News, Analysis, Trends, Management Innovations for
Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

Hosted by Robert Michel

News, Analysis, Trends, Management Innovations for
Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

Hosted by Robert Michel
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How CRM Systems Help Home Healthcare Providers Treat Patients with Chronic Diseases in a Trend That May Be an Opportunity for Medical Laboratories

Customer relationship management (CRM) plays a critical role in helping providers care for patients with chronic diseases and clinical laboratories are part of those solutions

Home healthcare continues to boom in the US and more technology companies each year—including Salesforce—strive to expand their presence within the industry. This represents a significant shift in site of service for a substantial and growing number of Americans. Equally true is that home healthcare is an opportunity for clinical laboratories to serve this increasing proportion of the American population.

Statistics tell the tale behind the boom in home healthcare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that six in 10 adults in the United States suffer from chronic diseases, such as cancer, and four in 10 adults live with two or more chronic illnesses.

This means that among medical laboratories and other providers servicing the home healthcare industry demand for clinical laboratory testing will increase.

Last year, approximately $103 billion was spent on home healthcare services and that number is expected to reach $173 billion by 2026, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Approximately 7.6 million people in the US now require some level of in-home medical care. The overall employment of in-home healthcare providers is projected to grow 41% between 2016 and 2026.

Efficient tools that assist home healthcare organizations and their providers are critical. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms that combine data gathered during office visits with patients’ living and economic situations are proving to be powerful allies for treating chronic disease populations.

Social Determinants of Health

One such CRM developer, Salesforce, is rising to the demand by adding new features to its existing Health Cloud platform. Originally introduced in 2016 as a way to improve how healthcare and life sciences organizations connect with patients, this product is one example of how Silicon Valley companies are attempting to make inroads within the healthcare sector. Health Cloud’s newest functional upgrades include:

  • Complete patient profiles,
  • Relevant patient communications, and
  • Connected in-home care.

This includes social determinants of health, such as:

  • Living conditions,
  • Socioeconomic status, and
  • Environmental factors.

These social determinants of health are typically not included in health records. But they can be vital information for healthcare providers. Clinical laboratory managers should pay attention to “social determinants of health” because this term describes a new dimension in medical care and how patients with chronic diseases are managed.

“A lot of people in healthcare know about the importance of social determinants of health, but the volume of information is so great that being able to display things clearly and concisely in front of the [providers who] are using it—when they need it—makes it more operant and more prominent in the care of that patient,” Joshua Newman, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Salesforce, told MedCity News. (Photo copyright: San Francisco Business Times/Biz Journals.)

This is a critical factor. Healthcare providers who use Salesforce’s Health Cloud can now record a patient’s social determinant information—such as, transportation issues, housing status, and care network—directly into that patient’s profile. Access to this type of information can give healthcare professionals a more complete understanding of each patient’s unique situation.

Here are some examples from a Salesforce press release that illustrate how social-determinants-of-health data can help patients and care providers:

  • “A care provider that wants to limit a patient’s risk for readmission can know if the patient has access to transportation or the ability to purchase healthy meals.
  • “A life science organization that wants to help patients adhere to their therapies, or properly use their medical devices, can see a patient’s employment status and living arrangements, and thus offer the necessary level of financial and in-home support.
  • “A payer organization can deliver personalized preventative or wellness material to members based on the member’s education or reading level.”

“Our industry continues to centralize and integrate patient data, but it is critical that we stay focused on improving the patient experience,” noted Ashwini Zenooz, MD, in the press release. Zenooz is Salesforce’s Senior Vice President and General Manager, Global Healthcare and Life Sciences. “By surfacing critical factors of a patient’s life in a single view, we empower care providers to personalize patient care experiences and improve outcomes.” 

Many existing CRM products cannot collect data from a variety of sources and then sort and analyze that information to provide users with actionable intelligence. Salesforce is attempting to fill that void among health and medical software products with Health Cloud. 

“Healthcare has been slower culturally, politically, and socially to share their data. But what we’re seeing now is even those organizations that have historically not shared their data are realizing they can do a better job if they do,” Newman told MedCity News.

