Recently, The Dark Daily, a publication read by pathologists and clinical laboratory specialists called out the opportunity lab operators have to lead the next revolution of consumer-oriented healthcare.

The main trend Dark Daily highlights is the confluence of stakeholder forces — from insurers and employers to government policy — all parties are determined to get consumers to take a more active role in their healthcare and help to manage costs. As a growing number of consumers are signing up for high-deductible plans, thereby leaving patients to shoulder more out-of-pocket costs, healthcare providers are trying to work together to offer better care and more affordable services, overall.

Many national lab chains have taken the natural lead in consumerizing their results, including implementing scheduling apps for sample collection and patient portals to access results. However, few independent labs have made the investment in technology required to offer these same services to the market, further agitating the divide between national lab brands and the independent labs that best serve local markets.

Studies show that while healthcare organizations are citing consumerization as a “high” strategic priority, only 23% have invested and built out the capability to offer consumer access. Ken Harris, Managing Partner, Cadent Consulting Group, who partnered with Kaufman Hall to conduct the study, said in a news release: “The next step is for organizations to establish clear strategic goals that ensure consumer-centric insights are applied across the enterprise.”

So, how can you prepare and begin to create a consumer-friendly experience around your clinical laboratory results? The Kaufman Hall/Cadent Consulting report provides healthcare providers with a blueprint for taking action:

Organizational Alignment: Ensure that consumerism is a clear executive priority and establish a clear link to your practice’s strategic and business-unit goals
Content: Develop foundational consumer, competitive, and market information. Research key competitive issues, measure performance, and use information for your organization’s improvement.
Capability: Start with a small team and build out your analytical capabilities over time.
Data/IT: Audit your current data, understand where it resides and who “owns” it. Then, begin to create data and analytics infrastructure, establish dashboards, performance metrics, and tracking.

Consumer-driven healthcare will give patients choice: creating a clear advantage for smaller clinics, physicians and laboratories to demonstrate great service and high-quality test results patients can access anywhere at a reasonable price.

What do you think?
Is the consumerization of clinical laboratories the next big innovation in healthcare?
How do you use lab results to start a conversation with your patients?