Monday, May 7, 2012

Tough Year for Clinical Lab Services

Reimbursement woes slowed down the market for clinical laboratory services in the United States, our latest report in this market.   We have the market was worth approximately $52.1 billion in 2011, increasing at just 1% from $50.6 billion in 2010. 

The clinical lab services market includes hospital and physician labs billing for tests performed on patients in their care, and lab chains who perform services hospitals and physicians outsource, most notably LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics. The report indicated that the despite the several positive trends drive growth in this lab services - the aging and longer-living population and an increase in volumes, the recent overhaul of the fee schedule with reductions for almost all tests. 

The overall word in the industry is that this has been a difficult time for billers. The new schedules reduce most fees, which will continue to reduce revenue growth. For instance, the CPT code for FISH testing declined from $252 in 2007 to $202 in 2011.

A few positive trends were noted in our report: volume is up, and this provided what revenue growth was achieved last year. A trend toward preventive and risk factor testing has been noted in several disciplines, particularly in the areas of oncology, endocrinology, and gynecology. Physicians in these areas are taking full advantage of testing for early detection and disease prevention. Hospital length of stay’s in the United States have been reduced to approximately 4.7 days on average, compared to 5.4 days in 1995 and 4.9 days in 2000. This reduces the physician-patient contact and places a larger role on laboratories to gather, interpret, and deliver information to the physician for the purpose of monitoring a patient’s condition and overall health.