Outreach success from the start: 6 lessons from a CFO

Outreach success:
6 lessons from a
CFO-turned-ceo

In his former role as Chief Financial Officer at Frisbie Memorial Hospital, John Marzinzik implemented a successful lab outreach program. His team’s efforts helped secure electronic access to standardized patient data, and deepened relationships within the care community they serve.

In this article, John shares six key lessons that contributed to the success of his outreach program. Although circumstances in your lab may differ, you can adapt John’s lessons to achieve your own outreach success from the start.

Article highlights:

  • Successful outreach depends on having a sound strategy and the right people in the right places
  • Direct and ongoing communication with the C-suite is essential when implementing an outreach program
  • New issues and concerns will emerge that hospital laboratorians should proactively address when creating an outreach lab

 

Lesson #1: Have a sound outreach strategy

First, outreach efforts must begin with a smart, clearly articulated strategy. At Frisbie, the strategy was to establish a presence in the “retail healthcare” space, to better control patient data.

That data had been slipping away because insurance companies incentivized patients to use commercial labs for post-discharge follow-up testing. Recognizing the danger this posed—particularly in the management of population health—John and his team acted to regain control.

They created a separate limited liability company (LLC) and a separate identity for their outreach lab, which they named Granite State (John and his team refer to it as a “private-label lab”). Although all lab processing is done at Frisbie, a CAP-certified hospital lab, Granite State was set up as a separate, walk-in facility in a commercial retail space.

John and his team negotiated contracts with the very same insurance companies that were incentivizing patients to take their testing elsewhere. They agreed to the insurers’ national lab fee schedules and were on their way, pursuing outreach to secure control of patient data by keeping it in their system. This helped level the playing field and positioned Granite State to compete with commercial labs—a solution that has worked out well for John and his team.

On securing electronic data control

John Marzinzik

President and CEO,

Frisbie Memorial Hospital

 

Lesson #2: Establish direct communication with the C-suite

Successful outreach depends on solid C-suite support. And not just at the outset, but through all stages of outreach.

Difficult financial decisions will have to be made. Should you invest in new equipment to reduce the number of tests you send out to other labs? Or should those precious dollars go toward hiring full-time employees for new outreach-related positions, like a marketing manager?

A direct, continuous line of communication between the person responsible for lab outreach and key C-suite decision makers can pave the way to success. In John’s case, the lab manager in charge of outreach reported directly to him. She had his ear whenever she needed. They collaborated as partners. And he answered to her as much as she did to him.

 

 

On the value of direct communication

John Marzinzik

President and CEO,

Frisbie Memorial Hospital

 

Lesson #3: Choose the right person to run outreach

An earlier LabLeaders article focused on the need for culture change among hospital laboratorians to ensure successful outreach. One way to accelerate that change is to put someone already acculturated to outreach in charge.

That’s what John did. His lab manager had been in the business for over 30 years. Much of that time she’d spent working in a regional lab. This instilled in her a clear sense of her laboratory’s place in the larger healthcare ecosystem. Her sensibilities naturally extended beyond the four walls of her hospital lab and into the regional community she served. Outreach, you might say, was in her blood.

Additionally, she conducted regional CAP certifications. This kept her in contact with multiple stakeholders in multiple facilities and open to unmet needs in the community that Granite State can fulfill. That’s good for healthcare—and for business.

 

 

On putting someone progressive in charge

John Marzinzik

President and CEO,

Frisbie Memorial Hospital

 

Lesson #4: Insist on local LIS leadership

Securing and maintaining data control requires strong laboratory information system (LIS) management. Recognizing this, John committed to a full-time LIS manager solely dedicated to the data needs of Granite State Labs.

But he went one step further. To be truly dedicated to Granite State’s data needs, John’s LIS manager would have to be integrated in the lab’s culture. That person would have to be an essential part of the everyday team, willing and able to advocate strongly on behalf of the lab’s data needs to IT management.

So John insisted that his LIS manager be located in the Granite State lab, not in the larger hospital’s IT department. The importance of this cannot be stressed enough. Outreach is about culture change and data consistency. To ensure both, it’s essential to have your LIS manager fully embedded in your lab’s outreach culture and fully dedicated to ensuring data consistency.

 

 

 

On localized LIS leadership

John Marzinzik

President and CEO,

Frisbie Memorial Hospital

 

Lesson #5: Play the “What If?” game

First, outreach efforts must begin with a smart, clearly articulated strategy. At Frisbie, the strategy was to establish a presence in the “retail healthcare” space, to better control patient data.

That data had been slipping away because insurance companies incentivized patients to use commercial labs for post-discharge follow-up testing. Recognizing the danger this posed—particularly in the management of population health—John and his team acted to regain control.

They created a separate limited liability company (LLC) and a separate identity for their outreach lab, which they named Granite State (John and his team refer to it as a “private-label lab”). Although all lab processing is done at Frisbie, a CAP-certified hospital lab, Granite State was set up as a separate, walk-in facility in a commercial retail space.

John and his team negotiated contracts with the very same insurance companies that were incentivizing patients to take their testing elsewhere. They agreed to the insurers’ national lab fee schedules and were on their way, pursuing outreach to secure control of patient data by keeping it in their system. This helped level the playing field and positioned Granite State to compete with commercial labs—a solution that has worked out well for John and his team.

 

 

On asking “what if?”

John Marzinzik

President and CEO,

Frisbie Memorial Hospital

 

Lesson #6: Keep reaching out

Lastly, John recommends expanding your program by reaching out even further—if and when your lab’s circumstances warrant it. In the case of Granite State, once the lab reached profitability, John and his team began to make strategic decisions about what other markets they were going to try to capture.

They looked specifically at not only competing with commercial labs in their area, but also partnering with local convenience clinics to be their lab services provider of choice.

A CFO gets emotional—almost

As you can see, John Marzinzik and his team made a full commitment to outreach. The many lessons they’ve learned—and continue to learn—are helping pave the way toward outreach success and improved healthcare in their communities. As a final thought, John stresses how important it is for laboratorians to likewise pour their hearts into outreach for the greater good of their institutions and the patients and physicians they serve.

 

 

On reaching out further

John Marzinzik

President and CEO,

Frisbie Memorial Hospital

"Outreach is a significant, almost an emotional, investment you need to make to your whole community. It’s a recognition that this is the source of the data, the most critical data that we use to treat and manage patient health."

John Marzinzik

President and CEO,

Frisbie Memorial Hospital

 


Additional resources

  • Is the value of hospital lab outreach underrated?
    This article focuses on the many benefits of pursuing a lab outreach program that forges partnerships with other institutions and community physicians.
     

  • Outreach Strategy: Differentiate or Die
    This article stresses how important it is for hospital outreach labs to create distinct brand identities and competitive marketing strategies to achieve success.
     

  • Prudent Practices in the Laboratory
    The Laboratory Security chapter from this publication provides a detailed overview of lab security risks including theft, vandalism, and loss of sensitive information.

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