Hospital labs come in under budget—while still improving quality, service, and revenue

Despite the recession, most first-rank hospital and health system laboratories in the United States remain upbeat about the financial integrity of their organization and their ability to negotiate the deepest economic recession since 1981-82. One reason this is true is the use of Lean, Six Sigma, and similar continuous improvement methods in the nation’s most progressive clinical labs and pathology groups.

Unlike the recession of 28 years ago, clinical laboratories today can use their experienced Lean teams to trim costs without comparable reductions in quality or service. Not surprisingly, clinical laboratories were quick to recognize how, during this economic recession, their existing Lean and process improvement programs could be tweaked with minimal effort to produce maximum operational savings. Thus, hospital labs during the past 12 months have been able to cut significant cost from their operations without any compromise in quality or the level of service they deliver to referring physicians.

When the third annual Lab Quality Confab convenes in Atlanta on September 29-30, use of Lean and process improvement to produce substantial cost savings in a speedy manner will be a major theme. More than 40 speakers will share successes and teach specific ways that clinical laboratories and pathology groups can save money, trim operational budgets, and improve profit margins, even during this recessionary period.

Use of Lean, Six Sigma, and other quality management methods specifically to generate cost savings has become a major priority. As noted in The Dark Report earlier this year, one reason why hospitals and health systems have reined in spending for travel, education, and other discretionary expenditures is the need to rebuild cash reserves. This is due to the dramatic fall in the value of their endowments and trust funds because of the stock market crash in the summer of 2008. (See The Dark Report, “Unprecedented Times Lie Ahead for Labs”, March 16, 2009.)

Lab Quality Confab

For clinical laboratory managers and pathologists directly interested in opportunities to generate substantial cost savings, several case study presentations at the upcoming Lab Quality Confab promise to provide a ready-made template. These sessions include:

  • “Lean Six Sigma Makeover of Patient Registration Billing Process Triggers More Collected Revenue” by Bill Romanelli, Manager, Outreach of Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC.
  • “Lean and Lab Automation in Micro: Pursuing the New Paradigm in Modern Microbiology” by Leo Serrano, Director of Laboratory Services, Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
  • “Slashing Pap Smear Turnaround Time with Lean to Gain Competitive Market Advantage” by Jason Newmark, Director, Baystate Reference Laboratories, Springfield, Massachusetts.

As these three examples demonstrate, innovative laboratories are combining, blending, and integrating automation solutions with Lean, Six Sigma, and process improvement principles. Laboratory managers, pathologists, and others wanting to understand this powerful new opportunity in lab management will find the third annual Lab Quality Confab on Quality Management in Diagnostic Medicine to be a comprehensive resource. Lab Quality Confab will take place on September 29-30, 2009 at the Hilton Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia.

More than 40 sessions and topics will be presented, covering the full range of laboratory and pathology operations, ranging from specimen collection and courier logistics to using Lean with automation in the high-volume core laboratory. Poster sessions will take place, and national awards and prizes totaling nearly $4,000 will be awarded. To see topics, speakers, and all the events at Lab Quality Confab, visit http://www.labqualityconfab.com.

To register for Lab Quality Confab, visit http://www.labqualityconfab.com/register.htm

Finally, laboratory vendors are waking up to this highly-productive intersection of matching their automated systems and sophisticated analyzers with Lean, Six Sigma, and similar process improvement techniques. At Lab Quality Confab, management master classes will be conducted on these topics by experts from Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, Siemens Diagnostics, BD Diagnostics, Abbott Diagnostics, Sunquest Information Systems, and Dako, among others.

Related Information:

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