Executive War College 2023 Recap and Future of Laboratories

Honeydew had the opportunity to return to present at this year’s Executive War College (EWC), the premier clinical laboratory management conference. EWC enables attendees to stay on top of the constantly evolving landscape of laboratory medicine.

Many themes discussed this year were a continuation of those discussed at last year’s EWC, including personalization of healthcare for consumers, the building of wellness centers by retail pharmacy chains and retail companies. This blog will highlight how these trends can impact healthcare as a whole, along with how they may impact us when implementing new LIS solutions for our clients.

Proactive Care and Integration of Systems

One of the overarching themes of this year’s conference was a shift from “reactive care” to “proactive care and prevention”. To achieve this, healthcare systems need to both enable a seamless transfer of care from inpatient to outpatient settings and emphasize prevention. By focusing on prevention, healthcare providers can improve patient outcomes and reduce costs in the long run.

Changing Payment Models and Hospital Consolidations

The traditional fee-for-service reimbursement model is gradually being replaced by value-based reimbursement. This change incentivizes healthcare providers to focus on delivering value and quality outcomes rather than the quantity of services provided. As a result of this shift, hospitals are increasingly consolidating in order to form larger health systems and achieve economies of scale and financial stability.

At the same time, clinical laboratories are undergoing significant transformations. Lab 1.0 was characterized by transactional processes, while Lab 2.0 aims to deliver more value by leveraging data to improve outcomes and reduce costs. As value-based reimbursement models gain momentum, clinical labs will continue to have the opportunity to thrive and contribute to the changing healthcare landscape

Rise of Digital Pathology

Digital pathology was a hot topic at the conference. Health systems are increasingly adopting digital pathology systems for their pathologists. These systems offer faster scanners, improved user experiences, and higher-quality images for use in determining primary diagnoses. This shift towards digitization brings several benefits, including the ability to network and collaborate for second opinions, workload balancing, clinical trials, and the integration of AI for enhanced diagnostics.

Patient-Centric Care and Technological Advancements

For 21st century patients, convenience is of paramount importance, which has precipitated a rise of clinics and lab Patient Service Centers (PSCs) in retail stores. Corporations such as Walmart, CVS/Aetna HealthHub, Walgreens’ Village Medical, and even Amazon are investing in primary care clinics, data analytics, and concierge-style healthcare platforms. Personalization and transparency are also crucial, with patients seeking tailored care and access to price and quality information before making healthcare decisions.

Workforce Challenges and Automation

The healthcare workforce faces several challenges in this evolving landscape. Some of these challenges include workforce availability, competition from other health systems, and compensation pressures. Additionally, the increasing costs of informatics pose a challenge. To address these issues, many hospitals are exploring automation to streamline processes, reduce workload, and improve efficiency. Labs are also increasingly leaning on their LIS to reduce manual work and to provide ready access to data and analytics.

Genetic Counselors in High Demand

As utilization of genetic testing is on the rise, genetic counselors have become crucial members of the healthcare team. Genetic counselors provide guidance to physicians and patients regarding the appropriateness of genetic tests and help interpret the results. By ensuring only appropriate testing is done, they save money both for the healthcare system and for patients. The demand for genetic counselors currently outstrips the supply, highlighting the need for more professionals in this field.

The future of healthcare is evolving rapidly, driven by advancements in technology, changes in payment models, and a focus on patient-centered care. As we move forward, it is essential for healthcare organizations and professionals to adapt to these trends and embrace innovation to deliver better outcomes for patients.

If you have any questions, reach out to us at [email protected].