A Vets Perspective: The In-House Lab Suite Focusing On a Healthy Practice

Author: Cheryl Roge, DVM

We are all familiar with the medical reasons to have excellent laboratory equipment in our hospitals. So many detailed articles and lectures have been written on the subject and provided us with information we can never hear enough: STAT results for critical patients, same day pre-anesthetic testing, senior wellness, metabolic monitoring for chronic drug therapy, increased client satisfaction with the immediacy of in-house results, and the list goes on and on. The list is so full of benefits it would seem illogical NOT to have a good in-house lab suite in your hospital. We are all familiar with the medical reasons to have excellent laboratory equipment in our hospitals. So many detailed articles and lectures have been written on the subject and provided us with information we can never hear enough: STAT results for critical patients, same day pre-anesthetic testing, senior wellness, metabolic monitoring for chronic drug therapy, increased client satisfaction with the immediacy of in-house results, and the list goes on and on. The list is so full of benefits it would seem illogical NOT to have a good in-house lab suite in your hospital.

So why then don’t more of us have those capabilities in our hospitals? Why do we hesitate when great equipment is presented to us by knowledgeable sales reps? Is it the cost of the equipment? The concern about training our staff? The space to accommodate the equipment? Trusting the results? Let’s explore these valid issues.

Training of staff is facilitated and simplified with on-site installations by a trained scil animal care company representative. Space concerns are alleviated by the smaller footprint afforded to us by the latest analyzers available. The accuracy and precision of today’s chemistry and hematology analyzers are well established with university studies and years of use in the field. The biggest hurdle seems to be the cost of the equipment, and in a down economy, being financially frugal is key to a surviving clinic... but, so is making money. There is one component that can alleviate that financial blockade which is not usually emphasized in the in-house laboratory articles. It’s the subject of ROI (Return on Investment). Return on investment is the revenue that can be generated by pursuing good diagnostic practices inside your own hospital lab. The decision to add in-house diagnostic testing services versus relying almost exclusively on outside reference labs is based on two factors:

1. How soon you can get your purchasing costs back
2. How much revenue you can bring in per test

With good planning and execution, a hematology and chemistry analyzer can more than cover their monthly payment. The price of a lab suite is easily warranted when you calculate how much diagnostic revenue stays in your hands. Don’t misunderstand; our reference labs provide an invaluable service and will always be an integral part of the medicine we practice. However, there are so many tests that can and should be run in-house to provide the best medicine for the patient and offer the best financial “medicine” for your practice.