Customer Service and the Lab

As healthcare becomes more competitive, laboratories are fighting for their share of the 6 billion clinical lab tests performed annually in the United States. As both independent and hospital-based labs navigate their way toward growth against the headwind of shrinking reimbursement levels, there has never been a more critical time to exceed client expectations.Customer Service

Here are three steps that lab managers can take today that will help solidify customer relationships.

1. Eliminate Data Silos
With up to 80 percent of all diagnostic decisions informed by lab test results, streamlining the relationship between labs and healthcare providers is important. Yet all too often, laboratories are managed by various departments running disparate data systems that create a fragmented view of each provider.

While most labs are flush with data, challenges arise when information can’t be accessed quickly or easily. The hunt for key information often results in two unfortunate situations: an inefficient resolution is put into place because the root cause is too difficult to pinpoint, or an already strained relationship progresses to “crisis mode” because too much time transpires while hunting down data.

Gaining a unified, real-time and transparent view across IT solutions and various departments is the foundation for delivering consistent, high-quality service to every client.

2. Shrink Issue Resolution Timeframes
In the highly competitive healthcare landscape, it’s astonishing that client problems often go unresolved for months. That’s because most labs employ quality review cycles of 90 to 120 days that are followed up with manual reports. By the time issues are uncovered, the client may have already taken its business elsewhere.

SEE ALSO: From Employee to Owner

To provide prompt, individualized service to each provider, labs must collapse the issue tracking and resolution cycle. Team members must gain immediate access to all client communications and activities online and via mobile devices. The team also needs alerts for changes in order volume, revenues, turnaround time or outstanding issues that are due for resolution. Instead of capturing tasks and actions in one-off emails and phone calls, all activities must be logged in a standardized location that fosters collaboration and communication.

By providing proactive service and quickly resolving issues, labs can spend more time visiting key clients and discovering needs that translate into additional revenue and improved patient care.

3. Reduce Unneeded Tests and Costs
In today’s environment or value-based care, reining in test utilization and costs is an essential priority. A study conducted by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center showed that an estimated 30 percent of all laboratory tests run at the medical center in 2013 were unnecessary.

While many labs store data related to test ordering patterns, few are able to quickly translate this data into the actionable insight that enables healthcare professionals to immediately know who ordered which tests organized by physician, specialty and diagnosis to paint a complete care delivery picture.

With this information, labs can engage in proactive conversations with physicians, building value and bolstering client relationships by ensuring physicians are ordering the right tests at the right time, while avoiding reimbursement surprises.

Lab specific CRM is the key
In order to achieve these three advances, labs must bridge the gap between existing systems and superior service by embracing a cloud-based healthcare relationship management solution that includes healthcare-specific CRM capabilities, secure communications and live analytics. A CRM that is purpose-built for healthcare eliminates data silos by combining up-to-the-moment clinical and business data that is available in real-time to all lab stakeholders.

About The Author