Outside Hospital Care Increasing

Salesforce has also added a service it calls the Connected Patient Journey to its Health Cloud platform. This service is an integration between Health Cloud and Salesforce marketing, which can personalize information given to patients based on their unique health needs. Using this feature allows providers to build patient lists and use marketing techniques to reach patients who would most benefit from specific campaigns and information.

“The general overarching theme that unites all of these innovations is that care is gravitating increasingly toward the home or outside of the hospital and the doctor’s office,” said Newman.

Whether in-hospital or in-home, clinical laboratory tests play a critical role in healthcare services. The ability for clinical laboratories to enter patients’ test results data directly into CRM systems like Health Cloud could help providers utilizing those systems better assist patients with chronic diseases.

—JP Schlingman

Related Information:

Salesforce Launches New Healthcare Features to Manage Social Determinants and In-home Care

Salesforce Delivers New Health Cloud Innovations to Personalize Patient Experiences to Improve Outcomes

America’s $103 Billion Home Health-care System is in Crisis as Worker Shortage Worsens

The Rise of Home Health Care

Clinical Laboratories Turn to Healthcare-Focused CRM to Optimize Operations and Increase Market Share, Despite Decreasing Reimbursement

Lab-Specific CRM Helps Innovative Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups to Intelligently Cut Costs while Boosting Service to Physicians, Patients

Sonora Quest Labs and Incyte Diagnostics streamline operations, eliminate data silos, and increase efficiencies using real-time analytics from laboratory-specific CRM

Across the nation, clinical laboratories and anatomic pathologists face two common challenges. One is shrinking lab budgets and less payment for lab tests. The other is the need to maintain physician and patient services at a high level. Both factors are fueling greater interest in lab and healthcare-specific customer relationship management (CRM).

Stated another way, labs and pathology groups are being squeezed by the need to operate on less revenue, while also increasing their quality of customer service to retain existing clients and expand market share. CRMs are a proven way to achieve and sustain superior levels of customer service in a surprisingly cost-effective way. In fact, many labs that implement a CRM find that the return on investment comes swiftly, in just a few months.

Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups Hit by Declining Prices, Revenues

“The clinical lab industry is solidly in an era where payers are slashing the prices they pay for lab tests and hospitals—struggling with their own financial problems—are cutting their lab budgets,” observed Robert L. Michel, Editor-in-Chief of The Dark Report, “These factors are motivating lab administrators and pathologists to look for solutions that allow them to run their lab at less cost, while improving staff productivity and customer service.

“This is why first-mover and early-adopter medical labs saw the potential of real-time analytical middleware and lab-specific CRM solutions to help them meet the challenge of running their labs on less money, while simultaneously sustaining superior levels of customer service,” continued Michel. “Every lab manager knows that the path to improved profitability is blocked by poor workflows, time-consuming quality metrics processes, and disconnected sales and customer service teams.”

Innovative medical laboratory managers report that their investment in laboratory-specific CRM systems (also known as healthcare-specific CRM) suddenly gives them access to data that has been locked away within their legacy LIS and other software systems. By unlocking this data in real-time dashboards and reports, they gain competitive advantage in the lab testing marketplace. A healthcare-specific CRM makes it possible to monitor a wide range of activities, including:

  • Proactively tracking relations with client physicians;
  • Monitoring workflow and lab operations in real time; and
  • Gaining a comprehensive view of all sales and customer service activities at both the aggregate and provider levels.

Tracking Key Benchmarks, Productivity, and Accountability

Sonora Quest Laboratories (SQL) of Tempe, Ariz., a joint venture between Banner Health and Quest Diagnostics (NASDAQ:DGX), wanted to reduce the amount of time spent collating reports and performing manual calculations, as well as breaking down cumbersome data silos across the organization in order to streamline communication and collaboration.

Prior to activating a laboratory-specific CRM platform, employees at SQL spent five hours per day pulling key metrics and reports. To move forward with strategic initiatives, the company could not continue to “struggle with endless silos of data and information,” a case study on SQL’s challenges states.

