PAML Aiming for Boomer Market With New Lab Division
There are 77 million baby boomers in the United States, and they control about three-quarters of the nation’s wealth. And as business segments from cruise ships to fitness centers have tweaked their business models to cater to them, it seems logical laboratories should do so as well. That is among the reasons Spokane, Wash.-based national […]
There are 77 million baby boomers in the United States, and they control about three-quarters of the nation’s wealth. And as business segments from cruise ships to fitness centers have tweaked their business models to cater to them, it seems logical laboratories should do so as well. That is among the reasons Spokane, Wash.-based national laboratory PAML, LLC has created a new subsidiary business division to provide what is known as age management: a clinical glimpse into the crystal ball to help the boomer generation to decide the best way to preserve their health for the next 30 years or beyond. Age management typically is focused on patients beginning in their mid-40s and often extending into their 80s. Its focus is to go beyond ensuring absence of disease, creating a holistic sense of good health. Although it is not considered a specific medical specialty, the number of physicians who offer age management services is growing rapidly. The division, subsidiary known as AION Laboratories (“aion” is the Greek word for eternal), is headed by existing PAML executives and scientists, although a few hires have been made in the customer service and sales divisions. Most of the testing will be performed at PAML, LLC’s reference laboratory in Spokane, with its existing network of phlebotomists performing draws in the offices of patients’ doctors or in their homes or offices. Company officials have described the service as “concierge-level,” meaning they do not expect many patients to visit draw centers. “The goal of age management by definition is for individuals to be at their peak physiologic performance,” said PAML, LLC Chief Executive Officer Francisco R. Velázquez, M.D., S.M. He added that many middle-aged Americans believe they can take years off of their bodies and minds with the right balance of diet and exercise, and lab testing can provide the appropriate guidance to do so. Although Velázquez said the expansion dovetails with PAML’s dedication to patient wellness, it is also expected to help PAML remain at peak performance in terms of its bottom line. Citing statistics from age management advocacy groups, Velázquez projected as much as 80 percent of AION’s business will be cash-pay, with panels running from hundreds to well into the thousands of dollars. And while PAML’s organic business is continuing to grow, Velázquez noted that a business segment where reimbursements are unlikely to come under pressure is a good hedge against existing books of business. “It’s fairly lab intensive, and these patients get monitored several times a year,” he said. The diagnostics being offered by AION included baseline assessments for males and females, thyroid and lipid panels, comprehensive cardiovascular and risk assessment, hormone and menopause testing, inflammation testing, and diabetes/metabolic testing. Some genetic and molecular tests are also being offered, primarily to determine specific major health care risks for patients. R. Scott Liff, president of business development at Kellison & Co. in Cleveland, believes the move by PAML, LLC makes business sense, but he was not without skepticism. “It’s a logical step for labs to look at the middle-aged folks going into their senior years,” he said. But Liff later added that AION is not really offering any new tests. “It seems to be a marketing spin on currently available assays. It will be hard to tell if this will take hold.” The creation of the AION subsidiary division means PAML, LLC has expanded its laboratory offerings to both ends of the demographic spectrum. Earlier this year, it invested in Health123, a Seattle-based virtual health technology startup that is offering in-home diagnostic tests that are aimed primarily at the XRs and millennial generation. “We’ve always intended to cover all segments of wellness testing in the market,” Velázquez said. Takeaway: In order to make up for unpredictable volumes and revenue in general reference testing, PAML, LLC is expanding to other segments where cash-pay patients are abundant.