Hey! We Are Halfway Through the 2000’s

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WITHOUT SPLITTING HAIRS ABOUT WHETHER THE NEW MILLENNIUM started on January 1, 2000 or January 1, 2001 (although official millennium celebrations heavily favored the former date), I would like to call your attention to an important fact: 2005 is the half-way point in the current decade.

Look what has changed since 2000. No longer do American Medical Laboratories, Dynacare, DIANON Systems, UroCor, IMPATH, or Unilab Corporation operate as independent laboratory companies. Liquid preparation Pap tests dominate in the market. HPV is now considered a primary cause of cervical cancer and an effective HPV vaccine may be approved for clinical use within 18 months. The first clinical test utilizing microarray technology was cleared by the FDA last month. Quality management systems such as Lean and Six Sigma are finding their way into growing numbers of hospitals, health systems, and laboratories. Patient safety, which received scant mention in the 1990s, is today a major force for change in the American healthcare system.

This list of marketplace developments only touches a small number of milestones achieved in the first half of the 2000s. I ask you to pause for a moment and consider this fact: the pace of change in laboratory management and lab medicine remains swift. This has implications and ramifications for strategic planning.

It means that lab directors and pathologists consciously following a business strategy of maintaining some type of status quo (read: I want my lab to stay “as is” and I hope nothing upsets the lab before I retire) may be dooming their laboratory, and its staff, to any number of negative consequences.

In contrast, those laboratory administrators and pathologists earnestly working to position their laboratories at the front edge of the change curve will likely enjoy the best downstream results. That’s because much of the change happening in laboratory medicine and healthcare today actually enhances the ability of a laboratory to provide value-added clinical services to hospitals, physicians, and patients.

With our new decade now half-gone, it is a reminder that laboratories and pathology groups should be managed with a sense of urgency. Failure to use time wisely can lead labs and pathology groups down a losing road.

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