Raising the Bar on Laboratory Management Skills

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HURRICANE CHARLEY’S IMPACT ON LABS IN FLORIDA and Lean/Six Sigma’s contribution to big improvements at Mayo Clinic Scottsdale’s hospital laboratory provide powerful evidence that the science and art of laboratory management in the United States is reaching ever-higher levels. That’s good news for our industry’s management innovators. It’s bad news for lab directors and managers at any level who are mired in the mindset of “status quo is just fine—my laboratory doesn’t need to change!”

Contingency planning and emergency preparedness were on display earlier this month when Hurricane Charley, blowing at sustained winds of 145 m.p.h., slammed into the west coast of Florida and blew its way up and across the peninsula. As you will read on pages 2-4, hospital laboratories in the region were ready. THE DARK REPORT can find no instance of a hospital laboratory failing to meet its service expectations and commitments. That is a remarkable accomplishment for our profession. It speaks to the quality of management leadership and to the character and integrity of all who work within the nation’s laboratories.

Our contribution is to track down useful stories of how lab managers in Florida coped with the unexpected and unplanned. I’ll bet many labs don’t have a plan to communicate with employees at their homes who may lack power and telephones, even weeks after a regional disaster. That’s just one of the lab management insights we share with you in this issue.

Turning to the cutting edge of lab management, laboratory leaders at Mayo Clinic Scottsdale Hospital had the vision, the courage, and the drive to be first, to our knowledge, to launch and complete a comprehensive Lean and Six Sigma quality management project within the Mayo organization. This demonstrates the influence that just one laboratory administrator can have when he/she sees the right thing to do, sells it to administration, then brings in the resources necessary to achieve ambitious goals.

Collectively, these examples demonstrate that laboratory management professionals are actively meeting all the challenges to be found in today’s healthcare system. It is compelling evidence that the best management innovators in our profession are improving their skills and abilities. That raises the bar for the rest of us.

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