Where Do We Go From Here?

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THIS IS WRITTEN FOR BOTH LABORATORIANS COMING TO THE DARK REPORT’S Executive War College in New Orleans next week as well as those not attending. As I look at the registration list, I see a diverse range of attendees.

Registered for this year’s event are CEOs of public laboratories and owners of independent commercial laboratories. Hospital laboratory administrators and directors from some of the nation’s largest integrated delivery systems will attend, along with those of rural hospitals. From the leading instrument manufacturers and LIS vendors, national sales and marketing directors, product development people, and regional sales managers will be in New Orleans. An interesting range of people from the three national laboratories plan to show up as well. I know that a similar cross section of influential industry executives are clients and regular readers of THE DARK REPORT.

This is an excellent and high-quality group of laboratory executives. To them all and those of you reading this, I pose a question: Where do we go from here? Given the turmoil in the clinical laboratory industry since 1994, does anyone have a clear picture of what type of laboratory organization is the success model for the future? I ask these questions for an excellent reason.

The clinical laboratory industry has never been good at predicting its future. Many industries regularly convene forums with the sole objective of exploring the future. When the trends acting upon a profession are understood, it is easier to plan effective business strategies. But to my knowledge, the clinical laboratory industry has never arranged such an event.

Because of the parochial interests of our industry, large commercial laboratories have traditionally “done their own thing” in isolation from the rest of the industry. Meanwhile, hospital-based laboratorians considered any commercial laboratorian as an enemy, usually to be scorned. Their attention was focused on the needs of the hospital they served. As to the laboratory industry vendors, it is difficult to maintain good relations with all segments of the laboratory industry, let alone volunteer to bridge this traditional gulf.

So back to my question: where do we go from here? I think it is time for our industry to unite its separate factions for the worthy goal of exploring the future. The capability to start this process exists with the excellent cross-section of lab industry leadership coming to New Orleans for the Executive War College. Will anyone take up my challenge? I certainly hope so, because our industry needs its leaders to focus their collective wisdom on solving the intractable problems which lie ahead.


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