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2020

Austin, TX – September 2, 2020

Today, Sonic Healthcare USA (Sonic) was awarded a contract from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics Advanced Technology Platforms (RADx-ATP) initiative. The contract involves funding to expeditiously ramp up COVID-19 testing to 166,000 tests per day at nine of Sonic’s network of high-throughput laboratory testing locations, giving Sonic the capacity to service geographies across the United States.

Sonic was also selected by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as one of two commercial laboratories to receive critical laboratory equipment to support the expansion of COVID-19 testing. Through these investments, aggressive expansion has begun at the following Sonic COVID-19 testing locations: American Esoteric Laboratories (AEL), located in Memphis, TN, Clinical Pathology Laboratories (CPL), located in Austin, TX and WestPac Labs located in Santa Fe Springs, CA. The added capacities will be coming online beginning this week.

While the NIH contract amplifies Sonic’s existing COVID-19 testing effort for all populations, a significant component includes improving testing access for underserved communities. Sonic has been supporting these populations directly and in partnership with local government and public health agencies. Funding from the RADx initiative will be used to develop comprehensive access with measurable coverage assessment for these populations. The RADx initiative complements Sonic’s current commitment to prioritize services to the most vulnerable and high-risk patients. Servicing these populations will continue to be a central part of our testing strategy.

“In response to the urgent pandemic demands, the partnership with the NIH and HHS, provides us access to technologies, instrumentation and resources necessary to rapidly increase the scope and expedite the timeline of our current capacity expansion plans,” said Dr. Jerry Hussong, MD, MBA, the Chief Executive Officer of Sonic HealthcareUSA. “The new testing capacity will increase patient access to COVID-19 diagnostic testing across the country with timely result delivery,” added Dr. Hussong.

This project is supported by the NIH Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) program and has been funded in whole or in part with federal funds from the National Institutes of Health Office of the Director, Department of Health and Human Services, under Contract No. 75N92020C00027.

March 25, 2020

The Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) is providing this update regarding the COVID-19 outbreak. 

 

Cases in healthcare workers or in your facility: 

As COVID-19 spreads, healthcare related exposures are increasing. We have developed the guidance below for individual providers and facilities on how to respond if there is a case (or suspected case) in a healthcare staff member. 

  • Guidance for healthcare providers diagnosed with COVID-19 

 

Communicating with patients: 

TDH has developed resources that may be useful in communicating with your patients. These documents provide actionable steps and guidance for those who may have been exposed, those awaiting test results, and those diagnosed. 

 

Testing guidance: 

Not every patient with respiratory illness needs to be tested for COVID-19. Most people have mild illness and are able to recover at home, and there is no treatment specifically approved for this virus. 

TDH’s triage and assessment criteria are available hereWe continue to encourage patients to seek care first from their usual site of care and we are working to enable providers to accommodate that need. We know that shortages of PPE, testing supplies, and testing sites are common. A number of healthcare facilities have established remote assessment sites which can be accessed across the state. While we are looking at every opportunity to fix those problems, permanent solutions are not immediately available and we need your help in addressing these shortages by implementing strategies to conserve PPE and by minimizing unnecessary tests. While providers do not need to consult with public health before sending a test to a commercial lab, providers should prioritize testing for individuals who are the sickest, have co-morbid conditions putting them at higher risk, or who are healthcare workers. Prioritizing tests for those individuals is essential to improving turnaround times while there is national shortage of test reagents and supplies, among public health and commercial laboratories. 

 

Counterfeit COVID-19 tests:

The Food & Drug Administration and U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations team are monitoring reports about counterfeit COVID-19 testing kits. At this time, the FDA has not authorized any test that is available to purchase for testing yourself at home for COVID-19. More information can be found here. TDH encourages use of reputable and known testing resources to prevent retesting and delays in healthcare and public health actions. 

 

If you believe you may have received a counterfeit COVID-19 test, you can report it to the HSI Tip Line at (866) 347-2423 or via an anonymous online form

 

Reporting COVID-19 cases and deaths: 

COVID-19 cases and deaths are immediately reportable to TDH and full guidance is available online here.

