Like the dinosaurs, any entity that cannot adapt to a system evolving around it will be replaced by entities that can adapt. The economics of healthcare systems, including clinical laboratories, are no exception to this rule. As healthcare continues to move toward value-based care, laboratory systems are just as accountable and must also change.

How can laboratories align with this value-based model to survive? Laboratory stewardship programs are providing one solution. Specifically, laboratory stewardship programs provide evidence-based guidance and decision support for providers ordering laboratory testing. These programs ensure that laboratory tests offered deliver the highest diagnostic yield and clinical value.

They also ensure laboratory tests are provided to the correct patient at the most appropriate time in their treatment course. Ultimately, these stewardship efforts elevate laboratory systems within the value-based care model by promoting better patient care while reducing costs.

This afternoon’s session “Healthcare Forum: Laboratory Stewardship in Healthcare Innovation” will shed more light on laboratory stewardship efforts and their part in keeping laboratories relevant in this evolving healthcare landscape.

In the session, Shantanu Agrawal, MD, will present “How Healthcare is Changing and What That Means for Patients.” Agrawal is the president and CEO of the National Quality Forum (NQF), a not-for-profit, nonpartisan, membership-based organization that aims to improve healthcare. In his talk, Agrawal will offer insights on the overall status of the healthcare system in the United States and how the patient experience is a largely unused—yet arguably, the most influential—source of information to determine the quality of the care.

He will describe the critical importance of engaging patients by building systems that routinely capture patient-reported outcomes and then using these data to develop quality measures. His talk will set the tone for two other speakers who will tackle how laboratory stewardship efforts may improve patient experiences and ultimately overall health outcomes.

Jonathan Gleason, MD, chief quality officer at the Carilion Clinic, will explain what integrated healthcare systems need from the clinical laboratory. Gleason will illuminate the current frameworks of integrated healthcare systems and their efforts to shift into value-based models. He’ll also describe, from a physician’s perspective, what laboratory stewardship programs need to provide so that healthcare networks can meet the challenge of the new models.

Jane Dickerson, PhD,  will delve into the details of building reliable laboratory stewardship programs based on her own experience. Dickerson is the co-founder of the organization Patient-Centered Laboratory Utilization Guidance Services (PLUGS), a unique and innovative collaboration driving improvements through all aspects of laboratory stewardship.

In particular, Dickerson will focus on the tools and community for laboratory stewardship programs, medical policy development to improve coverage/reimbursement for medically necessary testing, and national standards for building laboratory stewardship programs. Dickerson aims to inspire attendees to reflect on their own organization’s system for laboratory stewardship and help them understand that they are not alone in this effort.

This evolution in healthcare is necessary. The three speakers at today’s session will not only outline these changes but provide needed guidance on how laboratories can evolve right along with this new healthcare frontier.