Diversifying Lab Management’s “Gene Pool” of Methods

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I ENCOURAGE OUR CLIENTS AND REGULAR READERS to give careful thought to the intelligence findings provided by our editor about the unfolding laboratory joint venture in Cincinnati between LabOne, Inc. and The Health Alliance. (See here and here.)

He contends that LabOne will bring additional management skills and experience to this established multi-hospital laboratory venture. Those skills, in combination with the skills of the existing laboratory management team, can be expected to generate faster growth in outreach revenues and ongoing, substantial reductions in laboratory costs.

In one respect, I have to admire his boldness in making this assertion. Within the hospital laboratory segment of our industry, there is certainly a widespread feeling that commercial laboratories don’t have much to offer hospital laboratories and should “mind their own affairs.” Commercial labs earned this skepticism, because over the past 20 years there have been many examples of hospital lab/commercial lab collaborations that went poorly and did not survive beyond the term of the first contract.

However, our editor makes an essential distinction. He observes that commercial laboratory managers develop management skills and have experiences which are different from hospital laboratories. Yet some of those skills, when applied in hospital laboratories, have great value. Effectively, he recognizes that, as companies, commercial laboratories haven’t demonstrated a good track record in many hospital laboratory ventures. But in the area of lab management methods, individuals with commercial lab management experience can make important contributions to the success of hospital laboratories.

In effect, management skills and experience gained in commercial laboratory operations, when imported and blended with existing hospital laboratory management skills, is like an infusion of fresh genes into the hospital lab management gene pool. It adds diversity and expands the options and tools used to achieve the goals of the hospital laboratory. The arrival of ISO-9000, Six Sigma, and Lean management represents a similar infusion of “new genes” into lab management’s gene pool. As early-adopter hospital labs are proving, diversifying their lab’s gene pool of management tools is leading to significant progress and improvement in all dimensions of their laboratory’s performance.

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