New Direction for Labs Will Improve Patient Care

New Direction for Labs Will Improve Patient Care

The government is taking immediate steps to respond to a Health Quality Council of Alberta report calling for quick action to improve diagnostic lab services.

“This report shows planning under the former government did not consider the full range of options for delivering lab services, but it also outlines how we can strengthen our current system. Our government is moving to public oversight of lab services – as recommended by the report – and the committee we are striking will provide us with advice about how services are delivered. In particular, if private sector companies are interested in being partners on the potential delivery of some services, they will need to demonstrate that there is a benefit to Albertans to do so, through providing more efficient or effective service. That’s the same standard we have for our private sector partners across government.”

Sarah Hoffman, Minister of Health

Budget 2016 includes $2 million to begin planning to address immediate facility needs in the Edmonton area. Senior leaders from AHS, government and the Health Quality Council of Alberta will work together on a steering committee to address the recommendations in the HQCA report. Edmonton’s laboratory facility needs will be an immediate priority.

The team, led by Alberta Health, will also develop a comprehensive plan for an integrated system of laboratory services across the province.

“The role of our laboratories in keeping Albertans healthy and safe cannot be understated. Today’s announcement is an important and positive step forward for high quality lab services delivery in Alberta. We look forward to working with the government and our research partners on a plan to improve these vital services across the province.”

Dr. Verna Yiu, Interim President and CEO, Alberta Health Services

“The province is well positioned to lead the way in the provision of sustainable, high quality laboratory services. Our recommendations will enable a plan for renewed laboratory services to move forward as quickly as possible to address the immediate needs in Edmonton, as well as the needs of all Albertans in the future.”

Charlene McBrien-Morrison, Executive Director, Health Quality Council of Alberta

In August 2015, Minister Hoffman asked the Health Quality Council of Alberta to undertake a review of available evidence supporting the options for delivery of laboratory services.

The report calls for:

  • quick action to address the urgent issues in the Edmonton Zone and northern Alberta;
  • a single public sector platform for the delivery of laboratory services through an integrated provincial plan;
  • clarity around the required capital funding related to lab services.
  • a robust project management structure, including a senior level Steering Committee focused on the priority issues facing the laboratory system.

The steering committee, led by the Deputy Minister of Alberta Heath, will include representatives from Alberta Health Services, the Health Quality Council of Alberta, and the ministries of Health, Infrastructure, and Advanced Education. The mandate of the Steering Committee will be to provide advice and direction on the development and implementation of an integrated laboratory services system plan for the whole province that:

  • addresses the growing need for diagnostic lab services in Edmonton and northern Alberta;
  • ensures Calgary Laboratory Services continues its work of enhancing services within its unique service delivery model;
  • meets the lab service needs of rural communities;
  • engages patients and front-line providers to ensure their experience and expertise inform the work of the committee;
  • provides advice on capital requirements for lab services; and
  • facilitates greater standardization, integration, and capacity building in lab services across Alberta.

Alberta Health Services’ contract with the current provider of diagnostic laboratory services continues until 2017.