Laboratory professionals are often the unsung heroes of health care. They are the team behind the scenes partnering with clinicians around the clock to improve patient’s health and a critical component of their success is utilization management. Labs create massive quantities of data. But if that data isn’t easily processed, accessed in real-time, and formatted in a presentable and easily decipherable format, then what is the point of having the data at all? The use of a robust cloud platform in a clinical laboratory setting can significantly enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of operations and connect disparate teams while unlocking real-time, actionable insights.
Aggregating data sources in the cloud gives care teams access to a comprehensive view of patient information, enables informed decision-making to measure productivity, and empowers laboratorians to reign in and discourage low-value testing that can incur direct cost and indirect harm. Applying customizable rules powered by machine-learning models can provide lab staff the ability to break down orders by location, provider, and particular test. This is particularly of value when it comes to laboratory stewardship, which is mandatory per the Compliance Program Guidance for Clinical Laboratories from the Office of Inspector General (OIG). Failure to ensure medical necessity of tests being billed to the government could lead to civil and criminal penalties so it's critical to have solutions in place to mitigate these risks.
Boost productivity and cut down on unnecessary costs
In addition, robust cloud platforms provide laboratories with an opportunity to drill down and identify opportunities for turnaround time (TaT) improvements for any combination of locations, providers, and particular tests. Seeing the average TaT week over week helps laboratory leaders better monitor their lab’s performance, address staffing concerns, and increase volumes. The capability to also measure productivity by what time of day or day of the week labs are processing orders can provide lab professionals with the information needed to tailor workflows for optimal, patient-centric testing.
For example, real-time lab insights were utilized with a request for new point-of-care equipment from an endoscopy area. The request was made via phone call by the area manager stating that lab delays were “constantly putting the endoscopy schedule behind.” While on the phone, data was quickly pulled and determined that only 37 test orders had been sent to the core laboratory from endoscopy over the previous year. Additionally, in the same insight dashboard, the TaT from “ordered” to “collected”, “collected” to “in lab”, and “in lab” to “result” could be seen: The timeline helped establish that the root cause of delays was specimen transport to the laboratory, not testing delays in the lab.
Using this data, the workflow from specimen collection to laboratory specimen receipt was optimized. The test order was reduced from a basic metabolic panel to a potassium test (as that was the only marker they were looking for clinically), avoiding the purchase of additional equipment. This appropriate corrective action could not have been performed without real-time, usable, laboratory data.
By leveraging a robust, cloud-based solution, clinical laboratories can harness the power of real-time analytics, collaborate effectively, and improve patient outcomes. The cloud infrastructure provides the scalability, security, and integration capabilities necessary to unlock actionable insights while also reducing unnecessary costs. The ultimate goal is to ensure the right test is performed on the right patient at the right time and interpreted correctly.