TODAY I WOULD LIKE TO SPEAK SPECIFICALLY to hospital lab administrators and owners of independent commercial laboratories. I would like to offer some friendly counsel: it’s time to pay careful attention to the most successful of your laboratory competitors.
Undeniable evidence is mounting that traditional clinical laboratory management methods are inferior to new models of business and healthcare management. For clients and long time readers of THE DARK REPORT, this is no surprise. You are well-informed about innovations in laboratory management. Success stories of early-adapter lab organizations have regularly graced these pages, as well as the podium at our annual Executive War College every May.
But there are many lab administrators and pathologists, who, for a variety of reasons, remain unaware or unconvinced of the need to change their management style. It is for them that I offer my friendly advice and counsel. As well, I offer them, in this issue of THE DARK REPORT, the management stories of three more laboratories which understand the need to replace traditional lab management methods.
I consider it highly relevant that both American Medical Laboratories, Inc. (AML) and Dynacare Inc. sustained strong rates of growth in specimen volumes, revenues, and operating profits during recent years. Certainly they are not perfect companies, and various flaws in their business strategies will inevitably surface. But they have accomplished significant things during a time when the lab marketplace was forcing many lab organizations into bankruptcy or consolidation.
As a contrast to AML and Dynacare, Quest Diagnostics Incorporated is in the midst of an ambitious program to completely reconfigure its man- agement systems around ISO-9000 and Six Sigma Quality programs. If Quest Diagnostics succeeds, I believe it will raise the competitive bar for lab testing services in such a way that every lab in the United States will be forced to respond in a similar manner. Imagine what competitive advantage accrues to any lab if its missed courier pick ups, lost specimens, or billing error rates were less than six per million events! The performance of these labs in our industry is an early warning to every lab manager: it’s time to watch your lab competitors and respond with changes in your lab.