower to respond to this fast-moving trend

Collecting deductibles from patients and tackling growing bad debt is quickly becoming a priority at hospitals and health systems around the nation. Clinical laboratories and pathology groups face the same need to become better at collecting money directly from patients at time of service.

By now, it has become clear to most providers that most health insurance plans include requirements that consumers meet a substantial annual deductible—anywhere from $1,500 to as much as $10,000 for a family. Co-payment amounts also have increased significantly, particularly for ancillary services such as medical laboratory tests and imaging studies.

Higher annual deductibles and co-pays are a feature of the new Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum health plans offered through the health insurance exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). But this is equally true of many private health insurance plans. (more…)