New Lab Company Seeks To Bury Links To Zombie Lab And Rogue Sales Team

A new, rapidly growing laboratory company has been publicly linked to a disgraced and now bankrupt laboratory company and its sales team. Now the new company, True Health Diagnostics (THD), is trying to distance itself from that lab company, Health Diagnostic Laboratory (HDL), and its affiliated sales team, BlueWave. But THD’s claim of independence falls apart upon examination. Additional lines of evidence suggest that THD may well have adopted or modified many of the illegal or unethical business practices of HDL and BlueWave.

In response to a previous article that I wrote a representative of True Health Diagnostics sent me a statement from Chris Grottenthaler, the founder and CEO of THD. In his statement Grottenthaler acknowledged that THD had “purchased substantially all of the assets of Health Diagnostics Laboratory, Inc (‘HDL’) through a bankruptcy auction.”

Grottenthaler’s statement appears to clearly resolve one important issue raised in that previous article. In response to the news that former HDL patients were receiving bills for thousands of dollars from a collections company, despite earlier guarantees from the company that they would never be responsible, Grottenthaler said that THD “has no control over the actions taken by the HDL bankruptcy estate either before or after the sale.”

Beyond Billing

But there have been persistent questions about THD’s links to other parts of the HDL/BlueWave story. In the statement sent to me Grottenthaler sought to create maximum distance between THD and HDL/BlueWave.

“…none of the owners of HDL or their affiliated sales company, Bluewave, are in any way involved with True Health Diagnostics, which is an independent diagnostic laboratory headquartered in Frisco, Texas.”

Grottenthaler’s statement was sent to me by Paul Spicer, who described himself as “a public relations consultant working on behalf of True Health Diagnostics.” Spicer, however, failed to disclose that for nearly five years he had been the vice president of marketing and public relations for HDL. In its efforts to create maximum distance from HDL Grottenthaler and Spicer instead strengthened the association. Here’s the relevant part of Spicer’s LinkedIn profile:

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 1.07.43 PMI attempted to find out more about THD from Spicer. He relayed my questions to Grottenthaler, who said that the co-founders of HDL or Blue Wave “are not involved in the operations of True Health and have no ownership in our organization.”

Meet the New Boss

I then asked Spicer about the specific roles of Robert Johnson, a co-founder of BlueWave, and Jeffrey (“Boomer”) Cornwell, a BlueWave salesman. Through Spicer, Grottenthaler said that they had “no ownership in True Health Diagnostics” and that “no one affiliated with BlueWave has ownership in True Health Diagnostics.”

Ownership issues aside, court documents and news media reports have repeatedly tied these two figures to THD. Johnson was reported to have represented THD at a trade show. Cornwell, who describes himself publicly as a “hippie puncher,”– see his Twitter profile below– has been repeatedly “holding himself out as an agent or corporate officer of True Health” and has helped recruit former BlueWave salesmen to THD, according to the reports.

Asked to comment on his relationship with THD Cornwell replied to me, “Absolutely not.” When I asked  whether Johnson and Cornwell had any involvement with THD Spicer told me that “there are no further comments at this time from True Health.” It’s unclear why Cornwell or THD refused to comment or acknowledge his association with the company, since his LinkedIn profile clearly states that he is THD’s vice president of sales.

Cornwell and the BlueWave salesmen were were key players in the illegal schemes that led to HDL’s downfall. THD, through Spicer, also declined to provide any detailed information about the number of BlueWave salesmen now working for THD. However, THD did offer the following statement:

“Some former Blue Wave and HDL representatives now work for our competitors. All sales representatives offered positions at True Health must exceed extensive compliance standards and background checks. We fully embrace the same requirements set forth in the Corporate Integrity Agreement with the Office of the Inspector General to which HDL, Inc. was a party, and have incorporated it into every aspect of True Health Diagnostics. Compliance with federal and state healthcare regulatory requirements is the core foundation of our organization. We have zero tolerance for any violations to the principles of our compliance program.”

Few Details About Business Practices

In his initial statement to me Grottenthaler said that

 “Since its founding, True Health has adopted the highest responsible and ethical business practices, while committing itself to the early diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of chronic disease. As part of its acquisition of certain HDL assets, True Health has worked closely with federal regulators to ensure that its sales and business practices remain industry leading and fully compliant with all applicable laws and regulations.”

But there are widespread concerns about THD’s business practices in the laboratory industry. A key element in the government’s case against HDL was that the company bribed physicians to order its tests by paying excessive process and handling fees. By all accounts this practice has now been halted, but rumors have been circulating that THD has replaced the P&H fees with fees for consulting and education. In some cases, sources have told me, they’ve heard that physicians have been paid to give an educational talk at a luncheon, though the only other person present was a THD representative. Last year one source told me that “True Health calls the doc and they both put the receiver down for about an hour or so in order to create a record of a long discussion that never happened.” THD declined to respond to these reports.

Concerns about THD can only be reinforced by the company’s relationship with Sam Fillingane, a family doctor in Mississippi. Fillingane now works for True Health as its “director of medical education” and had deep ties to HDL previously. Fillingane received $6,000 a month to serve on HDL’s advisory board, as well as additional fees for giving talks on behalf of the company. He also received $10,000 a month in processing and handling fees. Despite all these revenue streams, the company gave him $100,000 in unsecured loans “because he was struggling in his business.” THD had no response to my questions about Fillingane or about the company’s policies regarding paying physicians for speaking or consulting.

 

Boomer Car Twitter

A screenshot of a now-deleted post from Boomer Cornwell’s Twitter account.

CardioBrief Stories About HDL and True Health Diagnostics:

 

Comments

  1. Erica Dunn says:

    I find it ironic that I just saw Boomer Cornwell, formerly with BlueWave and most definitely associated with HDL, in a physician office trying to collect payments that BCBS mailed to patients INSTEAD of HDL (random collection agency, anyone?) as a representative with True Health Diagnostics about 4 hours ago. Good luck with that “distancing” yourself, True Health.

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