Shift in Lab & Pathology Management Thinking

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FROM ALL THAT I HEAR, this year’s Executive War College was the best ever. With almost 50 speakers and 400+ attendees from the United States and countries as remote as Oman, it is a real accomplishment to produce what is increasingly recognized as the finest gathering of management executives in clinical laboratory and pathology.

As a somewhat reclusive curmudgeon, attending these industry soirees is not my cup of tea. I participate vicariously, however. I have extensive conversations with our Editor, listen to the audio cassette tapes, and speak freely with colleagues about what occurred at the program.

From my perspective, the most notable fact about this year’s Executive War College is that the influence of money is beginning to change the way laboratorians view their laboratory. On one hand, the economics of running a lab with constantly-declining costs continually pressures lab administrators and pathologists to do better. On the other hand, the booming profits of the public lab and pathology companies incentivizes them to expand their competitive market share. This pushes hospital-based lab administrators and local pathology group practices to respond with new business strategies.

It’s Adam Smith’s invisible hand doing its magic in the laboratory marketplace. Everyone is working in his/her self interest with the collective result that hospitals, physicians, and patients get better quality lab tests at reasonable prices. The invisible hand has definitely put many lab administrators under lots of unpleasant pressure in recent years. That’s why the hospital lab segment of the industry looks much different today than it did in 1995.

Speeches at this War College now demonstrate that the inexorable pressure of the invisible hand has finally done something we’ve struggled to accomplish since the founding of THE DARK REPORT. In all segments of the lab community, including hospital labs, independent labs, and pathology group practices, there is now a growing recognition that companies outside of healthcare may have management tools and methods which can find useful application in a clinical laboratory! Wow! That’s exciting!

Just imagine what can happen to the lab industry as our innovators find useful management models in firms like General Electric, Southwest Airlines, and Intel, to name a few, and successfully incorporate them into laboratory operations. It’s the type of innovation which breeds success!

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