CRM Designed for Medical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

To address these concerns, SQL turned to a laboratory-specific CRM that integrates existing silos and systems into a centralized interface through automated data capturing. The solution provides detailed, real-time dashboards with visibility across the organization. Graphs and charts enable users to:

  • Track their progress meeting turnaround time benchmarks;
  • Ensure their volume is level-loaded; and
  • Track by the hour how many tests are coming in and completed, the case study notes.

hc1 customer-relationship management

The hc1 customer-relationship management (CRM) dashboard (above) provides an easy-to-navigate interface for tracking multiple benchmarks and key workflows for clinical laboratories and healthcare providers. (Image copyright: hc1.)

“The first step was to integrate our LIS [laboratory information system], and our timekeeping, call center metrics, and bench scheduling tools, into the hc1 CRM solution we had installed,” stated Tamara Nelson, Lean Master Black Belt at SQL. “Once that was accomplished, we could build actionable reports to determine where to focus our process improvement efforts.

“Now we can look at high-level trends in lab productivity,” noted Nelson. “We can also drill down to look at every process in our lab by hour, shift, discipline, instrument, and employee to compare time periods and other factors.”

According to the case study about Sonora Quest Laboratories, after its activation of the healthcare CRM, SQL reduced time spent pulling daily performance reports from about five hours per day to just 45 minutes a day. This increased overall employee efficiency by 85%.

SQL’s use of the CRM now makes it possible to:

  • Provide real-time financial and operation trend analysis to key stakeholders;
  • Use live dashboard and reports to review and manage TAT (turn-around time) benchmarks, utilization, reimbursements, volume, and productivity;
  • Track employee productivity across departments to drive accountability; and
  • Broadcast reports to immediately notify key stakeholders of any risks, missed benchmarks, or red flags.

Better Way for Clinical Laboratories to Track Client Interactions

Another medical laboratory that benefitted from implementing a laboratory-specific CRM is Incyte Diagnostics of Spokane Valley, Washington. Founded in 1957 by pathologists, Incyte provides anatomic pathology services throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Incyte needed a way to consolidate data coming from the multiple systems used to manage its sales process and payer information. The different systems created a disconnect between departments and, as structured, could only deliver a few real-time insights into volume or revenue shifts, client account activity, marketing campaigns, or sales activities.

Having received 35,000 e-mails from his sales team during the previous two years, Incyte’s Chief Marketing Officer Nate Koenig knew he had to find a better way to track client interactions.

“We needed a better understanding of what was taking place within our clients’ hospitals. To grow, we had to improve. That’s where the CRM solution we selected proved invaluable,” stated Koenig in a case study detailing how Incyte found a solution to tedious workflows and disorganized information tracking.

After adopting a healthcare CRM, Incyte could:

  • Help sales reps gain more field time;
  • Centralize client information;
  • Track sales activities;
  • Properly store data; and
  • Gain access to real-time analytics.

Anatomic Pathology Lab Exceeded Production Goals and Customer Expectations

According to the case study, by eliminating data silos and streamlining sales operations Incyte was able to:

  • Exceed its sales growth goal in 2016 by 107%;
  • Retain 99.51% of current business;
  • Reduce the overall workload of the client services team 6.25%; and
  • Gain 32 additional days of field time for its 17 sales reps.

Both Sonora Quest Laboratories and Incyte, Inc., are examples of how innovative medical laboratories are using informatics to meet the challenges of declining revenue and the need to sustain a high level of customer service. In today’s connected world, those labs that are first to achieve useful integration of their LIS with a CRM will enjoy competitive advantage.

Surviving in this challenging environment means clinical laboratories and anatomic pathology groups must unlock the power of data informatics to improve their financial performance and better serve providers and patients. To help laboratory leaders reach these goals, The Dark Report recently published  a white paper titled, “3 Critical Rules for Surviving in 2017: Your Medical Laboratory’s Guide to Thriving in Today’s Healthcare Landscape.”

This essential resource demonstrates how a laboratory-specific CRM enables medical laboratories to not just survive, but to thrive in today’s healthcare environment, while providing added value to healthcare consumers and providers.

