To realize its full potential, a laboratory outreach program must be managed as a business—a service line within an organization. Jane Hermansen, Outreach and Network Manager at Mayo Clinic Laboratories in Rochester, Minnesota, discusses how health care organizations can adopt this approach for new and existing outreach programs in MedicalLab Management.
The majority of hospital-based laboratories in this country operate outreach programs with varying levels of effectiveness and success. According to Hermansen, “As the evolution toward health system and integrated delivery network formation continues, the concept of outreach is likewise evolving into in-reach. Regardless of the title this activity bears, the benefits to the laboratory and institution can be substantial.”
For both new and established outreach programs, critical success factors include administrative understanding and support, existing laboratory capacity, competitive pricing, solid billing practices, amenable relationships, and an adequate infrastructure.
In the article, Hermansen discusses the importance of leadership, strategy, finance, marketing, and operations in outreach as a laboratory service line. She also outlined how effective business development for the outreach service line is grounded in developing and managing relationships. According to Hermansen, in order to establish effective relationships, ask the following questions:
- Who are the key targets for the laboratory outreach service line?
- Is use of your laboratory mandatory or discretionary?
- Who makes governing decisions for the laboratory?
- Are there dynamics for this provider that will influence their choice in laboratory?
- What competitive attributes do you have that will make your laboratory the best choice for this provider?
- Are there legal, regulatory, or compliance challenges related to serving this provider?
- Are there competitive disadvantages that do not support your laboratory being the best choice for this provider? If so, have they been addressed in the strategic plan?
“Laboratory outreach is not a department. Rather, it is a service line that requires structure, support, and a dedicated business focus,” says Hermansen. “Key to a lab outreach program’s success is intentional alignment of the outreach service line with the institution’s overall goals, developing strategy, creating effective support mechanisms, and monitoring metrics to demonstrate progress and success.”