The New Year is the time for new beginnings and enjoyment. It is also the time to look back on existing practices and plan to improve on them. Here are our New Year resolution ideas for the clinical lab:

New Year Resolutions

Focus on enhancing reimbursement: New law has changed the traditional fee-for-service method of pricing tests by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Some aspects of the law are undoubtedly beneficial for clinical laboratories, but they will face cuts for some common, high-volume tests under the new system. The new market-based pricing is set to go into effect only in 2017 and labs should make use of the time to factor the law into their talks with private payers.

Think revenue growth: Chalking out multiple strategies can help labs offset the effect of reduced reimbursements, stay viable and improve margins. For instance, smaller labs should focus on having a diverse, broad menu and ensure that they are catering to specialized clients that don’t just want routine tests.

Engage in workforce development initiatives: Laboratorians should advertise their profession and build a positive image. According to a report in The Baltimore Sun, there is a serious shortage within the laboratory workforce and laboratory professions are seeing an average vacancy rate of 5 to 6 percent, depending on the department. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says more than 40,000 current lab jobs are vacant in the United States. It is estimated over 70 percent of medical decisions are impacted by lab testing. So hospital, research and physician-owned laboratories would do well to team up with manufacturers of laboratory products to launch their own workforce development initiatives and collaborate in building a sustainable workforce and recruitment model.

Improve efficiency: Every organization must innovate to succeed. In the increasingly competitive healthcare environment, innovation and increased efficiency are the keys to building value and improving customer service. Labs, large and small, need to resolve to push innovation.

Get organized: This is the time for laboratories to examine retention policies for records and samples, ensure efficiency in inventory processes, and set up a regular ‘cleaning’ schedule.

Cut debt: Labs can work on reducing marketing expenses as well as general, administrative and other expenses. Purchase of recertified lab equipment in place of new and opting for a reagent rental plan can also cut costs. Laboratories looking to purchase new devices should shop around for a supplier that offers the most competitive prices.

Employees are the greatest asset of any organization and laboratory managers should keep in mind that all work and no play make Jack a dull boy. Labs need to make sure that their employees enjoy the leisure they need to stay healthy, happy, fresh and enthused.

Have a great 2015!