The healthcare industry saw certain elements of the Affordable Care Act postponed until 2015, but hospitals are currently looking to increase affordability by partnering with outsourcing companies to facilitate diagnostic lab logistics.
ModernHealthcare.com reported that the third largest outsourcing category listed on its annual outsourcing survey was clinical and diagnostic equipment maintenance services. The healthcare industry is realizing that many hospitals nationwide lack the resources and expert staff necessary for efficient in-house processes.
Rising prices for insurance premiums is a risk that many consumers, businesses and hospitals are looking to avoid when partnering with a patient support services company. Many diagnostic labs maintain their own fleet of vehicles that provides delivery and pickup of specimens. This service also ensures uninterrupted workflow at hospitals and clinics. Lower costs can add to the list of benefits provided by outsourced services.
Healthcare providers big and small increase partnerships
“With small facilities, you’re not going to be in existence if you don’t find a partner,” Brian Theiler, CEO at Tri-County Memorial Hospital in Whitehall, Wis., told ModernHeatlhcare.com.
This desire to stay operational is leading not only smaller healthcare institutions to contract with an outsourcing firm, but large ones as well.
According to the survey, the top 20 outsourcing firms reported 13.1 percent growth between 2010 and 2011 in their the number of national healthcare clients. In total, this group of healthcare outsourcing companies worked with 16,463 healthcare clients in 2011, improving upon the previous year by nearly 2,000 clients.
Outsourcing lab diagnostics more cost effective
Kevin Ellich, a senior research analyst at the investment bank Piper Jaffray, told Clinical Laboratory News about an experience he had working with a hospital-based lab. The overall cost for the hospital outreach lab was $650, whereas the cost at an outsourcing company could have been 348 percent less, or $145.
The lesson Ellich learned is that hospital-based testing is more expensive. The ACA is likely to impact the way hospitals charge patients and reimburse doctors for their services. Capitated payments mean that there will likely be a flat pay-rate for patients, regardless of how injured or sick they are.
Doctors will have less incentive to send these patients’ samples to a high-cost, hospital-based lab because they will not see increasing financial returns.
With the changes coming to healthcare and insurance pricing, physicians are more likely to refer patients to a more affordable lab, which in most cases is an outsourcing company specialized in diagnostic logistics.
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