NOTE: This article is a short portion taken from a highly engaging and thought-provoking exchange carried on the RED HOT HEALTHCARE podcast. Carried by ITunes and Stitcher, the show’s host Steve Ambrose engages with top healthcare leaders and industry-shaping technology mavericks.
Lab and pathology services often average only 3% of hospital and health system costs. Big Surprise! The data they carry contributes to 70% of all EHR actionable information. Enter the new era of better integrating and more strongly leveraging ‘FAB LAB’ data to drive down healthcare costs.
Open your ears and remember the name Viewics. An emerging HIT company that is taking this segment out of the shadows, and onto everyone’s radar. Growing clients include the Mayo Clinic, University Hospitals, and Children’s National.
Our guest today, Dr. Eleanor Herriman is the Chief Medical Informatics Officer at Viewics. A physician executive with 20 years of health sector experience in informatics, molecular diagnostics, medical devices, as well as healthcare policy and reform.
She’s worked with renowned strategist Michael Porter* at Harvard Business School, developed next-generation laboratory business models, and consulted on healthcare strategy for Bain & Company. Dr. Herriman has been a catalyst for multiple medical technology companies, and played a key role in taking an A.I. cancer screening technology from ground floor to going public.
[* Porter was not a part of this interview. His opinions are his own.]
A SHORT SNIPPET FROM THE INTERVIEW:
DR. HERRIMAN: “Laboratories are siloes – a lab is not just one lab. There’s microbiology, there’s chemistry, there’s molecular diagnostics, there’s pathology, etc. Worse then that, across labs and even within labs, there is diversity and terminology.
Trying to integrate that data warehouse [per Vivics] requires some very sophisticated technology. We have spent the last six years building ‘connectors’ and what’s called ‘computer agents’ for different systems in the lab space.
This is very important because many CIOs have actually thrown up their hands when it got to the lab. It was too difficult; and some of our competitors don’t have a good way to do this – the ETL for labs; and we can not only do this for labs, we can also bring in billing data, pull from EMRs, pharmaceutical data…
STEVE: “What I like is when people ‘hit em where they ain’t’…I like lateral thinking and disruptive thinking. What I find very interesting is in a world where everyone is talking about waste and overutilization, you talk about the dangers of under-utilization…being sometimes far worse. Can you go ahead and explain that?”
DR. HERRIMAN: “Overutilization of lab testing is mainly aiming at decreasing the costs of lab testing. Those lab costs overall are only 3% of healthcare costs…so even though [looking at it]is necessary, it will not get the attention of the C-Suite.
In contrast, underutilization represents cases where the clinician failed to order a test that was, in fact clinically indicated. That can have some very serious consequences that include misdiagnosis, unnecessary follow up work that can sometimes be invasive, unnecessary or even incorrect treatment, prolonged hospital stays, increased morbidity and even increased mortality.
And by the way, all of those consequences as you might image, contribute to significant downstream healthcare costs. You compare the two, and you see that not only is the needle much higher on the cost side for underutilization, but also for the clinical outcomes.”