Today’s clinical laboratories face the challenge of performing increasingly higher volumes of complex testing. This demand sits within an environment that has seen a dramatic shortage of trained laboratory personnel, unprecedented mergers and acquisitions, pressure to provide high quality test results with improved service (turnaround time), and internal and external standards to operate accurately day in and day out. To be successful, laboratory leadership also needs to ensure laboratories are functioning at the highest level of efficiency optimization while preparing for the future of lab.
To support this need to enhance clinical laboratory operations management today, Accumen offers a team of highly experienced subject matter experts (SMEs) who draw on years of experience to create and recommend solutions for the best results. These methods, processes, and tools are designed to retain staff in a tight labor market, reduce costs, increase revenue, improve processes, and increase patient safety and satisfaction. Some recommendations are department-specific, while many apply broadly to lab management as a whole.
• Laboratory technical and leadership expertise, blended with lean Six Sigma and project management, to bring the top proven best practices
• Improve on both the clinical and business aspects of running a successful laboratory
• Accumen Analytics technology solution to quantify opportunities and monitor performance
• Partnership model with collaboration from concept to sustained gains
• Customizable strategies tailored to meet your health system’s and hospital’s needs
• Improved workflows, increased productivity, reduced cost, increased patient safety, enhanced quality and service, and increased patient and provider satisfaction
When it comes to lab workflow, efficiency is key. The first step to improve lab operations is workflow mapping. By mapping the various workflows that occur in the lab, and comparing the level of effort needed to improve, with the financial impact of improvement, the Accumen team partners with lab leaders to prioritize resources. Resources may include financial funding, space, equipment, and expertise. We then work with the team of staff members who are directly impacted by that workflow to design more efficient alternatives.
Four over-arching workflows must be mapped if a holistic overview of the lab is to emerge. Those workflows are:
In every laboratory, there are also additional, distinct workflows within each of the high-level areas listed above. To truly improve lab quality, safety, and patient care, while also remaining cognizant of financial stewardship and efficiency, lab leaders must have a good understanding of how each workflow intersects the other.
Like many industries, healthcare is suffering from a talent shortage. That means efficient health systems have a huge advantage over their inefficient competitors. With a dearth of qualified medical lab scientists, now is the time to improve lab efficiency, and there are a number of improvements lab leaders can make.
One way to maximize the capacity of staff is to allow lab assistants to work to their full capability. With appropriate training and competency assessment, lab assistants are capable of handling many lab processes with minimal supervision. With the right control processes in place, lab assistants are able to work to their full capacity.
Another way to improve efficiency is to eliminate process silos between shifts or departments. By evaluating staffing levels, test volumes, and lab layout across all shifts and departments, it may be more efficient and productive to combine efforts of staff across multiple departments, particularly during off-peak hours.
Performance measurement is not only important in business. It’s also vital in the clinical laboratory environment. To improve laboratory services, benchmarking is an absolute must. Benchmarking can help manage laboratory operational and financial performance. Accumen benchmarking measures metrics such as staff productivity, supply cost per test, total cost per test, and more. Once you have data, you can target improvement.
When it comes to outpatient and outreach testing services,
As major health systems try to maximize efficiency and reduce cost, performance metrics drive internal conversations that allocate resources and ensure the laboratory is at the table when making strategic decisions. Operational and financial benchmarks can provide powerful evidence when health system executives are forced to make difficult decisions.
The goal of increasing efficiency has led many health system leaders to explore new forms of organization. Lab consolidation is one initiative that seems to be effective. High regulatory burdens as well as scarce labor resources encourage consolidation, because organizations with economies of scale have a better chance at remaining profitable under an intense burden of work. In fact, industry experts expect that the number of mergers and acquisitions will only increase in the coming years. Unsurprisingly, these broad changes in the healthcare space have profound impact on lab operations.
Lab Consolidation can come in many forms. As business needs necessitate that hospitals and health systems build economies of scale, having larger operations that provide many lab tests for a number of facilities can often reduce costs.
Accumen’s Relative Value Unit (RVU) system enables laboratories to communicate key business insights affecting financial performance for your laboratory by calculating your Lab’s Test Complexity Index (TCI). Lab costs are directly related to the TCI, in the same way acute care inpatient services are reflected in the hospital’s Case Mix Index (CMI) and Diagnosis-Related Group (DRG).
