Health systems and hospitals are growing their employed primary care doctors and specialists. As they do, laboratory leaders may plan for new ‘inreach’ business and opportunities to coordinate care.

The reason hospitals employ doctors today differs from the idea everyone seems to have had in the 90s. Then, it was about controlling referrals.

Now, hospital and health system executives find new benefits in employing doctors: common records, a single contract with insurers and coordination of bundled and global payments, explains a Medical Group Management Association Connection article, which also points out many practices still continue to independently operate.

The percentage of doctors who are employed by a hospital or who have a practice partially owned by the health system increased from 24% in 2012 to 33% in 2014, according to the American Medical Association.

Physician alignment is a top near-term priority among health system executives, declares a May 2016 H&HN (Hospitals & Health Networks) article.

But what does growth in health system-owned practices and greater physician alignment mean to labs?

Labs are already providers of outreach testing services to physicians, skilled nursing facilities and other providers. Now, they need to plan for and capture ‘inreach’ lab services—that is, the orders and results reporting for doctors who are newly employed or aligned with the health system or hospital.

‘Inreach’ is increasingly important to labs—the coordinators of diagnostics—as healthcare transitions from fee-for-services to value-based pay.

“Inreach is the new Outreach”

“Labs need to recognize that ‘inreach’ is the new outreach. The same services they provided to physicians as outreach customers also apply, and may be even more important, now that the doctors are part of the health system,” says Lisa Conley, senior vice president for growth, Atlas Medical.

“The labs will not want to lose opportunity to capture orders from these providers. They need to be pulled into the system,” she continues.

‘Inreach’ lab services, according to Atlas Medical, benefit labs and health systems in these ways:

  • Adopt a consistent approach to order entry/results access
  • Achieve a patient-centric (enterprise) view across healthcare
  • Coordinate care and diagnostics
  • Aid management of patient population
  • Reach for improved clinical outcomes
  • Prepare for emerging pay-for-value reimbursement

Better Coordination of Diagnostics

But seizing ‘inreach’ business is not so easy to do. Doctors may come aboard with disparate systems and different workflow processes.

A strategic IT partner and a sophisticated technology platform, such as the ATLAS Coordinated Diagnostics® Platform, are necessary.

Atlas Medical’s Coordinated Diagnostics Platform provides scalable cost effective software solutions for hospital labs looking to start or scale ‘inreach’ services and coordinate diagnostics—the delivery of knowledge and expertise in real-time to support collaboration and coordination among providers, diagnostics facilities, patients, payers and other stakeholders.

ATLAS’s Platform solutions—including Physician Portal, PSC Portal, Advanced EMR Connectivity—address lab ‘inreach’ opportunities. Also important: they may be implemented alongside existing enterprise systems to further enhance or augment workflows. The ATLAS Platform capabilities extend to Multi-Lab Networking and Utilization Optimization, too.

“Our Coordinated Diagnostics Platform and Platform solutions deliver the tools labs need to improve efficiencies and drive growth in a rapidly changing healthcare marketplace. Our customers are able to strategically address trending fee-for-value requirements, capitated payments, as well as hospital/lab consolidations,” Conley says.

Getting Started with ‘Inreach’

Here is an overview of ATLAS solutions and how they support ‘inreach’ lab services.

Physician Portal is the ATLAS best-of-breed (earning its stripes as the original ATLAS LabWorks® offering) highly flexible solution for computerized provider/physician order entry (CPOE) and results review.

ATLAS Physician Portal is renowned nationwide by providers who have been using it for decades for outreach services. And the provider-facing portal is ideal for labs that support both ‘inreach’ and outreach physician customers.

Physicians, who do not have an EMR, can access the ATLAS Physician Portal to send orders to the hospital lab. And test results, part of one ‘inreach’ order, are combined by ATLAS in one clean results report, saving doctors from having to look for several loads of information in an e-mail in-box. The results are shared with doctors in the Physician Portal.

In addition to diagnostics CPOE and results review, still more features supporting ‘inreach’ include: extensive validation for medical necessity and eligibility; automation of steps with other enterprise systems such as registration; standing orders, future orders, order splitting and routing; integrated and longitudinal results reports; trend analysis; and more capabilities.

PSC (Patient Service Center) Portal delivers functions of the aforementioned Physician Portal, but it is tailored to PSCs, where healthcare systems geographically seed many employed ‘inreach’ doctors.

There, phlebotomists and office workers enhance patient services and workflow as they use the PSC Portal–a single system for patient check-in, order fulfillment and payment.

Other features enabling quality lab ‘inreach’ services include: easy staff access to electronic orders; sophisticated validation; and views to patient balances, making collection of co-pays possible at PSCs.

Advanced EMR Connectivity offers labs a place to drive growing EMR transactions. But be careful what you wish for, as the adage goes. EMRs can produce “dirty” or incomplete orders—even worse than manual requisitions.

This popular ATLAS solutions enables connectivity with the lab’s numerous ‘inreach’ and outreach customers and their diverse systems. EMR transactions route through the ATLAS Platform and come clean via: validations; checks for medical necessity and advanced beneficiary notices; real-time eligibility; and more Platform strengths.

To further enhance the ATLAS Platform and its solutions, the ATLAS Patient Centric Repository with optional embedded EMPI technology, provides the hospital with more control of the orders and results received, offering enterprise access to view orders and results for both ‘inreach’ and outreach. “Since patient records reside with multiple providers and entities throughout the community, providers will be able to view all test results for a patient longitudinally and have a patient-centric or enterprise view of the patient record. This is what is needed for ‘inreach’ and enhanced coordination of care,” Conley explains.

Sharing

Is physician alignment growing in importance at your healthcare system?

How does the lab serve physicians, now part of the health system, with ‘inreach’ testing services?