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Business unusual: collaborating for new approaches to support health system and lab growth


read time: 5 minutes


Management & Operations

Today’s health systems and labs are eager to move forward. As pandemic-related testing demand and staffing and supply-chain shortages created unprecedented financial and operational challenges, the need for new solutions became clear. Now, as health system leaders determine what those solutions should be, the right collaborations can help. Working with a commercial reference lab, for example, can provide health system leaders with new ideas and solutions that can enhance quality and efficiency, address staffing demands, improve test utilization, and more. Let’s explore 3 ways health systems and their labs can build and scale strategic momentum.

1. Diversify to boost revenue and create value

Today, we see and work with a growing number of customers diversifying their service offerings. A recent McKinsey & Company survey of health system executives supports our observations. It reveals that many health system leaders view diversification as critical to their future performance, because it can create cash flow and drive value for their hospital business.1 For example, a health system might acquire a risk-bearing primary care group. This would enable the health system to build wider and deeper partnerships with physicians to improve the quality of care, make it possible to place administrators and technology in other systems to fuel growth, and expand risk-sharing–based care programs beyond publicly funded ones.1

Collaborating with a commercial reference lab—like Quest Diagnostics®—that has a shared vision for diversification can improve a health system’s chances of success. Through a flexible, transparent, and collaborative approach, you can identify avenues for your lab that align best with 3 key growth strategies: optimizing existing capabilities, expanding beyond acute care, and fostering innovation.1

2. Invest in innovative lab technology to facilitate efficiencies

Every health system leader knows that staying up-to-date with lab technology and regulatory compliance can be time-consuming and challenging, requiring significant manpower and experience. This can be especially difficult for smaller health systems and labs. As a result, many hospital labs may be more reactive than proactive. They may need help identifying and implementing the latest testing equipment and testing protocols, while also ensuring proactive compliance with regulation.

Technology is only helpful if it’s effective. That’s why it’s important to understand which technologies can help you achieve your organizational goals and which can’t.2 For example, smart telehealth solutions can improve the healthcare experience for patients, giving them greater control over their health. And patient portals and apps can allow patients to easily schedule tests and access their results. For clinicians, carefully chosen electronic health records (EHRs) and other associated solutions can support clinical-care decisions, free up clinician time, and help them provide the best possible care. And for your lab, working with a knowledgeable and experienced partner, like Quest, offering extensive laboratory information system/electronic medical record (LIS/EMR) connectivity and integration can help improve the testing process. How? By enabling simple electronic ordering, identifying missing information to ensure the right test is ordered, and providing specimen requirements along with easy-to-understand patient instructions.

A lab services provider like Quest can help you determine which solutions are right for your lab and health system depending on what your priorities are—from reducing administrative burden to staying up-to-date with state and federal regulations to advancing your lab’s operations.

3. Establish workforce development goals and a change management plan

Because labor is the primary cause of delays in care-delivery innovation, workforce development is essential to attracting and retaining employees. Some ways to support your workforce include creating a culture of innovation, providing team-based care, and supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion.3 A structured and focused change management plan can support health systems’ workforce development, helping you identify barriers to success, choose the right work models, and implement changes successfully.

When done right, this strategic approach can help you make more informed decisions about staffing and compensation, recruit and retain the highest-quality staff, and ensure your lab’s work environment is aligned with your health system’s culture and values.

Collaborating with a strategic partner, like Quest, that prioritizes workforce development and has been recognized for its people management can support your goals and strategic approach while improving the work environment of your lab.


  1. Azzoparde J, Malani R, Rao N, Singhal S. US health systems: diversify to thrive. McKinsey & Company. November 15, 2022. Accessed July 25, 2023.
  2. Glaser J. When should health systems invest in new tech? Harvard Business Review. November 12, 2020. Accessed July 25, 2023.
  3. 5 strategies for health system growth in a volatile environment. Becker’s Hospital Review. October 17, 2022. Accessed July 23, 2023.
Page Published: September 06, 2023