Earlier this month I had the opportunity to attend the Executive War College, an annual event hosted by the Dark Report. It is a relatively small conference of lab industry leaders, sharing ideas on how to be successful in the changing world of healthcare. Most of those strategies have a strong dependence on clinical and business data.
Success in the lab business has never been more challenging than it is today. There is consolidation and increasing competitive pressure from national labs; new technologies and business approaches being deployed to retail pharmacies for testing; and changing reimbursement models from Medicare and commercial payers. In order to react intelligently to these market pressures, labs must take a very quantitative approach to understanding their current business and looking for meaningful opportunities.
Lab testing has always been about data to some extent: the lab report returned to the ordering provider is highly structured and often numeric. But there is increasing demand to use that data in new ways beyond just reporting the results for a single patient. Payers want to see that redundant tests and over utilized tests are being controlled. ACO and PCMH organizations want to assure that patients with chronic diseases receive the appropriate tests and at the correct frequencies. The lab needs this data to improve the accuracy and efficiency of its own operations.
Providing lab data directly to the patient is now a federal requirement, and other members of the patient’s care team need to see that data, combined with other clinical data to give a complete picture of patient health. Data needs to be delivered to a variety of systems external to the labs: HIEs, patient portals, messaging systems, and data warehouses.
All these requirements place a significant strain on the lab’s IT infrastructure, which was designed to support connections to testing instruments and point-to-point connections to external systems. Forward-looking labs are moving beyond the limitations of theses legacy systems and working with cloud-based service providers to connect and transform this data in ways that add value to the lab and its partners.