As hospitals and health systems continue the transition to value-based care, one important resource is too often overlooked. Pathologists can play a central role in performance improvement and delivering safe, high-quality care. As critical members of the health care team, pathologists intersect nearly all aspects of patient care, from diagnostics to prevention and primary care. To discuss the role of pathology in diagnosis, quality and patient safety, Health Forum convened a group of pathologists and hospital executives Nov. 4 in Chicago, with sponsorship by the College of American Pathologists. Pathologists can have a big impact on patient outcomes and experience by helping clinicians determine the right test at the right time for the right patient, the panelists agreed.
“We have to bring ourselves out of the basement to be more active and visible,” says Eva Wojcik, M.D., chair of the Department of Pathology at Loyola University Medical Center, Chicago. “We have to get out from behind the microscopes and be part of the team.” As members of multidisciplinary care teams, pathologists can affect patient experience and outcomes in several important ways. Pathologists are responsible for the provision of timely, accurate diagnostic laboratory tests. They can also support evidence-based care by educating clinicians about the role of pathology in patient care. “We need to play a greater role in education, particularly around appropriate test utilization,” says Ritu Nayar, M.D., professor of pathology at Northwestern University and Northwestern University Hospital, Chicago. “If someone orders the incorrect test, we need to provide an explanation as to why it’s not the right test for the patient.” Adds Wendy Leutgens, R.N., president, Loyola University Medical Center, Chicago, “We won’t get paid for unnecessary tests, so it’s in everybody’s best interest to get it right. The focus is on quality care in the right setting.”
Other key findings of the dialogue include:
- Pathology can play a significant role in population health and value-based care, providing actionable data to ensure the delivery of effective, efficient patient care delivery.
- Pathology needs to be reinstated into clinical education, so all clinicians have an understanding of the discipline, as well as the appropriateness and efficacy of the tests they order.
- Pathologists are essential participants in team-based care, providing clinical expertise in diagnostic and predictive medicine.
A full copy of the dialogue will appear in the February issue of Hospitals & Health Networks.