Who is Driving Your Laboratory Margin, Customer Service, and Quality Improvements?

Now more than ever, hospitals and health systems laboratories are faced with the task of reducing costs and increasing efficiencies while delivering better patient care. Have you considered who will drive your laboratory improvement initiatives? Will it be internal staff, performance improvement staff, or consultants? As I speak to laboratory leaders everyday, it is apparent there is a lack of general consensus and understanding of who will deliver the best outcomes.

Are you considering using internal laboratory staff? Laboratory staff members are excellent technical resources but often lack project management skills and experience. Also, including project management responsibilities will add even more strain to an already noticeable laboratory workforce shortage. Published statistics illustrate the significance of the shortage:

  • The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a need for 14,000 new laboratory professionals annually with educational programs producing less than 5,000 new lab professionals each year.1
  • For every seven lab professionals exiting the profession due to retirement, only two are being replaced.2
  • With unemployment rates near double-digit levels across most of the nation, one would think that such a critical role in the healthcare profession would be in high demand. Unlike any other profession, demand actually exceeds supply with over 40,000 lab vacancies currently in the U.S.3

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Who Are Your Peers…in Laboratory Benchmarking and in Life?

One of our clients called me in a panic because she was told she had to reduce 20 FTEs in the hospital laboratory. The basis for the decision was a ranking in the 30th percentile for unit cost (where the 100th percentile is the best performer). The analysis was performed by a general consulting firm that did not understand the complexities of the laboratory. We used the exact same data submission and changed only the peer group, comparing this laboratory to other laboratories with comparable outreach volume (greater than 50 percent). Laboratory performance improved by 43 percentiles! The results are shown in the table below:

Laboratory Benchmarking Peer Group Table

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