Northwell and Memorial Health: A Tale of Two Labs

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Something very unusual happened in  this  issue  of  The  Dark  Report. We analyzed the entirely opposite fates of two clinical laboratories owned by different healthcare systems. With apologies to author Charles Dickens and his opening sentence in his novel, a Tale of Two Cities, it can be said that, “for one lab, it was the best of times and for the other lab it was the worst of times.”

The clinical lab at Northwell Health of New Hyde Park, N.Y. is enjoying “the best of times.” On pages 10-17, you’ll read the second of two parts in our coverage of its 10-year journey to support its parent organization’s financial and clinical goals by delivering increased value to physicians, patients, and payers.

And on Jan. 27, “the worst of times” began for the clinical laboratory   at Memorial Hermann Health System (MHHS) in  Houston.  On  that day, Memorial Hermann announced it was selling its outreach laboratory business to Quest Diagnostics and contracting with Quest to manage the inpatient laboratories at MHHS’ core lab and 17 hospitals. (See pages 3-6.)

Each intelligence briefing allows you to better understand why it’s essential for managers and clinical pathologists in charge of hospital labs to recognize the powerful opportunity they have to deliver value in patient care to their parent organizations—and how that achievement becomes a win for everyone in the healthcare continuum, from the lab’s owners to physicians, patients, and payers.

The decision by Northwell Health’s lab leaders to prepare a compelling strategy and plan for their lab underpins the importance of that opportunity. After gaining the support of administration, lab managers worked diligently to better manage costs. They then collaborated with physicians  to leverage lab test data to improve patient care and to expand outreach  test volume and revenue. That in turn financed the implementation of new assays and the enrichment of the lab information system, so that lab data could be converted into actionable clinical intelligence, available in real time to physicians at the point of care.

By contrast, it appears that the laboratory division of Memorial Hermann Health was unable to gain similar support from their health system executives. The end of MHHS’ lab “story” is that its outreach business was sold and a commercial lab company will now manage its inpatient lab testing.

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