CEO Dan Lambert Advises Company Leaders on How to Prepare for a Recession

The looming uncertainty of an oncoming recession is nerve-wracking for business owners. But recessions, although distressing, are not a new phenomenon. History is replete with unforeseen downturns in the economy that have taught us how to best prepare for such events.

In a recent Forbes article, Dan Lambert, CEO of PathologyWatch, explained how companies can prepare for and survive a recession. Here are the strategies he recommends:

Have a Plan that Can Pivot Quickly

With so much unknown in the future, it might seem difficult to come up with a plan. But Lambert asserts, “Whether a pandemic, a recession or a shift in your industry is to blame, business leaders need to have a plan in mind before it’s needed.” Even if it’s just a “best guess,” an imperfect plan is better than no plan at all.

Harness Various Types of Funding

Another best practice is to diversify your sources of capital. “Secure access to private equity, venture debt, collateralized credit, SBA loans, EIDL and PPP because these are all strategic options at the right moment,” Lambert advises. And it is crucial to focus on funding that will keep your company secure in the long term. 

Be Prepared to Scale Up and Down Quickly

Next, Lambert suggests that business owners should pre-identify essential and nonessential positions so that tough decisions can be made quickly if downsizing is necessary. Similarly, be prepared to create new roles when people need to be redeployed.

Gain Commitment, but Accept Disagreement

While some disagreement is a good thing for a healthy company dynamic, there can be a lot more disagreement during a recession, and having consensus is equally important. Make sure that, despite disagreements, you are able to get people to commit and move forward.

Dan Lambert points out that these strategies, in a way, involve reverting to a “startup mindset.” When the economy is unstable, this kind of agility is essential for a company to continue to prosper.

To read the full Forbes article, click here.

PathologyWatch Reinforces Roster of Dermatopathologists with Cacey Peters, MD

Cacey Peters, MD, joins the PathologyWatch team to strengthen the delivery of optimal patient outcomes.

“Combining diagnostic and communication skills with a vast knowledge of whole-slide imaging, Dr. Peters represents a valuable addition to our team of expert dermatopathologists,” says Dan Lambert, cofounder and chief executive officer of PathologyWatch.

Dr. Peters completed his residency in anatomic and clinical pathology at Tulane. His fellowship was in dermatopathology at the Ackerman Academy of Dermatopathology, and he is US-board certified in dermatopathology, anatomic and clinical pathology.

“Streamlining the diagnosis, turnaround time and overall efficiency for dermatologists is crucial to me,” said Dr. Peters. “Joining PathologyWatch will help me to deliver on these goals while also contributing to the team of talented dermatopathologists on challenging cases to benefit the clinicians we serve.”

Dr. Peters comes to PathologyWatch with years of experience promoting digital pathology as a tool to unite and educate both dermatologists and pathologists around the world. “Switching over to primary diagnosis on a digital platform is a dream come true,” said Dr. Peters. “Within my lifetime, I’ve no doubt digital pathology will take over 100% of the industry.”

For more information, please email [email protected] or visit pathologywatch.com.

About PathologyWatch
PathologyWatch is the groundbreaking leader of digital dermatopathology services. Through these services, dermatology clinics, hospitals and laboratories can improve operational efficiency by speeding up workflow and enhancing patient outcomes by utilizing the PathologyWatch expert professional team and laboratory services. This can facilitate best-in-class reads and, in some cases, enable additional revenue to the practice by in-housing pathology. With an intuitive and easy-to-implement digital pathology solution that includes access to top-tier dermatopathologists and a streamlined clinical workflow that interfaces directly into the EMR, PathologyWatch brilliantly combines state-of-the-art technology and clinical decision-making to deliver unprecedented patient care.

Dan Lambert, PathologyWatch CEO, Joins the Digital Pathology Place to Share PathologyWatch’s Success Story

Although healthcare providers have become accustomed to digital solutions in recent years, these solutions have only recently been introduced to dermatologists. But how much can digital pathology really do for dermatologists?

Dan Lambert, PathologyWatch CEO, recently joined Aleksandra Żuraw, DVM, PhD, host of the podcast Digital Pathology Place, to share how PathologyWatch’s quick, convenient, and comprehensive digital pathology solution is transforming the dermatology industry.

Here are some highlights from Dan and Aleksandra’s interview:

How does digital pathology empower dermatologists?

