Healthcare Reform Forcing Laboratories – and Vendors - to Think Differently

Topics: Pathology Storage Management

Faced with declining reimbursements, new pay-for-performance models and storage challenges, laboratories must reexamine the way they manage their glass slides and paraffin blocks. In order for the quality of these specimens to be preserved for a long period, it is vital that they be stored in a temperature-controlled environment. By partnering with an offsite storage vendor, laboratories can ensure access to their slides, blocks and other information in a timely manner, preserve the integrity and quality of their records and save valuable storage space.

In the face of declining reimbursements and new pay-for-performance models, labs and hospitals are forced to reexamine not only the way they bill business, but the way they do business.

Processes and functions that had historically been chalked up to the cost of doing business are now being reevaluated to determine whether they can be optimized or, in some cases, completely eliminated. This is not solely about cost savings, nor revenue; success and survival require a laser focus on both. In response, labs and vendors alike are beginning to think differently, realizing that there is an opportunity to find efficiency, cost savings and additional revenue streams in even the most straightforward and necessary of functions.

For example, laboratories have long managed the storage of glass slides and paraffin blocks in-house. In most cases, an internal solution absorbs a large portion of premium onsite real estate and is still not robust enough to seamlessly accommodate the year-over-year growth in specimen samples. Savvy vendors took note of the existing storage model's limitations and crafted new pathology-specific solutions capable of safely and securely transporting and storing glass slides and paraffin blocks offsite. Innovative solutions such as these are enabling labs to address a historically onsite process in a more strategic way. With the means to confidently store specimens offsite, labs position themselves to realize more efficient work flow processes and to reclaim onsite space once used for storage to support revenue-generating activities such as patient throughput.

With that said, there are a few things that organizations should consider when choosing the best solution for their pathology and medical records storage:

  • Scalability: It is important that the storage solution allow for significant growth since the volume of slides and blocks increases over time.
  • Temperature Controls: The ideal temperature range must be predefined and monitored for consistency. This is vital to the preservation of the quality of the specimens over a long period.
  • Accessibility: Hospitals and clinics are often faced with time-sensitive decisions. Look for a vendor that enables you to track and retrieve slides and blocks 24/7, quickly and securely, through an online web portal.
  • Secure transport: When storing slides and blocks offsite, it is important that pathology-specific processes and safeguards, such as real time scanning and durable transport contaienrs, are being used.

In most cases, an internal solution will not be robust enough to allow for significant growth, consistent application of temperature controls and fast, easy access to the necessary records. It is critical for labs and hospitals to partner with a vendor that excels in all four of the above areas that are so critical to the success of storing and preserving pathology records. In partnering with a savvy offsite storage vendor for pathology records management, an organization can free up resources, improve access and eliminate the headaches associated with management of glass slides and paraffin blocks internally.

Do you have questions about health information management? Read additional Knowledge Center stories on this subject, or contact Iron Mountain's Information Management team. You'll be connected with a knowledgeable product and services specialist who can address your specific challenges.