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After Large Spikes in 2020, Diagnostic Laboratory Testing Volumes on the Decline

As XIFIN CEO Lâle White wrote in her recent LinkedIn article, the COVID-19 pandemic created many challenges for the diagnostic industry in 2020. In the preceding years, many laboratories were running lean with little excess capacity. With the surge in COVID-19 testing demand, labs had to quickly add capacity to handle the new testing volume. In addition, dynamic regulatory changes designed to address the pandemic resulted in disparate payor coverage and reimbursement policies, causing further disruption for labs. As an industry, we faced unprecedented testing and diagnosis delays. But perhaps most importantly, the effects of the pandemic highlighted the need for a diagnostic industry that can more flexibly handle these types of events in the future.

Read more about Lâle’s perspective on the vaccines’ expected impact on testing volume and lab operations as well as her outlook on the future of diagnostics, and join the conversation.

As vaccines roll out, COVID-19 testing volumes will continue to decline, and diagnostic laboratories will be faced with what to do with the “new” capacity created to keep up with the initial surge of COVID-19 testing. Researchers suggest that laboratories will need to expand test menus and anticipate new virus proliferation.

Despite the ongoing downward trend that began in January, we continue to see some fluctuations in both routine and COVID-19 testing volume. This past week, testing overall inched very slightly downward, despite a modest increase in COVID-19 testing. The segment-by-segment breakdown looks like this:

Pain and toxicology lab volume notched a 4% increase in volume, equally attributed to routine and COVID-19 testing. This brought the segment just over double baseline.

The Molecular segment segment eked out a 1% overall increase in volume, and at 241% of baseline, this remains the segment with the highest testing volume as compared to baseline.  

The Hospital lab segment has seen small fluctuations in volume week over week for both COVID-19 testing and routine testing and is running at approximately 170% of baseline overall.

Clinical lab volumes remain relatively stable, with no change in COVID-19 testing and a 1% decrease in routine testing. The segment finished the week at just under 180% of baseline overall.

The Pathology segment has increased in volatility and this week saw a 9% overall decrease to finish the week at 106% of baseline.

Interested in weekly reporting of lab testing volume data across the US? Visit our Lab Volume Index today.
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Published by XIFIN
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