IT IS ALWAYS INSPIRING TO LEARN THE STORIES OF CLINICAL LABORATORY SCIENTISTS who spot opportunities to improve patient care, then take initiative to seize that opportunity and help patients get better. Such is the case of a medical technologist in a 25-bed rural hospital who now participates in daily rounds.
Christina L. Bard, CLS(ASCP), MBA, is the laboratory manager at Putnam County Hospital in Greencastle, Ind. Her hospital has a pathologist onsite only one day per week. Seizing the opportunity to become part of the team that makes daily rounding earlier this year, she recognized that her expertise and knowledge of laboratory medicine, when brought to the patient’s bedside, could make a difference.
That is the genesis of the story we report in this issue. It is an example of how any clinical laboratory scientist, clinical chemist, or pathologist can add value in the patient care continuum by leaving the four walls of the lab and engaging with physicians, nurses, and other clinicians as they conduct daily rounds within the hospital.
Bard shared with us multiple examples of how, at the bedside of different patients, she recognized that existing lab test data for these individual patients could signify other conditions or therapeutic opportunities than the ones under discussion by the rounding team. In calling attention to how these test results could be interpreted in a different context, her observations would sometimes trigger a reassessment by the care team. In turn, the team would act on that information in ways that produced a more accurate diagnosis, followed by effective therapies that helped the patient recover faster.
Clinical laboratory scientists and medical technologists are the bedrock of laboratory medicine in the United States. Bard’s initiative to get out of the lab and interact daily with clinicians at the bedside should inspire others to do the same within their hospitals, health systems, physicians offices—wherever they work. This is important for another reason: healthcare’s shift from volume to value. As labs get paid less for the tests they perform, they should leverage their knowledge to be paid more for the value they can contribute when they collaborate with clinicians in ways that directly improve patient outcomes while lowering the overall cost of care.