Consumer Trends, Quality Management, and Labs

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TODAY’S HEALTHCARE SYSTEM IS MARKED by uncertainty and unprecedented pressures. Every clinical laboratory and pathology group faces the triple whammy of shrinking budgets, staff shortages, and a rate of inflation that drives up the cost of supplies and salaries. 

There are effective ways that labs can attack that triple whammy. 

In this issue of The Dark Report, you will read about a growing trend that is both a threat and opportunity to many clinical laboratories. It is consumer use of telehealth services and virtual physician visits. The threat is that consumers and patients using telehealth—and who may need clinical lab tests as part of that care—are redirected to other labs that partner with virtual care providers, thus causing your laboratory or pathology group to lose market share and revenue. 

However, there is opportunity in that same situation. Your lab or practice can be proactive about establishing its own mobile phlebotomy service and leverage that to win new physician clients, along with consumers wanting to buy their own lab tests. (See this article.) 

Another opportunity to cut costs is for your laboratory to consider simultaneous accreditations of the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA) and ISO 15189: Medical Laboratories—Requirements for Quality and Competence. One lab in Texas did just that, and it has opened overseas markets for its testing because of its ISO 15189 accreditation, which is accepted in about 100 countries across the globe. (See this article.) 

It’s no coincidence that we follow the story about CLIA/ISO 15189 dual accreditation with an intelligence briefing about the value of Lean and Six Sigma methods to help labs cut costs and reduce errors while boosting quality. The link between the two stories is this: ISO 15189 is a quality management system that incorporates many of the principles of Lean and Six Sigma. There is also an added benefit lab leaders might not have considered: Using Lean Six Sigma may also improve employee retention through its quality measures that streamline work processes. (See this article.) 

Collectively, the opportunities presented in this issue of The Dark Report offer you ways to successfully address your lab’s major challenges— with the added benefit of keeping your lab ahead of its competitors. 

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