Looking ahead at 2020: 6 Ways to Prepare for Disruption
When closing out a year, it’s common to reflect back … but that’s not us. We’re too busy looking forward, monitoring trends, and anticipating technology that disrupts the status quo. There are a few things we see coming down the pike.
2.0 in 2020
As if there were any doubt, 2020 will bring Clinical Lab 2.0 front and center. The movement has been growing for a few years and has received substantial ink (including this excellent article by Robert Michel published in The Dark Report). As he wrote:
Clinical Lab 2.0 is the clinical and business model of the future for medical laboratories, assert the developers of this concept. “Clinical Lab 2.0 describes the attributes needed by all medical laboratories that want to succeed in a healthcare system organized to provide precision medicine, keep people out of hospitals, and where providers—including labs—are reimbursed based on the value they provide,” stated Khosrow Shotorbani, CEO of TriCore Reference Laboratories, one of the organizers of the Project Santa Fe Clinical Lab 2.0 Workshop. [Editor’s note: Mr. Shotorbani is now the Executive Director for Project Santa Fe Foundation, and Dr. Michael Crossey is now the CEO for TriCore Reference Laboratories.]
This will pick up exponentially in the coming year, as we’re seeing lab management leaving “old school” behind and embracing new approaches across the board. While this chart pertains to a greater movement within healthcare, it’s important for us to understand it and decipher what it means for us.
Part of the “new school” is acceptance of cloud-based technology. Some are hesitant because … well, they are old school and want to see the server that their crucial, confidential information is on. But as of now, technology and security is at the point where not seeing is believing. Using one of the big three services (AWS, Microsoft, and Google) makes sense once you do the math. Having your processing, billing, back office, etc. onsite means expensive maintenance. Add to that the cost of having a backup system offsite, plus the cost of updating all this hardware every five years. Then there’s the other “hidden” cost of what has to be done while the system is down. The cloud is inevitable, and we encourage all to move to it.
Own Your Data
While you’re putting information up, also bring it in. We’re on the forefront of a trend where labs are moving away from third-party vendors who “manage” their data and thus also end up owning it. Patient data is increasingly becoming a profit source, and there are consultants and companies who want to take ownership of this valuable commodity. If you find yourself in this difficult position, good luck if you ever want to switch over to another system or vendor, as secondary costs will rear its ugly head.
We don’t think that’s the honest way to do business with a lab. There are huge benefits to both our clients and their patients for that client to remain in complete control of their data. That’s why any interface that U.S. HealthTek creates leaves the ownership of the data in our client’s hands.
Automation for the People
While we have our eye on the nuanced, unique aspects of our industry, there are a few business basics our industry is battling as well. At the top of that list is increasingly tight profit margins have all of us looking to cut expenses and do more with less. This year, more labs will eliminate as much manual processes out of their workflow as they can, and embrace more automation. But this initial switch costs money, software licensing can seem prohibitive, and there’s a disruptive cultural change that can ensue. But this long-term investment approach prepares you for everything – including fast growth. Automation (done right) can easily scale to growth, and we’re going to see more of that next year for sure.
A terrific example of this comes from a partner of ours, Luminate Health. In 2014, the Department of Health and Human Services passed a law that allows patients to get electronic access to their lab results directly from the lab. Luminate is making that a reality, and patients and healthcare providers love it. And it’s a serious trend: labs can now provide an easy and cost-effective digital platform for patients to access, manage, and understand their lab results anywhere on any device, all through a web-based service.
Related, look for more integration of personalized healthcare, including wearable devices and tech-driven customized care. Clients are going to be drawn to situations that put more power in their own hands. How far that goes in 2020 remains to be seen, but its future is inevitable.
Being More Engaged
It’s more important than ever to get out from behind (under?) your desk and take advantage of opportunities to network with peers. Attending workshops and seminars is increasingly vital to staying on top of your game, but ultimately it’s those one-on-one conversations that are most valuable. U.S. HealthTek embraces that approach, and looks forward to being a sponsor of the American Clinical Laboratory Association’s annual meeting on March 4th in Washington, D.C., and will once again be part of the Dark Report’s Executive War College meeting in April in New Orleans. With Mike, I’ll be attending the Healthcare Information Management Systems Symposium and we’ll be at the Annual Lab Quality Confab again as well. Meet us there!
Being Forward Leaning
Speaking of the Annual Lab Quality Confab, it was there that we debuted fulCRM, a simple but fully-customized Customer Relationship Management (CRM) program designed specifically for IT lab professionals. fulCRM is aimed at smaller- to medium-sized labs who have struggled without CRMs, suffered the high expense of bigger CRM systems, or tried to work with off-the-shelf programs not suitable for the specifics of our business. Look for us to begin installing it in labs late winter/early spring.
The positive reaction to fulCRM has spurred us to work on more targeted products and specialized services for our client base, allowing us to create deeper, more substantial partnerships, while our clients enjoy smooth-running, more profitable labs. So please look for more exciting new developments from our team in the coming year.
U.S. HealthTek is ready for the challenges and rewards of 2020 — and in addition to looking forward to our own developments, we also look forward to yours. Cheers!