The Lab Manager is the Key
In the earlier days of LIS software implementation, the pitch and decision process went through the lab manager. He or she was the individual with the most direct knowledge of the workings of their lab, and they understood exactly what their particular facility needed in order to improve functionality and workflow. Unfortunately, a lot of factors in recent years have taken much of the control out of their hands.
There have been mandates for incorporating EMR systems in order to comply with a national Electronic Health Records (EHR) system, and this fact on top of the way laboratory needs tend to go by the wayside combine to create a situation where important tools are being overlooked in favor of the bare minimum requirements, or subpar systems from “one-stop shop” vendors. The big players in the now-mature LIS industry have let that focus slide in favor of the more lucrative EMR market, since those systems tend to be the big purchases for medical facilities seeking compliance. Because of this, more and more lab managers are finding the decision-making power taken out of their hands and given over to CEOs and CIOs with much less involvement in actual lab processes.
Saving money is of the utmost importance, but sadly this often takes the form of the higher-ups going with a system that appears easy or cheap in order to slap a Band-Aid on the issue, but really doesn’t fit the needs of the individual lab manager. Although labs are generally highly profitable and provide information that is integral to making clinical decisions, and although the implementation of effective software has shown proven returns by numerous studies, the lab’s needs are often ignored.
How can a lab manager turn this around and regain more control over obtaining the tools their lab actually needs? Business politics may bar the way, but what managers CAN do is compile enough information to make a convincing argument for the inclusion of LIS software and other much-needed tools for their lab. Use your knowledge of the real workings of your laboratory, do some research into the cost savings benefits of the software and instruments you’re considering, and create a comprehensive information packet to present to the individuals in charge of approving purchases for the lab. Focus on lab productivity and earnings, as well as how these elements will improve with the new equipment.
Remember that the biggest focus is going to be on BENEFIT and SAVING MONEY. If you’re going to convince the person holding the pocketbook to shell out for a new system, they need to see a convincing prediction of returns. Don’t spend too much time on how it will make things easier for your people — although that is extremely important to you and to them, it isn’t going to sway the big players. They’re worried about money. So show them that it’s monetarily worth it.