The presentation was made in front of 950 attendees. During the presentation, several of McGonnagle’s peers described the multiple ways that he regularly supports the profession of clinical laboratory medicine.
In 1986, McGonnagle was engaged by the College of American Pathologists (CAP) to develop the concept of a new, tabloid-sized, color magazine to be called CAP Today. It was January 1987 when monthly publication of CAP Today formally commenced.
During last week’s Executive War College on Diagnostic, Laboratory, and Pathology Management in New Orleans, Bob McGonnagle (center right) was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his 38 years as Publisher of CAP Today, along with his innumerable contributions to advancing the clinical laboratory and anatomic pathology professions. McGonnagle is joined by Robert Michel, founder of the Executive War College on his right; Al Lui, MD, of Innovative Pathology Medical Group on his far right; and Stan Schofield of Compass Group on his left. (Photo copyright: The Dark Report.)
38 Years as Publisher of CAP Today Magazine
But McGonnagle’s duties as publisher are just the starting point of the contributions McGonnagle has made to the House of Laboratory Medicine in the past 38 years. He is regularly seen at pathology and lab meetings, conferences, and workshops throughout the United States and overseas. As a speaker and moderator, he is much in demand. He is often asked to sit in during strategic retreats and think tanks organized by laboratory associations, lab organizations, and lab vendors.
During the presentation ceremony, three of McGonnagle’s peers offered insights and examples of his unstinting support of pathologists, lab managers, and companies serving medical laboratories. First to speak was Stan Schofield, Managing Principal at Compass Group and past CEO of NorDx Laboratories in Scarborough, Maine.
“Bob McGonnagle is excellent as a moderator for conferences, meetings, and conventions and will always say ‘yes’ when asked to serve,” Schofield observed. “He is quick to recognize and adapt to emerging issues. He processes information from various parts of the lab industry, then generates insights and information all can understand and use to the benefit of their respective labs and pathology groups.”
Next to speak was pathologist Al Lui, MD, President and Medical Director, at Innovative Pathology Medical Group in Torrance, California. Lui has been active on committees and initiatives of CAP for decades. “Recognition of Bob McGonnagle’s past and continuing contributions to the profession of pathology and laboratory medicine is long overdue,” he said.
McGonnagle as Farmer, Fan of Classical Music, and Oenophile
Lui then presented slides that showed the range of McGonnagle’s activities outside of his publishing responsibilities. For example, Bob is remote manager of two inherited family farms in Iowa that produce corn, soybeans, and cattle. His wife competes in equestrian events. They are wine aficionados and close personal friends with one of Napa Valley’s most respected vintners.
One key figure in McGonnagle’s publishing activities is the Editor of CAP TodaySherrie Rice. She has served in this role since 1987 and thus has collaborated with Bob for the 38 years of CAP Today’s publication. “His leadership of the periodicals department at the CAP has been brilliant and working alongside him for more than three decades has been the gift of a lifetime,” Rice noted.
Rice also described an underappreciated aspect of McGonnagle’s efforts as Publisher. “Bob constantly works to connect the IVD manufacturers and lab vendors with labs that need and benefit from these solutions,” she noted. “He is quick to recognize emerging technologies and help explain them with in-depth stories in CAP Today that help pathologists and lab managers better understand when such innovations are ready to be implemented.”
A Career That Spans Five Decades
As McGonnagle was handed his Lifetime Achievement Award, Robert Michel, Founder of the Executive War College and Editor-in-Chief of Dark Daily and its sister publication The Dark Report, made several observations. “Bob McGonnagle has all the hallmarks of a loyal friend. He is always willing to help and never asks for anything in return,” Michel noted. “He is discreet and trustworthy, with keen powers of observation and analysis. Our profession is blessed that his career and contributions have spanned five decades.”
All of Bob McGonnagle’s colleagues, friends, and associates are encouraged to use social media to send him congratulations and notes of appreciation for his 38 years of service as Publisher of CAP Today, and for his many contributions to the clinical laboratory and pathology professions.
