Survey Reveals Huge Gap Between “Have” and “Have Not” Labs

by | Oct 15, 2020 | Covid Testing, COVID-19, PCR Testing | 0 comments

The latest Laboratory Economics Covid-19 Survey of Labs showed that 71% of labs were currently performing Covid-19 PCR testing and another 3% planned to soon add this capability, while 26% were not doing this testing. Those labs that are performing Covid-19 PCR testing reported that they expect their overall test volume (including both Covid and non-Covid testing) this year to increase by an average of 59% with a median of 10%.

The benefits garnered by labs doing Covid-19 PCR testing will soon be enlarged as many labs are in the process of switching to combo tests that detect Covid-19 and influenza A/B from a single patient specimen (CPT 87636). New combo PCR tests for Covid-19, influenza A/B and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are also being introduced (CPT 87637).

Meanwhile, the “Have Nots” that do not perform Covid-19 PCR testing are expecting average volume growth of only 1% with a median of 0%. The “Have Nots” surveyed were comprised entirely of local pathology groups and physician-office-based labs.

“The downturn in patient office visits has decreased lab volumes and caused many to furlough or completely lay off certain areas of staff. The labs that are thriving are those that have been fast and flexible enough to add Covid testing,” said a surveyed lab executive from Florida.

“The Covid pandemic has introduced new healthcare delivery platforms, such as telemedicine, that do not enable the same amount of referral laboratory testing. Despite offering an electronic order and convenient online scheduling at local patient service centers, we are seeing an increase in patient no-shows and test orders are not being completed,” noted a lab executive from Texas.

National Covid-19 PCR test volumes have quadrupled since LE’s initial Covid-19 survey conducted back in early May. Volumes might be even higher if not for continued supply shortages. Our most recent survey
showed that 59% of labs had shortages in PCR-based Covid-19 test kits. Pipette tips (45%) and collection swabs/specimen transport media (41%) are also currently in short supply.

The Laboratory Economics Covid-19 Survey of Labs was emailed to approximately 6,000 pathologists, laboratory directors, managers and executives between September 30 and October 13. We received complete responses from 124 individuals, including 44% from local independent pathology groups/labs, 25% from national pathology/commercial lab companies, 23% from hospital-based labs and pathology groups, 6% from academic medical centers, and 2% from physician office labs.