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.
Many of us cling to old familiar ways because there is comfort in familiarity; change can be stressful because you do not know what to expect. One of the most difficult endeavors within healthcare organizations is managing change and creating a culture that is adaptable and “change-ready.” This concept has gained importance in light of the rapid changes taking place and the need to shift to a sustainable system focused on better patient outcomes.
New Ways to Add Value
There is logic in aligning healthcare payments with quality and value. It also makes sense for patients to become active members of their own care team, held accountable for their choices. Advances in technology, laboratory medicine, HIT, and mobile technologies offer new ways to interact with patients, and these advances change patients’ expectations for care interactions.
As these developments continue, laboratory professionals need to understand the bigger picture and realize that lab results influence many moving parts outside the four walls of the laboratory. Understanding and acknowledging the value that lab data has downstream is a key step. There is no doubt that lab testing is vital in patient care; however, the future of healthcare calls for laboratorians to enhance the contribution of lab results by assistance in proper test order selection and interpretation, population health, and preventive care initiatives, as well as other collaborative projects that use lab analytics to save downstream healthcare dollars.
Call to Action
Begin to process the concept of laboratory stewardship and think about what happens downstream in your facility based on reported lab results. Think about lab testing from its beginning to end, including well before the pre-analytical phase and well beyond the post-analytical phase, and determine how your laboratory is fully leveraging its lab testing to improve care and reduce costs. And, utilize the strengths in your LIS to help you with laboratory stewardship efforts.
The lab is an incredibly important service line that has tremendous potential to add value in the new healthcare model. Make sure your lab shines in value-based care.
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Laboratory stewardship entails taking responsibility for lab testing from beginning to end. Don’t miss the opportunity for your laboratory to shine in value-based care by demonstrating laboratory stewardship.
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