Here are social media links where it would be appropriate to post comments about Bob McGonnagle, with best wishes, congratulations, and examples of his selfless support:
From ‘new-school’ rules of running a clinical laboratory to pharmacy partnerships to leveraging lab data for diagnostics, key industry executives discussed the new era of clinical laboratory and pathology operations
“COVID-19 didn’t change a whole lot of things in one sense, but it accelerated a lot of trends that were already happening in healthcare,” said Robert L. Michel, Editor-in-Chief of Dark Daily and its sister publication The Dark Report, and Founder of the Executive War College, during his opening keynote address to a packed ballroom of conference attendees. “Healthcare is transforming, and the transformation is far more pervasive than most consumers appreciate.
“Disintermediation, for example, is taking traditional service providers and disrupting them in substantial ways, and if you think about the end of fee-for-service, be looking forward because your labs can be paid for the value you originate that makes a difference in patient care,” Michel added.
Another opportunity for clinical laboratories, according to Michel, is serving Medicare Advantage plans which have soared in enrollment. “Lab leaders should be studying Medicare Advantage for how to integrate Medicare Advantage incentives into their lab strategies,” he said, highlighting the new influence of risk adjustment models which use diagnostic data to predict health condition expenditures.
Opening sessions at this week’s annual Executive War College on Diagnostics, Clinical Laboratory, and Pathology Management, presented by Robert L. Michel (above), Editor-in-Chief of Dark Daily and its sister publication The Dark Report, discussed demand for delivering healthcare services—including medical laboratory testing—as consumer preferences evolve, new care models are designed, and as payers seek value over volume. While these three forces may be challenging at the outset, they also create opportunities for clinical laboratories and pathology groups—a focal point of the Executive War College each year. (Photo copyright: The Dark Intelligence Group.)
Medical Laboratories Must Adapt to ‘New-School’ Rules
During his keynote address, Stan Schofield, Vice President and Managing Principal at The Compass Group, noted that while the basic “old-school” rules of successfully running a clinical laboratory have not changed—e.g., adding clients, keeping clients, creating revenue opportunities, getting paid, and reducing expenses—the interpretation of each rule has changed. The Compass Group is a trade federation based in South Carolina that serves not-for-profit healthcare integrated delivery networks (IDNs), including 32 health systems and 600 hospitals.
Schofield advised that when it comes to adding new clients under the “new-school” rules of lab management, clinical laboratory directors must be aware of and adapt to hospital integrations of core labs, clinical integrations across health systems, seamless services, direct contracting with employers in insurance relationships, and direct-to-consumer testing. Keeping clients, Schofield said, involves five elements:
Strong customer service.
A tailored metrics program for quality services based on what is important to a lab’s clients.
Balanced scorecards that look at the business opportunity and value proposition with each client.
Monitoring patients’ experiences and continuous improvement.
Participation in all payer agreements.
As to the problem of commoditization of laboratory goods and services, Schofield said, “Right now, we’re facing the monetization of the laboratory. We’re going to swiftly move from commoditization to monetization to commercialization.”
Diagnostics and pharmacy now intersect, according to Pope. “Pharmacists are on the move, and they are true contender as a new provider for you,” he said. “An area of pharmacy that is dependent upon labs is specialty medications.”
Specialty medicines now account for 55% of prescription spending, up from 28% in 2011, driven by growth in auto-immune and oncology, Pope noted. Other examples include companion diagnostics required for targeted treatments pertaining to all major cancers, and new areas like thalassemia (inherited blood disorders), obesity, next-generation sequencing, and pharmacogenomics, in addition to routine testing such as liver function and complete blood count (CBC).
Federal legislation may soon recognize pharmacists as healthcare providers who will be trained to perform specific clinical services, Pope said. Some states already recognize pharmacists as providers, he noted, explaining that pharmacies need lab data for three primary reasons:
Service—Pharmacies can act as a referral source to clinical laboratories. When referring, pharmacies may need to communicate lab test results to patients or providers to coordinate care.
Value-based care—Pharmacies would draw on data to counsel, prescribe, and coordinate care for chronic disease management, among other services.
Diagnostics and pharmacogenetics—Specialty medication workflows require documented test results within a specific timeframe prior to dispensing.
