Education & Tools

Our Mission

PLUGS® offers laboratory stewardship program guidance, tools & education to help hospital laboratories, reference laboratories, and practitioners implement their own laboratory stewardship programs. These programs improve patient safety by reducing errors, and significantly reduce laboratory testing expenses.

Tools

  • Customized strategic assessment from the PLUGS® Team
  • Policies, procedures & communication templates that help providers reduce unnecessary testing & correct test orders
  • Database for collecting, tracking, & analyzing cases
  • Tool to assess the risk of errors in send-outs area
  • Provider-satisfaction survey to solicit feedback regarding the program
2017 PLUG Conference

Be Connected

  • PLUGS® Committees: Formulary & Insurance Alignment
  • Weekly Newsletter
  • Bi-monthly Member Meetings presented by PLUGS® members
  • Discussion Forum
  • Office Hours/Call Center
  • Monthly Lab Stewardship Webinars
  • Annual PLUGS® Summit
  • Regional PLUGS® Conferences

Webinars

The PLUGS® webinar series covers topics related to laboratory stewardship presented by industry experts. We offer two types of webinars: educational and commercial. Our educational webinars are P.A.C.E.-accredited through our partner Medical Training Solutions (MTS). If you have attended a webinar and have questions regarding your P.A.C.E. credits, please contact Megan Hinch at MTS. Our commercial webinars describe products or services relevant to laboratory stewardship and are not P.A.C.E-accredited. PLUGS® is an agnostic organization dedicated to improving laboratory test ordering, retrieval, interpretation, and reimbursement. The commercial webinars are not intended as an endorsement.

We are always looking for exciting new topics and speakers, if you have a topic, speaker, or presentation you would like to suggest please email us.

PLUGS® members receive free access to webinars. If you are a PLUGS member contact us for registration information. If you are not a PLUGS member please contact us for pricing information.


Past Webinars

All of our past webinars are available to PLUGS® members, log in to access the recordings and slides.

January 14, 2020: Truths and Falsehoods of New Clinical Lab Technology: What do Theranos and Successful Inventions have in Common?

Date: January 14, 2020
Time: 11:00 AM PT

Presenters:

Dr. Michael Astion, Md, PhD – Medical Director, Department of Laboratories, Seattle Children’s Hospital

Description of Program Content:
Theranos and successful lab inventions are both examples of the law of sowing (planting) and reaping (harvesting). The outcomes of both are predicted by principles of laboratory science, history, and management. In this lecture, Dr. Astion discusses some foundational principles adhered to by successful labs. These principles are in the domains of laboratory history, science, economics, and management. Dr. Astion and compares and contrasts the approach of Theranos with that of successful clinical laboratories to extract some teaching points that should be helpful to anybody working in the field of laboratory medicine.

Measurable Learning Objectives:

  1. Describe how the claims by Theranos were inconsistent with principles of laboratory management or laboratory economics
  2. Name 2 principles of laboratory science that were in conflict with the claims by Theranos.
  3. Define two characteristics of successful laboratory innovations

 

2019 Webinars

Optimizing Laboratory Sendouts to Support Stewardship
January 15, 2019

Description of Program Content:

Diagnostic errors in laboratory testing can cause significant patient harm. These errors occur throughout the testing process, from pre-analytic errors in test ordering to post-analytic errors in retrieving and interpreting results. Send-out testing to referral laboratories is particularly risk-prone due to multiple hand-offs, longer turn around times, unfamiliarity with low volume tests, and manual result entry. At our institution, we have devoted resources to improve send out testing operations. This session will describe how we mitigated the risks associated with send out testing, and simultaneously decreased costs. We will describe how we decreased the number of reference laboratories used and implemented a case review system as part of our laboratory stewardship program. We will describe how we engaged front line staff to reduce errors related to manual specimen packaging and shipping.

Presenters:

Jane Dickerson, PhD, DABCC – PLUGS, Seattle Children’s Hospital &
Monica Wellner – PLUGS, Seattle Children’s Hospital


Ordering the Right Lab Test: It all begins with the Right Test Name
February 19, 2019

Description of Program Content:

Names of Lab Tests are usually chosen by pathologists and clinical scientists, often without any specific rules or guidelines. While these names make perfect sense to pathologists, they can be confusing for clinicians, who may order the wrong test, leading to delays and poorer outcomes. This webinar will discuss a national initiative to fix the problem of difficult to understand test names.

Presenters:

Ila Singh, MD, PhD – Texas Children’s Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine


Getting More from your Sequencing data: Copy number variant detection by Next Generation Sequencing
March 19, 2019

Description of Program Content:

This webinar will review different technologies used for the detection of copy number variants (CNV), with an emphasis on the use of next generation sequencing (NGS) data to detect CNVs. The presentation will include an introduction to CNVs and the different technologies currently used by clinical genetic testing labs for CNV detection in patient specimens. An overview of the validation of CNV detection using NGS data will be provided and case examples will be presented to demonstrate the value of including CNV detection in NGS tests.

