Your Test Menu
Last week my wife and I decided to visit a new restaurant in a nearby city. I’d heard nothing but rave reviews about the place, so I was keen to experience it for myself. My first impression of the place other than the neat decor and lighting was the menu handed to me by a waitress. It was easy to read, easy to follow, and showed a variety of choices for different palates. So far, so good.
Imagine a new hospitalist arriving, and as he sits in the dictation room a lab tech appears and hands him an analogous menu of laboratory testing. While labs don’t do this, our menus are equally important. They advertise to and inform our customers of what we offer as well as availability and cost. A good menu not only does this but gives the customer enough information to make an informed choice.
A new physician recently asked for a listing of tests performed in house for this reason. Knowing what is done where and when is vital information when managing patients. A laboratory menu or directory of services fills this need.
While bread and butter testing like chemistry panels and CBC testing can be assumed, too, it may not be obvious that your blood bank has a limited inventory of certain products. A physician can be blindsided at the last minute to find that platelets, for example, are not stocked but are instead two hours away. A test menu can let a physician know in advance what is offered when, where, why, and even how (e.g. backup methods).
None of this went through my mind, of course, as we sat in the booth of the restaurant. We pondered the menu, ordered our meals, and waited. But we were concerned with accuracy and turnaround time. We wanted our waitress to be pleasantly responsive and listen to our needs. And we expected a good outcome. So our concerns were not terribly different from a new doc.
Next I’ll consider how our meal relates to our laboratory service.
NEXT: To Be Excellent, Be Consistent