 

Cases: Healthcare providers have 3 options for reporting laboratory confirmed cases: 

  • Fax the PUI Form and a copy of the positive laboratory report to 615-741-3857 
  • Call the TDH COVID-19 call center between 8am-8pm, 615-741-7247 
  • Submit an electronic Morbidity Report* 

*If you already report diseases or conditions to TDH via Morbidity Reports, you can continue to do this for COVID-19 positive labs. These are electronically submitted to NBS here

 

Death: Providers have 2 options for reporting deaths in a suspected or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 case among their patients or in their facility: 

  • Providers can inform their county medical examiner of the death, and the county medical examiner will then notify the Office of the State Chief Medical Examiner. 
  • Fax the PUI Form (noting the field indicating death) and a copy of the positive laboratory report to 615-741-3857. An updated form can be submitted indicating death. 

 

Elective dental and medical procedures:

Governor Lee has signed Executive Order 18, which states that dental service providers shall not perform any non-emergency dental or oral procedures. All hospitals and surgical outpatient facilities in the State of Tennessee shall not perform non-essential procedures, which include any medical procedure that is not necessary to address a medical emergency or to preserve the health and safety of a patient, as determined by a licensed medical provider. Ambulatory providers should continue to treat patients, preferably via telehealth and telemedicine when possible to minimize exposure risks. 

This order will preserve staff, personal protective equipment, and patient care supplies, ensure staff and patient safety, and expand available capacity. 

 

Telehealth:

There has been a rapid expansion in reimbursement opportunities for telehealth, now including home-based telehealth coverage by nearly every plan in the state during this time of public health response. Please utilize telehealth and telephone triage as much as possible for both sick and well patients. This is critical to minimize public exposure to illness and to optimize capacity for routine and emergent are. Several resources have been put together that I’ve listed below. Utilization of telehealth and telephonic management should be optimized in all settings. 

 

Provider webinars:

TDH has provided a series of webinars to share clinical and public health updates for front-line clinicians. Recordings of past webinars, and information to join future ones are available here. The TDH site for COVID-19 resources is here. It is updated continuously. 

 

CDC Clinician Outreach & Communication Activity (COCA) call:

CDC has scheduled another COCA call TODAY (Wednesday, March 25, 2020 from 2:00–3:00 EDT. The presenters will provide a COVID-19 update and discuss strategies for healthcare facilities to optimize personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies such as eye protection, isolation gowns, facemasks, and N95 respirators. More details available here

 

Thank you for all that you do in keeping Tennesseans safe and healthy. 

 

Tennessee Department of Health 

 

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Austin, Texas – March 13th, 2020

 

Sonic Healthcare USA has worked closely with its scientific partners and medical and operational leadership to bring up testing to ensure timely availability for patients in all geographies served by our laboratories. "We are closely monitoring capacity and are coordinating with our clinical laboratories to distribute testing that mitigates high demands from endemic regions and clusters in the United States," said Jerry Hussong, MD, MBA, the Chief Executive Officer of Sonic Healthcare USA.

Sonic has taken comprehensive measures to expand testing capacity, while maintaining high quality testing and meeting required turnaround times. As a result, Sonic is bringing up multiple testing platforms and methodologies.

Dr. Hussong added, "In response to this public health emergency, Sonic Healthcare USA pledges to do its part and is actively monitoring the situation. Our commitment is to ensure testing is available as this pandemic evolves." The well-being of our patients and employees is our highest priority, and we continue to be committed to the medical communities we serve.

 

About Sonic Healthcare USA

Sonic Healthcare USA is a subsidiary of Sonic Healthcare Limited, one of the world's largest medical diagnostic companies, providing laboratory services to medical practitioners, hospitals and community health services, with operations in eight countries, on three continents and providing care to over 100 million patients each year. Sonic Healthcare USA is a leading provider of state-of-the-art laboratory services and pathology practices throughout the USA with nine operating divisions and nearly eight thousand US-based employees. Sonic Healthcare USA utilizes a federated business model that emphasizes medical leadership and community-based testing services to provide outstanding quality and service to the doctors and patients that they serve. For more information, visit the Sonic Healthcare website at www.sonichealthcareusa.com.

