One of the keys in whether a health system views the laboratory as a strategic asset is in the value that the lab is able to demonstrate, especially in a value-based model. More than 700 accountable care organizations (ACOs) have been established since 2011. How are ACOs thinking about the laboratory as strategic, and how can the laboratory position itself as a more strategic asset in this environment?
We reached out to two industry leaders to get their thoughts on this important topic.
|Sonny Varadan, MBA, PMP, Director IT Strategy & Client Connectivity,
major reference laboratory
|Dr. Kathy Murphy, CEO,
Sonny: It is a constant challenge. It goes back to the fundamental question: Do you have a data-driven culture or not? There are tools available, but leveraging and effectively using the tools that you have is the key to understanding how your operation is run — how your lab is run, how sales is working — and trying to address and overcome any issues or items that may come up. Having said that, there are these silos of data. I’ve been saying this for a long time and I’ll repeat it again: there is a laboratory information systems (LIS) silo, a billing silo, and a sales management silo — the customer relationship management (CRM) software — these are all silos. They don’t talk to each other. And even leveraging the information from within these is a very hard exercise for a lot of the organizations that I work with.
“Leveraging and effectively using the tools that you have is the key to understanding how your operation is run.”
The key is for these organizations to understand that you cannot run the business the same way you’ve run it before. You cannot approach patient care the same way you’ve managed it before. You have to work toward being part of the accountable care model, which means, yes, you have to have an eye on the costs, but at the same time, the day is coming when you are going to value-based care. I know bundled payments haven’t fully hit a lot of labs yet — specifically outreach labs — but it is starting to show in some cases, whether it be an ESRD kind of operation or on some other fronts, but eventually that’s where the whole accountable care model is going to: value-based payment. You also need to make sure that the costs are being contained and not skyrocketing. So it’s very important to keep these things in mind.
Kathy: In our survey we’ve asked the question like, “Do you have all the management reports and things like that to manage the business?” Fully two thirds of respondents have said that they do not have this information. So what’s happening is most people are running multi-million dollar businesses by feeling their way, because they don’t have the data they need.
“Most people are running multi-million dollar businesses by feeling their way, because they don’t have the data they need.”
Having the model to be able to predict those things is key, and I think on the west coast you’re always a couple of steps ahead of the rest of us. I’m an east coast gal, and we’re always a little bit behind the west coast, and we learn from your mistakes. And then the folks in the Midwest don’t do anything and they learn from everyone. I know you guys have more bundled arrangements than the rest of the country. Are you also seeing a trend in capitation?
Sonny: Capitation is definitely something we’re seeing. But, going back to the data-driven culture point I made before, I don’t know if there’s a big distinction between the east coast and the west coast. I think to your point, Kathy, organizations are struggling to get the data to make meaningful business decisions and/or quality of care decisions. And it is a very labor-intensive process today to go down that route.
To get more of Sonny and Kathy’s insights into the future of laboratory outreach, download “Where Do We Go From Here? Laboratory Outreach in a Value-Based Era“.