Another point Pope made: Large pharmacies are seeking lab partners. Labs that can provide rapid turnaround time and good pricing on complex tests provide pharmacies with partnership opportunities.
Using AI to Create Patients’ ‘Digital Twins’ That Help Identify Disease and Improve Care
High-tech healthcare technology underlies many opportunities in the clinical laboratory and pathology market, as evidenced throughout the Executive War College’s 2023 curriculum. An ongoing challenge for labs, however, is how to produce the valuable datasets that all labs have the potential to generate.
“It feels like we’ve come so far,” explained Brad Bostic, CEO of hc1 during his keynote address. “We’ve got the internet. We’ve got the cloud. All of this is amazing, but in reality, we have this massive proliferation of data everywhere and it’s very difficult to know how to actually put that into use. And nobody’s generating more data than clinical laboratories.
“Every single interaction with a patient that generates data gives you this opportunity to create the idea of a ‘digital twin.’ That means that labs are creating a mathematical description of what a person’s state is and using that information to look at how providers can optimally diagnose and treat that person. Ultimately, it is bigger than just one person. It’s hundreds of millions of people that are generating all this data, and many of these people fall into similar cohorts.”
This digital twin opportunity is heavily fueled by medical laboratory testing, Bostic said, adding that labs need to be able to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to:
“I recommend lab leaders sit down with their teams and any outside partners they trust and identify what are their lab’s goals,” Bostic stated. “Think about how this technology can advance a lab’s mission. Look at strategy holistically—everything from internal operations to how patient care is affected.”
Executives and pathologists from many of the nation’s most prominent clinical laboratories are on their way to the Crescent City today to share best practices, hear case studies from innovative labs, and network
All this is happening amidst important changes to healthcare and medicine in the United States. “Today, the US healthcare system is transforming itself at a steady pace,” explained Robert L. Michel, Editor-in-Chief of The Dark Report and Founder of the Executive War College. “Big multi-hospital health systems are merging with each other, and payers are slashing reimbursement for many medical lab tests, even as healthcare consumers want direct access to clinical laboratory tests and the full record of their lab test history.
“Each of these developments has major implications in how clinical laboratories serve their parent organizations, offer services directly to consumers, and negotiate with payers for fair reimbursement as in-network providers,” Michel added. “Attending the Executive War College on Diagnostics, Clinical Laboratory, and Pathology Management equips lab leaders with the tools they’ll need to make smart decisions during these challenging times.”
Now in its 28th year, the Executive War College on Diagnostics, Clinical Laboratory, and Pathology Management convenes April 25-26 in New Orleans. Executive War College extends to a third day with three full-day workshops: LEAN fundamentals for lab leaders, a genetic testing program track, and a digital pathology track. Learn more at www.ExecutiveWarCollege.com. (Photo copyright: The Dark Intelligence Group.)
Challenges and Opportunities for Clinical Laboratories
With major changes unfolding in the delivery and reimbursement of clinical services, clinical laboratory and pathology practice leaders need effective ways to respond to the evolving needs of physicians, patients, and payers. As The Dark Report has often covered, three overlapping areas are a source of tension and financial pressure for labs:
Day-to-day pressures to manage costs in the clinical laboratory or pathology practice.
The growing demand for genetic testing, accompanied by reimbursement challenges.
Evolving consumer expectations in how they receive medical care and interact with providers.
Addressing all three issues and much more, the 2023 Executive War College on Diagnostics, Clinical Laboratory, and Pathology Management features more than 80 sessions with up to 125 lab managers, consultants, vendors, and in vitro diagnostic (IVD) experts as speakers and panelists.
Old-School Lab Rules Have Evolved into New-School Lab Rules
Tuesday’s keynote general sessions (to be reported exclusively in Wednesday’s Dark Daily ebriefing) will include four points of interest for clinical laboratory and pathology leaders who are managing change and pursuing new opportunities:
Positioning the lab to prosper by serving healthcare’s new consumers, new care models, new payment models, and more, with Michel at the podium.