 

Sonic Healthcare USA Media Contact

Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Jerry Hussong, MD, MBA
jhussong@sonichealthcareusa.com 
512.531.2216

Austin, Texas – March 6th, 2020

 

This week, Academic and Commercial Reference Laboratory Executives met with Vice President, Mike Pence and members of the White House's Coronavirus Task Force to collectively discuss diagnostic testing availability for COVID-19. 

Jerry Hussong, MD, MBA, the Chief Executive Officer of Sonic Healthcare USA (Sonic), was among those who met on behalf of the American Clinical Laboratory Association (ACLA) with key government officials, the CDC, and the FDA.  At the meeting, key stakeholders discussed the role of state and local public health and commercial laboratories, hospitals, and academic medical centers to increase access to testing for the Coronavirus.  "Our main goal, as a commercial laboratory, is to ensure those patients in need or at high-risk can access testing. By working together, we can accelerate those efforts with a coordinated and comprehensive approach," said Dr. Hussong.

Dr. Hussong added, "Sonic Healthcare is working with its Medical, Scientific and Operational Leadership to make patient testing available through its network of commercial laboratories in the United States and will follow the FDA guidelines for Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs)."  The FDA has recently updated its policy, thus providing an expedited pathway for the availability of diagnostics for COVID-19.

Sonic Healthcare will continue to lead and collaborate with colleagues, government officials, and our local medical communities in response to this immediate public health crisis.

Read the ACLA Statement on COVID-19 Testing

 

About Sonic Healthcare USA

Sonic Healthcare USA is a subsidiary of Sonic Healthcare Limited, one of the world's largest medical diagnostic companies, providing laboratory services to medical practitioners, hospitals and community health services, with operations in eight countries, on three continents and providing care to over 100 million patients each year. Sonic Healthcare USA is a leading provider of state-of-the-art laboratory services and pathology practices throughout the USA with nine operating divisions and nearly eight thousand US-based employees. Sonic Healthcare USA utilizes a federated business model that emphasizes medical leadership and community-based testing services to provide outstanding quality and service to the doctors and patients that they serve. For more information, visit the Sonic Healthcare website at www.sonichealthcareusa.com.

 

Sonic Healthcare USA Media Contact

Chief Executive Officer
Dr. Jerry Hussong, MD, MBA
jhussong@sonichealthcareusa.com 
512.531.2216

2019

Austin, TX – March 25th, 2019

 

American Esoteric Laboratories (AEL), a division of Sonic Healthcare USA (Sonic Healthcare), has announced that it will be a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama (BCBSAL) Preferred Medical Laboratory Plus Network across the state of Alabama effective April 1, 2019. 

AEL is one of three laboratory service providers that have been awarded this designated status with BCBSAL, providing coverage to more than 1.5 million people in Alabama. AEL provides comprehensive laboratory services in the Mid-South region of the United States and Alabama, including an extensive network of local services. This new expansion of coverage recognizes AEL’s strong medical leadership philosophy that values local continuity of care for patients and provides for comprehensive and responsive laboratory services together with innovative technologies to support physicians and healthcare providers. 

Having AEL as a Preferred Medical Laboratory Plus Network is a significant win for the community, giving covered members additional provider choice and broader access to our local clinical laboratory services and patient service center network. AEL is committed to supporting the Alabama community, and believes in the value of keeping medicine local,” said David Smalley, PhD, President, AEL.

“AEL is ready to provide unparalleled service and capabilities to providers across Alabama. Our unique medical leadership model focuses on an unwavering commitment to patient care and an ongoing alliance with healthcare providers. Our success is predicated on being an integral and collaborative partner with the local medical community, a formula which is deeply embedded into our operating philosophy,” said Jerry Hussong, MD, Sonic Healthcare USA’s Chief Executive Officer.

 

About Sonic Healthcare USA

Sonic Healthcare USA is a subsidiary of Sonic Healthcare Limited, one of the world's largest medical diagnostics companies, providing laboratory services to medical practitioners, hospitals and community health services, with operations in eight countries, on three continents and providing care to over 100 million patients each year. Sonic Healthcare USA is a leading provider of state of the art laboratory services throughout the USA with nine operating divisions and over seven thousand US-based employees. Sonic Healthcare USA utilizes a federated business model that emphasizes medical leadership and community-based testing services to provide outstanding quality and service to the doctors and patients that they serve. For more information, visit Sonic Healthcare USA.

