Skip to main content

Western Healthcare Alliance Laboratory Services Network

Summary 
  • Need: Increased efficiency for medical laboratory testing in rural western Colorado and Utah hospitals.
  • Intervention: Creation of a network for education, operational consulting, best practice development, and group contracting with discounted services for hospital laboratories.
  • Results: Lower laboratory testing costs with improved quality, efficiency, and turnaround times leading to increased healthcare quality.

Description

Western Healthcare Alliance Logo Western Healthcare Alliance (WHA) is a network of 30 healthcare organizations throughout Colorado and Utah. Formed in 1989, the group aimed to improve regional healthcare through combining resources.

In 2005, the CEOs from these original WHA member hospitals requested a common reference laboratory that could meet their hospitals' needs, reduce prices, increase quality, and allow them to share laboratory testing information. The Laboratory Services Network (LSN) was the new organizational arm for housing these specific laboratory operations, along with also providing "education, operations improvement consulting, best practices, and group contracting with discounted services for hospital laboratories." Currently, 12 hospital members participate.

Western Healthcare Alliance Members
Map showing the location of Western Healthcare Alliance's members.

WHA members are eligible for LSN regardless of their organization's size, system affiliation, Laboratory Information System (LIS). Participating members share a reference lab vendor providing a common interface for online ordering and test-sharing, with each hospital also operating their own laboratory using their individual LIS. LSN members also participated in group purchasing agreements with laboratory-related vendors and other manufacturers, leading to reduced costs for individual hospitals but also a consistency of quality in materials used. Members receive a discount on each lab test sent to the reference lab.

Though initially supported by a WHA capital contributions subsidy, LSN is now financially sustained through administrative revenues coming from group purchasing discounts and member dues based on a tiered membership model.

Services offered

  • Mayo Medical Laboratories discounted reference laboratory testing
  • Membership test-sharing
  • Mayo faculty-based CME for participating hospitals
  • Operations assessment
  • Improvement evaluations

Results

  • 12 WHA hospital members
  • 85,000 reference tests performed at Mayo Clinic reference lab
  • Improved test consistency
  • Testing costs savings for member facilities
  • Average of 20:1 ROI

Challenges

  • Test-sharing and courier routes are dependent on geographic locations
  • Membership consensus for funding mechanisms

Replication

  • Ensure ongoing field representation support
  • Offer continuing clinical education for members
  • Share outcome and ROI data with interested parties

Contact Information

Angelina Salazar, Interim CEO/Vice President of Marketing & Client Relations
Western Healthcare Alliance
970.986.3653
info@wha1.org

Topics
Healthcare business and finance
Healthcare networks
Hospitals

States served
Colorado, Utah

Date added
October 5, 2012

Date updated or reviewed
December 6, 2018

Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub, 2018. Western Healthcare Alliance Laboratory Services Network [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at: https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/project-examples/704 [Accessed 25 October 2020]


Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.