Dan: For the first time, the dermatologist is not only getting just a fax report over. They’re actually getting to see the case and see the area that the pathologist has highlighted. And now, also for the first time, a lot of our dermatologists are showing the case to the patient, showing why there’s going to be a procedure. . . . There can potentially be financial upside here, in that if the dermatologist is reading the case, it may increase the complexity of the visit. . . .

The second compelling factor for dermatologists is that because our system is integrated with their EMR, they’re typically saving, on average, about 25 hours per month, per clinic, not having to deal with organizing patient cases. And they really value that time savings. 

And then number three is simply better patient care. You’re less likely to have errors if the dermatologist can see the image and they can make sure it’s the right patient and the right case.

How do you stay ahead of the competition?

Dan: We’re deep into research on the AI front of trying to figure out how do you detect different tumors and skin conditions, and how do you make it really accurate so that it can be a true assistive device, or an assistive tool, for both dermatologists and dermatopathologists?

We’ve introduced some new staining techniques that aren’t used generally in other laboratories. We’ve also switched to fully automated equipment, and we’re not doing a lot of processes by hand that introduce variability. And that tight control of the process means true consistency. And then also a number of QA/QC processes that exist in our lab that do not exist in other laboratories, to make sure that those inputs are the best that they possibly can.

Did you have a failure that set you up for success?

Dan: We needed to be able to detect the edges of the tissue so that we can eventually do things like measurements. And so we introduced this green stain that would highlight the edge of the tissue, and it took us a couple of months of trying a bunch of different colors to try to capture this special staining. And the ink would get on other parts of the tissue, other colors would get washed out. . . . Working through some of those actual laboratory changes [was] very important. . . . We finally got a staining technique that works consistently on probably about 98% of tissue.

You won’t want to miss this intriguing interview! Click here to access the full podcast and learn more about how dermatologists can save time, improve communication, and provide a better patient experience by going digital.

PathologyWatch CEO Dan Lambert Discusses the Future of Digital Pathology on The DaVinci Hour Podcast

Digital-based services are transforming the dermatology industry, allowing clinics and patients alike to experience streamlined turnaround times and greater interoperability between healthcare providers.

At the forefront of these advancements, PathologyWatch is a full-service dermpath lab that effectively combines groundbreaking digital dermatopathology tools with the quality of customer care expected from a local provider.

Dan Lambert, PathologyWatch CEO, recently met with Dr. Maxwell Cooper of The DaVinci Hour Podcast to discuss the role of AI in current pathology workflows, the hurdles faced in the push for digital pathology, and the efficiency created by relying on these newer technologies. 

The full episode can be found here. These are a few of the highlights from the interview: 

Dr. Cooper: Tell us a little bit about PathologyWatch, like what was the impetus for starting it, and what . . . do you guys offer to dermatology practices?

Dan Lambert: We looked at this market and said, “How are we going to actually introduce the AI in a way that the market will truly adopt it?” And the more that we looked at it, it didn’t make a lot of sense to just develop the AI as a tool and then try to license it. It really needed to be a part of the laboratory, a part of the process, a part of the workflow of the physician. . . .

There are a few reasons why this process is so much better than what existed before. As you know, most [pathologists in residency] are using digital pathology to learn and study, and then they get out in the real world, and the industry is mostly microscopes and fax machines. . . . We’re replacing these very old systems with an entire end-to-end software process that takes out those fax machines, that takes out the microscopes.

A few very specific reasons why we’re growing so fast (we’re in about 70 dermatology clinics and we just started selling about two years ago): The first one is that there can be some potential financial upside for the dermatologist to view the case digitally because, even though we’re providing the primary console, if you look at the case on a secondary console, there may be potential opportunities for increased case complexity, for example.

Secondarily, it’s also just simply better patient care, but you now have both the dermatologist and the dermatopathologist or the general pathologist looking at the case. 

Other reasons: On average, we see about 25 hours of labor reduction in the dermatologist’s office because, instead of them having to deal with fax machines, we’re integrated with ModMed, EZDerm, and eClinicalWorks—all the major EMRs for our field. Going digital also enables a whole new world of being able to very easily send the case to expert consults anywhere or have your primary dermatopathologist be really anywhere in the world. And so it’s freeing up a lot of labor that otherwise would have had to be right there in the lab. I think all those pieces together make this really transformational, and that’s why we’re getting so much adoption very quickly.