The system includes weighted RVUs for all laboratory tests. Including consideration of pre-analytical, analytical, and post-analytical processes, cost, and reimbursement. Automated and manual technologies are included, where possible by AMA CPT code.
The Accumen RVU System has multiple use cases and applications:
• Departmental Benchmarking with similar peers (peers of similar volume and TCI)
• Financial Accounting and Budget Development
• Multiple Cost Accounting Applications
• Lab Pricing Chargemaster and Transfer Fee Schedules
Accreditation-readiness is important for laboratories to comply with state and federal regulations and plays an integral role in maintaining quality assurance and ensuring patient safety. In addition, accreditation is a recognized mark of professional credibility, and payers may require lab services to be accredited.
As part of a comprehensive regulatory assessment by section, Accumen conducts a gap analysis outlining deviations from accreditation and regulatory standards (CLIA, TJC, CAP, AABB, COLA, state, and others). Based on each site’s individual findings, Accumen partners with internal stakeholders to develop a roadmap that ensures the laboratory is fully compliant-ready for any inspection.
A quality management system or QMS, helps healthcare organizations establish processes, procedures, and improvements for achieving desired quality policies and objectives. It directs activities to meet patient and regulatory requirements in addition to improving the organization’s effectiveness and efficiency on a continuous basis. Benefits of an effective QMS include: preventing mistakes, reducing waste, lowering costs, identifying training opportunities, consistent results, and controlled and improved processes.
Quality improvement efforts should go hand-in-hand with efficiency improvement activities. A good laboratory leader will be able to engage staff members to continually maintain and improve lab quality. Just as performance measurement is the first step in efficiency improvement, measuring quality performance is the first part of quality improvement. A good laboratory leader will also integrate quality into the strategic plan. From monitoring turnaround time to enhancing patient safety, quality serves as the foundation of medical laboratory practices.
Staffing shortages in healthcare are a real issue and your lab is no exception. Many hospital labs are struggling to fill lab leader positions, and we understand how difficult it can be to find the right candidate.
If you are seeking an interim lab leader until a permanent candidate is found, contact us today!
We vet our contractors as we do our own employees, ensuring they are the right cultural fit, adhere to the highest ethical standards, and their skillsets match the position at hand.
Solution: Project Management and Program Management are both disciplines that involve the planning, organization, coordination, and control of activities to achieve specific objectives. While they share similarities, project management pertains to a temporary endeavor to achieve specific goals, while program management has a portfolio of related projects and activities. In a laboratory organization, both are key to strategic alignment, risk mitigation, and successful execution. By effectively managing projects and programs, laboratories can optimize operations, improve efficiency, and increase quality. They can also enhance profitability through cost control and resource optimization or capitalize on opportunities for innovation and market expansion.
Benefit: Accumen has a deep bench of program directors and certified project managers. The team leverages a library of structured approaches – including the globally recognized Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) and the Lean Six Sigma Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control (DMAIC) methodology – applying the appropriate approach and toolset for the need at hand. The repeated utilization of each structured approach highlights common risk considerations within the Lab as well as sharing of best practices. Accumen partners with clients through each phase of the project or program life cycle – from design to initiation to closing. With expertise in various knowledge areas, initiatives can be completed within scope, on time, on budget, and with high quality execution – expediting results. Key areas of focus also include communication plans, risk mitigation, and stakeholder management.
Solution: Change Management is a structured approach for influencing the choices and behaviors of individuals and teams and for successfully moving from a current state to a future state. Change Management tools and techniques enable commitment for change and ensure smooth transitions and sustainment over time. Change Management can be viewed from those implementing change and from those impacted by the change; both may require a change management plan. Change Management guides management of impact on people, processes, systems, and culture within an organization. This is crucial for successful implementation of changes.
Benefit: Using Change Management tools and techniques, the Accumen team enables commitment for change and ensures smooth transitions by:
• Assessing change readiness of team members – whether they recognize the need for change and understand its purpose
• Ensuring leadership engagement and agreement on objectives and anticipated outcomes
• Engaging additional stakeholders across levels of the organization to address concerns and gain commitment
• Providing training and education on a variety of change management tools
• Helping identify change agents to drive support
• Assisting with transformation
• Providing data tracking for monitoring of continuous improvement and sustainment over time
Accumen has developed a simple survey that you can use, not only to meet the CAP accreditation requirement to survey your lab customers regarding their satisfaction, but also to gain actionable insights to improve your lab.
