The Australian and U.S. lab market have a great deal in common. Two or three large publicly traded lab companies dominate both countries’ markets. In the U.S., Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp are the major players. In Australia, Sonic Healthcare, Primary Health Care-Symbion Health, and Healthscope-Gribbles are responsible for approximately 75% of the lab market.
In addition, both the U.S. and Australian lab markets face downward pricing pressure. In 2009 Australia’s Medicare instituted a reduction in pathology testing fees. The U.S. has had similar cuts to laboratory and pathology services in recent years, and faces continued scrutiny over efficiency and pricing as the U.S. market makes a slow shift from fee-for-service to fee-for-quality healthcare.
In the U.S. market, small and medium laboratories have managed to survive and often thrive by emphasizing quality of services, local markets (faster turnaround times), personal service, and internal efficiencies. Ultimately, all laboratories are under pressure to improve quality, deliver a higher level of service, and cut unnecessary costs. Government incentives and regulations simultaneously require integration of healthcare informatics. Many U.S. labs find that acquiring and analyzing business information allows them to more nimbly respond to changes in the market.
Can labs in the competitive Australian lab market do the same?
The key may be in laboratory-focused business intelligence (BI) tools, such as Viewics. BI tools allow laboratories to quickly extract, analyze and share information on outreach/physician practice patterns, workload, employee productivity and staffing, turnaround time, as well as numerous other key performance indicators for laboratories. Newer, more robust versions of BI applications utilize Software-As-A-Service (SaaS) and cloud-based platforms, which minimize costs and increase flexibility. Real-time dashboards allow managers to understand and respond to changes in the lab market as they are occurring; connectivity and intuitive interfaces allow reports to be delivered directly to the manager’s desktop, iPad, or mobile device.
By having this information at their fingertips, laboratory leaders in the Australian market will be better able to make strategic decisions, identify inefficiencies, and position themselves and their sales force to maximize their efforts in a competitive healthcare landscape. Laboratory managers in the U.S. and Canada have found that Viewics is an integral part of their day-to-day operations and help them manage data in a meaningful way.