Where Are “Laboratories Of The Future?”

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At this year’s Executive War College in New Orleans last May 20-21, there was plenty of talk about the radical changes laboratories are undergoing. But one question went unanswered: If laboratories must change, what should they look like after they change?

Our Editor, Robert Michel, criss-crosses the country looking for laboratory models which represent the future of the industry. He believes UroCor, Inc. of Oklahoma City is one valid model for the successful laboratory of the future. As you will read on pages 2-9 of this issue, Robert’s assessment is based on the management culture at UroCor, its focus on customer needs, and its tangible development of innovative disease management products which go beyond diagnostic test result reporting.

In contrast to a hospital laboratory or regional commercial laboratory, UroCor is focused exclusively on the urology market. That is what distinguishes this laboratory model from the mainstream. Yet UroCor’s recognition of the demand for disease management products is a key trait which other laboratories would do well to emulate. Paul Mango of the now-defunct Reference Laboratory Alliance network in Pittsburgh said it succinctly: “If all I do is report the test results for a chemistry panel, I will be doing great to get paid 10% more than my competition for that test. In order to make sufficient money to survive managed care, RLA’s member laboratories must deliver other clinical products which have value to clinicians, and for which both they and the payers are willing to amply reimburse.”

Paul’s statement strikes to the core of any laboratory model representing the future. That laboratory model must deliver clinical services above and beyond individual test results if it is to be reimbursed at adequate levels to maintain financial solvency. UroCor is one laboratory which is learning how to accomplish that.

I recommend that you carefully read UroCor’s story. UroCor is uncovering answers to many of the problems now threatening the foundations of our industry. Although UroCor’s single-minded focus on urology makes them a unique laboratory model, the management philosophies and techniques used by UroCor bear ready application in any laboratory. It is these management principles which will shape the laboratory of the future. You are encouraged to take this management knowledge and use it to transform your laboratory. In so doing, you will probably create your own successful laboratory model of the future.


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