In celebration of Lab Week, Abbott’s Colleen Strain and Tricia Ravalico discuss the vital role of clinical laboratories and the global success of the UNIVANTS of Healthcare Excellence™ awards, which recognize healthcare teams that have achieved measurably better outcomes through laboratory insights.
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COLLEEN STRAIN: Celebrations enable recognition of accomplishments. This is especially important for clinical laboratories, as they are almost always “behind the scenes” and not typically in front of patients. Lab Week is an opportunity to celebrate the unsung heroes in this valued profession.
TRICIA RAVALICO: Laboratorians make a difference in the lives of thousands of patients every day, and yet, the discipline has long been under-recognized for the value it brings to healthcare. With that said, the world is changing, and as more healthcare organizations move towards value-based medicine, the strategic value of the clinical laboratory will not only become better appreciated, but better recognized for its well-founded associations to key performance indicators and transformational patient care.
CS: An obvious immediate positive is that people are now more aware of the value that laboratory medicine provides for decision-making. Lab testing is on the forefront of peoples’ minds and is being talked about in ways that had never been done before. On the other side, the pandemic has brought visibility to the reality that not all diseases have diagnostic blood tests nor do all tests have 100% accuracy. Managing those challenges as well as running the general operations for thousands of tests across hundreds of different methodologies is a core competency in and of itself.
TR: I think people have also begun to better associate laboratory testing with “health,” or in the case of COVID-19, potential immunity, verses “sick” care. That appreciation is relatively new for the general public but is increasingly common for innovative health systems that are focused on wellness and prevention.
CS: Two of the most compelling principles of successful clinical care initiatives are proactivity and collaboration. Teams with UNIVANTS recognition tend to have transformational outcomes when different disciplines work together to find novel solutions to everyday problems. It is a mindset change to appreciate that laboratories are not cost centers, but rather, a vital patient-centric discipline with skilled and strategic professionals focused on quality, lean processes and elevating patient care.
TR: An unfortunate reality is that laboratory leaders tend not to have that “seat at the table” where complex challenges are discussed, and multi-disciplinary solutions are devised. Healthcare communities with engaged and empowered multi-disciplinary teams will succeed.
TR: The UNIVANTS program began over 3 years ago with the primary goal of recognizing integrated clinical care teams that have achieved measurable success. By amplifying best practices, we could inspire more best practices, learn from one another and advance patient care across the globe.
CS: One of the proudest metrics has been the program’s reach. We now have nearly 150 countries actively visiting the website and engaged in healthcare excellence. We also have valued advocates and prestigious program partners. It has been a sincere joy to be a part of this elite program and to celebrate brilliant teams that have changed healthcare for the better in their regions and beyond.
CS: My biggest message to healthcare leaders is to apply to the program, because sharing best practices elevates healthcare. There has been a surprising underrepresentation of nominated healthcare best practices from the United States, even though we would expect to see overrepresentation.
TR: Sometimes teams don’t make time to measure their achievements. We’ve updated the UNIVANTS application guide this year with best practice advice from previous years in order to help with the application process for those who want this guidance. Of course, we continue to have email support and excellent tools available on the program website to help applicants be as successful as possible.
CS: We don’t think about breathing, we just do it, and take it for granted every day. The same can be said for laboratory insights and the data provided by the clinical laboratory. Healthcare cannot survive without the contributions of the clinical laboratory.
TR: Our healthcare pledge is relevant as we celebrate laboratory medicine. It’s our hope that everyone who has a passion for healthcare reads it and embodies it in their work.
CS: I am hopeful that we will see best practices in areas that have never been done before. As our recent paper highlights, there are opportunities for recognized best practices in fertility, respiratory disease and neurology.
TR: Clinical algorithms are becoming even more essential for preventative care, so I hope to see strategic solutions in that area across all fields of medicine. With that said, sometimes even the simplest initiatives in any area can become the most valued and reproducible, so I guess we’ll just need to wait until August 1st when best practices start coming in!
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Applications for the 2021 awards open August 1st. Prepare now at UnivantsHCE.com.