NEW YORK (360Dx) – A new specialty consulting service from Roche Diagnostics aims to expand relationships with lab clients beyond providing assistance with equipment decisions to include broader advice on streamlining lab operations and improving efficiency.
Roche Diagnostics has provided advising services for independent and hospital labs that have requested them for years, company executives said, but the new consultancy, called Roche Healthcare Consulting, represents a coordinated expansion of those services.
"Each country had bespoke advising groups that were advising healthcare institutions on which diseases they should focus on, how they increase patient satisfaction, and how they manage some of the guidelines that are existing within the countries," said Youssef Khayali, lifecycle leader, solution integration and services at Roche Diagnostics.
The new consulting practice will continue those services but also offer broader services that apply established management principles – such as the "lean" business model, based on Japanese car production in the 1980s – to labs.
"We are giving them advice using as a basis 'lean' healthcare," said Thais Viviani, head of Roche Healthcare Consulting. "It is really [about] how with technology, advanced data, and lean management they can improve their processes."
The new consultancy will also be more of a coordinated global service, so that teams from one country or region can support teams and clients in other areas. Roche Healthcare Consulting already has more than 250 consultants on staff, according to Khayali and Viviani.
Roche Diagnostics began forming Roche Healthcare Consulting two years ago and began rolling it out regionally this year, according to Khayali and Viviani. The consultancy has already launched in the Netherlands and the Middle East this year, and will officially launch in other areas, including the US, next year, they said. The consultancy launches in a region or country by introducing clients or potential clients to its new expanded services and to customers who can share feedback on the type of services the consultancy provides.
The consultancy is based on three pillars, according to Khayali. The first two are operational effectiveness, such as using lean processes to streamline the organization; and organizational sustainability, which includes helping C-level executives make investment or structural decisions about the lab. The last pillar, which involves advice on decisions related to medical testing and equipment, is always offered in collaboration with partners with expertise in the area of testing involved.
Roche Healthcare Consulting, has amassed a portfolio of management tools to deploy in helping labs improve efficiency. One of those tools is Viewics, a lab business analytics company acquired by Roche at the end of last year. The Viewics platform is designed to pull data from various lab related systems, including laboratory information systems, electronic medical records, customer relationship management systems, and billing and supply systems, and provide users with an integrated view of that data along with advanced analytics.
"What our customers really said when we started off on this whole journey to invest more in the services is you can have a lot of data but we really need help in how we convert this data into tangible actions," Viviani said. "This really supports them to achieve their key performance indicators that can be connected to quality, financial performance and even to growing their business."
Roche Healthcare Consulting also has digital tools to offer clients, including simulation technology to simulate different workflows in order find the most efficient business processes, Viviani said.
Another service that the consultancy can offer is logistics support.
"We have a tremendously big logistics infrastructure to ensure that tests and reagents get shipped and cooled efficiently and appropriately," Khayali said.
Khayali and Viviani insist that Roche Healthcare Consulting is product agnostic, focusing on helping labs better position themselves for success, rather than on selling Roche's equipment.
"There are some customer we went to where we looked at the setup that was effective for the last 10 years and just by setting up some tables, and moving some doorways we already increased the dynamic of communication. This brought a bigger benefit than having new analyzers installed in there," Khayali said. "So we are not only looking at new capital investment, sometimes we are just looking at different ways of communicating and working together, which already provides a big benefit."
Some examples of projects for which Roche Diagnostics has provided consulting assistance include helping a new hospital in Singapore ensure that its lab was structured using best practices.
"One of the very tangible questions they asked was 'How do I set up this laboratory using best practices that other industries have as a norm?'" Khayali said.
Viviani has provided consulting services to Dasa, a large lab chain in Brazil.
"There were a lot of challenges, and the [assistance] that we provided helped affect positively their performance as a company," she said.
One issue, for which labs often seek advice is a shortage of skilled labor, according to Viviani and Khayali.
"One question we get very often from customers to that point is, I have a limited labor force, and I want to use them for higher-value activities – talking to physicians, talking to nurses, optimizing some of the tests that we do – but instead I have them working on certain documentation or centrifuging," Khayali said.
The consultancy can provide advice on mitigating workforce shortages ranging from technology recommendations to process improvements aimed at using skilled staff more efficiently, he said.
"The benefit of that is, it increases the satisfaction of people working there as well, because they are getting more involved in interesting work, and they are getting more involved in publishing papers, or talking with physicians. That increases job satisfaction and it increases retention," he said.