COVID-19 Pushes Lab Industry To Center Stage

The lab market continues to play a pivotal role in American healthcare, this time stepping up to meet the rapid rise in testing to combat COVID-19

The onset of the coronavirus pandemic has pushed the laboratory market, usually a behind-the-scenes business, onto healthcare’s center stage as well as the media’s front page. Labs are a key player in curbing COVID-19. In 2019, even before the new virus began its onslaught around the globe, the U.S. lab testing market was valued at $82 billion.

More than 30 million COVID-19 samples have passed through commercial labs since the federal government in late February gave those labs the green light to process COVID tests. Earlier this year, hospitals sent coronavirus lab tests to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and other public labs, but they faced obstacles in handling the level of mass testing required.

During the first several months of COVID-19, 60% of labs provided testing for the disease, according to HIDA’s 2020 Lab Market Report. Due to product shortages with overseas suppliers and skyrocketing demand, labs had difficulty acquiring products needed for testing.

It’s also been a challenge getting those tests quickly processed, which is a key factor in helping stop the disease’s spread. According to a recent report from researchers working together at several U.S. universities, in mid-July about 37% of tests around the country came back in one or two days. Twenty-one percent took three days, 29% took four to seven days and the remaining 13% took more than a week.

Laboratory Volumes By Facility Type During COVID-19, February–May, 2020

Private Insurance Is Largest Payer For Lab Tests

In 2019, nearly 63% of lab tests were paid by private insurance and Medicare or Medicaid. Lab test reimbursement is determined by the type of test and location of services provided such as inpatient, outpatient or ambulatory care. Read the full 2020 HIDA Lab Market Report available in September:

HIDA Market Reports►

Molecular, Antigen, And Serological Testing Central To Public Health During COVID-19

States have been banding together, creating interstate compacts for buying and expanding use of rapid, point-of-care antigen tests. In August, governors from Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia inked deals with U.S. test makers to purchase 500,000 tests per state. The states are attracted to the antigen testing because they can deliver test results in minutes rather than days.

“With severe shortages and delays in testing…states are banding together to acquire millions of faster tests to help save lives and slow the spread of COVID-19,” Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said in a statement.

Executive Briefing | Sept/October 2020

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