The Canadian arm of a giant global “life sciences company” that swallowed up a diagnostic lab business in Winnipeg promises to enhance the experience of patients and customers.

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The Canadian arm of a giant global "life sciences company" that swallowed up a diagnostic lab business in Winnipeg promises to enhance the experience of patients and customers.

In a letter to physicians last month about its purchase of Unicity Laboratory and X-Ray Services, Dynacare said it was closing some locations where there was a duplication in services and where the company said it could provide "an improved customer experience at a larger location with more staff."

Dynacare operates 200 laboratory and health services centres in Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. Their services include blood collection, urinalysis and allergy testing. The company now owns 63 locations in Winnipeg. Prior to the acquisition of Unicity, 21 locations were closed, Dynacare spokeswoman Andrea Price in Toronto said.

In the company’s letter to Winnipeg doctors, Dynacare did not list the closed locations. When asked on Friday, a spokeswoman for Dynacare didn’t provide an example of a lab that closed because of duplication. She did, however, provide an example of something expected to improve customer experience.

The company plans to introduce "Dynacare Net Check-In" in Manitoba early in 2018, Price said.

The free mobile app gives patients access to an electronic check-in service, Price said. Net Check-In lets patients hold their spot in line before they arrive at the lab, so they can arrive just in time for their test. The service was created to make it more convenient for patients by reducing on-site wait times. She said the service already is available in other provinces where Dynacare operates.

"We believe the Dynacare acquisition of Unicity is a good-news story for Winnipeg," she said. In the past decade, Dynacare has "elevated the quality of lab services in Manitoba," Price said in an email.

"We built and equipped a state-of-the-art lab at 830 King Edward in Winnipeg. In 2013 Dynacare was the first to introduce leading-edge technologies such as Liquid-Based Cytology. We have new and upgraded (laboratory and health services centres) designed to enhance the patient experience. We were the first lab in Manitoba to receive (Manitoba Quality Assurance Program) accreditation."

Except for hospital labs, Dynacare now owns all the facilities in Winnipeg that carry on services such as blood collection and urinalysis.

Critics have said consolidation of private labs could result in the erosion of Canada’s publicly-funded health care system.

Articles in Canadian Nurse and the American peer-reviewed American journal Open Medicine in recent years have expressed concern about the growth of private labs.

"Because private corporations are substantially protected by law from the public disclosure of ‘confidential business information’, increased for-profit delivery has led to decreased transparency impeding informed debate on how laboratory services are delivered," the 2012 Open Medicine article said.

Medical labs play a role in 80 per cent of medical diagnoses in Canada, Canadian Nurse reported in 2011. Laboratory workers make up the third-largest group of health-care professionals in Canada and medical laboratories consume more than $4 billion of public money every year, it said.

They started out as non-profit facilities in the public health services and the hospital system. After the introduction of medicare in 1968, for-profit laboratory corporations expanded rapidly in several provinces, the nursing journal said. Government policies created a market for their services, public money funded their growth and institutions were established to consolidate their political power, it said.

Dynacare is owned by LabCorp which has 52,000 employees in about 60 countries and bills itself as a "global life sciences company." It reported net revenues of nearly $9.5 billion for 2016.

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

 

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.

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