Healthcare’s shift to focus on patient outcomes and quality requires laboratory professionals to step up their game and make sure their labs provide value in the new system’s parameters. Laboratory stewardship refers to taking ownership of your lab’s contribution to patient care from top to bottom. One of the cornerstones of laboratory stewardship, and something lab professionals can directly impact, is guiding better test utilization.
Focusing on a broader scope of laboratory stewardship and becoming cognizant of the value of the laboratory’s contribution in addition to quality lab result reporting requires a culture change. We all acknowledge that change is often difficult yet, the laboratories that will thrive in a value-based healthcare system must be aware of the changes and be nimble enough to shift their thinking to consider the lab’s contribution on a bigger scale.
As our healthcare system continues transitioning to value-based care, laboratory professionals are encouraged to find their place in supporting proactive care models. This change means focusing on a broader scope of laboratory stewardship and being aware of the value of the laboratory’s contribution in addition to quality lab result reporting.
Changes within the U.S. healthcare system are pressuring laboratory professionals to focus on the broader scope of laboratory stewardship and become cognizant of the value of the laboratory’s overall contribution in addition to quality lab result reporting. Laboratories are encouraged to find new ways to contribute in a value-based, patient-centered healthcare system, broadening their impact, and proving their worth within their organization.
The laboratory is a key ancillary with a large amount of data that can be incorporated into population health management (PHM). With an understanding of PHM, the lab can play a more active role in communicating results and coordinating care. The lab is the “gatekeeper” for patient data that can identify patient populations that can benefit from screening tests or require chronic disease monitoring.
Going Beyond Your EHR: Understand the Specific Tools Needed for More Effective Population Health Management
Population health management (PHM) requires both human interventions and effective, interoperable health information technology (HIT) tools. HIT tools are imperative to house the data and perform the analytic tasks necessary for efficient PHM. HIT tools are also necessary to identify and stratify patient groups, generate alerts or messages that communicate with providers and patients, and perform follow-up metrics to analyze progress (see Figure 1). Interoperability among HIT tools is vital to promote data sharing across healthcare organizations (HCOs), allowing for analytics on a broader scale.
Today’s healthcare system is focused on care across the entire care continuum, including efforts to engage patients in care decisions, with the goal of proactively improving the health of the entire patient population. Population health management (PHM) programs are used to identify and improve the health of specific groups of patients. Using PHM, healthcare organizations (HCOs) can identify and understand their specific members’ diagnoses and needs, make appropriate interventions, and measure the effectiveness of outcomes.
Orchard’s white paper, Total Cost of Ownership for a Laboratory Information System, discusses TCO throughout the lifetime of the LIS. In addition, other commonly used financial tools such as payback analysis, net present value, and economic feasibility are introduced. As part of the TCO determination, you need an understanding of the basic types of both tangible and intangible costs and to be familiar with economic feasibility and cost/benefit analysis.
Slowly, but surely, efforts being made by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) Foundation’s, Choosing Wisely campaign are taking hold, making measurable progress in improving laboratory/medical procedure utilization through education about evidence-based recommendations. The program’s intent is to promote conversations between patients and physicians about the best care plans that eliminate unnecessary tests and procedures.
Orchard’s white paper, Total Cost of Ownership for a Laboratory Information System, discusses Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) throughout the lifetime of the LIS, including startup, operational, and retirement costs. In addition, considerations such as hosting your LIS and comparing an enterprise-wide solution (EWS) to a Best-of-Breed (BoB) solution are addressed. TCO involves some costs that are easy to quantitate and others that will be estimates. There are many different scenarios of laboratory IT setup, such as cloud-hosted systems or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) arrangements. Or, the LIS may be a portion of an enterprise-wide EHR solution. These factors will influence a true TCO analysis.