How Population Health Is Ushering in the "Golden Age" of the Lab

December 4, 2015

How Population Health Is Ushering in the "Golden Age" of the Lab

The advent of population health raises the stakes for all stakeholders in a patient’s episode of care. From physicians to phlebotomists and everyone in between, the rules of the game are changing with each passing day.

Such a tidal shift may cause anxiety for some. But for our lab leaders, it’s cause to celebrate. Where others see overwhelming challenges, we see abundant opportunities. And by responding to these opportunities in top form, we have the power to find ourselves leading a golden age of laboratory medicine.

Article highlights:

  • Population health has the promise to spark a golden age of laboratory medicine—if laboratorians embrace the opportunities it presents
  • The primacy of data positions labs as epicenters in a new continuum of patient-centric care
  • The actions you take today will determine how vital a role your lab plays tomorrow



A pair of guiding principles 
For Dr. Chen, successful contract negotiations follow two guiding principles.

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Epicenters of opportunity

The vital importance of data has the potential to transform labs from mere cost centers into epicenters of opportunity. If such a notion seems grandiose, just look at all the forces at play—and how labs can play a central role.

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Getting to the golden age

As laboratorians, we are all responsible for ushering in this new age of laboratory medicine. It will not merely "come to pass". It can only happen if we take action today.




Start harnessing the power of data right now

Our lab leaders have some great suggestions for you. Listen to what they have to say in the following videos.

Steer your C-suite in the right direction

Promote a data-centric view of the future and self-advocate to become part of the conversation with the powers-that-be in your institution.

Try a "population health trial"

As we’ve said on many times before, getting laboratorians to look beyond the four walls of the lab can be quite a challenge. But it’s especially important in the context of population health, where everyone must be connected with a patient’s episode of care.

Encourage a positive shift in mindset in your lab by running a small trial among a population you serve.

Lester Wold, MD
VitalHealth Software
Judy Springer
VP of Quality/Case Management
North Kansas City Hospital

Back up your buzzwords—fast

“Population health” is all the buzz these days. Everyone seems to be talking about it. Use that to your advantage to grab the attention of C-suite partners inside and outside your institution. But waste no time in getting to the specifics that will really sell what your data can do.

Listen for

Population health is still new, and many stakeholders in healthcare don’t know what to do. So keep your ears open and your talking points sharp. Take advantage of every opportunity to demonstrate the value of your data. Doing so can help establish your lab as an epicenter early on.

Phillip Chen, MD, PhD
Chief Healthcare Informatics Officer
Sonic Healthcare
Rob Atlas
President and CEO
Atlas Medical



It takes a community


The time has truly come to break down the four walls of the lab and engage with the clinical and patient communities we serve. Population health liberates us from the shackles of a fee-for-service mentality, and lab data are the force driving us forward.

Embrace the coming golden age of the lab. And keep looking to LabLeaders for invaluable insights and ideas that can help guide your way.

Additional resources


. Kindig D, Stoddart G. What is population health? Am J Public Health. 2003;93(3):380-383.
2. Stoto MA. Population health in the Affordable Care Act era. 2013. Available at: Accessed on October 7, 2015.
3. American Clinical Laboratory Association. Clinical laboratory testing: life saving medicine starts here. Available at: Accessed on October 7, 2015.
4. The Physicians Foundation. Survey of America’s physicians. 2014. Available at: Accessed on October 7, 2015.

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