Evolving patient needs. Growing budget constraints. A shrinking workforce. Facing ever-growing demands, the healthcare industry stands at a crossroads. What's the best way forward?
Often seen as a behind-the-scenes player, the core lab is uniquely positioned to help address some of the pressures hospital networks face by delivering greater medical value and costs saved that can result from testing efficiency. How? By integrating multiple testing disciplines into one fully automated and connected workflow.
This is the connected core lab.
Incorporating seamless connectivity with standardized results and world-class automation, connected core labs can increase capacity, efficiency and flexibility, as well as drive higher medical value. Core labs of all sizes can harness the power of the connected core lab. Those that have are seeing a positive impact across their healthcare systems.
Here's a look at three hospital labs that are leveraging the capabilities of the connected core lab to better adapt to changing patient populations and healthcare concerns.
Achieving a flexible future at Huntsville Hospital
Poised to celebrate her 43rd year with Huntsville Hospital in October, Director of Laboratory Services Vicky McClain, M.A., M.T., oversees a state-of-the-art connected core lab, whose transformation began 20 years ago.
It started when McClain and her team decided to launch what became a successful outreach program, processing specimens from other healthcare providers in the area, such as doctors' offices and nursing homes. Today, the lab is the eighth-largest hospital-based lab in the country. It processes more than 8,000 specimens a day, which travel through miles of pneumatic tubes that connect the lab to the main hospital, as well as the Huntsville Hospital for Women & Children.
Both McClain and Lab Manager Nichola Marcus agree automating processes helps reduce the potential for human error. According to Marcus, the increase in testing volume and automation technology heightens medical value, too, enabling the lab to bring more testing in-house and offering patients a broader assay menu.
Going with the (work) flow at Nebraska Methodist Hospital
For Jacque Lattimer, clinical operations manager at Nebraska Methodist Hospital in Omaha, Neb., a connected core lab means the ability to meet the changing healthcare needs of the surrounding community without overburdening her staff.
In September 2016, Nebraska Methodist began running a connected automated line between the core lab and the chemistry line. The lab receives samples from the hospital's surgical center, oncology and emergency departments, as well as other inpatient services. Already, the change has significantly streamlined workflow. For example, the lab is now able to easily handle the large influx of specimens that come in from the clinics in the afternoon.
In turn, the workflow efficiencies have enabled lab staff to sharpen their focus on specimen quality. By achieving higher testing volumes and pursuing higher quality results, the lab has increased its medical value to its physician clients and the surrounding community it serves.
Seeing a greater return on tomorrow at Geisinger Medical Laboratories
After a century in its former building, Geisinger Medical Laboratories moved into its new home in September 2015. Decades of planning went into creating the fully automated and connected facility located at Geisinger Medical Center in Mechanicsville, Penn. The significant investment of time and money was made with an eye on reaping the benefits of improving the patient and physician experience while reducing operational costs and streamlining workflow.
Already, the lab, which helps serve the Geisinger Health System in southeastern Pennsylvania and other clinics throughout the state, is seeing a significant return on its investment. There were 263 steps with the old process. Now, process steps have been reduced by 79 percent, and manual hands-on time has been cut by 82 percent. Meanwhile, labor costs associated with add-on processing have dropped by 85 percent.
Turnaround time, which plays a critical role in treatment decisions, has also improved. Since implementing the Roche cobas® 8100 lab automation system, assays have achieved the 95th percentile in timing metrics.
Today, when labs must run leaner operations in the face of lowered reimbursements, Geisinger Medical Laboratories is finding priceless gains through improved efficiency, reduced costs and increased medical value.
It's time to redefine core possibilities
Now more than ever, hospitals and healthcare networks are seeking answers to meet the host of challenges facing them. With the advent of the connected core lab, labs of all sizes can answer those questions with increased speed and efficiency, delivering greater medical value across their healthcare systems.
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