For this issue of CLP, I had the distinct pleasure of speaking with a number of diagnostics experts about the longstanding issue of “value” as it relates to clinical laboratory testing. Excerpts from their comments have been compiled for this issue’s roundtable, “The Value of Diagnostics.”
Reading these comments, it rapidly becomes clear why “value” has been such a hot-button issue in the clinical laboratory community for more than a decade. Value, like beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder. And in the case of diagnostics, say the experts, there are a lot of beholders with quite varied interests and views on the subject.
As a result, the characteristics and features of diagnostic testing that are most valued by one group of stakeholders may be unimportant to, or even at odds with, the factors most valued by other stakeholders. Patients may place great value on the speed, accuracy, and convenience of testing, while policymakers may be more interested in the costs of testing when adopted for use in a large patient population. As expressed by roundtable panelist Franz Walt, president of laboratory diagnostics at Siemens Healthcare:
Many times an investment in one part of healthcare produces savings somewhere else, but these benefits aren’t acknowledged because they are in a different budget. Nobody has a holistic budget perspective.
Such differing views about the value of diagnostics have serious implications when it comes to establishing appropriate coverage and reimbursement policies. According to panelist Daniella Cramp, global president, cardiometabolic, at Alere:
Payors and policymakers are not aware of the full value of laboratory diagnostics. As a result, there is constant pressure to reduce reimbursement for diagnostic testing. In vitro diagnostics manufacturers are continually challenged to demonstrate the value of their tests for both positively influencing patient outcomes and providing efficiency to healthcare systems.
And those implications may ultimately cripple the ability of the clinical lab community to meet future needs for advanced diagnostics. According to panelist Lâle White, MBA, executive chairman and CEO of Xifin:
There are certainly cost pressures throughout the world as well as in the United States, which until now has been leading the way in diagnostics research and development. But unless we are able to reduce some of these costs, we’re not going to continue developing as quickly as we have in the past.
We hope readers will visit the online version of the roundtable and use our online tools to offer their own views as well.
Chief Editor, CLP