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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New Study Indicates Shopping Tools Alone Might Not Lower Medical Spending, Even Though More Patients Want to Know Prices for Clinical Laboratory Tests and Other Procedures

JAMA study finds that most workers with access to web-based price comparison tools did not use them, nor did they spend less on medical care than other workers

Can shopping tools designed to help patients compare providers (including medical laboratories), quality, and prices, make a contribution to reducing the increase in healthcare costs? A new study suggests that such shopping tools make only modest contributions to controlling the cost of care.

Published May 3 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the study found that only 10% of the 150,000 employees at two large companies offering web-based transparency tools logged on to compare healthcare costs during the calendar year. In addition, providing workers with the ability to shop for healthcare services did not bring down employees’ average outpatient spending. Instead, employees with access to transparency tools spent slightly more than workers who could not price shop.

“Our findings temper the enthusiasm around the idea that price transparency is some sort of panacea … that price transparency alone, coupled with high deductible health plans, are going to lead to reduced spending,” stated Sunita Desai, PhD, a Seidman Fellow in Healthcare Policy at Harvard Medical School who led the study. She was quoted in a Washington Post article. (more…)

California’s Massive Microarray SNP Genotyping Project Processed Genetic Data from More Than 100,000 Volunteers and Characterized 70 Billion Genetic Variants in 14 months

Faster sequencing speed and accuracy could fuel growth of biomarkers and lead to development of new medical laboratory tests and therapeutic drugs

Trailblazing methods used to create a treasure trove of genetic data from 100,000 Californians could pay dividends for clinical laboratories and pathology groups if similar projects identify novel biomarkers and fuel the development of new clinical laboratory tests and therapeutic drugs.

In fact, California is once again in the forefront, this time with a major program to create a big database of genetic data. The program is called the Genetic Epidemiology Research on Adult Health and Aging (GERA). It is a collaboration between the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Research Program on Genes, Environment, and Health (RPGEH) and the Institute for Human Genetics at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) that began in 2009. (more…)

UCSF Study Puts Spotlight on the High Prices of Medical Laboratory Tests Charged by California Hospitals

Researchers at the University of California San Francisco revealed that the cost for a simple cholesterol test ranged from as little as $10 to as much as $10,169!

Clinical laboratories owned by hospitals and health systems should take note of a public study of hospital laboratory test prices that was conducted by researchers at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF). It was published this summer and showed a remarkable range of prices for medical laboratory tests charged by California hospitals.

How about a charge of $10,169 for a routine blood cholesterol test? This was one finding a study discussed in the August 2014 issue of the British Medical Journal Open blog. The study was led by Renee Hsia, M.D.. She is an associate professor of Emergency Medicine and Health Policy at the UCSF Medical School. Hsia and her colleagues compared charges for 10 common clinical laboratory tests that were reported in 2011 by all non-federal California hospitals. (more…)

UCSF Genomics Diagnostics Team Uses Next-Gen Sequencing as a ‘Laboratory-Developed Test’ to Reveal an Elusive Pathogen’s DNA and Save a Teen’s Life

It took UCSF physicians just 48 hours to identify the bacteria in cerebrospinal fluid that was causing fourteen-year-old Joshua Osborn’s hydrocephalus and status epilepticus

There’s rich irony in the FDA’s  recent announcement that it would move forward with plans to regulate “laboratory-developed tests ” (LDTs) just weeks after the national media published stories about how innovative use of an LDT helped physicians make an accurate diagnosis that saved the life of seriously-ill 14-year old boy.

Pathologists and clinical laboratory managers may be aware of the case of Joshua Osborn. It was a laboratory-developed test that used next-generation gene sequencing in a unique approach that gave his care team the diagnostic information they needed to select the right therapies for his condition.

Researchers Say Volume of Blood Collected from Hospitalized Myocardial Infarction Patients Can Contribute to Anemia

Findings may lead clinical pathology laboratories to update phlebotomy guidelines

What is the proper quantity of blood to draw from a patient for medical laboratory testing purposes? That question has been debated regularly for decades by pathologists and clinical laboratory scientists. Now a recent study shows a connection between blood draw practices and hospital-acquired anemia in patients with acute myocardial infarction.

The findings of this study serve as evidence that the quantity of blood drawn from hospital inpatients during phlebotomy procedures can potentially have a negative affect, at least for patients with certain health conditions. This study also shows how more detailed research can produce findings that lead to a change in clinical laboratory testing practices.