Pathology, personalized medicine, and health reform
The new era of personalized medicine can also be attributed to the changing landscape of new payment models. One of many changes
to how physicians are paid, due in large part to the Patient Protection and Accountable Care Act (ACA), is value-based purchasing.
The primary goal of the many reforms initiated through the ACA is a reduction in cost and an improvement in quality.
As pathologists become more involved in the development, management, and application of patient information and health records,
they are well-positioned to deliver care that is personally tailored, highly effective, and cost efficient.
"Pathologists are focused on patient safety and quality," said Siegal. "[Pathologists] bring to the multidisciplinary team
of physicians a unique skill set for the better and encourage more interaction between pathologist and physician."
Highlighting the value of the pathologist to patient care requires pathologists to be more visible in their hospitals, but
it also requires appropriate compensation, according to Siegal.
The economics of healthcare doesn't just apply solely to the cost of care to patients. Changes to reimbursements and laboratory
fee schedules are also affecting pathologists. Molecular tests can be labor-intensive and costly. Third-party payer reimbursements
do not reflect the cost of performing these procedures and Medicare reimbursement rates are even lower. While pathologists
are up to and able to meet the challenges presented in this new era of healthcare, it is uncertain that the United States
will be able to maintain an adequate supply of experts in the field without proper compensation.
Recognition as a vital member of the healthcare team
As the field of pathology has expanded, so have the skill sets, knowledge, and value of its practitioners. The field of informatics,
which is growing increasingly important as a diagnostic technique, is becoming an essential area of pathology training. This
new knowledge allows pathologists to gather and interpret complex patient data using 21st century technologies. Progress in
the field of molecular pathology is poised to move pathology from a referral-driven specialty to one that has direct interactions
with patients. Highly specialized training in the area of molecular genetics makes pathologists invaluable as we transition
to the new era of personalized medicine and care. It is important to acknowledge the benefits pathologists bring to the entire
healthcare team as personalized medicine promises to transform the way healthcare is provided.
Editor's note: Founded in 1922 in Chicago, the American Society for Clinical Pathology is a medical professional society with more than
100,000 member board-certified anatomic and clinical pathologists, pathology residents and fellows, laboratory professionals,
and students. ASCP provides excellence in education, certification, and advocacy on behalf of patients, pathologists, and
laboratory professionals. For more information, visit
Jordan Sarver is Web Writer at the American Society for Clinical Pathology. He can be reached at Jordan.firstname.lastname@example.org