The where and when of lab testing plays a critical role in patient care. If a patient has to set up multiple appointments and drive to various locations for lab tests, results and consultation, connecting the disparate pieces of their care journey begins to feel overwhelming – and time-consuming – for both the patient and their care team. Luckily, there are people whose job it is to try and streamline this process.

Patrick Bowman, Director of Health Systems Lab, believes that if health systems can streamline their diagnostic laboratory strategies, patient health outcomes will improve, too. In our latest Expert Spotlight, we sat down with Bowman to discuss how health systems can alter their strategies to benefit patients, why this work has become meaningful to him, and what he believes is the future of healthcare.

How would you describe your role at McKesson?

Bowman: I help health systems plan and execute their clinical diagnostic laboratory strategy. In a nutshell, that means making sure they’re doing the right lab tests at the right place for each patient. We find that health systems are often outsourcing lab tests they could administer on-site. But keeping those tests on-site is typically more convenient for patients and can improve health outcomes. A patient is more likely to follow through with a lab test if it can be performed quickly at the same place they’ve just had their appointment. And that helps speed the process to better health along, giving them their results sooner and allowing their doctor to make the best decisions possible.

What’s your favorite part of your work? Something you’re most proud of?

Bowman: I like trying to simplify something that feels complicated. We take something complex, like a clinical diagnostic laboratory strategy in a large health system, and simplify it not just for our internal stakeholders, but for our health system customers, which affects each patient’s experience. When a patient receives the right tests in the right place, their doctor can make the best, most immediate decisions based on the data. It’s easy to get caught up in the numbers in this job, but when you realize this affects someone’s parent, sister, child, or spouse—it makes it real. We’re helping people get the lab tests they need to stay healthy or become healthier. That really hits home for me.

What has your career path been? And how did you end up at McKesson?

Bowman: Before joining McKesson, I was involved in pharmaceutical and medical device clinical trial and business services. I wanted to get closer to interacting with providers and affecting patients. I also had a passion for distribution, so when I put those two things together and did my research, McKesson came up number one every single time.

What question do customers ask you the most?

Bowman: Potential customers will sometimes say: “Almost every distribution partner says they can handle our lab needs—but especially in the non-acute and small hospital space, what makes McKesson different?”

And what do you tell them?

Bowman: I tell them that while many distribution partners can sell you lab products, that’s where most start and finish. McKesson has invested in the lab solutions market much more than anyone else because we see the value it brings to clinicians and patients alike. We’ve built a robust set of value-added expert resources to help nearly every aspect of an organization’s lab strategy. We have cutting-edge, customer-centered distribution models and technology solutions that can help you run a lab program that is clinically, operationally, and financially successful.

Since we’re all about better health, how do you stay on top of your own health and wellness?

Bowman: Aside from annual check-ups, which I’ve made a priority, I always try to keep moving. I schedule myself for a run or gym workout 4-5 times per week in the same way I’d schedule myself for a meeting. No one likes getting up and going for a run bundled up early on a winter morning, but I find if I schedule it and view it as a daily obligation in the same manner as a scheduled appointment, it helps me stick with it.

If I were to go with you to the pharmacy, what might I find in your basket?

Bowman: I’m a big believer in the power of the multivitamin, so that’s something I take year-round. And I take a vitamin D supplement during the winter months since sunshine can be a scarce commodity in the Northeast that time of the year.

Can you tell me about a recent experience you’ve had with a healthcare system? It could be positive, negative, eye-opening—anything that stuck with you.

Bowman: I recently worked with a large health system on a project to help them adjust their point-of-care diagnostic strategy around tests for things like flu and strep A. We wanted to move from the less-accurate visually read tests to new, molecular testing that brought accuracy to over 99%. One of the stakeholder clinicians told us they felt that the new testing would not only reduce the chance of a missed diagnosis, but would also reduce or eliminate the chance of adverse events that can follow a missed diagnosis. Preventing an illness from escalating has a huge impact on young children, the elderly, and any other immunocompromised groups. They have higher chances of complications from what would be typically viewed as a low severity ailment in a healthy population. Hearing things like this really makes me appreciate the chance we have to help our customers provide the best patient care possible.

What do you think today's patients need most when it comes to better care?

Bowman: We're in an age of convenience, where patients want immediate access, results and automation. Patients need more data available at the time of their visit so they can either have their treatment or prescription immediately or come up with a different plan during the same visit. And through technology and diagnostic lab solutions, we can do that. Those tools can also help clinicians make better, more immediate decisions during a patient’s visit instead of at a follow-up visit. As much as possible, patients want things to be resolved in one place and at one time, rather than going to different locations for tests and having to make follow-up appointments.

What do you think is about to change in healthcare? What do you hope will change?

Bowman: The emergence of value-based care is quickly changing healthcare. More than ever before, providers really need to help patients follow through with their care plan to stay healthy. But my hope is that we also take that one step further. I hope value-based care evolves into preventative care, too. We need better patient diagnostic access, sure. But we also need providers to help patients make better lifestyle choices by leveraging their diagnostic data to prevent the onset of chronic diseases. I think at the end of the day, the best medicine is preventative.

Related: Learn more about McKesson’s laboratory solutions for physicians

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