The Beatles released the song “Revolution” in 1968, and today Lennon and McCartney’s well known lyrics live on: “You say you want a revolution, well, you know we all want to change the world.” Thought leaders in Laboratory Medicine met last week in Orlando at the G2 Intelligence conference, aptly named “Lab Revolution,” to share ideas about changing the world of healthcare. Although a variety of topics were discussed, words like disruption, transformation and change dominated the discussions on and off the stage.
The focus in the lab industry these days is shifting from volume to value as it faces unprecedented changes in delivery of healthcare. Signs that the patient is emerging at the center of the lab’s universe were everywhere. Talk of personalizing the experience to become more patient-centric, and helping to prevent disease through timelier intelligence, buzzed throughout the meeting halls. Also included among the hot topics discussed were population health, predictive analytics, and chronic disease management, which led to the realization that the key to the lab industry better understanding these challenges lies in the data that is available to them – in real-time.
Gradually, three basic themes emerged over the course of three days. First, presentations best categorized under the heading of “innovation” included a look at automation in the clinical lab, novel tools and technologies to manage sepsis, and specialized testing to bring us closer to personalized medicine. Second, several of the presentations were directed at more mainstream lab operations, like workflows for routine testing, a new approach to blood product utilization, and quality control processes. Third, much of the remaining conference revolved around strategies to not just survive, but to thrive in the new healthcare environment. Strategic partnerships and alliances, doing more with less, and developing solutions to critical industry challenges were presented by a number of participants throughout the course of the meetings.
It should be obvious that the overall intended message at a conference called “Lab Revolution” would be one of transformation, and that message was received loud and clear by all who attended. The days of simply testing the specimens, recording the results in the lab information system and moving on to the next sample are over. Clinical labs need to bring more to the providers, the hospitals and especially the patients than just results – value far and above their basic function is mandatory for continued survival. The clinical lab has been generating large amounts of data and storing it for years, and the time has come to leverage that data for better patient care and greater patient satisfaction.
One of the greatest challenges facing today’s labs is finding a solution to get this to patients to provide them with the information needed to make better decisions about their healthcare. This is no small feat, since many healthcare providers struggle even now to understand the complexities of much of the lab’s more esoteric data, including coagulation, molecular, and genetic testing. The new reality for clinicians and labs includes a closer relationship between those performing the tests and those interpreting the results. If value is to be delivered in exchange for our healthcare dollars, everyone needs to be better connected, better informed, and – ultimately – better served. Now, that’s what I call a true lab revolution.