Nation’s most experienced lab operations managers, cost-cutters, and Lean experts will gather to share successes and proven ideas at Lab Quality Confab on October 18-19, 2016
Most hospitals and health systems are in the first stages of developing their budgets for 2017. Clinical laboratory administrators and pathologists at these institutions report three common factors are driving the next budget cycle: falling reimbursement, flat or declining inpatient admissions, and directives to cut their lab budgets.
“At our health system, the challenge is a bit different,” said one lab administrator at a large Midwest hospital. “Inpatient volumes are increasing, but we get less money from health insurers per admission. For that reason, our budget planning requirement is to accept a smaller budget than last year, while planning to handle more specimen volume in 2017, compared to this year.”
Medical Laboratories with Effective Cost-Cutting Methods
When asked what strategy her lab would use to handle more specimens with a smaller budget, the response was interesting. “It’s not as simple as, say, cutting 5% or 10% of our lab costs. What complicates medical laboratory operations these days is the inability to hire adequate numbers of medical technologists and MLTs [medical laboratory technicians],” she responded. “Blame it mostly on retirements. But another factor is the lack of MLT training programs in our community.
“Thus, the big headache in crafting our lab’s 2017 budget strategy is how to maintain a high level of service to our inpatient and outreach physicians, delivered by an understaffed lab funded by a smaller budget,” continued the lab administrator. “Our lifesaver is Lean. We’ve trained the lab team in Lean methods and use Kaizen events to regularly identify and eliminate unnecessary costs in ways that improve quality.
Using Lean, Automation, and Data Analytics to Reduce Lab Operating Costs
“Going forward, the new element in our management strategy is to more tightly integrate our use of Lean methods with the newest lab automation systems now in the market,” she said. “Another tool we find essential is better analytics. This year we purchased a middleware product that gives us a detailed drill-down of our lab operations each day. It also feeds monitors throughout the clinical lab that help our med techs maintain performance to standards.”
These challenges are commonplace across the nation. Hospital and health system labs are undergoing financial pressure. Along with budget cuts by their parent institutions, hospital lab outreach programs are dealing with aggressive price-cutting by payers, who also use narrow networks to exclude higher-priced hospital labs as providers.
Clinical Laboratory Industry’s Lean, Six Sigma Experts to Meet in October
Clinical laboratory managers looking for ideas and effective methods they can use to eliminate costs, improve quality, and make lab automation more productive will be coming together at the 10th annual Lab Quality Confab. It takes place on October 18-19, 2016, in New Orleans.
The timing of Lab Quality Confab makes it a valuable resource for those lab managers still in their 2017 budget planning process. More than 300 lab professionals from the nation’s leading hospitals, health systems, and academic medical centers will conduct sessions about how their labs are using Lean, Six Sigma, and other quality-management methods to achieve substantial cost cuts while maintaining quality. Lab managers looking for ideas and proven ways to run their labs more efficiently and on less money during 2017 will find the answers, inspiration, and confidence they need to meet their hospital’s 2017 budget requirements.
Medical Laboratory Vendors Have Operational Expertise to Share
Another valuable resource for hospital lab managers interested in learning and mastering new ways for their laboratory to run increased volumes of specimens with a flat or shrinking budget will have access to lab productivity and Lean experts from the leading in vitro diagnostics companies and organizations, such as:
Of particular interest will be an extended panel discussion on the topic of laboratory certification and accreditation. Not only are federal CLIA and state regulations tightening in specific ways, but lab inspectors and assessors are targeting new and different areas during their site inspections of medical laboratories.
To help laboratories understand what is changing in lab certification and accreditation, and to provide them with information on the best way to prepare for their next cycle of inspections and assessments, Lab Quality Confab has invited representatives from these clinical laboratory accrediting organizations to participate on this special panel discussion. Panelists include:
- College of American Pathologists: Denise Driscoll, MS, MT(ASCP) SBB, Senior Director, Laboratory Accreditation and Regulatory Affairs, Northfield, IL
- COLA: Kathy Nucifora, MPH, MT, (ASCP), Director of Accreditation, Columbia, MD
- The Joint Commission: Stacy Olea, MBA, MT(ASCP), FACHE, Executive Director of Laboratory Accreditation Program, Oakbrook Terrace, IL
- American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA): Randall Querry, Accreditation Manager, Clinical, Frederick, MD
- Moderator: Nora L. Hess, MBA, MT(ASCP), PMP, Senior Consultant, Operations Management, Chi Solutions, Inc., Ann Arbor, MI
Currently, Lab Quality Confab is the only annual conference that provides managers working in clinical laboratories and anatomic pathology groups with access to professional training in the methods of Lean, Six Sigma, process improvement, and quality management systems (QMS), such as ISO 15189.
Each year, specialized training—with certificates of completion—is offered in specific quality management tools such as Value-Stream Mapping and DMAIC. Lab Quality Confab also presents case studies from clinical labs and pathology groups using these methods in every aspect of lab operations, from specimen collection and transport, to core lab automation and improving billing/collections.
Dates and location for this year’s Lab Quality Confab are October 18-19, 2016, at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel. On the program are 60 speakers and 40 sessions. The full agenda can be viewed online. For information on registration, click here (or copy this URL and paste it into your web browser: http://www.labqualityconfab.com/register).
Helping Your Clinical Laboratory Expand Its Clinical Value
Nothing less than financial survival and the ability to remain independent are at stake for local clinical labs and pathology groups. That’s why it is smart to have your lab’s top management talent at Lab Quality Confab. It’s the best place to learn from other labs, master effective improvement techniques, and network with quality management leaders from the nation’s most prominent lab organizations.
The single best educational investment you can make in your lab’s future is to have your best and brightest contributors participate at this year’s Lab Quality Confab. They will come back with both the enthusiasm and the knowledge necessary to keep your lab on the path to clinical success and financial sustainability.
Best of all, the things they learn on October 18-19 will help your lab immediately cut costs with no compromise in quality—thus helping you meet your short term challenge created by the current budget planning cycle at your parent institution. Register today and insure your place at the 2016 Lab Quality Confab!