WHEN LABORATORY CORPORATION OF AMERICA CLOSES ON THE SALE and becomes the owner of DSI Laboratories, Inc., of Fort Meyers, Florida, it will mark the end of one of the nation’s oldest hospital laboratory outreach programs.
I consider this to be a good news/bad news story. The good news is that DSI’s owner, NCH Healthcare System, is selling its lab outreach program for between $40 million and $89 million and will use that cash to further its mission in patient care. The bad news is that an energetic, independent laboratory organization, founded in 1984, becomes the latest casualty in the ongoing consolidation of the American laboratory industry.
Before DSI Laboratories disappears as an independent, regional laboratory, I would like to recognize its CEO, Paul Gotcher, for his achievements. During his tenure at the helm of DSI Labs, Gotcher has demonstrated a knack for developing a vision, then guiding his laboratory team toward achieving that vision.
Of particular importance to the entire laboratory industry was Gotcher’s guts to be one of the very first in the United States to introduce Lean and Six Sigma techniques into the heart of the hospital laboratory: its high volume core laboratory. During 2002 and into 2003, a DSI team at 400-bed Naples Community Hospital applied Lean and Six Sigma techniques to reengineer work flow in specimen collection, specimen transport, and specimen processing. A Lean work cell was created in automated chemistry and hematology. This nine-instrument cell, staffed with nine med techs at peak periods, post-Lean could be operated by one med tech—although two med techs were typically scheduled. Of equal importance, average test turnaround time from receipt in lab dropped 51%, to just 35 minutes. (See TDR, September 8, 2003.)
Gotcher has long experience with hospital laboratories and outreach programs. In the 1990s, he was CEO of Sonora Laboratory Sciences in Phoenix, Arizona. Later, as an executive at ARUP Laboratories, Inc., in Salt Lake City, Utah, he worked with client hospitals throughout the United States to help them develop inpatient and outreach laboratory services.
In fact, were LabCorp to be serious about developing effective joint ventures and collaborations with hospital laboratories, it couldn’t do better than to bring Gotcher into its executive ranks, give him a boost in pay, and listen to his recommendations on how to develop win-win business relationships with hospital-based laboratories.