How old-school lab rules have evolved into new-school lab rules and ways to transition the lab through today’s disrupters in healthcare and the clinical laboratory marketplace, with Stan Schofield, Managing Principal of the Compass Group.
Wednesday’s keynotes conclude with a panel discussion on delivering value to physicians, patients, and payers with lab testing services.
Clinical Labs, Payers, and Health Plans Swamped by Genetic Test Claims
Attendees of the 2023 Executive War College on Diagnostics, Clinical Laboratory, and Pathology Management may notice a greater emphasis on whole genome sequencing and genetic testing this year.
As regular coverage and analysis in The Dark Report has pointed out, clinical laboratories, payers, and health plans face challenges with the explosion of genetic testing. Several Executive War College Master Classes will explore critical management issues of genetic and genomic testing, including laboratory benefit management programs, coverage decisions, payer relations, and best coding practices, as well as genetic test stewardship.
This year’s Executive War College also devotes a one-day intensive session on how community hospitals and local labs can set up and offer genetic tests and next-generation sequencing services. This third-day track features more than a dozen experts including:
During these sessions, attendees will be introduced to “dry labs” and “virtual CLIA labs.” These new terms differentiate the two organizations that process genetic data generated by “wet labs,” annotate it, and provide analysis and interpretation for referring physicians.
State of the Industry: Clinical Lab, Private Practice Pathology, Genetic Testing, IVD, and More
For lab consultants, executives, and directors interested in state-of-the-industry Q/A and discussions concerning commercial laboratories, private-practice pathology, and in vitro diagnostics companies, a range of breakout sessions, panels, and roundtables will cover:
Action steps to protect pathologists’ income and boost practice revenue.
Important developments in laboratory legal, regulatory, and compliance requirements.
New developments in clinical laboratory certification and accreditation, including the most common deficiencies and how to reach “assessment ready” status.
An update on the IVD industry and what’s working in today’s post-pandemic market for lab vendors and their customers.
Federal government updates on issues of concern to clinical laboratories, including PAMA, the VALID Act, and more.
Long-time attendees will notice the inclusion of “Diagnostics” into the Executive War College moniker. It’s an important addition, Michel explained for Dark Daily.
“In the recent past, ‘clinical laboratory’ and ‘anatomic pathology’ were terms that sufficiently described the profession of laboratory medicine,” he noted. “However, a subtle but significant change has occurred in recent years. The term ‘diagnostics’ has become a common description for medical testing, along with other diagnostic areas such as radiology and imaging.”
Key managers of medical laboratories, pathology groups, and in vitro diagnostics have much to gain from attending the Executive War College on Diagnostics, Clinical Laboratory, and Pathology Management, now in its 28th year. Look for continued coverage through social media channels, at Dark Daily, and in The Dark Report.
The short answer is that large volumes of COVID-19 testing will be needed for the remaining weeks of 2020 and substantial COVID-19 testing will occur throughout 2021 and even into 2022. This has major implications for all clinical laboratories in the United States as they plan budgets for 2021 and attempt to manage their supply chain in coming weeks. The additional challenge in coming months is the surge in respiratory virus testing that is typical of an average influenza season.
Stan Schofield (above center), President of NorDx, a regional laboratory corporation that supports an integrated delivery system at MaineHealth in Portland, Maine.
Rick L. Panning (above right), MBA, MLS(ASCP)CM, retired as of Oct. 2 from the position of Senior Administrative Director of Laboratory Services for HealthPartners and Park Nicollet in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.
Each panelist was asked how his parent health system and clinical laboratory was preparing to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic through the end of 2020 and into 2021.
First to answer was Panning, whose laboratory serves the Minneapolis-Saint Paul market.
A distinguishing feature of healthcare in the Twin Cities is that it is at the forefront of operational and clinical integration. Competition among health networks is intense and consumer-focused services are essential if a hospital or physician office is to retain its patients and expand market share.
Panning first explained how the pandemic is intensifying in Minnesota. “Our state has been on a two-week path of rising COVID-19 case numbers,” he said. “That rise is mirrored by increased hospitalizations for COVID-19 and ICU bed utilization is going up dramatically. The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has doubled during this time and Minnesota is surrounded by states that are even in worse shape than us.”
