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So your molecular lab has been up and running for a while now. Things are humming along, but your hospital community is not carrying the same tune. Maybe they are not utilizing your services as much as you expected, or the physicians just aren’t aware of the latest and greatest tests that you have to offer. Ongoing communications is a great way to educate your audience, build relationships, and promote your lab.
The most common ways to communicate with an internal audience is via newsletter, e-newsletter and/or website. Through these vehicles you can keep your physician community up to speed on many items, such as:
• New testing options
• Changes in results reporting
• Specimen handling recommendations
• New employees and promotions
• Meeting announcements
• Industry news and trends
Beyond simple communications, promoting your lab and building relationships are best done in person. Host meetings, participate in grand rounds, or even invite physicians to the lab for a tour. Sometimes your best advocates can be trainees, in clinical pathology for instance, who rotate through the lab as ambassadors and spread the knowledge that they pick up in the lab.
It is especially important to train and communicate with physicians when your lab begins offering a new test. Gregory A. Storch, MD, Director of the Virology Laboratory at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, recalls a time when they started testing to monitor for post-transplantation lymphoproliferative disorder, also known as PTLD, and Epstein-Barr Virus DNA levels in blood.
“We brought testing in and it affected all the transplant teams. We sent out materials in advance, but also had communication with key physicians and specific teams in person,” said Dr. Storch. “Between the adult and children’s hospitals, there were 10 teams, including stem cell, lung, liver, heart and kidney teams. Different teams chose to utilize the testing in different ways, or not at all, depending on the level of risk of PTLD for their own patient population. We watched levels and kept them from getting too high. We believe that this has prevented PTLD from occurring in many cases. In other cases, it has allowed prompt therapy in new onset cases, sometimes allowing the patient to avoid having to receive very toxic chemotherapy.”
How do you measure success in your communications efforts? According to Dr. Storch, success comes when the test is being ordered. “If a new test is not being ordered, then either it wasn’t needed or the information hasn’t reached the right physicians.”