R. Lewis Dark:
Hospital and Health System Labs Brace for Change
BY THE TIME MOST OF YOU ARE READING THIS, it is likely that the Supreme Court
ruling on the challenge to the Accountable Care Act (ACA) will be public
knowledge. It was this week of June 25-June 29 that the ruling was expected to
be announced.Not getting The Dark Report in your mailbox every 3 weeks?
Obviously, there are three potential rulings:
1) to allow the Accountable Care Act to stand as enacted;
2) to invalidate the entire ACA on constitutional grounds as argued
during the hearings; or,
3) to invalidate selected portions of the law, most likely to include invalidating
the controversial requirement of the “individual mandate.”
What I would like to put forth to you today is that, regardless of the decision,
passage of this legislation has already set in motion transformational forces that
will not be greatly affected if the Supreme Court invalidates some or all of the
Accountable Care Act. Take the example of some larger payers. Just days ago,
UnitedHealth, Aetna, and Humana told journalists that they intend to keep
some of the popular elements of ACA. These include offering preventive services
without co-pay requirements, covering children on the parents’ policies until age
26, and the elimination of lifetime benefit caps, to name a few.
As I see it, a Supreme Court ruling invalidating the entire ACA will not
stop the formation of accountable care organizations (ACO) nor the momentum
to more tightly integrate the delivery and management of healthcare to
patients. It is equally true that such a court ruling will not derail nor delay the
federal program to incentivize hospitals and physicians to adopt and use electronic
health record (EHR) systems.
Assume that my prognostications are accurate. What does this mean for hospital
laboratory administrators and pathologists? There is plenty of evidence that
our healthcare system is already embarked on a transformation that will not be
derailed. These pages have discussed all the trends in great detail—ranging from
proactive and personalized care to the tighter integration of care delivery and
healthcare informatics. Thus, for my money, pathologists and lab managers
should continue to anticipate more change and position their laboratory organizations
to add the kind of value that is rewarded with ample reimbursement.
That is the path to sustained clinical and financial success.
Well-Funded Buyers Put
Hospital Labs in Bull’s-Eye
Two new lab management companies want
to do deals with hospitals and health systems
CEO SUMMARY: In less than 12 months, two big private
equity firms have each launched a lab company with the goal of
acquiring and/or managing the clinical labs of hospitals and
health systems. In the case of aLabs, it has signed one laboratory
management services contract with Aurora and Advocate health
systems and another similar contract with Sharp HealthCare.
Regional Diagnostic Laboratories says it expects to complete two
or three hospital lab outreach acquisitions this year.
aLabs Now Manages Labs
For Major Health Systems
Created by a venture capital firm, aLabs
has agreements in Milwaukee and San Diego
CEO SUMMARY: Established with a unique business plan
unseen to date in the lab testing industry, aLabs has already
entered into laboratory management services contracts with
major health systems in Milwaukee and San Diego. This is an
impressive start for a newly-formed company that has no prior
experience in clinical laboratory operations. aLabs is recruiting
an interesting mix of executives. Some hires are coming from
outside the lab industry. Others are experienced lab managers.
New Lab Company Intends
To Buy Outreach Labs
Regional Diagnostic Laboratories wants
to acquire outreach lab programs from hospitals
CEO SUMMARY: Based in Brentwood, Tennessee, Regional
Diagnostic Laboratories (RDX) says it wants to purchase the laboratory
outreach programs of nonprofit community hospitals. RDX
is a partnership with Warburg Pincus, a New York investment company.
It is a credible buyer and has $250 million available to fund
these acquisitions. Brian Carr, RDX's CEO, predicts that his company
may close as many as three lab outreach purchases before
the end of this year, based on active negotiations with hospitals.
Indiana Clinical Lab
Taps Data To Improve
Service to Doctors
Real-time business intelligence (BI) guides decisions
CEO SUMMARY: Business intelligence is on the verge of becoming the next
"big thing" in clinical laboratory management. Lab teams are using real-time data
dashboards to quickly identify problems and take proactive steps to raise service
levels to clients. South Bend Medical Foundation says these software systems and
related tools are helping it raise the bar on service and quality.
Pathologists Can Offer
Personalized medicine will motivate hospitals
to use genetic tests to attract new patients
CEO SUMMARY: Community hospitals are recognizing
increased interest in personalized medicine among consumers.
One expert predicts that this will create opportunities
for hospital labs and pathology groups to add value by offering
subspecialty expertise in molecular diagnostics, genetic testing,
and “companion informatics.” At the University of
Louisville School of Medicine, the Department of Pathology and
Laboratory Medicine is actively supporting education in these
emerging new subspecialties.
INTELLIGENCE: Late & Latent
HOSPITAL TO DO
More on: OSU Laboratories
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