3 Critical Rules for Surviving in 2017: Your Medical Laboratory’s Guide to Thriving in Today’s Healthcare Landscape

Get your copy of this important asset by clicking on this link. Or, copy this URL into your browser:

—Andrea Downing Peck


Related Information:

3 Critical Rules for Surviving in 2017: Your Medical Laboratory’s Guide to Surviving in Today’s Healthcare Landscape

How Incyte Dx Eliminated Data Silos and Streamlined Operations to Exceed Sales Growth Targets by 107%

How Sonora Quest Labs Eliminated 4 Hours a Day in Performance Report Work

Clinical Laboratories Turn to Healthcare-Focused CRM to Optimize Operations and Increase Market Share, Despite Decreasing Reimbursement

More Clinical Pathology Laboratories Use Middleware for Business Intelligence and Lab-specific Customer Relationship Management


Clinical Laboratories Turn to Healthcare-Focused CRM to Optimize Operations and Increase Market Share, Despite Decreasing Reimbursement

With more medical laboratories making progress on improving the operational performance of their labs, and the level of service they provide to their clients, they are finding it essential to have real-time analytics and healthcare relationship management systems

In today’s world of clinical laboratory medicine, the pace of daily operations continues to increase. Everything happens faster as the nation’s leading medical laboratories apply Lean and other process improvement methods to speed up workflow with the goal of shortening lab test turnaround times.

However, those labs making progress on doing more faster and in less time have a challenge: they require information systems and software that can feed essential information to lab managers and staff in real time. It is for this reason that some of the best-selling informatics products in the clinical laboratory industry these days are middleware solutions and healthcare relationship management (HRM) solutions that support real-time analytics and help medical labs improve their client service.

In the past, clinical laboratories and pathology groups often developed in-house solutions to help manage data and generate reports. While data in these systems often drove diagnostic decisions, with the pace of technological change and demands for reduced turnaround times (TATs), these systems often struggled to provide: (more…)

For Clinical Pathology Laboratories Seeking to Create Value for Physicians and Patients, Real-Time Analytics Systems Are Becoming Indispensable Management Tools

Use of customer relationship management (CRM) systems is becoming more widespread as progressive medical labs and pathology groups use them to boost service levels and win greater market share

If there is a single “big trend” in pathology and clinical laboratory informatics today, it is the acquisition and use of software that makes it possible to access a wealth of data in real time. This trend is due directly to the need for medical laboratories to cut costs while sustaining and improving quality in every aspect of lab testing.

One part of this trend for increased use of real-time analytics can be seen in the decision by some innovative clinical lab organizations to invest in a customer relationship management software system (CRM). These systems make it possible for lab managers to use the CRM to monitor a wide range of activities, particularly in tracking relations with client physicians. Some CRMs also can report data on a variety of medical and pathology laboratory performance measures every hour of every day.

A handful of hospital and health system laboratory outreach programs have recognized how their use of a CRM gives them a competitive advantage in the lab testing marketplace. These labs use their CRMs to boost productivity and profitability of their outreach sales and marketing efforts. (more…)

Innovative Clinical Laboratories Use Business Intelligence to Deliver Data Insights that Help Physicians Improve Patient Outcomes and Meet ACO Goals

Clinical laboratories and pathology groups are deploying customer relationship management tools as a way to deliver more value to physicians and other providers

Healthcare’s accelerating shift away from fee-for-service payment and toward value-based reimbursement presents new challenges to clinical laboratories and pathology groups. These new payment models motivate providers to seek strategic partners who can deliver added value.

To succeed in this paradigm, clinical laboratories must differentiate themselves. This will require effective management of client relationships. Labs will soon need to do much more than simply process medical test orders and send lab results back to referring physicians. In fact, early-adopter lab organizations are accomplishing these goals by using client relationship management (CRM) tools.

To serve these lab organizations, vendors are bringing customized CRM tools to market. Unlike the generic customer relationship management products of past years, these next generation CRM products are tailored to meet the complex needs of healthcare organizations. CRM systems that are customized to the needs of clinical laboratories and pathology groups are now available.