IN OUR MANY YEARS OF SERVICE to the clinical lab industry and the pathology profession, THE DARK REPORT has consistently been first to identify important trends and explain their relevance to those responsible for managing the nation’s laboratories.
Back in 1995, we predicted that the (then) three blood brothers would strive to obtain exclusive managed care contracts with the nation’s largest health insurers, but that the challenges of properly servicing these contracts and making money would prove to be daunting. Certainly the big national contracts signed by SmithKline Beecham Clinical Laboratories at marginal-cost pricing played a key role in its eventual sale to Quest Diagnostics Incorporated in 1999.
In 1997, we were first to tackle the reality of total laboratory automation (TLA). Vague and unsupported public pronouncements made by many vendors and their first-generation clients in lab meetings and seminars made it seem like TLA was the wave of the future for progressive labs. It was THE DARK REPORT that challenged this perception and demonstrated that the earliest TLA installations were struggling to fulfill the financial and operational expectations established in advance. Many clients and readers of THE DARK REPORT have thanked us for helping them understand the limitations of TLA technology at that time.
In 1998, THE DARK REPORT was first to publicly connect the tidal wave of hospital mergers and acquisitions to the subsequent consolidation of hospital laboratories. This analysis allowed many shrewd lab administrators and pathologists to better position their lab organization for the inevitable consolidation projects that were pushed upon them.
In 2002, THE DARK REPORT will cover an important, still-evolving trend in clinical laboratory management. It is performance bench-marking. Hospital lab administrators and pathologists are turning to a variety of new tools for measuring operational performance and the quality of services provided, both in the integrity of test results and how lab customers perceive the lab’s performance. For all of us here, this is welcome news. It is another step forward in the management sophistication of the clinical lab industry. Increasingly, the nation’s lab leaders are willing to look for management tools used outside healthcare. That can only lead to further improvement in how clinical laboratories are organized and deliver testing services.