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Q&A with Tim Kuruvilla

April 02, 2015

DOTmed News: And to your second point: what are lab data insights that keep people healthy? Can you elaborate?

TK: Lab tests are obviously crucial to individual diagnoses, and it’s agreed that lab results drive about 70 percent of all clinical decisions. But people are just now recognizing how aggregated lab values — results across specific patient populations or within a geographic area — can drive decisions about public or population health.

The possibilities for data analytics in the area of population health in particular are numerous and lucrative. Analyzing laboratory data could enable providers to anticipate disease outbreaks, understand cost and quality drivers, track patients for outreach programs, steer the highest-cost at-risk populations to timely and quality care, and identify and help manage populations suffering from chronic disease.

DOTmed News: Let’s return to how labs can help with hospital operations. What kinds of business intelligence can lab data provide?

TK: Laboratories have similar operational challenges as many of the departments across the hospital — how to deliver its services as efficiently and effectively as possible. Here are just three of the areas in which the lab also impacts hospital operations:

Turnaround Time (TAT) — The key performance indicator for laboratory services is turnaround time (TAT). Given that the laboratory is often the initial diagnostic indicator for treating patients, the laboratory’s ability to provide results back to those making medical decisions in a timely manner is critical. Business intelligence enables laboratories to identify workflow issues and provide the optimal TAT.

Staffing — Labor drives more than 50 percent of a hospital’s operating costs. Optimization of human capital resources from top to bottom can often be challenging, especially in a hospital environment where demand fluctuates.

Business intelligence and analytics not only provide predictive indicators for staffing requirements, but also performance management tools which help to motivate and enable employee productivity.

Quality — Much like any other area in the hospital, the laboratory also strives to minimize errors. Errors in the laboratory lead to unnecessary waste/cost, delays in patient care and even misdiagnosis. This impacts the operational and clinical process across the care continuum.

These are just a couple examples of a number of ways that the laboratory is critical to the hospital’s financial and clinical objectives.

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