Growing numbers of urology and gastroenterology (GI) physician groups are taking deliberate steps to capture the revenues from anatomic pathology (AP) services generated by their patient referrals, The trend is already recognized to be one of the most destructive forces now confronting the pathology profession.

So it should be no surprise that some of pathology’s more notable leaders are raising the alarm. Just in the past seven days, an array of lab industry heavyweights stepped up to speak to the pathology profession. The goal was to define the problem, create awareness, and stimulate action.

Last week at Amelia Island, Florida, current College of American Pathologists (CAP) President Thomas M. Sodeman, M.D. joined with Louis D. Wright, Jr., M.D., Chairman of Pathology Service Associates (PSA) to speak to this threat at the 2006 PSA Strategic Business Retreat. To add force and emphasis, also participating in the program was Dennis Weissman, President of Dennis Weissman &Associates, LLC and Robert L. Michel, Editor-in-Chief of The Dark Report. Their perspectives provided optimism that pathologists could act effectively to counter the interest of specialist groups in creating their own in-house AP services.

Adding his own voice to this issue last weekend was Robert E. Petras, M.D., National Director for Gastrointestinal Pathology at AmeriPath, Inc. of Oakwood Village, Ohio. Dr. Petras hosted an entire morning on this topic at the ASCP (American Society of Clinical Pathology) Annual Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada. His panel reflects the recognition that this trend needs high visibility and immediate action. Speakers included Jane Pine Wood, Attorney for McDonald Hopkins, based in Cleveland, Ohio, Robert L. Michel of The Dark Report; James M. Crawford, MD, Ph.D, Professor and Chair, Department of Pathology at the University of Florida in Gainesville; and Jeff Jacobs, who works in the Washington, DC office of the ASCP.

Laboratory directors, pathologists, and practice administrators should take note of these developments. Capture of anatomic pathology specimens and revenues by specialist physicians like urologists and GIs is gaining recognition as one of the most serious threats to the economic viability of the pathology profession. The willingness of these prominent individuals to step forward and detail the nature of this trend shows that a competitive market battle is about to unfold. The laboratory industry is building energy to confront specialist physicians and restore the primacy of pathologists as the best, most appropriate provider of diagnostic services.

You can contribute to the success of this effort. If your pathology group or laboratory has succeeded in developing a win-win outcome with a urology or GI group that wanted to get into the anatomic pathology business, we would like to hear about it. We are collecting success stories and preparing a briefing on effective techniques pathologists can use to respond to the interest of their local specialists in launching an in-practice AP service. E-mail Robert at rmichel@darkdaily.com