Value-based healthcare (VBHC) measures health outcomes against the cost of their delivery. A group of Italian researchers believe that laboratory medicine is ready to add value to the healthcare cycle by introducing new skills, and that a close collaboration between laboratory professionals and clinicians can improve quality and sustainability over the complete cycle of healthcare delivery.
By Federico Pennestrì and Giuseppe Banfi
The increasing demand for healthcare pushes administrators and policy makers worldwide to provide good quality care at sustainable costs. To allow the best allocation of limited financial resources, many approaches have been developed, among which value-based health care (VBHC) is one of the most promising.
In this model, value reflects health outcomes achieved per dollar spent: the best allocation of health care resources is the one that produces maximum value.
The highest value can be gained when all stakeholders in healthcare delivery share the benefits: patients, providers, suppliers, funders and citizens. Therefore, a crucial step in defining the success of a medical or surgical intervention is to consider both patient-reported and clinical-driven outcomes.
Value-based healthcare in laboratory medicine
In order to improve cost-effectiveness over the complete healthcare cycle, laboratory medicine has been gaining importance in value-based healthcare. A recent review, published in Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, ascribes the value of laboratory methodology to the generation of useful knowledge to reduce costs and improve patient care – provided there is a mutual relationship with clinicians.
According to the Italian researchers behind the paper, “it is time to introduce laboratory medicine professionals to VBHC in order to obtain better skills in outlining laboratory data, comparable methodologies, quality control, cost assessment, multidisciplinary coordination and patient-specific procedures.”
They note that VBHC could be effective in demonstrating that laboratories are just as relevant as any other medical department, as well as in decreasing the risk of inappropriate test requests and interpretation: “This would be another, fundamental step to finding the best synthesis between clinical excellence, individual needs, and available resources. That is, in one word, value.”
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