Using Laboratory Informatics to Add Value

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IN THIS ISSUE, YOU WILL READ ABOUT THE SALE of Spectrum Laboratory Network and the ongoing integration of laboratory services at Geisinger Health System. Although, on first reading, it may seem that these two stories are unrelated, I would like to call your attention to a common attribute that underpins the success of these two laboratory organizations.

Both Spectrum and Geisinger’s laboratory division share a business strategy of using sophisticated information technology to support the clinical needs of the physicians they serve. In the case of Spectrum, the laboratory company offers office-based physicians an increasingly- sophisticated informatics platform for lab test ordering and results reporting. It continually adds functionality to this system and supports an expensive field force of IT installers and field service reps. When Spectrum gains a new client account, it typically takes only 48 hours for this service team to install the system and have the office staff trained.

At Geisinger, the situation is different, since it is a self-contained integrated delivery network (IDN) and owns hospitals, clinics, and other facilities. To serve this environment, Geisinger’s laboratory division has proactively worked to drive operational and informatics integration to a deep level. As you will read on pages 9-14, it is that ability to capture point-of-care test (POCT) results from any part of the Geisinger system that makes it world-class in this attribute.

In both lab organizations, the strategy of deploying sophisticated informatics to support the clinical needs of physicians is paying off. At Spectrum, its revenue growth for outreach testing has averaged a compound rate of 27% over the past four years. At Geisinger, the laboratory uses its informatics capabilities to support important initiatives in physician pay-for-performance, to support adherance to clinical practice guidelines, and to provide an information-rich lab test data base to help advance Geisinger’s efforts in the field of evidence-based medicine.

The sustained successes of both laboratory organizations in their respective markets validates a longstanding prediction we’ve been making on these pages: in healthcare’s next cycle of evolution, the lab industry’s winners will be those laboratories which offer sophisticated information services to clinicians.

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