 

About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama has insured Alabamians for 82 years. Blue Cross offers coverage plans to corporations, individuals and the senior market. For more information about Blue Cross, visit AlabamaBlue.com. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. 

 

 

Sonic Healthcare USA Media Contact

Chief Strategy Officer
Dr. Phil Chen MD, PhD
512.439. 1653

AEL Media Contact

AEL President
Dr. David Smalley, PhD
901.405.8200

2018

Earlier this year CMS started removing Social Security Numbers (SSNs) from all Medicare cards. A new Medicare Beneficiary Identifier (MBI) will replace the SSN-based Health Insurance Claim Number (HICN) on the new Medicare cards for Medicare transactions like billing, eligibility status, and claim status.

CMS currently uses an SSN-based HICN to identify people with Medicare and administer the program, and used the HICN with our business partners.

Under the new system, for each person enrolled in Medicare, CMS will assign and mail a new Medicare card to every member.

The MBI is confidential like the SSN and should be protected as Personally Identifiable Information.

Why are the new Medicare cards important?

The biggest reason for taking the SSN off of Medicare cards is to fight medical identity theft for people with Medicare. By replacing the SSN-based HICN on all Medicare cards, we can better protect the private health care and financial information as well as federal health care benefit and service payments.

It is critical to update your information for patients who have received their new cards! The new Medicare numbers should be updated for all service claims, submitted on orders for services and used in the traditional ways the original Medicare cards would have been used.

How will the MBI look?

The MBI will clearly be different than the HICN and RRB number. It will be:

  • 11-characters in length.
  • Made up only of numbers and uppercase letters (no special characters); if you use lowercase letters, our system will convert them to uppercase letters.

Each MBI is unique, randomly generated, and the characters are "non-intelligent," which means they don't have any hidden or special meaning. The MBI doesn’t use the letters S, L, O, I, B, and Z to avoid confusion between some letters and numbers (e.g., between “0” and “O”).

Learn more about the MBI formats here and make changes to your systems.

This information and more may be found here and here.

In response to the extensive impact of the Opioid Crisis, many states have implemented various compliance laws that require providers to test patients receiving prescriptions for controlled substances for greater than three days. 

AEL is now offering a partnership program that complies with the testing and documentation requirements of state laws concerning prescribed controlled substances to protect your most valuable assets ... your practice and your patients

 

AEL Toxicology Compliance Partnership Plan Key Components: 

  • Consistency Reporting - Toxicology testing is performed at AEL. Results are compared with information provided on the medications being prescribed to the patient. Results clearly indicate if the medications being prescribed are present and at the levels prescribed, as well as the presence of drugs not being prescribed. 
  • Monitoring Compliance - Patients are monitored for continual compliance by testing performed at required time intervals to include a percentage of random screening to be established by you. AEL is able to assist you with scheduled screening, random selection of patients for testing, and patient notification. 
  • Documentation - AEL generates quarterly trending reports providing data on the consistency performance of the patients in your practice. This data can be readily compared to regional data. This helps to ensure that your patient population is following your guidance for compliance of prescribed medications. 

 

It is easy to participate in AEL’s Toxicology Compliance Partnership Plan. Once enrolled, you are able to retrieve results and consistency reports utilizing AEL’s web-based portal. Manual test requisitions are also available. AEL provides all of the necessary training for ordering and retrieving reports followed by a completion certificate for participants. At the time of patient enrollment, prescription information should be documented in the medical record and shared with AEL and the appropriate pharmacy. Proper notification regarding compliance expectations and testing requirements will be provided to your patient. Random testing at a designated rate determined by you will also occur. 

 

The AEL Toxicology Compliance Partnership Plan will assist you in: 

  • Meeting all requirements for compliance testing and monitoring. 
  • Ensuring that patients are taking medications as prescribed. 
  • Providing optimum patient care with positive outcomes. 

 

Please call your AEL Sales Representative or Customer Service Representative to receive the information booklet for the program. You may also contact the AEL Sales Department at 901.432.8603. We look forward to the opportunity to partner with you to provide excellent patient care.