By Katie Witkowski

This is part of hc1.com’s In My Opinion series – a variety of blog posts curated by our Advisory Board members focusing on their opinions about healthcare today.

There reaches a point where every healthcare organization is ready to stop talking about proving value and start taking action on providing it. The only way to provide high-quality, accountable service to clients is through action. Maybe this means bulking up IT offerings and solutions. Maybe this means gathering information and data on clients to better serve them. And maybe action just means being proactive about decisions across your lab or health system. At St. Vincent Seton Specialty Hospital, we decided that it was time to provide tangible value to our clients and cut down our spending while we were at it.

Our team of decision makers began to notice that our physician clients were ordering a standard group of tests for a specific diagnosis, to be run set days during the week. This is a common practice, and in theory makes sense: one would rather order too many tests than miss a critical diagnosis. Many of these common tests would be ordered numerous times over the course of a patient’s inpatient stay, even if the tests were repeatedly returned within the “normal limits”.

Because we at St. Vincent Seton are always looking for ways to provide value-based service to our providers, we began collecting information on which doctors were ordering these unnecessary tests. Collecting this data allowed us to track utilization across our physician base. We soon realized, however, that not only was collecting these reports manually a strain on our productivity and efficiency, but also once we finally had collected the data and run a usable report, the information was weeks or even months old.

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What we needed – and what all labs looking to prove value need – was a solution that allowed us to effectively compile these holistic provider profiles in a timely manner so we could easily enter into proactive conversations with physicians. The lab is the key to changing the healthcare norm from bulk-ordering tests to ordering only the tests that meet a patient’s specific needs. The first step in truly personalizing the healthcare experience for the patient is to personalize the experience for the provider.

Reducing unnecessary testing at the laboratory level not only increases the efficiency of your lab - it increases the efficiency of your provider clients as well. Educating your providers on utilization practices proves value and establishes your lab as a viable strategic partner.

Everyone across your organization, from lab managers to hospital executives, can use these informative patient and provider profiles to make proactive decisions across the healthcare continuum. These data-rich profiles are the basis for clinical and business intelligence dashboards that are instantly available in real-time. That way, when pressures arise, whether from reimbursement rate changes or client service issues, labs are prepared and ready to face the challenges head-on.

Troy Reiff, R.N., is the Chief Operating Officer at St. Vincent Seton Specialty Hospital.

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