Helping Medical Laboratories Add Value to Health Systems, Providers, and Payers by Moving from Clinical Lab 1.0 to Clinical Lab 2.0
November workshop to teach Clinical Lab 2.0 to forward-thinkers among clinical laboratories, IVD manufacturers, and lab IT vendors offered many examples where clinical laboratory diagnostics can add value and improve patient outcomes
DATELINE: ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico—Here in this mile-high city, a special Project Santa Fe Workshop devoted to teaching the principles of Clinical Lab 2.0 attracted an impressive roster of innovators and forward-thinkers in clinical laboratory medicine. In attendance were leaders from a select number of the nation’s first-rank health systems and hospitals, along with executives from In Vitro diagnostics (IVD) manufacturers, lab IT companies, other lab service companies, attendees from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and from institutions in Canada, Germany, Israel, India, and the UK.
Their common goal was to learn more about the emerging clinical and business model for medical laboratories known as “Clinical Lab 2.0.” A key objective of the workshop was to help those lab leaders in attendance develop strategic action plans for their own lab organizations, so as to take advantage of the insights coming from the vast information streams generated by their clinical laboratories. These services would be in support the evolving needs of health systems, hospitals physicians, and health insurers to more effectively provide integrated patient-centered clinical care.
Medical Laboratories Can Use Clinical Lab 2.0 as a Path to Adding Value
Clinical Lab 2.0 is the clinical and business model of the future for medical laboratories, assert the developers of this concept. “Clinical Lab 2.0 describes the attributes needed by all medical laboratories that want to succeed in a healthcare system organized to provide precision medicine, keep people out of hospitals, and where providers—including labs—are reimbursed based on the value they provide,” stated Khosrow Shotorbani, CEO of TriCore Reference Laboratories, one of the organizers of the Project Santa Fe Clinical Lab 2.0 Workshop.
“Clinical Lab 2.0 is the path medical labs will need to follow if they are to continue providing relevant lab testing services and generate the reimbursement necessary for them to maintain a high level of clinical excellence and financial stability going forward,” he added. “This is the next generation of medical laboratory organization and operation.”
Lab 1.0 Was Lab Clinical/Business Model for 50 Years
For more than 50 years, Clinical Lab 1.0 was the model for labs,” noted James Crawford, MD, PhD, Executive Director and Senior Vice President of Laboratory Services at Northwell Health Laboratories and an organizer of the Project Santa Fe Clinical Lab 2.0 Workshop. “Lab 1.0 is transactional, focusing on generating high quality analytical data on specimens received, but without assembling these data into integrative clinical care programs. In the simplest sense, Clinical Lab 1.0 focused on generating ever-greater numbers of specimens to drive down average cost-per-test, while maximizing revenue in a fee-for-service system.
“But fee-for-service payment is going away,” he said. “Increasingly, clinical laboratories will be paid based on the value they provide. This payment can be in the form of bundled reimbursement, as a per-member-per-month payment, or as a share of the budgeted payment made to a health system, an accountable care organization (ACO), or a multispecialty provider network. As these alternative forms of provider payment become dominant, to earn a fair share of reimbursement, all medical laboratories will need a clinical strategy to deliver lab testing services that measurably contribute to improved patient outcomes while reducing the overall cost of care. This requires looking at medical laboratories’ contribution to effective delivery of the full dollar of the healthcare spend, not just the three-cents-on-the-dollar representing laboratory testing.”
Innovators in Clinical Laboratory Industry Identify New Ways to Add Value
There are already a handful of innovative clinical laboratory organizations that have clinical experience in moving past the Lab 1.0 paradigm of reporting an accurate test result within the accepted turnaround time. Leaders within these labs are collaborating with physicians and frontline care givers specifically to help them better utilize lab tests in ways that directly improve the speed and accuracy of the overall diagnostic sequence, as well as achieving therapeutic optimization as rapidly as possible. These collaborations are tracking the improvement in patient outcomes while demonstrating how better use of lab tests can lower the total cost per episode of care.
During the Clinical Lab 2.0 workshop, case studies were presented demonstrating how clinical laboratory leaders are taking the first steps to practice Clinical Lab 2.0 so as to achieve added value with medical laboratory tests. The case studies included:
· A project at Henry Ford Health to collaborate with physicians to more appropriately utilize lab tests and build consensus in support of a new lab test formulary.
· A multi-hospital initiative at Northwell Health to collaborate with physicians and nurses in the use of creating testing to make earlier, more accurate diagnoses of acute kidney injury during inpatient admissions, and better guide decisions to treat.
· A partnership involving TriCore Reference Laboratory and certain health insurers in New Mexico where the laboratory—using lab test data (some generated by emergency room testing) and other clinical data—alerts the insurers to women who are pregnant, thus allowing the insurers to provide timely guidance to the women’s care teams with the goal of improving prenatal care.
Project Santa Fe Workshop: A Well-Attended Lab ‘Think Tank’
Participants attending the Clinical Lab 2.0 workshop included hospital lab administrators, pathologists, and clinical laboratory industry executives. The importance of this workshop is reflected in the educational grants and financial support provided by leading in vitro diagnostics manufacturers, lab IT companies, and other lab industry vendors. The lab industry vendors included:
Also providing educational grants and similar support were:
Project Santa Fe was launched in 2016 by clinical lab leaders from five of the nation’s most respected integrated health systems:
· TriCore Reference Laboratories;
· Henry Ford Health;
· Geisinger Health;
· Northwell Health.
Described as a think-tank venture, the organizers are committed to implementing projects that demonstrate how lab tests can be used in ways that add value, and then publish the resulting projects, along with data about improved patient outcomes and reductions in healthcare costs, in peer-reviewed journals. Multi-institutional studies will be required to validate the findings and outcomes from the added-value clinical collaborations initiated at the different medical laboratory organizations participating in Project Santa Fe.
Another primary goal is to share the lessons learned from these innovative projects with other like-minded pathologists, lab administrators, and lab managers. In May, Project Santa Fe organizers led a one-day workshop to teach Clinical Lab 2.0 at the Executive War College on Laboratory and Pathology Management. The workshop in Albuquerque on November 13-14 was the second learning opportunity available to medical laboratory professionals. A November 2018 workshop is planned.
—Robert L. Michel