Judy O'Rourke

Judy O’Rourke

The passage of health care reform, due to be rolled out incrementally during the upcoming years, could stay the course or radically change course after the November presidential election. It will be very interesting to see how this plays out … for patients, for lab medicine.

Following on the heels of earlier shared-savings programs, the Affordable Care Act would further the move away from the long-established fee-for-service means of providing reimbursement for health care services based upon outcome measures.

Outcome measures, which could include reducing types of hospital-acquired infections, could be a key step in a pay-for-performance initiative. In the coming months, hospitals will need to report on their rates of MRSA and C. diff infections. Lowering rates of these HAIs could be an outcome measure. Payment schedules are in flux, with the aim to reward hospitals and physicians for providing the best and most efficient service to patient and bettering patients’ health care outcomes.

In this era of user-friendly Web comparison shopping for everything from cars to computers, hospitals are not exempt. The health reform act calls for an easy-to-navigate Web site, which features HAI data from hospitals, among the comparative components. The site could help facilitate one-stop shopping for consumers of hospital services (ie, patients). In the mix with the fiscal impacts of these new standards and incentives is fallout from the public’s discernment.

Depending on how voters (sometimes called patients) cast their votes, this could be a work in progress, or not.

When everyday people hear about the West Nile Virus outbreak, they may scrupulously slather on the insect repellent and long for fall’s chill. Laboratorians (especially those who live in Dallas, or the hardest-hit states) work overtime to handle high testing volumes. In September, we spoke with Irina Lutinger, MPH, MASCP, H(ASCP)DLM, FACHE, ASCP, and Jay M. Lieberman, MD, an expert in infectious diseases and emerging infectious diseases, medical director of infectious diseases for Quest Diagnostics, Madison, NJ, and medical and laboratory director for Focus Diagnostics. If you missed it, see the digital edition of CLP.

Judy O’Rourke
Editor, CLP
, (619) 659-1065