Dr. Cooper: It sounds like you’ve really brought a significant amount of efficiency to what . . . previously was somewhat of an outdated process. I guess I’m wondering, as you know, physicians—and medicine at large—is resistant to change and cannot always be the best about adopting new technology or new ways of doing things. What were some of the hurdles or maybe some of the skepticism you received at first, and how did you convert those dermatologists that may have been skeptical at first to adopting your services?

Dan Lambert: Yeah, I think that’s really true. And I think those first two or three clients were so much harder than the last two or three clients. At this point, it’s very well validated, and I think everyone’s more comfortable using digital, and we don’t get as much pushback anymore. But I think early on, it was a question of “How do we know if digital is safe? How do we know that the scanner picked up all the tissue?” Actually, the scanners have really good controls in them, and we’ve fine-tuned the scanners over time to be really safe. We do use some redundant imaging to make sure that there’s not a piece of tissue that’s missing. And then also convincing the community that algorithms can really help detecting blurry spots or screening out things that happen inside the lab where the case really needs to go back and the slide needs to be redone. You know, a very common problem in pathology. . . .

[When all their conditions are aligned], they say, “Okay, you know what, I’m willing to give this a shot.” And they tend to not send all of their volume up front—they send a few samples, make sure they can see the digital, make sure that the quality of the reports is good and they’re definitive diagnoses. And then they start sending more and more; and I think that’s become a very common pattern.

I think, in general, pathologists are fairly resistant about being automated out of a job. I think that concern is in your field as well, in radiology, but we’re just not finding that. This is technology designed to assist and help go faster. Really excellent dermpaths are not going to be replaced by AI in the next few years, realistically. I think it’s an important concept to understand. Also, reimbursements are being cut; there does need to be ways to make pathology more efficient, and I think this is an answer, and the more-forward-thinking pathologists actually are really embracing this and getting involved. That’s exciting to see: that the community is moving things forward, too. . . . 

Dr. Cooper: What’s some of the positive feedback you’ve received from your clients? What have they told you [about] how this has changed their practice? How has this improved things? What are a couple of the positive comments you’ve received?

Dan Lambert: We actually have about 15 case studies—and for anyone that’s interested, we do share these case studies pretty openly. Our website is PathologyWatch.com. . . .

[One piece of feedback we’ve received] is improvement in the turnaround time because we’ve developed local laboratories in multiple locations. We’re getting really good turnaround. 

The second thing is the savings on just the time in the dermatologist’s office dealing with faxes or auto faxes—we’re eliminating a huge portion of that. We use enhanced interfaces that deliver the results directly attached to the patient record, so it’s a lot safer that way too. So you’re not putting the wrong patient record in the wrong chart. 

Also the ability to see the case—to see what the lab is seeing. That ability means that you can call up the pathologist, and you can both be looking at the case at the same time to discuss that case. In some ways, it has actually increased the amount of communication which has a lot of benefit to the patient. 

And then, overall, elimination of errors. Our labs certainly have a much lower error rate than general labs because it is software-based, and we do have patient identification controls that are better than other locations. So it’s a whole slew of benefits. . . .

I think that we can genuinely help a lot of practices move away from how it works right now.

4 Revenue Outlets to Help Your Derm Practice Thrive

By Darren Whittemore, DO

To increase revenue and expand your patient base, you may have tried engaging with people on social media, advertising special service packages, or even parking a dancing balloon guy on the curb by your derm practice to drum up business. Nothing seems to work. 

Serious change requires serious strategies. By tracking changes in billing and health insurance requirements and offering your resources and expertise to support pharmaceutical companies as they use technology to gather research data, you can uncover additional ways to help your practice grow. So give the dancing balloon guy the day off, and let’s explore four hidden revenue-building opportunities that can help point your derm practice in the right direction. 

Outsource Medical Billing

Unless your accounts team has expertise in ever-changing CPT codes, AFA policies, and other Medicare, value-based care reimbursement guidelines, outsourcing medical billing is a popular and cost-effective option. Around 90 percent of healthcare leaders have considered outsourcing in both clinical and nonclinical functions to be more cost-efficient and better equipped to handle value-based care models. And here’s why: 

A recent survey by Harmony Healthcare found that 33 percent of hospital executives reported the average claims denial rate hovering around 10 percent. In fact, across the nation, hospitals face average denial rates between 6 and 13 percent. When rejections occur, you need an experienced team that can respond quickly and are better equipped to handle changing requirements for medical reimbursements.

