British Early-Adopter Labs Respond to New Trends

Shift in ER and primary care emphasis is parallel to health trends in the U.S.

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CEO SUMMARY: On which side of the Atlantic are clinical labs better operated? This February will be the third consecutive year that progressive lab leaders from the USA and the United Kingdom convene in England to explore each country’s laboratory best practices, to swap innovations, and to expand their professional networks. “Frontiers in Laboratory Medicine” (FiLM) takes place in Birmingham, England on February 1-2, 2005.

DESPITE MAJOR DIFFERENCES in the healthcare systems of Great Britain and the United States, laboratories in both countries continue to confront remarkably similar challenges.

In particular, the National Health Service (NHS) in the United Kingdom (UK) is instituting major efforts to boost the quality of care provided in emergency departments. At the same time, the NHS is shifting significant budget dollars to primary care clinics.

“For emergency departments, the objective is to do a better and faster job of treating patients,” stated Mike Hall- worth, Consultant Biochemist at Royal Shrewsbury Hospital in Shropshire, England. “In primary care settings, the goal is to improve early detection of disease and encourage more effective intervention and management of patients with chronic illnesses.”

If this sounds familiar, it is because employers, payers, and government health programs in the United States have uncannily similar goals. For emergency departments, recently-introduced guidelines and clinical standards are designed to reduce medical errors and improve both the accuracy and speed of diagnosis.

In primary care, there has been an explosion of disease management programs within the United States. The emphasis is to better manage patients susceptible to chronic conditions. Not only will this improve the quality of their lives, but it will prevent acute events that cause severe impairment or loss of life while reducing the cost of treating those patients.

ED & Primary Care

“In the United Kingdom, the new emphasis on emergency department medicine and primary care has significant consequences for laboratories,” observed Hallworth. “It shakes up a comfortable status quo in unpredictable ways.”

Despite the unknowns, early-adopter laboratories in both the United Kingdom and the United States are already responding to this situation. They are pushing forward with initiatives to meet the changing needs of the emergency department and primary care medicine. A number of such early adopter laboratories will be making presentations at the third annual “Frontiers in Laboratory Medicine” (FiLM) meeting, scheduled for February 1-2, 2005.

“Because of the close parallels in laboratory medicine which exist in both the UK and the USA, our faculty represents lab innovators from both countries,” stated Hallworth, currently the immediate past Chairman of the Association of Clinical Biochemists (ACB). “We have a side-by-side case study involving the laboratories of Cleveland, Ohio-based University Health System and North Middlesex University Hospital of London, England. The goal is to identify best practices in each country which can be utilized by other labs on both sides of the ocean.

Adopting the Universal EMR

“Another important issue challenging laboratories in both countries is the drive to implement the electronic medical record (EMR),” added Hallworth. “Labs from both the US and UK will share their strategies and successes in supporting this effort.”

FiLM will also bring the first public information about how three UK laboratories are implementing Six Sig- ma/Lean quality management methods. There will be side-by-side comparisons of laboratory direct access testing (DAT) programs operated by laboratories in both the US and the UK.

“We invite laboratory managers, pathologists, and laboratory suppliers in the United States and Canada to join us at FiLM,” declared Hallworth. “This is a high-energy, motivating event, with lots of value-added for lab managers keen on keeping their laboratories ahead of the curve.”

THE DARK REPORT will help any clients interested in either attending FiLM or accessing presentations following the program. Contact our office at 512-264-7103.

US, United Kingdom Labs To Share on Feb 1-2, 2005

AMERICAN LAB MANAGERS AND PATHOLOGISTS always get a warm welcome from their counterparts in the United Kingdom (UK). Before the advent of the first “Frontiers in Laboratory Medicine” FiLM meeting in February 2002, there was no formal way for lab management innovators in both countries to share their experiences.

FiLM is the result of a collaboration between THE DARK REPORT in the US and Association of Clinical Biochemists (ACB) in the UK. FiLM brings together early adopters in lab leaders from both countries to identify breakthroughs in the management and operation of clinical laboratories.

US laboratories are ahead of their UK counterparts in using aggressive management techniques to control lab testing costs while maintaining and improving high quality. However, UK laboratories are far ahead of their US counterparts in clinical pathology relationships with referring physicians. In the UK, clinical pathology makes a substantially greater value-added contribution than is currently true in the United States.

All laboratory managers and pathologists in North America are welcome to attend the next FiLM meeting. It will be held February 1-2, 2005 in Birmingham, England. A site visit to a large hospital laboratory will also be arranged for those interested. Full details about the FiLM event can be found at


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