Labnet is an alliance of public sector pathology laboratories who have agreed to work together in order to benefit from a strong brand, common systems and economies of scale, which will improve, promote and protect the services which they provide.
To provide benefits to its members through seamless integration of their operations, access to economies of scale and mutual support through collaboration; while allowing them to remain as independent laboratories owned and operated by individual DHBs. Labnet is designed to provide a collaborative structure and brand for New Zealand pathology laboratories, just as the Star Alliance does for the airline industry.
Canterbury Health Laboratories functions as the tertiary hub for Labnet and offers a comprehensive reference testing service, expertise in a wide range of specialties, continuing professional development programmes, and opportunities for joint research.
Labnet supports and integrates smaller pathology services by providing standardised infrastructure and processes, and a range of services including clinical and scientific education, pathologist supervision, cost savings, standardisation of equipment, business and financial management, as well as information technology and marketing support.
Through shared objectives and working together.
Key areas of collaboration currently are:
- Using the same LIS
- Standardising methods, reference ranges and report formats
- Combined purchasing of consumables
- Standard reporting under the individual laboratory brand
Future areas for collaboration:
- Common quality system, quality manual and benchmarking
- Process review, standardised equipment and reporting under the Labnet brand (with acknowledgement of the individual laboratory)
- Strong brand and identity. Standardised community request forms and patient information
- Managing demand
Under the Health and Disability Act 2000 (Section 22) DHB laboratories are charged by law to actively investigate, facilitate, sponsor and develop co-operative and collaborative arrangements to improve, promote and protect the health of people. This act (Section 28) also constrains DHBs from forming a body corporate, partnership, joint venture, or other association of persons without the consent of the minister. However, DHBs may freely enter into a co-operative agreement to meet Section 22 objectives.
Thus, to achieve the common goals, it has been determined that the most appropriate structure is via a collaboration agreement and licensing system. A lead DHB (Canterbury) holds the Labnet brand and other DHBs participate by obtaining non-exclusive, royalty free licenses.
A Steering Committee (comprising all participating laboratories) provides governance and determines the areas for collaboration and the membership rules that apply to licensees.
Labnet is not a legal entity. The lead DHB and the participating DHBs (licensees) are the legal entities. Participating DHBs continue to own and manage their laboratories and employ the staff.
It is anticipated that the current Multilab members will become participating members of Labnet.
- Canterbury DHB (lead DHB) trading as Canterbury Health Laboratories operating laboratories in Christchurch and Ashburton Hospitals and providing reference laboratory services nationally.
- Taranaki DHB (licensee) trading as Lab Care and operating laboratories at Taranaki Base Hospital and Hawera Hospital.
- Hawke's Bay DHB (licensee) operating laboratories at Hawke's Bay Hospital, Wairoa Hospital and Waipukurau.
- Nelson-Marlborough DHB (licensee) trading as The Lab and operating laboratories at Nelson and Wairau Hospitals.
Any DHB that owns and operates its own laboratory service can seek a license to become a Labnet participant. While Labnet is looking to achieve its goals through collaboration it is not mandatory that participants have to meet all the goals at the time of joining. A DHB that has already made significant invested in its own equipment or LIS can still be considered for membership, but will need to commit to progressively moving towards full participation and compliance with all Labnet standards and rules.