In Chi Solutions’ Sixth Comprehensive National Laboratory Outreach Survey, released in 2007, the company concluded that “Outreach programs continue to be a relevant strategy for hospitals of all bed sizes.” Among the survey findings:
79.3 percent of the 150 survey respondents are currently operating a laboratory outreach program.
46.6 percent of respondents without an outreach program plan to develop one within two years.
The top four reasons cited for not developing lab outreach are strong competition, concern for profitability, “not a priority,” and HIS/LIS inadequacies.
The most common primary strengths for respondent outreach programs are turnaround time, excellent quality reputation, strong customer service, and pathologist services and reputation.
The leading weaknesses for respondent outreach programs are ineffective IS connectivity to physicians’ offices, no dedicated sales staff, billing and collections, no marketing plan, and mediocre sales capability.
In order of importance, respondents said the major benefits of outreach are as follows: revenue and/or profitability, extra volume allowing for lower unit costs, improved service to all patient types, supports relationship building with the active medical staff, creates and supports relationships with patients in the community or region, all-inclusive laboratory database (patient encounters via hospital, physician practices, nursing homes, etc.), and extra volume allows faster access to new technology.
LabCorp is the most important competitor to survey respondents, followed by Quest Diagnostics. Regional independent laboratories are in third place, followed closely by regional hospital outreach programs.
The average annual net revenue of survey respondent programs is $8,018,392.
The average annual test volume of survey respondent programs is 621,233.
The average number of laboratory FTEs in the survey respondent programs is 106.
During the past two fiscal years, respondent outreach program average test volumes grew at an overall rate of 12 percent, or six percent per year.
Outreach revenue, on average, grew 22.5 percent for all respondents for the most recent two-year period, or 11.3 percent annually.
Competitive success strategies most often identified by respondents are dedicated customer service, rapid test turnaround times, excellent and enterprisewide IT connectivity, and physician loyalty and long-term relationships.
31 percent of respondents said their outreach program is “very profitable,” and 78.9 percent said the programs were “very” or “somewhat” profitable.
Physician/clinic business was cited as being most profitable for outreach programs, followed by anatomic pathology, hospital reference, and nursing home market segments.