Performance metrics are crucial tools that hospital and health system leadership use to determine the overall effectiveness of the clinical laboratory and identify opportunities for performance improvement. A successful laboratory outreach program must demonstrate profitability, transparency, good business practices, and overall effectiveness. By establishing performance standards, the laboratory is able to justify staffing and infrastructure costs by benchmarking against peers.
With reimbursement cuts and healthcare reform greatly impacting the clinical laboratory segment, more emphasis has been placed on measuring and managing benchmarks and key performance indicators to highlight areas for cost savings as well as improve quality and service for patients and physicians. Performance metrics can be developed from all departments within the laboratory. While hospitals have lots of data, they often do not have enough information.
In an effort to implement best practices in the laboratory where I work, we focused on the main areas of management and business metrics. The management metrics we chose to track included test volumes, cost per test, turnaround time, and quality. Business metrics encompassed a more comprehensive set of measures such as patient and provider satisfaction, cost and revenue per test, telephone responsiveness, and patient wait times.
We also considered the audience to whom the metric is relevant, such as the patient, the customer, laboratory management, and senior leadership. Once a metric was selected, we decided how and when to measure it and determined the best way to communicate the results. As this process continues, not only is the metric examined on a recurring basis, but the trend of the metric and the category is closely monitored.
Today, data is king and provides power. The most successful clinical laboratory outreach programs will consider a combination of external and internal benchmarks to improve existing processes and demonstrate success over many years.
Emily Adams, MT(ASCP)
Client Director of Outpatient Laboratory Services
Chi Solutions Inc.