In-house Clinical Laboratory Services Benefit Practices and Patients Alike
Approximately 90% of oncology patients require a complete blood count (CBC) when they visit their oncologist for the first time. The CBC is used to evaluate a patient’s overall health and detect a wide range of disorders, including anemia, infection and leukemia.1 The test is especially critical in oncology, where cell counts can help guide important and time-sensitive treatment decisions, including whether to start or stop chemotherapy, identify if a patient needs a blood transfusion, or to make sure a patient’s bone marrow is functioning properly. In fact, nearly 70% of clinical decisions, including diagnosis and treatment, are based on CBC results.2
On-site lab allows for convenience and speed
For patients, an appointment with an oncologist can be daunting and stressful. To alleviate some of the stress, offering a “one-stop-shop” where patients can meet with their physician and also get bloodwork done in a matter of minutes allows for a more convenient and positive patient experience where important treatment decisions can be made on the spot. Without an on-site lab, patients are required make several stops, wait for results, and only then can they follow up with their oncologist – taking more time than necessary.
Key benefits of on-site labs
In addition to speed and convenience, on-site labs offer five key benefits:
- Direct supervision over quality and cost decreases operating expenses.
- Less pre-analytical handling of blood specimens reduces errors that can cause inaccurate results.
- Follow-up testing can be easily added to an existing blood sample without having to redraw.
- Consistent reference ranges mean decreased interpretation errors.
- Many research clinical trials require pre- and post-dosage test results.
There are approximately 250 on-site labs in practices across The Network, and each lab is equipped with top-of-the-line clinical laboratory services. Lab test menus vary in complexity from CBCs to Flow Cytometry and other esoteric testing.
On-site labs play a vital role in value-based care
The Network helps practices achieve significant and measurable cost savings for on-site labs. Savings are partially realized through low standard pricing for equipment and reagents, which ultimately reduce overhead costs by decreasing internal cost. This is critical as the health care landscape shifts to value-based medicine and adopts a model of payment for a treatment, rather than for an individual visit or service.
The US Oncology Network Laboratory Team is currently working on several initiatives to support affiliated practices, including recent updates to administrative and regulatory standards, all of which are readily available for practices through an internal portal.
Given the importance of lab testing to a patient’s treatment plan and outcome, having an on-site lab in today’s health care landscape benefits physicians, patients and payers.