November 22, 2019
Arkana’s Service: What’s It Worth?
- Published: November 22, 2019
- By: Aaron Nichols, MHSA, FACMPE
Since I joined Arkana Laboratories in 2011, our company and my role have changed considerably. At the time I joined we were known as Nephropath and we were a fast-growing renal pathology service. Since my time here we have expanded into Neuropathology, Molecular Pathology, Clinical and Contract Research, as well as added a variety of testing modalities to support our pathology services. All that change even necessitated a name change to Arkana Laboratories, which we felt better reflected our current service offerings as well as those which we hope to bring on in the future. Despite all of the change, one thing has remained the same and that is Arkana’s value proposition of providing expert consultation as quickly as possible. It is a philosophy that we believe is not only good patient care but also makes financial sense for the hospitals that we serve.
Today, I serve as Chief Operations Officer at Arkana. In my role as COO, one function I oversee is the contract negotiation process with our client hospitals. In my time here, the industry landscape has changed just as much as Arkana itself! Since 2014 and the sunset of the so-called “TC Grandfather Clause,” a policy that allowed laboratories like Arkana to bill Medicare directly for the services they performed in their labs, hospital budgets have been tightening and the cost of services has become a chief concern.
While I understand the temptation to use the lowest cost provider, I believe that consideration must be given to a service level that balances the cost concern by facilitating earlier discharge of patients and by discharging those that are more stable and less likely to be readmitted. For example, based on Health and Human Services data, the most common admissions for Acute Renal Failure cost, on average, $15,502 over the course of a five-day stay. Our next day turn-around allows providers to have actionable data earlier into that patient’s stay and if that translates to one less day of hospitalization the facility will save approximately $3,000 on the cost of treatment. That will not be the case for every admission, but even if our service can impact just one out of ten patients, the costs will be equalized.
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 22% of patients discharged with acute or unspecified renal failure are readmitted for the same cause within 30 days. Not only is this devastating for patients, but facility’s payment for those readmissions is also increasingly in jeopardy. Many payers will provide no compensation for readmission within 30 days. With an average cost of treatment more than $15,000, if our service can prevent one readmission per year for one of our facilities the costs will have been covered.
The challenges such as those I have described above are what drew me to healthcare administration. What has drawn me to Arkana is a commitment to the belief that excellent service is not only what patients deserve but that it can impact the costs of care for the facilities that we serve.