December 4, 2020
Alberta Health Services and Alberta Precision Laboratories (APL) have issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking private-sector partners to provide community lab services across Alberta.
The RFP process is about finding partners that can help deliver high-quality laboratory services for all Albertans, sustainably and efficiently. Contracting of community lab services is an opportunity for innovation and potential cost savings identified by the AHS Performance Review.
“AHS continues to pursue innovative approaches of delivering critical healthcare services more efficiently while enhancing the level of care for all Albertans,” says Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health. “Any savings realized through contracting community lab services will be invested elsewhere in the healthcare system, ensuring that use of healthcare dollars addresses the greatest areas of need in Alberta.”
The RFP includes the contracting of community-related laboratory collections, logistics and testing in urban centres and large rural communities to a private provider. Approximately 65 per cent of provincial lab work, or 50 million tests per year, is generated from the community and will be transitioned to the successful proponent(s).
“Alberta’s growing and aging population means we need to be more efficient and focused in terms of healthcare spending,” said Dr. Verna Yiu, President and Chief Executive Officer, AHS. “We need to seek opportunities for innovation and consider ways of doing things differently to ensure Albertans continue to receive the highest quality of laboratory care, and the greatest value from every dollar invested in the healthcare system, both now and in the years ahead.”
The RFP is designed to minimize impact on APL’s workforce during the potential transition. The successful proponent(s) will be required to assume all impacted unionized, non-unionized and medical staff on the same or similar terms and conditions as exist prior to transition.
Approximately 30 per cent of all community lab tests are currently provided by private-sector partners, including 73 per cent in the Edmonton and North zones.
“Laboratory testing is critical to the diagnosis and management of patient health that requires highly trained technical staff and medical experts. Our staff have played a critical role in Alberta’s response to COVID-19, and their expertise will be important in ensuring the quality and consistency of lab service is maintained across the province,” said Mauro Chies, Board Chair of APL, and Vice President of Cancer Care Alberta and Clinical Support Services.
In order to ensure that small rural and remote communities continue to receive the service they need, hospital sites that currently handle less than 25,000 community blood test collections per year will continue to do so by APL. Larger communities will expect to be serviced by the private provider(s) through community collection sites.
AHS and APL have secured a third-party sourcing facilitator to lead the procurement process, as well as provide advice, strategic planning and project facilitation. The evaluation of proposals will include a detailed analysis by a panel that includes medical/scientific experts, laboratory operations professionals and financial analysts.
A contract is expected to be awarded in spring 2021, with full transition of community lab work transitioned to the successful proponent(s) in 2022.