For example, board-certified dermatologist Dina Strachan, M.D., at Aglow Dermatology in New York, notes that every step needed to collect money from both patients and insurance comes with a cost attached. There is a huge time factor involved in understanding the fine print of the myriad high-deductible plans, and a lot of time is tied up in collecting and processing bills. By outsourcing billing, and placing a link on her website where payments can be made, a lot of time is recaptured.

“We don’t have to spend time opening and sorting mail, punching in, and processing credit card payments—it’s a time savings,” she said.

Apply to Host a Clinical Trial

Emerging cloud technologies are helping pharmaceutical companies tap into innovative alternatives for collecting rich, segmented research data. ClinicalTrials.gov currently lists 404,694 studies with locations in all 50 States and in 220 countries.

With in-person testing sites no longer being the only option for research, pharma can use both virtual and hybrid models to collect data.  

Depending on the length of the study and the interaction levels required by the clinical trial directors, pharmaceutical companies will often pay clinics willing to dedicate their time and resources to help facilitate a relevant clinical trial.

Along with the revenue potential, most healthcare providers enjoy the option to provide their patients with the most recent treatments available, particularly in skin cancer and other chronic cases. According to the Dermatology Learning Network, interviews with dermatologists that have participated in clinical research show they can be professionally, intellectually, and financially rewarding.

“It allows you to give your patients cutting-edge treatment at a severely discounted price or for free,” said Dr. Mitchel Goldman, medical director of La Jolla Spa MD, in La Jolla, California.

In addition to the excitement of being involved in the development of new products and offering patients new treatment options, Steven R. Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, NC, noted the potential financial benefit to practices as well.

“In an era where managed care is paying less for each office visit, you can charge your usual office rate,” Feldman said in reference to patients enrolled in trials.

Reexamine Health Insurance Partnerships 

Over the past 20 years, health insurance companies have consolidated to cut costs, meet higher demands, and, in some cases, move toward the government and individual health insurance markets under the Affordable Healthcare Act. This transition has given health insurance companies an advantage over physicians. 

“Most dermatology practices lack the scale to negotiate with large health insurance companies on an even playing field,” Todd Petersen, CEO of Vitalskin Dermatology, explains. “These terms set year-over-year reimbursement rates and allow the insurance company to set billing, coding and utilization management rules. Consequently, nominal year-over-year increases can be largely offset by increased denial rates and tighter billing and coding rules.”

Although dermatology costs aren’t a high price point for health insurance carriers (accounting for less than 2 percent of medical costs), Petersen points out that pharmaceutical spending for dermatology-related drugs, such as psoriasis-related treatments, accounts for 6.5 percent of total spending with signs of future increases.  

“For dermatology practices with market share and a large psoriasis patient population, using this strategy at the negotiating table may prove beneficial and provide the practice with improved revenues,” he says. 

Invest in EMR Technology

Moving to digital-based technology, such as EMR or EHR, creates more efficient and profitable processes in a few ways: 

  1. Participates in the Medicare Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS)
    Values-based care and reimbursements are growing and allow for additional revenue streams. EMR technology is required for billing compliance and patient dashboard access and to collect data and submit electronic data to CMS. According to Petersen, the initial investment cost of EHR technology will pay itself off down the road. “When considering whether to make the investment of complying with MIPS, consider the following: value-based reimbursement is not going away, and many practices have found the implementation of EHRs has helped them improve their billing compliance,” he writes.
  2. Enables faster turnaround times for lab test results
    For Allen-Taintor Dermatology, not only did partnering with a lab that specializes in digital dermatopathology provide a faster turnaround time for lab results (turnaround time is now 75 percent faster, with results often received within two days of submission), but it also enabled their dermatologists to use a digital slide to encourage a conversation about the patient’s biopsy results and possible cancer care. As faster turnaround time increases the speed of business, more patients can flow through the practice with increased revenue as a result.
  3. Expands access to care
    Digital-based patient files mean doctors aren’t limited by location to reach out for expertise on a patient’s case. With digital technology, a specialist in Boston or Switzerland can securely review a patient file and discuss a diagnosis in real time with the dermatologist. That leads to quicker results and prompt patient care, which again improves revenue.

With the dermatology field expected to grow by almost 11.4 percent by 2026, dermatologists can leverage revenue-building strategies by reducing overhead costs through outsourced billing services, research reimbursement rates with health insurance and government health program partnerships, participate in clinical trials, and expand digital patient care services. By tapping into these revenue outlets, you can help to prepare your derm practice for a future of growth.