The one thread that loops completely through the volume-to-value proposition has been data—many laboratory leaders want to transition their business model into this new realm, but actually offering cohesive support for it outside of specific assays and clinical situations has been challenging. Last month, Health Diagnostic Laboratory (HDL) took an audacious step forward in the […]
The one thread that loops completely through the volume-to-value proposition has been data—many laboratory leaders want to transition their business model into this new realm, but actually offering cohesive support for it outside of specific assays and clinical situations has been challenging. Last month, Health Diagnostic Laboratory (HDL) took an audacious step forward in the march toward value. It published a study in a peer-reviewed academic journal touting the cost-value proposition of its assays—all of them. According to the study, which was published in Population Health Management, patients who received HDL’s cardiovascular testing panel had significantly lower health care costs moving forward than other patients. The study followed 229 patients who received two of HDL’s cardiometabolic panels between June 2010 and May 2011 and compared them to a 214-patient control group that underwent two lipid panels during the same period of time. The patients in the HDL group also received related wellness services. The health care costs for both groups were then charted over a two-year period. The data was striking: The HDL cohort had overall health care costs that were 23 percent lower than the control group. According to the study, the more granular data from HDL’s tests and the follow-up disease management led to the cost reductions. “Interestingly, the reduction in total costs was seen despite higher costs observed in the HDL cohort during the baseline year before the first HDL . . . test panel,” noted the study. Its lead author was Steve Thompson, a professor at the University of Richmond, researchers from HealthCore, a Delaware-based company that focuses on health outcomes, and HDL staff. The study’s introduction focused specifically on the role of laboratory testing in accountable care organizations, a model where the sector’s role remains unsettled. “The findings from this report also suggest that providers and payers that are entering shared savings initiatives should consider the role that ancillary service providers with comprehensive care models such as HDL can bring to both manage costs and improve the health of patients,” said Tonya Mallory, the Richmond, Va.-based laboratory’s chief executive officer. Sector observers say the approach could blaze a path for other laboratories. “This is one of the ways of the future—labs will have to choose from the low-cost or high-value strategy,” said Kathy Murphy, chief executive officer of Chi Solutions, a consulting firm in Ann Arbor, Mich. “This is extremely powerful data, the kind of thing that would support even differential payer reimbursements and networks,” said L. Eleanor J. Herriman, M.D., managing director of advisory services for G2 Intelligence. Herriman added though that HDL’s business model is unique, in that it blends laboratory testing with disease-management services. “They have a reason they want to invest in outcome differences,” she said. She also believes that other laboratories will have to take a similar approach. “What they need to succeed is low cost and quality tied to outcomes and studies, but a lot of labs are not yet thinking that way,” Herriman said. Takeaway: Publishing peer-reviewed data may be an avenue for labs demonstrating their value proposition.
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