Lab Strategies for Population Health Management

EXTRAORDINARY THINGS ARE HAPPENING WITHIN THE HEALTH SYSTEM of this country. Powerful forces of change and transformation are at work in ways that have yet to be fully understood.

The only certainty about the healthcare system we know today is that it will look very different in the next five years. For those of you who lead clinical laboratories and anatomic pathology groups, this presents a high-stakes challenge.

It is essential to prepare your laboratory team for the different ways that physicians and patients will utilize laboratory testing. Similarly, payers and employers will restructure existing health insurance plans to drive utilization of lab testing and all clinical services in new directions. These particular developments will be accompanied by new reimbursement arrangements.

This is why I characterize the upcoming years as “high stakes.” Lab leaders need to take time to understand the range of transformative forces now being unleashed by the federal government, by managed care companies, and by employers who fund health benefits for their employees.

In developing such business strategies, lab administrators and pathologists need to be clear about the single most important element that is undergoing change across the entire healthcare system. We are now moving away from an era when “one doctor treated one patient.” In its place will be a primary emphasis on “population health management.”

In this issue of THE DARK REPORT, we take an important step in helping you understand healthcare’s evolution toward the new era of population health management. Last month, Healthcare Informatics Magazine published its annual list of “Top Tech Trends for 2012.” You will read about these 10 trends, along with our analysis, here.

We think the list of top health technology trends provides a useful mirror for lab leaders. Yes, these are the market trends and informatics needs which have hospital and medical clinical CIOs scrambling. But if these are important to hospitals and medical groups, they are equally important to the clinical labs and pathology groups providing lab testing services to these providers.

As you read our analysis, keep in mind that the unifying theme of healthcare’s coming reform is the transition away from the “one doctor/one patient” emphasis and to population health management.


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