As 2015 comes to a close, we at Viewics are thinking about the future — specifically, the future of laboratory outreach soultions and operations. We’ve asked two preeminent laboratory outreach experts to make their predictions and share their perspectives on what they think outreach will look like in five years, based on industry trends and their experiences working with laboratory outreach businesses.
Sonny Varadan, MBA, PMP — Director for IT Strategy and Client Connectivity at a major reference laboratory
It’s all about accountability and innovation, and you can never forget the ever-increasing role of the patient. Reimbursement is declining due to the changing reimbursement model. Every time we turn around there is a 6% decline, or some other change to the Medicare fee schedule, or things being moved into or out of bundled payments. So, value-based, outcome-based reimbursement must be looked at very seriously by laboratories. And to provide accountable care, you have to offer quality care at the right price, and you have to get to a point where you’re providing these services at a cost that is not prohibitive to your organization.
“To provide accountable care, you have to offer quality care at the right price, and you have to get to a point where you’re providing these services at a cost that is not prohibitive to your organization.”
I am seeing more joint ventures between the large hospitals, and it may get to a point where the larger labs consolidate with each other to manage the hospital lab and run the outreach business. And, population health management is going to be a very big focus. I think there’s going to be a lot more consolidation and accountability, and labs need to figure out how to provide differentiating, value-add services at a sustainable cost — which is where data comes in.
The focus has to be on automation moving forward. And by that I mean not just heavy investment in lab automation, which is happening a lot, but in pre-analytical automation, post-analytical automation, reach via social media, and learning from investing in analytics to see where we need to put our dollars to get the most band for our buck. That’s a trend we’ve been seeing over the years, and there will be a lot more of that happening, because that’s the only way you can have a sustainable model.
Kathy Murphy, PhD — Chief Executive Officer at Chi Solutions
I agree that there will be more consolidation. I think because of financial pressures, there will be fewer outreach laboratories than there are now, but they will be much, much larger and every bit as profitable as the national labs because of their scale and good business practices. We will see a lot of the little outreach labs going away. They just don’t have the sophistication that they need to be able to survive.
“There will be fewer outreach laboratories, but they will be much larger and every bit as profitable as the national labs. We will see a lot of the little outreach labs going away.”
If you think back to 20 years ago, we were all talking about managed care. The expectation was that it would slow the increasing costs of healthcare, and it did for a while, but now things have gone astray. Now we have accountable care, and a very small percentage of the accountable care organizations — I think less than 20 – 30% — have been successful so far. So, who really knows what the model will be, but we do know that everybody will have to be much more sophisticated in how they run their business. Not all businesses are successful, and the same is going to be true, in my view, for outreach in the future.
To read 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“.