Using a core set of survey questions, this third-party scalable survey can be used for one or multiple labs’ customers. Use the results for benchmarking both internally between your sites and externally with like peers. Additional questions are also customizable to meet your unique needs.
You simply provide confidential links to the survey to your customers and:
• Accumen securely aggregates and analyzes responses from the survey
• Accumen creates a comprehensive report of the responses, as well as benchmarks your enterprise against others
• Accumen can also provide guidance on addressing opportunities uncovered
Proven methodology with processes that have been implemented at 300 hospitals
Leading experts including medical lab scientists, lean and six sigma black belts, certifications in quality and organizational excellence, project management, and healthcare administration.
Clients routinely see up to 20% savings in operational costs
Katie Benyo has over a decade of experience in healthcare performance improvement. At Accumen she spent six years in Lab Operations assessing the performance of labs, implementing efficiencies, improving quality/service, and driving bottom line improvement. Katie was a key contributor to a partnership delivering over $17M in lab savings. Today as a Client Engagement Executive, she assumes overall responsibility of value execution for clients. Her partnerships include Lab Operations, Supply Chain, Patient Blood Management, Anemia Management, and Lab Stewardship.
Prior to Accumen, Katie was a Senior Performance Improvement Specialist for a multi-institutional healthcare system. Katie holds a Bachelor’s in Community Health from the University of Illinois, and a Master of Health Administration from Saint Louis University. She is a NAHQ-Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality, ASQ-Certified Six Sigma Black Belt, TeamSTEPPS Master Trainer through AHRQ, and holds a Certificate in Laboratory Quality Management Systems from CLSI. Katie has given over 60 podium presentations, webinars, guest lectures, etc. on healthcare performance improvement.
Kelly is a Client Engagement Executive responsible for working with laboratory clients to identify opportunities that optimize operations and deliver savings against commitments. She brings over 30 years of experience in clinical laboratory operations with multi-facility healthcare organizations. She has a solid understanding of the challenges faced by healthcare clinicians and administrators to deliver high quality patient care while simultaneously meeting regulatory and business demands. Kelly strives to provide innovative and meaningful information to our clients that drive optimization of operational efficiencies and bring value to the client. She has a proven track record of driving consensus among diverse stakeholders, cultivating and maintaining strong relationships. She has developed strategies for core lab optimization, consolidation/centralization, and supply chain improvements. Kelly earned her BS degree in Medical Technology from Mississippi State University, and her Master’s degree in Management with Healthcare Concentration from Kaplan University.
Jared Stanger, MHA, LSSBB, is Client Account Lead at Accumen. Jared leads and manages process improvement projects to deliver measurable operational results and drive continuous improvement initiatives across the laboratory in Quality, Service, and overall Productivity. Jared is a proven change excellence leader with the necessary skills to coach individuals and teams to push themselves to the next level of care and service. He has a passion for healthcare improvement through eliminating waste, reducing risk, and simplifying complex healthcare delivery. Jared collaborates with the client’s subject matter experts to develop new methods, tools, and processes that align with the client initiatives. Jared earned his BS in Health Care Administration from Brigham Young University-Idaho, and his Master of Health Administration from The Pennsylvania State University in State College, PA.
Susan is a Client Engagement Executive responsible for working with hospital and health system clients.
Susan has more than 30 years of executive and senior-level leadership experience in large health system laboratories and commercial settings. In her current role, Susan leads laboratory excellence, imaging, cPBM and outreach services partnerships, contributing her expertise to client engagements to ensure measurable outcomes, exceptional service delivery, and ongoing client satisfaction.
Susan brings expertise to Accumen through her professional experience including executive, vice president and general management positions in hospitals, health systems, national and regional laboratories, and joint ventures.
In managing operations with P&L responsibilities, organizations under her leadership saw significant revenue and volume growth as well as impressive gains in cost, operational efficiency, and process improvement.
Susan has shown her ability to drive results, manage client relationships, provide consistent delivery on commitments, align expectations, and manage risk.
