The health scenario in the country is changing rapidly due to changing disease patterns, technological developments, and patient-doctor expectations. Clinical labs play a very important role in the diagnostic phase of health care. More than 60 to 70 per cent of most important decisions on admission, discharge, and medication are based on lab test results. There is very rapid change in technology in lab sciences and costs of setting up and managing the labs are increasing. Considering that labs will play increasing role in medical care and health, quality, reliability, cost effectiveness, and turnaround time of lab services become very important parameters of overall efficiency of health and medical care. The performance of a clinical lab is assessed by the turnaround time for giving reliable test results. Any delay in giving test results or unreliable results could have adverse implications on patients’ health. Clinical labs need to invest more on medical and information technology, employ technically qualified staff, and closely monitor the lab operations in order to meet the increasing expectations from both the clinicians and the patients for a quick turnaround time for reliable test results. Success of labs in future would also increasingly depend on selecting appropriate markets and marketing strategies to provide services at affordable prices. It is, therefore, essential to equip lab managers with a basic understanding of challenges in managing the delivery of quality lab services at affordable prices to patients, desired timely and quality reports to physicians, and ensure adequate financial returns to the labs.
The main objective of this programme is to build the capability of lab managers (doctors and non-doctors) to enable them to manage their lab services efficiently and effectively using fundamentals of management.
Operations Management: Use of clinical lab test results in diagnostic decision making has become an integral part of clinical medicine. With increasing dependence on lab test results by the clinicians (physicians) for treatment, the reliability of lab testing and reporting is of utmost importance. Even though automation, standardisation, and technological advances have significantly improved the analytical reliability of lab tests, errors still do occur in the pre-analytical, analytical, and post-analytical processes of the total testing process. It is the responsibility of the lab manager to minimise lab errors occurring at any stage of the testing process. Lab errors lead to sample rejection which, in turn, calls for repeat sample collection and analysis thereby causing delays in reporting the test results. Any delay in test results could have adverse consequences on the patients’ health.
Cost and Revenue Management: This module will focus on providing an overview of financial and cost management challenges facing clinical labs. Topics to be discussed include (i) Healthcare finance, (ii) Finance and operating analysis focusing on understanding costs, (iii) Cost control areas, (iv) Evaluating investment opportunities, (v) Financing options, etc.
Service Management and Service Quality: Clinical lab is a service industry and hence an understanding of the characteristics of services is vital to improving lab quality. Labs have to meet the service quality expectations of their clients and referring doctors. Lab managers have to manage human resources and machines to deliver the expected quality of care within limited resources. Many service management concepts of quality are applicable to labs such as service quality gap model, total quality management, and service excellence. This module will cover a basic understanding of service management and service quality.
Business Development and Marketing: Effective management of lab requires selection of appropriate customers (patients) to target for successful operation of the lab. This needs to be followed up by appropriate programmes for attracting and retaining selected customers. The latter depends on what value/ benefit does the lab offer to customers in comparison to other labs on a sustained basis. This module, therefore, will focus on understanding customer values, segmentation of market, selection of suitable segments, choosing the right set of values which are superior to those offered by others, and broad approaches to the design of the programmes to attract and retain customers.
This short-term programme will benefit lab owners, lab managers, pathologists, and senior technologists in improving turnaround time, inventory management, operational efficiency, quality practices and staff skills, patient selection and management, and better understanding of lab costing and investment decisions. Improved service quality, efficiencies, and professionalism in lab management will result in better patient experience and raise the standards of laboratory practice in India. Improved understanding of lab operations, costing, investment analysis and decisions, and HR management will equip lab owners and lab managers with better decision making skills in delivering good quality services.