1997’s Most Interesting Laboratory Innovators

Our pick of the eight individuals demonstrating uncommon leadership, initiative and vision

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CEO SUMMARY: During the next year, the clinical laboratory industry faces some of its toughest business challenges in history. Here are eight individuals who possess a unique combination of spirit and grit and seek to transform their laboratory organizations into winners.

EXCEPTIONAL PEOPLE are to be found within the clinical laboratory industry. However, because of the variety of laboratory organizations, it is difficult to know exactly where to find them.

The eight laboratory executives introduced in this issue of THE DARK REPORT share uncommon qualities of innovation and initiative. I define them as 1997’s “Most Interesting Laboratory Innovators.”

At a time when clinical laboratories throughout North America are under extraordinary pressure to cut costs, improve service and introduce new technology, these individuals possess a forward-looking vision. They have an uncanny ability to get people to change and move toward the unknown.

Whether in an academic or clinical setting, our eight “innovators” use sophisticated leadership and management skills to nurture change and create common purpose.

I predict that such leadership will be the essential success factor separating laboratory winners from laboratory losers. Leadership is what made the presidential administrations of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan vastly more influential than those of Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. It was leadership that made Apple Computers (Steven Jobs) and Microsoft Corporation (Bill Gates) into dominant firms during the evolution of the personal computer industry.

The clinical laboratory industry is no different. Those laboratories which did well in 1996 have a higher caliber of executive leadership than their competitors. As the growth of managed healthcare places a premium on business and management skills, laboratories with sophisticated management leadership will be better positioned to succeed and prosper.

In choosing these eight people as 1997’s “Most Interesting Laboratory Innovators,” the goal was to identify individuals whose established track record indicates they will continue guiding their respective laboratory organizations toward progressive new ways of providing medical testing.

Making such choices was not easy. To ease the process, the list was restricted in two ways. First, it was limited to executives who directly work in either an academic or clinical laboratory environment. Second, it excluded executives employed by laboratory vendors, such as instrument manufacturers and LIS companies. In these cases, the quality of the product is often integral to the success of the executive.

Several of these eight laboratory innovators come from struggling laboratories. This should be expected. Not only does necessity stimulate creativity and innovation, but financial problems actually encourage implementation of innovative management ideas.

These eight individuals share several common traits. They are passionate about their vision. They communicate that vision effectively to coworkers and others. They go outside the laboratory industry to find solutions to their problems. They use sophisticated management tools to implement necessary changes in their laboratory organizations. Undoubtedly there are others who deserve to be recognized as laboratory “innovators.” THE DARK REPORT encourages clients and readers to contact us with information about such individuals.

During the course of 1997, expect to hear more about these eight people and their laboratory organizations. As their innovations hit the marketplace, both the successes and failures of these ideas will provide invaluable knowledge for the entire clinical laboratory industry.

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Searching For Lab Innovators

INNOVATION WITHIN THE LABORATORY INDUSTRY has been limited mostly to introducing new technology. Less attention was directed to developing radical new ways to organize laboratories and deliver testing.

THE DARK REPORT’S list of 1997’s “Most Interesting Laboratory Innovators” spotlights executives who understand management techniques and use these techniques to implement new ideas into their laboratory organization. This makes them different from most of their laboratory peers.

Yet these eight individuals are not alone in this effort. Other lab executives and other laboratory organizations are doing progressive things as well. Here is a short list of organizations that should receive acknowledgement as innovators. They are presented in alphabetical order:

ARUP Laboratories
Salt Lake City, Utah: rapid growth, customer-responsive.
American Medical Laboratories
Chantilly, Virginia: constant market presence, sustained earnings despite revenue erosion.
Centrex Clinical Laboratories
New Hartford, New York: consolidated laboratory with expanding regional affiliations.
Dallas Regional Laboratory Network
Dallas, Texas: alliance of several unlikely hospital laboratory participants creates community resource.
New York State Clinical
Laboratory Association
New York, New York: proactive in organizing commercial lab network, responsive to changing marketplace/ legislative forces.
Pathology Consultants & Associates
Cambridge, Massachusetts: non-hospital-based pathology company which is developing into a regional pathology resource.

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