THE HISTORY OF PROFESSIONAL CO-OP®
In 2000, after several years of offering blood chemistry seminars, the ability to actually order and use blood chemistry came to be an impasse. It seemed the major lab providers weren’t enthusiastic about setting up accounts for many “alternative” professionals. There was a reasonable explanation for this: the types of practice in these disciplines offered more time to the patients, more detailed approach to professional practice, and therefore less volume. The major laboratories could rightfully claim that the lower volume for such practitioners was simply cost-prohibitive to supply representation and management for laboratory accounts.
A NOVEL APPROACH TO A SIGNIFICANT OBSTACLE
There had to be a solution and that solution was the genesis of Professional Co-op®. In the summer of 2000, J. William Beakey, O.M.D., and W. Fred Milton, D.M.D., formed Professional Co-op®. We sought out someone in LabCorp management with whom we had a previous chance meeting. We advanced the idea of grouping many of the smaller practices here in South Florida under one roof for the purpose of getting an account and pricing that was fair and reasonable for all, especially the patient. After several courses of dialogue and hearing that while LabCorp appreciated the thought of such a venture, they cautioned us that the complications and workload produced would be daunting. We nonetheless accepted the challenge, got the go-ahead and soon progressed into a nation-wide service that opened the door for all who are appropriately licensed to use laboratory testing. Through our efforts we are able offer both low prices and great service to our member physicians. The “great service” part of our model is surely dependent on the exceptional quality of our staff.
AN “OVERNIGHT” SUCCESS
Professional Co-op® was a completely novel enterprise and we are very proud of our accomplishment. Trying something new that has never been done before is always a challenge and this is certainly no exception to that rule. Shortly after launch, Dr. Milton went into semi-retirement and Dr. Beakey became the sole director continuing to present day. The first years were extremely difficult as we had limited funding, a small core of loyal members, and lots and lots of work to develop a system that overcomes all the obstacles. We learned to investigate and solve problems behind the scenes, most of the time without fanfare or involvement of the practitioner. The first few years offered no paychecks but lots of satisfaction and incentive to keep moving forward. Everything we have ever done had to be original because there was no predecessor and the territory came with no instruction manual. The gratitude and appreciation we so often hear from our members is proof enough that we have made a very significant contribution to healthcare in America. Now, with several thousand member physicians, Professional Co-op® has become a serious part of the healthcare solution.
CONTINUING BEYOND SIMPLY OFFERING TESTS
We started with literally a handful of tests to offer our members, but over time we were able to increase our offerings by obtaining pricing test by test as we grew and need arose. We earned every price point along the way as our membership and volume increased over the years. Now we offer several thousand tests – virtually every test the lab offers. We are proud to say we have never raised prices in our entire history. Professional Co-op® has always done things the right way, never taking shortcuts; never risking what is so valuable to so many. We have worked with many professional organizations, participated in research studies, sponsored independent sources of high quality lab test information, supported charities, attended countless conferences and events, and produced hundreds of test summaries and dozens of informational videos. Now in our 18th year, we stand ready to serve and contribute for years to come with more focus on information helpful to our members.
SINCERE THANKS TO OUR MEMBERS, OUR STAFF, THE LABS WE WORK WITH AND ALL OF THOSE WHO CONTRIBUTED ALONG THE WAY
Professional Co-op® has a clear mission in laboratory testing and we have staunchly adhered to it. We do not engage in, nor do we benefit from the sale of any type of remedy for issues that arise from laboratory testing. That, we feel, would be a blatant conflict of interest. We do, however, work in harmony with some of our country's best nutritional companies, and our motto, “Service with Integrity since 2001” is what we live by. Early on someone said to us, “If you build it, they will come”. They did, and we are grateful and humbled for that. We look forward to continuing our mission for many years to come as we realize our vision of making affordable lab testing available to all through professional clinicians.