VP of Sales, XIFIN
AVP LIS Product Development, XIFIN
Very shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic reached the US and states began instituting “stay at home” orders, routine lab testing volume dramatically dropped off. At its lowest point, based on XIFIN client data, average weekly lab volume dropped approximately 57% across all segments. Laboratories, particularly those in “hot spots,” such as New York City and its surrounding counties, needed to react to this situation swiftly, and they did.
XIFIN clients in this part of the country needed to ramp up COVID-19 virus testing quickly to respond to the needs of the community — in as little as two weeks. It became the XIFIN team’s top priority to support our clients on these initiatives. Fortunately for laboratories that already had the required instrumentation and reagents in place, what they needed from XIFIN LIS was already built into the system. In coordination with our clients, the XIFIN team quickly established the specific configurations required to process the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay to test for the SARS-COV-2 pathogen.
Within 24 hours XIFIN had the required system components and workflows set up, and within 48 hours the data layout was complete for COVID-19. XIFIN LIS customers who had the PCR instruments in place were able to manually report out COVID-19 cases within five days.
As volumes increased, further automation of this process became the top priority. The instrument interface between, for example, the Thermo Fisher Scientific Applied Biosystem 7500 PCR systems, was quickly configured to accommodate the ramp-up in sample volume.
The configuration was initially deployed at five XIFIN LIS clients who requested an immediate implementation. In some cases, this was completed even before the instrumentation was validated. XIFIN continues to launch COVID-19 reporting modules as requested by client laboratories, and it remains our highest implementation priority.
XIFIN LIS is flexible and nimble, which allows our clients to adapt and pivot quickly when required, as in the case of a pandemic. In addition to serving the needs of the community in ramping up COVID-19 virus testing, laboratories needed this testing volume to offset some of the dramatic volume drop in routine lab testing during the quarantine period. Shortly after laboratories had ramped up the molecular (PCR) virus testing, many in the most hard-struck communities also began processing the serology tests for COVID-19 antibodies.
Being able to swiftly respond to the need for virus testing created an immediate uptick in the lost revenue from routine lab testing. Because the reimbursement for the PCR virus test is $100 and many routine tests are reimbursed at a much higher rate, the entire revenue shortfall for a laboratory is unlikely to be closed in the near-term. However, as “stay at home” orders begin to loosen, and routine testing for patients resumes, the COVID-19 testing can become a revenue=generating opportunity for many of those labs that have the flexible systems in place to bring the test online.
While XIFIN continues to see more labs looking to spin up PCR virus testing as an immediate strategy to narrow revenue gaps, we expect that many laboratories will see a shift in test mix and volume based on increases in COVID-19 antibody testing, which can be another source of new revenue. We also expect to see a continued uptick in routine testing.