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Overwhelmed? Better lab software can help

July 15, 2021 | Daniel Doll

Is your clinical laboratory staff overwhelmed? You're not alone. Surges in demand for laboratory testing have combined with a workforce shortage and diminishing reimbursements to create a working environment prone to stress and burnout.

Luckily, there is one way to push back against these trends.

With the right lab management software, laboratories can improve their workflow efficiencies, accomplish more with less, and maximize their reimbursements. Here's how it works.

Combating the lab workforce shortage

Organizations such as the U. S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics have been monitoring the shortage in the clinical laboratory workforce for years.

According to the American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC), the Bureau estimates that 12,000 new clinical laboratory professionals would be needed annually to meet the rising demand for services, but less than half that many professionals are entering the workforce each year.

These statistics are dire, and the pressure of filling the gaps has a direct impact on the 53% of lab technicians who report suffering from "a lot of stress," and the 85% who report feelings of burnout, according to a nationwide survey published by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP).

Without a good LIS, some of the stress felt by your lab techs comes from a reliance on slow, tedious, manual processes.

Helen McMillan, Senior HL7 Integration Engineer
This puts strain on the people doing the accessioning in the lab and leaves room for error.

Helen McMillan, Senior HL7 Integration Engineer

"Without an effective LIS, orders may be hand-written and sometimes hard to decipher. This puts strain on the people doing the accessioning in the lab and leaves room for error, as it is easier to overlook an order and miss collecting the correct tubes of blood," said Helen McMillan, a senior HL7 integration engineer working in the lab division at CompuGroup Medical. Helen was an ASCP-certified medical lab technician who worked in physician's office labs in Florida and hospital labs in Florida and Maryland before joining the team at CGM.

"When a paper requisition is misplaced or lost, there is no record of what was ordered," she said. "It also takes a lot of space to file all of the paper for requisitions and results."

Powerful lab management software such as the CGM LABDAQ Laboratory Information System answers all of these challenges by interfacing with EHR/EMR software and the CGM LABNEXUS web portal for orders and results. Its MS-SQL database securely stores all of the laboratory's testing data, and the Data Miner option allows quick and thorough access to archived data and ongoing trends.

CGM LABDAQ supports your lab techs in the fight to do more with less. The popular LIS automates processes throughout each phase of laboratory testing. CompuGroup Medical works with your lab to improve its current workflow, reduce turnaround times, and increase efficiency. A user-friendly design reduces training time, allowing even new users to be more productive.

Another way that CompuGroup Medical helps your lab fight past a workforce shortage is through the expertise of our in-house, LIS technical support teams. CGM technical support positions itself as a trusted extension of your laboratory, standing by to assist you at the bench, with data and reporting, and with managing the lab. Learn more about the benefits of CGM lab software technical support.

Meeting the demand for lab testing

The COVID-19 pandemic drove huge spikes in demand for clinical laboratory testing, but an increase in prenatal testing and an aging population are also steadily driving the demand to diagnose genetic conditions and illnesses including cancer or type-2 diabetes.

A strong LIS helps your lab meet the increasing demands for genetic and other associated testing by expanding the range of tests you can offer through support of complex workflows including molecular testing.

Through innovations including workflow and inventory management, a powerful LIS streamlines your testing processes and increases the speed with which a single lab technician can run large quantities or batches of tests.

Even something as basic as an instrument interface can do wonders for your overwhelmed technicians.

Beth Schmitt, Account Manager
I could watch for the icons to change on my LIS to signal when each test was complete.

Beth Schmitt, Account Manager

Beth Schmitt is an account manager for the lab division at CompuGroup Medical with 30 years of experience as the lab manager for a POL she started in Princeton, IN. She remembers the immediate benefits of interfacing the CGM SCHUYLAB Laboratory Information System to her lab's instruments.

As her laboratory grew to occupy every nook of her physician's office, Beth discovered that she "could put samples on the instruments in the assorted areas of the office, go back to the lab, and watch for all of the results to come in."

With instrument interfaces, "I did not have to run back and forth checking to see if the testing was done," she said, "because I could watch for the icons to change on my LIS to signal when each test was complete."

Maximizing laboratory reimbursements

Another difficult hurdle for the beleaguered clinical lab industry is a reduction in the reimbursements that fund all of this testing. With the implementation of the Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA), the industry finds itself fighting back against smaller Medicare reimbursements after an unbalanced collection of market data led to these new, lower reimbursements.

While CompuGroup Medical supports the ACLA in its legal challenge to PAMA and its larger effort to sway opinions in Congress, software such as CGM LABDAQ helps laboratories maximize the reimbursements available to them now.

For example, CGM LABDAQ offers many tools to maximize your lab's profitability:

  • Easy integration with billing software ensures all charges are captured and billed
  • Medical necessity checking automatically confirms diagnoses are appropriate for the tests ordered
  • An Advanced Beneficiary Notice (ABN) documents patient responsibility for payment if tests are not covered by Medicare
  • Test routing rules send qualifying tests to the appropriate reference lab, preventing your lab from performing tests that would not receive a reimbursement
  • Reports for cost accounting display cost vs. expected revenue
  • Preventative services reports prompt users whenever insurance would allow a patient-screening test

Despite the pressures and challenges facing your clinical laboratory staff, the good news is that job satisfaction remains high. Even with high levels of stress and burnout, nearly 63% of lab technicians report being "somewhat satisfied" to "very satisfied" with their jobs.

With powerful laboratory software to make your life less stressful, your lab can ensure even higher levels of satisfaction among its technicians. With a happier staff, you'll enjoy the benefits of worker retention, and that is the best way of all to combat the workforce shortage.

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