A Unique Group of Remote Employees:
Meet the LabCorp IT team that’s helping to keep patients informed during the pandemic
While many teams around the world are adjusting to the new normal of social distancing and working from home, the LabCorp information technology (IT) digital customer engagement and product analytics team has always been an entirely remote group.
We recently caught up with a few members of the team to learn about their best practices for remote collaboration, their important role in improving the customer experience for LabCorp patients and how they have supported the work to keep patients informed and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A growing focus on the patient journey in IT
Every time a LabCorp patient schedules an appointment, checks in for a lab service visit or interacts with the LabCorp Patient Portal to access their test results or pay a bill, the digital customer engagement and product analytics team is collecting insights to improve users’ experience.
Technology is integral to nearly every area of healthcare today, and Kara, IT director of the digital customer engagement and product analytics team, has seen how user interfaces like the LabCorp Patient portal have matured to better serve patients and support their healthcare needs.
“Before I joined LabCorp more than 24 years ago, I worked as a software engineer for 10 years. One of my projects involved working with nephrologists who treated end-stage renal disease patients to determine how to best develop an electronic interface from the lab to their dialysis systems,” she explained. “Electronic data exchange was tough at that time.”
In 1996, Kara started a new role leading the design and development of LabCorp's physician and patient service center applications and the client server applications that interfaced with the lab system, helping implement electronic ordering and the delivery of patient’s test results in an online system.
Along with her ambition to meet the business’s growing goals to close the gap between patients and their data, Kara found additional inspiration when she attended a Health 2.0 conference.
“Patients were desiring better access to their electronic healthcare data so they could take control of their health, find the right physicians to help them with their conditions, and better understand their health plan reimbursement. That was the beginning of my LabCorp patient journey, and I took the lead designing and developing the first LabCorp web-based patient portal.”
Fast forward to today and Kara’s team still focuses on data and improving how patients access their data and interact with LabCorp by using application program interface (API) data strategies and cloud-based services.
“Our work supports efforts to build a master database to better understand patients' needs and create more personalized patient experiences, which helps our drug development business design more patient-centric clinical trials,” she explained.
“One of our current projects is helping product leaders understand where patients are looking for information in our systems and helping to collect insights on how to increase product adoption and product engagement. We want to better understand the patient journey, which helps us better meet patients’ needs.”
An entirely remote, agile team
Beyond focusing on patients’ needs, Kara ensures that her team has what they need to stay connected and be successful in their roles. The seven-person team starts their day with stand-up meetings following agile methodology. Calling in from their home offices in Alabama, Arizona, New York, Florida and North Carolina, they review their tasks in a shared workspace and see where their next “sprint” takes them.
“These meetings allow us to get together and say, ‘Hey, how can I help you?’ if someone needs support,” explained Kara. The team also takes advantage of conference calls, video chat and instant messaging platforms.
“We don’t miss a beat when it comes to communicating across our team,” she added. “This reflects our team’s core values that we have about being open, transparent, focused on our work, being respectful to one another and having the courage to do the right thing.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the team met in person every quarter for a few days in Burlington, N.C., to reflect on their past accomplishments and plan for their next achievements.
“It's important to bring remote teams together and still have face-to-face time. I think you get a different perspective of that person, but with this global pandemic we can still connect over the phone, instant message, and email multiple times a day,” said Kara.
Communicating important COVID-19 information to LabCorp patients
The COVID-19 pandemic required the digital customer engagement and product analytics team to help send out an increased number of patient emails.
Lacey, an IT product specialist on the team, who started her career with LabCorp after graduating from High Point University in 2017, said, “Even a reputable company like LabCorp has to design a strategy to roll out an email communication that is intended to reach a broad patient population.”
“It takes a lot of work to manage the ISP and make sure that each patient’s email doesn’t bounce back and arrives in their inbox,” added Kara. “My team was phenomenal in this process. They’ve worked really hard behind the scenes to help get the COVID-19 messaging out to patients in a relatively short amount of time.”
Supporting women in STEM
While Kara’s team has had a balance of genders in the past, it is currently all women.
“Having a team of all women isn’t something I looked for – I just found passionate people that happened to be women,” said Kara, who recognizes the ongoing need to support women in joining the field of engineering.
“I see so much passion with women who love to take a technical topic and just go with it. I have a team of women who really excel in their technical space and feel very confident about their abilities. I'm also very engaged with Women in Electronics, a networking group, and we are working to help our industry feature an even wider variety of nationalities and genders in leadership.”
Kara shared that with the addition of the drug development business, the opportunities for IT talent expanded, allowing IT employees opportunities to work across more project areas and expand their knowledge to support clinical trials.
Recognizing opportunities to improve health, improve lives with IT
Noting that many people may not think of LabCorp for its information technology opportunities, Fridelande “Free,” the team’s internal Salesforce marketing cloud engineer, shared that healthcare companies offer meaningful career opportunities in the IT space.
“Data security in our organization is really important,” said Free. “We work with people’s medical information and in compliance with healthcare laws, so our security is top notch. Having worked in IT for entertainment companies, agencies and production companies prior to joining LabCorp, I found healthcare IT to be a long-term ‘career gem.’ It’s great to be a part of a bigger mission while leveraging my IT skills here.”
As one example of a long-term LabCorp IT employee, Kara agrees: “My work at LabCorp revitalizes me. I’ve been given a lot of opportunities and challenges and have passion for the customers we serve, our leaders, and the healthcare providers serving our customers on the frontlines. Today, we can’t go out and talk to all of our customers in person, but we can use data to learn about their conditions to help them get better. It’s a great feeling to use what you have valued throughout your life to do something that’s good.”
Learn more about how LabCorp continues to serve communities nationwide during the pandemic: https://www.labcorp.com/coronavirus-disease-covid-19