Healthcare professionals demand faster lab results

In meeting with our customers, I repeatedly hear how they are facing both increasing financial pressures and growing testing demands, says Reitermann

by HABHAJAN SINGH 

Laboratory results play a key role in managing patient healthcare. In fact, failure on the laboratory (lab) front can cause havoc in dealing with patients.

Its importance was underlined in a recent study which concluded that healthcare professionals are demanding for faster lab results.

The same study, conducted by Siemens Healthineers in 2017, also noted that a good majority of emergency physicians, hospital lab directors and internists agree that improving turnaround time of lab results is important to improve patient safety.

Some 75% of hospital directors and physicians “strongly believe” that investment in lab technology leads to cost savings and increased revenue, according to the same study.

“Helping hospitals provide better patient care with improved financial performance is why we continue to innovate in the lab space to streamline workflows, increase workforce productivity, and enhance testing accuracy and reliability.

“In meeting with our customers, I repeatedly hear how they are facing both increasing financial pressures and growing testing demands,” said Siemens Healthineers COO Michael Reitermann (picture).

Lab Testing

Close to 80% of physicians’ diagnoses are a result of lab tests, according to healthcare market research firm Kalorama Information.

It noted that common routine tests include cholesterol level tests, HIV tests, pap tests, pregnancy tests and substance abuse tests. Clinical lab testing is also used to monitor diseases and drug treatments, while the often more costly specialty testing may include genetics, immunology, oncology and endocrinology.

Siemens Healthineers, a division of Siemens AG, is a global healthcare company headquartered in Erlangen, Germany.

Other players in this space include Australiabased Sonic Healthcare Ltd that offers more than 3,000 different tests in a range of specialties, California-based life science company Genomic Health Inc that focuses on genomic-based clinical diagnostics tests for cancer and US-based cancer diagnostics company NeoGenomics Laboratories Inc.

Physician and Patient Satisfaction

In the Siemens Healthineers white paper entitled “The Diagnostic Lab: The Hidden Jewel in the Health System”, it noted that lab services and technologies have been shown to improve physician and patient satisfaction, drive patient outcomes at reduced costs, and strengthen hospital reputation and revenue in the long term.

“Lab services and technologies are unquestionably important steps throughout the patient’s clinical journey. Yet, investment in these services and technologies may not be a priority because the value they provide may go unrecognised,” the document noted.

For a start, it argued that several studies have shown that test results from in vitro labs drive about 70% of clinical decision making and comprise less than 5% of hospital costs.

Quoting an earlier study, it said turnaround time of in vitro diagnostic lab results is a key factor that drives patient and physician satisfaction and patient safety.

Additionally, it said Chicago-based Swedish Covenant Hospital reported that due to investment in its lab, patient and physician satisfaction improved and the hospital attracted more patients.

On the cost side, the white paper noted that new technological developments within the lab have contributed to reducing costs throughout the healthcare system.

It said 65% of top technology hospitals, as defined by the US News and World Report, have an average medicare spending per beneficiary score that is below the national average.

It added that Swedish Covenant Hospital reported that between 2002 and 2016 — as the hospital was making strides in reducing turnaround time, with the number of full-time employees within the technical area declining — cost went down by more than 20%.

“This cost savings was a direct result of Swedish Covenant Hospital’s decision to upgrade its lab operations, including introducing lab automation, streamlining processes, and reducing manual intervention throughout the system,” it said.