Mayo Clinic Laboratories supports 11 key tactics for laboratory outreach to increase hospital revenue, decrease costs, and improve patient care. By optimizing these areas and tracking metrics, laboratories are better positioned to demonstrate their value to the organization.
Hospital leadership’s perception of the laboratory—as a patient-care service or a commodity—determines the level of support it gives to laboratory initiatives. Successful outreach programs gain and retain administrative support and resources through:
- Defining laboratory reporting structure.
- Securing laboratory influence at the leadership table.
- Developing, expanding, and sustaining a revenue-generating service line.
- Determining how resources are requested and allocated.
- Measuring and communicating success.
Institutional Culture & Alignment
The institutional culture plays a large role in an outreach program’s success or failure. Is your organization externally focused? Does it recognize the contribution of the laboratory? Helping organizational leadership recognize the historic financial and patient-care contributions of the laboratory, or the potential future contributions, will bring organizational and laboratory perspectives into alignment. This ensures that the outreach program will have administrative support and access to necessary resources.
Market Share & Competition
Outreach programs face competition from national laboratories, regional independent laboratories, and other hospital outreach programs. Health system integration and the employment of providers help create a more supportive infrastructure for the laboratory. Successful outreach programs must:
- Identify the target market.
- Deliver accessible and competitive services.
- Leverage competitive advantages.
- Understand current market share (inreach & outreach).
Courier & Logistics
Courier networks are critical to successful laboratory outreach. Efficient transportation and processing of specimens is vital for meeting turnaround times and measuring quality (i.e. lost specimen tracking). Whether the network is owned or outsourced, couriers should be evaluated on specific criteria and capabilities such as:
- Hours of service
- STAT service capability
- Customer feedback
- Specimen tracking capabilities
Decision making tools:
- Proprietary vs. Contractor Guide
- Cost Analysis Tool - Contact MCL Outreach Development
Pricing & Payor Contracting
Health plan contracts play a critical role in constraining or supporting the growth of an outreach program. Understanding how laboratory outreach tests are paid and the challenges of the various prevalent health plans in the market will help your outreach program compete successfully.
A few pricing strategies to consider are:
- A separate, competitive outreach fee schedule
- Client-specific fee schedules
- Performed a cost-per-test analysis and understanding variable costs
Billing & Accounts Receivable
Growing an effective outreach program requires the hospital to understand how laboratory outreach testing is billed and identify collection challenges. It must be supported by billing processes that reduce write-offs and bad debt through prior authorizations and point-of-service collections.
Connectivity and reliability are the critical attributes of any hospital’s information technology. Does your electronic health record (EHR) allow efficient access for affiliated providers to order laboratory tests and view results when located off-site? Does your hospital’s laboratory information system (LIS) connect all your market segments, such as the physician office, skilled nursing, other hospitals, and home health?
An outreach program needs solutions that meet customer segment reporting requirements and enables easy test ordering and results reporting. Also critical is a dedicated staff to support customer connectivity and IT needs. Effective technology can also facilitate utilization management using decision-support tools to guide test orders.
Marketing & Sales
Whether the outreach program is new or expanding, a comprehensive sales and marketing strategy is required to promote laboratory testing in the target area. An effective sales and marketing strategy should include the following:
- Process for collecting and maintaining data.
- A sound understanding of laboratory promotion to various audiences.
- A well trained and supported sales force.
- Target market and territory definition.
- Dedicated marketing support for promotional materials (i.e. website, social media, signage, etc.).
The patient’s laboratory experience is typically defined by their phlebotomy encounter. These encounters have several aspects:
- Convenient locations and hours of service.
- Minimal wait time and comfortable waiting area.
- Efficient registration process.
- Private draw rooms.
- Competent and friendly staff.
Likewise, physicians expect their patients to have easy access to phlebotomy services to increase patient compliance. Increasing access may include an in-office phlebotomy (in states where not prohibited by law). Although this service is patient-focused, it may not be cost-effective in all circumstances. A profitability analysis can justify providing an in-office phlebotomist.
Patient Experience Tools:
- Customer Satisfaction SurveyMonkey Instructions
- Patient Service Center Calculator - Contact MCL Outreach Development
Infrastructure and capacity are necessities for generating additional test volume. Having the necessary functions to support outreach specimens and processes may include:
- Clear client communications process.
- Efficient transportation network.
- Streamlined specimen processing workflow.
- Customer service call center.
- Dedicated staff.
Financial Reporting & Key Performance Indicators
Tracking outreach metrics and clearly communicating results allows you to reassure hospital leadership that the laboratory is a valuable asset for the organization. Metrics may include:
- Net revenue/test
- Test volume (CPT)
- Cost per test
- Patient volume
- Outreach cost per test
- Profitability per client or market