Susan has a sound knowledge and understanding of laboratory operations. She has led organizational efforts to improve operational effectiveness, quality of service, customer satisfaction, and revenue growth both organic and through acquisition, and physician/patient and employee satisfaction.
She has led client engagements through integration and restructuring of laboratories, through the consolidation of testing and centralization of laboratory services, and standardization of equipment.
Susan received her MBA from LaSalle University in Philadelphia and has been a clinical laboratory science lecturer as well as a mentor for health care administration students.
As a Senior Director in lab operations, Paul is responsible for engaging with clients to execute on opportunities that drive continuous improvement across healthcare laboratories. His main areas of focus are around Quality, Service, and overall Productivity, and creating an environment that embraces change within the lab. Paul brings seventeen years of experience in healthcare, with a strong emphasis in lab process improvement, waste reduction, operational assessments, lab consolidations and standardization, outreach optimization, and strategic analysis and planning. Paul started his career as a Lab Assistant before becoming a Certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and Medical Technologist, and he holds a Master’s degree in Healthcare Administration from Marymount University in Fairfax, VA.
Jenn is a Director of Lab Excellence responsible for partnering with laboratory leaders to assess the performance of their labs and identify process, quality, and regulatory improvement opportunities. Her experience in clinical and reference laboratories, as well as blood banks, brings a range of knowledge benefiting clients in their goals to optimize efficiencies and quality in their laboratories. With 30 years in the industry, from bench work to senior laboratory leadership, she supports clients in need of objectivity and new approaches in an ever-changing industry. Jenn eared her BS in Biology and Medical Technology from Michigan State University.
Carrie is an Operations Director in Laboratory Excellence, responsible for working with clients to serve as a change agent while delivering on the quality, profitability, and transformation objectives of clients.
She brings nearly 40 years of laboratory experience ranging from phlebotomy, specimen processing, and MLS roles to a progressive leadership pathway of multi-facility administrative laboratory director positions in the hospital setting. Within the physician office setting, Carrie also brings over 5 years of experience including initial laboratory set-up and accreditation, daily operations, and overall management. With a passion for quality, service, compliance, efficiency, and education, Carrie incorporates experiences as a formal adjunct instructor, inspector, scientist, and leader while working with clients to optimize workflows, enhance patient care, and improve financial outcomes.
Carrie earned an AS in Medical Technology from Kettering College of Medical Arts and a BS in Clinical Laboratory Science from the University of Cincinnati. She holds a Master Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma.
Jeffrey is an Operations Director in Laboratory Excellence. Jeff has almost 20 years of hospital laboratory experience as a Generalist, Blood Banker and leader. He has been focused on quality improvement and operational leadership for the last 10 years. Jeff has successfully led improvement and standardization projects from the department level up through multiple regional and national healthcare systems.
Jeff holds a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration from Colorado State University and a BS degree in Biomedical Science from Western Michigan University along with professional certifications from American Medical Technologists and the American Society for Clinical Pathology. He is also a Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality and a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt.
Silka Clark, MLS is a Director of Lab Excellence responsible for partnering with lab executive leaders to assess the performance of their lab relative to their peers, design and pilot recommended operational efficiencies that will improve productivity, stewardship, and quality, and monitor those improvements using data analysis tools. She has over 20 years of experience in clinical laboratory operations; six years as a Generalist Medical Technologist, fourteen years in Point of Care Testing and Pre-Analytical process management, and is a certified Specialist in Point of Care Testing from ADLM (formerly AACC). Silka earned her Bachelor Degree in Biology from California State University, and volunteers as the President of the ADLM Point-of-Care Testing Professional Certification Board.
Tara is a Director in Lab Excellence with over 25 years of experience in clinical lab operations. A Microbiology and Lab Accreditation subject matter expert, she is committed to driving excellence and efficiency by partnering with clients to identify process optimizations and to deliver tangible results in both quality and productivity. Her passion for Quality Assurance, paired with her broad range of technical laboratory experience, helps clients to elevate clinical laboratory practices and results in a positive impact on patient care, operational efficiencies, and a culture of continuous improvement.
Tara earned her BS degree in Medical Laboratory Science from Weber State University, is a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, and is an ASQ Certified Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence.