Four Signs Your Laboratory’s Performance Isn’t as Good as You Think
It’s time to do an assessment of successes and identify opportunities for performance improvement. How did your hospital or health system’s clinical laboratory perform this year?
Here are four ways to know that your laboratory may have hidden potential in cost, productivity, quality, and growth:
1. Current performance improvement initiatives are driving incremental outcomes.
As you know, a hospital laboratory is a busy place. Running the tests of the day and maintaining current processes and protocols, in addition to staffing, , and all the rest of the lab’s responsibilities – there is plenty to do. That’s why it can seem like performance improvement initiatives are best done piecemeal, when things are slow.
But piecemeal improvements lead to piecemeal results. Your laboratory has the potential to play a central role in quality, cost containment and revenue growth for your hospital or health system. The best approach, is to strategically consider the laboratory’s clinical and operational aspects and make improvements where the opportunity is most meaningful to drive outcomes.
2. You are not benchmarking or are using the wrong benchmarks.
What can be measured can be done. If you are not benchmarking the laboratory, there is no way to measure performance improvement or strive for best in class. Comparing a lab’s current performance to last year’s results or to internal benchmarks can also insulate hospital and laboratory leadership from the most meaningful assessments. Do you know how well your clinical laboratories are performing in comparable hospitals or health systems across the country?
Determining your laboratory’s current performance relative to that of similar peers can help you see the level of excellence that is possible. It all starts with asking the right questions – and having the right performance metrics in your hand.
3. You think of the laboratory as a transactional service and a cost center, not a strategic asset.
More than 70 percent of major clinical decisions are based on results of laboratory tests. More importantly, 80 percent of a patient’s medical record flows through the laboratory. Looking through that lens, it’s clear that your hospital’s laboratory is an important driver of patient safety and quality, and can impact financial performance as the most scalable entity in a hospital or health system.
But your lab can do even more. It can help drive higher physician satisfaction as they are able to diagnose their patients more quickly and accurately. It can also be the basis from which you launch powerful growth and outreach programs, turning the lab from a small percentage of a hospital’s costs into a significant revenue source. It’s time to think about your lab differently – as an asset with untapped strategic potential.
4. When it comes to making improvements in quality, service, and cost, you can’t do it alone.
Every hospital’s lab is different, but that doesn’t mean performance improvement will get you the best results. Working with a partner that has a range of lab-specific, Lean and Six Sigma expertise can give you access to the latest clinical and operational best practices. Armed with the right tools and knowledge, together you can devise a laboratory improvement plan that will have a real impact.
Collaboration is key to an effective clinical laboratory transformation process. The best partner will work along side of your team to understand the unique challenges, needs, develop a workable plan, and help you implement a strategy to achieve the best results.
If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, here’s what to do: