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Health Diagnostic Laboratory Gets Some Good News

by | Feb 25, 2015

Despite going through some tough times lately, Richmond, Va.-based Health Diagnostic Laboratory (HDL) had some good news this month: An independent analysis showed positive results from its model of health care management. A group of nearly 7,400 patients receiving comprehensive laboratory testing paired with personalized lifestyle consulting from HDL saw a 41 percent decrease in […]

Despite going through some tough times lately, Richmond, Va.-based Health Diagnostic Laboratory (HDL) had some good news this month: An independent analysis showed positive results from its model of health care management. A group of nearly 7,400 patients receiving comprehensive laboratory testing paired with personalized lifestyle consulting from HDL saw a 41 percent decrease in the incidence of heart attacks and significantly lower occurrence of diabetes complication, according to a third-party analysis of insurance claims data. Optum—the health services platform of UnitedHealth Group—and researchers at the University of Richmond rigorously tested the ability of HDL’s model of comprehensive biomarker testing paired with direct patient engagement and physician support to promote positive health and cost outcomes. The study spanned a mean follow-up period of 27 months (with a range of 12 to 42 months). “The results provide strong evidence that Health Diagnostic Laboratory’s model of health management is associated with positive health outcomes. There were very interesting patterns in the data,” said Steve Thompson, associate professor of management at the Robins School of Business at the University of Richmond and lead author of the study. “First, improvements in outcomes emerged in a relatively short time frame. Second, although laboratory costs increased, the costs were entirely offset by an expenditure shift away from other medical costs, such as emergent care.” The study included 7,396 patients receiving HDL services who were matched by demographic, clinical, and cost parameters to a cohort of patients who did not receive testing or health management from the company. Both groups were sicker and more expensive (in terms of health care dollars) than the general population. In addition to the reduction in heart attacks—49 in the HDL cohort compared to 83 in the control group—clinical outcomes for ischemic strokes trended lower by 17 percent while diabetes complications were 15 percent less frequent. Desirable shifts in health system use were also observed, as inpatient admissions fell by 21 percent and emergency department visits were 6 percent less frequent in the HDL cohort. The report comes on the heels of a series of negative events for the Richmond lab. HDL co-founder and CEO Tonya Mallory stepped down suddenly in September, citing family reasons. Her departure comes while HDL is under scrutiny as part of a federal investigation into reimbursement practices in the clinical laboratory industry. In October, Connecticut-based health insurer Cigna sued the company, seeking to recover $84 million in insurance claims paid to HDL. And last month HDL announced that it was cutting its overall staff by 132 people, or about 15 percent of its workforce. Takeaway: The report that HDL’s health care management model is having positive effects on patient outcomes comes as good news for the lab, which has been under intense scrutiny in recent months.

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