Reasons Why an In House Lab and Lab Testing Helps Improve Patient Care
A physician owned lab or in-house lab can vary greatly in size and application, from single blood analyzer to multiple lab instruments, there is no specific size or limit from which you and your practice might benefit. The real question is what works for you and your patient base. Physicians and physician groups have found that by doing some or all of their own testing, they are improving the efficiency and level of the care they provide to their patients and they are improving their flow of revenue.
An in-house lab benefits you and your practice in several different ways: it reclaims revenue that your practice was potentially losing when sending samples out to a reference lab, it improves your clinics profitability indirectly by improving staff efficiency and increasing patient satisfaction through lower turn-around times, and it decreases your time spent trying to decide on a course of treatment for your patients.
It has been estimated that in using evidence based medicine, treatment decisions are being made over 70% of the time utilizing the results lab testing provides. Many of you are wondering about the size restrictions that bringing in new lab equipment might pose and you wonder about the regulations imposed upon your clinics from bringing in your own lab. Many of you do not start to think about providing a lab and lab testing initially with the thought of providing better patient care. You wonder about the expense and you wonder if it is really worth it. Regulation falls under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments requirements as well as a few other requirements and regulation is determined upon what exactly you want to do with a physician owned lab.
A little bit of history in regards to clinical testing should be brought up at this point. Pre-CLIA, or before 1988, lab instrumentation was expensive from the standpoint of foot-print, staff required, and maintenance required in order to ensure the laboratory protocols and testing assays remained within guidelines. After CLIA was passed, more rigorous requirements for quality control were enforced, a higher frequency of lab inspections were imposed, and well-trained staff was required. All of this resulted in more and more clinical testing being referred out to reference labs.
With the eventual improvements in technology and testing techniques, we have seen lab equipment shrink in size, become more sensitive, easier to use, and much more efficient. Lab testing has successfully come completely around to pre-CLIA status as far as ease of implementation and has returned as a revenue source for clinics.
Don Dubois, the general manager of HemoCue America, has discussed the struggles many physicians face when forming their own labs. He notes, “It’s pretty easy to have a CLIA-waived lab, and most POLs are waived.” The waived status is desirable because there are fewer inspections, only a small number of staff are required, and test results are produced quickly and efficiently.
In this day and age of healthcare reform, physicians are required to be efficient so that they can see the maximum number of patients in a day and they have to provide more services that provide a revenue flow to their practices. A physician owned lab helps to effectively manage patient load and it provides a valuable service to your practice. We all know that patient satisfaction is huge in healthcare now with talks of tying reimbursement to patient reviews. Offering any services that make the patients’ visits more efficient keeps them happier, thus they will be more likely to return to a specific practice for future treatment and their word-of-mouth suggestion to other potential patients will help improve the vitality of a practice as well.
Finding a lab solution that works for your clinic and is tailored to help improve the bottom line of your practice is exactly what we are here to help you with.
Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us and allow us to speak with you and help you in any way that we can.