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Pathology Volumes: Where’s the Surge?

  • Account Executive, XIFIN

As the laboratory market continues to feel the impact of COVID-19, one of the most hard-hit types of labs from both a decline in testing volume and revenue is pathology practices. 

At the beginning of the pandemic, many pathology labs immediately experienced a decline in testing volume. Based on XIFIN client data, at the lowest point, pathology volume was down 46% the week of April 13, 2020. As the COVID-19 situation evolves, pathology practices are seeing an increase in testing volume but at a slower rate than many industry experts anticipated. This is due to two factors: 

  1. While hospitals resume elective surgeries, they are doing so in a staged, methodical manner. This process is complex and involves almost every department within a healthcare system. These departments need to collaborate to execute a rigorous process (often algorithm-driven) to ensure that elective surgeries are resumed safely and compliantly.
  2. As physician practices resume seeing patients, most are not yet back to pre-COVID-19 volume either. Many patients are experiencing a loss of income due to job eliminations, business closures, or furloughs, so they are unable to take on the out-of-pocket expenses related to the primary care needs for their families. In addition, many providers are reducing the number of patients they see each day due to increased appointment spacing requirements needed to meet the safe environmental guidelines.

Even as pathology practices await a post-COVID surge in lab testing volume, most practice leaders are investigating innovative ways to increase the practice’s revenue. For example, some pathology practices have identified a gap in the area of COVID-19 testing and adding these tests to their menu portfolio to increase volume and revenue. Other practices are using this opportunity to look into their current revenue cycle management (RCM) process to identify any technology roadblocks or process impediments that can be addressed to mitigate some of the losses in testing volume. Pathology practices have also used this time and personnel capacity to focus on projects they haven’t had time for, such as upgrading LIS systems and improving other processes important to a pathology practice.

Laboratory and healthcare system executives have faced many types of challenges over the years. They have successfully navigated their practices or hospitals through a myriad of unanticipated circumstances that have negatively impacted their revenue. While the COVID-19 experience has unique challenges, like other obstacles, preparation is the key to survival. Today the goal of any practice must be to not only prepare for the full return of testing volume but to establish a framework that can quickly scale in response to unanticipated variability or volatility in testing volumes in a manner that is both sustainable and cost-effective. 

For more than twenty years, XIFIN has partnered with large and small labs nationwide, helping them successfully weather a wide variety of unanticipated circumstances. Our unique platform supports your billing team with a solution that provides the highest level of automation and support. This is one of the reasons XIFIN was recently selected by Black Book Market Research LLC as #1 in Client Satisfaction for Lab RCM. These results are based on data from more than 4,000 user surveys.

If you are considering evaluating your current RCM process or are struggling in a specific area pertaining to lab reimbursements, XIFIN is here to help. To learn more about the impact of COVID-19 on laboratories as well as responses and adaptations that are working well, watch this complimentary on-demand webinar recording, “COVID-19 Impacts Reveal Hidden Essentials of Revenue Cycle Management."

To learn more about the XIFIN response to COVID-19, visit our online COVID-19 Laboratory Resource Center.
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Published by XIFIN
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