Labnet is an alliance of District Health Board owned Laboratories who are working together to promote and enhance medical diagnostic laboratory testing in New Zealand.
The aim of Labnet is 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.
Initially Labnet was charged with trying to standardise as many processes as possible in order to keep down the cost of maintaining the laboratory information systems they ran. Over time this standardisation has been applied to areas outside of the LIS and the members now work together in determining methods, standardizing ranges and purchasing supplies.
Labnet provides community and hospital medical diagnostic laboratory services for hospitals in four DHBs. Labnet members collectively employ over 400 staff, including more than 35 pathologists and registrars plus close to 130 registered medical laboratory scientists.
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.
Labnet was created to work 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 medical diagnostic laboratories, just as the Star Alliance does for the airline industry.
Canterbury Health Laboratories functions as a tertiary hub for Labnet and offers a comprehensive reference testing service, expertise in a wide range of specialties and opportunities for joint research. Professional development programmes are actively managed by all partners and joint development shared amongst Labnet for mutual gain.
Labnet supports and integrates smaller pathology services by providing standardized 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.