These trends are matched by the outpatient/outreach experience. “We are also seeing more patients use virtual visits to our clinics, compared to recent months,” noted Panning. “About 35% of clinical visits are virtual because people do not want to physically go into a clinic or doctor’s office.
“Given these recent developments, we’ve had to expand our network of specimen collection sites because of social distancing requirements,” explained Panning. “Each patient collection requires more space, along with more time to clean and sterilize that space before it can be used for the next patient. Our lab and our parent health system are focused on what we call crisis standards of care.
“For all these reasons, our planning points to an ongoing demand for COVID-19 testing,” he added. “Influenza season is arriving, and the pandemic is accelerating. Given that evidence, and the guidance from state and federal officials, we expect our clinical laboratory will be providing significant numbers of COVID-19 tests for the balance of this year and probably far into 2021.”
COVID-19 Vaccine Could Increase Antibody and Rapid Molecular Testing
Arizona is seeing comparable increases in new daily COVID-19 cases. “There’s been a strong uptick that coincides with the governor’s decision to loosen restrictions that allowed bars and exercise clubs to open,” stated Dexter. “We’ve gone from a 3.8% positivity rate up to 7% as of last night. By the end of this week, we could be a 10% positivity rate.”
Looking at the balance of 2020 and into 2021, Dexter said, “Our lab is in the midst of budget planning. We are budgeting to support an increase in COVID-19 PCR testing in both November and December. Arizona state officials believe that COVID-19 cases will peak at the end of January and we’ll start seeing the downside in February of 2021.”
The possible availability of a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine is another factor in planning at Dexter’s clinical laboratory. “If such a vaccine becomes available, we think there will be a significant increase in antibody testing, probably starting in second quarter and continuing for the balance of 2021. There will also be a need for rapid COVID-19 molecular tests. Today, such tests are simply unavailable. Because of supply chain difficulties, we predict that they won’t be available in sufficient quantities until probably late 2021.”
COVID-19 Testing Supply Shortages Predicted as Demand Increases
At NorDx Laboratories in Portland, Maine, the expectation is that the COVID-19 pandemic will continue even into 2022. “Our team believes that people will be wearing masks for 18 more months and that COVID-19 testing with influenza is going to be the big demand this winter,” observed Schofield. “The demand for both COVID-19 and influenza testing will press all of us up against the wall because there are not enough reagents, plastics, and plates to handle the demand that we see building even now.
“Our hospitals are already preparing for a second surge of COVID-19 cases,” he said.
COVID-19 patients will be concentrated in only three or four hospitals. The other hospitals will handle routine work. Administration does not want to have COVID-19 patients spread out over 12 or 14 hospitals, as happened last March and April.
“Administration of the health system and our clinical laboratory think that the COVID-19 test volume and demand for these tests will be tough on our lab for another 12 months. This will be particularly true for COVID-19 molecular tests.”
As described above, the CEOs of these three major clinical laboratories believe that the demand for COVID-19 testing will continue well into 2021, and possibly also into 2022. A recording of the full session was captured by the virtual Executive War College and, as a public service to the medical laboratory and pathology profession, access to this recording will be provided to any lab professional who contacts email@example.com and provides their email address, name, title, and organization.
Robert L. Michel, Panelist—Publisher, Editor-in-Chief, The Dark Report and Dark Daily, Spicewood, Texas.
Given the importance of sound strategic planning for all clinical laboratories and pathology groups during their fall budget process, the virtual Executive War College is opening this session to all professionals in laboratory medicine, in vitro diagnostics, and lab informatics.
Medical laboratories and anatomic pathology groups are scrambling to respond as healthcare evolves into new models of integrated clinical care and payers seek to reduce reimbursement for clinical lab tests
NEW ORLEANS, LA.—There was more bad news than good news for the 800 clinical laboratory professionals and pathologists who assembled this week in “The Big Easy” to discuss and debate the serious financial and clinical challenges now weighing down the entire profession of laboratory medicine in the United States.