THIS ISSUE OF THE DARK REPORT YOU NOW HOLD IN YOUR HANDS demonstrates the perfect intersection of two trends. One trend, transparency in health outcomes and a public expectation of reduced medical errors, is a direct threat to laboratories which fail to deliver high-quality and accurate lab test results. The other trend is the way quality management systems (QMS) are being “pulled” into laboratory operations and healthcare.
This first trend is analyzed on pages 16-18, where you will read how the widely-publicized deficiencies of several labs and pathologists in Canada has become a public issue. To bolster public confidence in laboratory testing, pathologists with the Canadian Association of Pathology (CAP) are creating a voluntary proficiency testing program. It is starting with breast cancer testing for estrogen receptors (ERs) and progesterone receptors (PRs). As an interesting side note, Canada’s single-payer model health system has yet to step forward and pay for this proficiency testing program.
The second trend—involving the use of quality management systems, including “ISO:15189 Medical Laboratories”—is assessed on pages 3-5. This is one of the lab industry’s first alerts to this emerging development. Our Editor, Robert L. Michel, considers it important enough that he has assembled an impressive panel of experts to speak on QMS at the upcoming Lab Quality Confab on September 24-25, 2008. That promises to be a revealing series of presentations and I recommend that clinical labs and pathology groups already confronting use of quality management systems be present at this unique event. First, it is not likely that this same assemblage of experts on ISO:15189 and similar quality management systems will be gathered at one time and place again soon. Second, Robert has a knack for pulling together a spectrum of experts, who, collectively, deliver an amazing amount of information and unmatched strategic wisdom. That’s a lot of bang for your buck!
I will also step forward with another recommendation. I suggest that you use the two intelligence briefings referenced above as discussion points for a strategic session in your laboratory or pathology group practice. I’ll bet that, as your leadership team talks through the implications of trend one—outcomes transparency and public expectations—and contrasts that with trend two—use of QMS to continuously improve quality, productivity, and performance—it is going to agree on some surprising new directions for your laboratory.