Presenters:

Diane Allingham-Hawkins, PhD, FCCMG, FACMG – PreventionGenetics, LLC


The Clinical Utility of Genetic Testing in Autism Spectrum Disorder: When Findings Impact Care
April 30, 2019

Description of Program Content:
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) encompasses several neurodevelopmental features presenting as varying degrees of social impairment, communication ability, and propensity for restricted interests and repetitive behaviors.  In recent years, our understanding of the genetic components contributing to ASD has improved through the work of several large cohort studies.  Through this work, an extensive list of gene candidates has been identified which has resulted in the development of large exome-based panels for testing of individuals with ASD and intellectual disability phenotypes.  Some studies have also identified ASD with characteristic clinical features that result in a change in the patient’s clinical care.  This webinar explores the current landscape of the genetics of ASD, the clinical utility of large gene panels in the molecular diagnosis of ASD, and presents examples of ‘actionable autism’ cases in which testing results in a change in clinical care.

Presenters:

Dr. Greg Fischer, PhD – PreventionGenetics


State of the Industry: Germline & Somatic Test Accuracy
May 21, 2019

Description of Program Content:
The rapid advancement of NGS laboratory developed tests have exceeded the oversight scope of CLIA & CAP. Pricing pressure, belated standard setting, clinician expectation & evolving test populations have led to a largely unrecognized inaccuracy crisis in clinical genetics & genomics. We will present areas many labs struggle with that need improvement. These areas are part of the Center for Genomic Interpretation’s ELEVATEGeneticsTM quality audit process that is beginning to be used by health insurance payers, & is complementary to PLUGS.

Presenters:

Julie M. Eggington, MS, PhD – Center for Genomic Interpretation


Consumer Genetics in 2019
June 18, 2019

Description of Program Content:

Dr. Hagenkord shares a history of consumer genetics/genomics, and provides background on regulatory frameworks, commercial models, and intended use. Considering the quality and completeness of testing is critical to assessing residual risk. Consumers must use a cautious analytical lens to identify potential false positives and pitfalls of results from unvalidated raw data.

Presenters:

Jill Hagenkord, MD


Pharmacogenetics in the clinic – thoughts on what to order and how to interpret
August 20, 2019

Description of Program Content:
Interest in pharmacogenetics/pharmacogenomics (PGx) has grown substantially over the past few years and is now starting to infiltrate clinics in the US.  With progress, comes challenges, and many questions about equality of laboratory testing options and guidance for interpretation have arisen.  This presentation will describe factors to consider when selecting testing options, as well as describe resources to guide interpretation and implementation in the clinic.

Presenters:

Gwen McMillin, PhD, DABCC(CC,TC) – ARUP Laboratories


Cross-Training: Keys to Creating a Flexible Workforce
September 17, 2019

Description of Program Content:
Cross-training provides many potential benefits in laboratory operations including improving employee satisfaction, allowing quick reaction time to change, strengthening team relationships, and cost-savings. Challenges of a highly cross-trained staff include ensuring effective communication across tasts, managing competition between staff, and preventing loss of focus due to competing priorities. IN the webinar, we will describe the pros and cons of crosstraining and introduce the tools necessary to support a highly-cross trained staff.

Presenters:

Luke Drury, PhD – PreventionGenetics


Ethical Issues Arising from Big Data and AI
October 15, 2019

Description of Program Content:
Big data and artificial intelligence are revolutionizing most areas of society, and are poised to make a similar impact on health care and medicine.  Like all new powerful technologies, AI has risks as well as benefits.  If not carefully managed, AI can contribute to serious harm to patients in areas including privacy and nosocomial injury.  This presentation will describe the nature of these risks along with potential approaches to reduce harm.

Presenters:

Brian Jackson, MD, MS – Univeristy of Utah, ARUP Laboratories


Enabling Effective Lab Stewardship Programs
December 10, 2019

Description of Program Content:
Quest Diagnostics, in partnership with hc1, aims to improve patient care and reduce costs across health systems nationwide by enabling Lab Stewardship programs. By combining professional advisory services with innovative technology, Quest Lab Stewardship powered by hc1 delivers real-time lab utilization insights necessary to progress and support at-scale optimization of laboratory testing. Through this partnership, four stages of progression have been defined to help health systems understand where their Lab Stewardship programs have an opportunity to improve. During this time, the speakers will provide a thorough definition of each stage and tactical ways to continuously improve and progress Lab Stewardship programs.

Presenters:

Donna D. Cooper, MS MBA – Quest Diagnostics & Zach Berg – hc1


Lab-Targeted Revenue Cycle Management as a Strategy for Effective Patient Test Utilization

December 17, 2019

Description of Program Content:
In today’s climate of healthcare reform, ripe with declining reimbursements, Outreach Laboratory survival and success hinges on the Laboratory Leader’s ability to work effectively across a matrix environment to show how Laboratory contributes to the Vision, Mission, and Goals of the greater healthcare organization. Effective Patient Test Utilization Programs are crucial to controlling costs and improving patient care and satisfaction. Equally as important is the Lab’s ability to show profitability which hinges, in great part, on their getting paid, in a timely fashion, for the work they have completed. This presentation will explain how typical medical billing products are not configured to handle the nuances of laboratory services and how a Lab-Specific Revenue Cycle Management Strategy will enhance utilization effectiveness.

Presenters:

Donna Showers, MT, MS, FACHE – Intalere (a Division of Intermountain Healthcare) &
Brett Walker – Chief Operating Officer, HealthRecon Connect