April 2023
Full Focus: How to Ace Your Competency Assessments and Avoid Citations

Competency assessment is often one of the most challenging aspects of laboratory inspections, especially for new labs as they work to understand all CLIA requirements while determining which individuals are qualified to perform the evaluations. But what does a successful competency program look like?

Join us for our next free webinar at 12:00 PM EDT, Thursday, April 27, as we dive into best practices for optimizing competency assessments alongside Leah Westover, MPH, MLS(ASCP), of MediaLab. We'll also feature a Q&A session with Lighthouse Lab Director Dr. Lori Millner, PhD, NRCC, to learn more about what she typically looks for during on-site inspections.
1. Reintroduction of SALSA Aims to Fix Lab PAMA Reporting

Independent laboratories have been pushed to the brink of financial instability in recent years due to the price cuts mandated by the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (PAMA). However, as part of a yearslong effort to rectify the problematic pricing and reporting regulations implemented by CMS under PAMA, the Saving Access to Laboratory Services Act (SALSA) was reintroduced by Congress on March 28.

2. Personnel Compliance as the Public Health Emergency Ends

As we prepare for the end of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) on May 11, labs should keep in mind that CLIA requirements for personnel were sometimes relaxed during the pandemic. The expiration of the PHE means labs will no longer enjoy these relaxed rules for personnel requirements. It will be listed as a deficiency during upcoming inspections if any lab personnel filling CLIA roles are deemed not to have the standard qualification requirements.

If you need assistance locating qualified personnel or preparing for an inspection, don't hesitate to reach out to us directly.
3. Decline in COVID Testing Creates Retraining Opportunities for Labs Amid Staffing Shortages

Clinical laboratories of all sizes and sub-specialties are still struggling with staffing issues as many of the lab professionals trained primarily for molecular COVID testing fail to meet employers’ qualifications and required experience for open positions.

“There's still a huge need for sub-specialties such as histotechnology, cytotechnology, toxicology, LC/MS, etc.,” says Maggie Morrissey, Director of Recruiting and Staffing for Lighthouse Lab Services

4. 2023 Medical Lab Professionals Wage and Morale Survey

Lighthouse is conducting an anonymous wage and morale survey of medical laboratory professionals for the second consecutive year to help better illustrate the impact staffing issues and stagnating wages are having on individuals within the profession. The survey takes roughly five minutes to complete and primarily consists of questions on how current staffing and compensation levels at your lab are impacting morale.

Our goal is to provide respondents with actionable data that can be used to inform their career moves and assist in future compensation negotiations, while also providing more insight to help improve the medical lab industry as a whole.

1. What Labs Need to Know as the Public Health Emergency Ends

Is your lab prepared for the end of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency on May 11? You may think you won't be affected if you're seeing a low volume of COVID specimens, but the scope of this change extends beyond just reimbursement, impacting everything from specimen collection to patient cost-sharing obligations and physician orders.

2. Are You Complying with New California Data-Sharing Requirements?

We're working to remind our clients of a new data-sharing law for California physicians and groups. The law requires all groups to register and acknowledge a data-sharing agreement established by CalHHS to help support the exchange of health information between providers.

While the original deadline to register was Jan. 31, 2023, providers can still sign up to become compliant. Let us know if you need assistance registering or understanding whether your group qualified for this requirement!
3. MIPS Opt-Out Again Available for 2023 Performance Year

CMS has announced the agency will again allow physicians and group practices to apply to opt out of 2023 Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) reporting through an Extreme and Uncontrollable Circumstances hardship exception in order to avoid up to a -9% Medicare Part B penalty in 2025. This is a continuation of the exemption CMS provided throughout the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.

However, the exception is not automatic, and interested groups must actively request reweighting of one or more MIPS performance categories due to the PHE. If accepted by CMS, the hardship exemption would apply to 2023 reporting and 2025 payment adjustments. The application is expected to be released later this spring. If you have questions about whether opting out would be beneficial to your group or lab, don't hesitate to reach out to us directly to speak with our RCM Solutions Team.
Deep Dive: Anticipated Costs for Building an In-House Pathology Lab
Have you explored the benefits of adding a Physician Office Lab to your practice? Typically, if a lab sends out at least 4,000 to 5,000 samples annually, it makes sense to consider keeping that testing in-house, according to Rod Glose, Director of Pathology Consulting for Lighthouse.

In this article, we cover:

  • Space considerations
  • Personnel requirements
  • Equipment needs
  • Total cost estimates
Rod Glose Director of Pathology Consulting
If you own the pathology, it’s part of your practice. You not only cut down on turnaround times, but you are able to treat the patient a little more holistically by developing a greater relationship between the pathologist and the clinician. And it’s more holistic from a business perspective, as well.

-- Rod Glose, Director of Pathology Consulting, Lighthouse Lab Services.
We are proud to highlight one of our partners, FrontRunnerHC. FrontRunnerHC's data automation platform helps labs and healthcare organizations maximize their reimbursements while also enhancing their patients’ experience with instantaneous access to patient demographic, insurance, and financial information. Leveraging its access to the most payers in the industry, FrontRunnerHC finds, verifies, and fixes patient information in realtime or batch, and at any point during the care journey. Defining the patient experience as the clinical journey + the financial journey™, FrontRunnerHC helps address the challenges that jeopardize both the organization’s ability to get paid and their patients' experience. You can find more information at www.FrontRunnerHC.com.

For additional information about the partnership, email us at info@lighthouselabservices.com.
1. Executive War College on Diagnostics, Clinical Lab, and Pathology Management

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The Lab Insighter is a monthly publication for Lab Owners and Decision Makers.