Useful Info at War College On Molecular, Lean, et al

Answers to lab management challenges as healthcare’s new change cycle commences

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CEO SUMMARY: When the nation’s leading laboratory administrators and pathologists gather in New Orleans on April 27- 28, they will get the best and latest developments in laboratory management. From Aetna’s National Medical Director to the former Chief of the Industry Guidance Branch of the OIG, the Ninth Annual Executive War College offers powerful information and insights to help labs succeed.

MOLECULAR DIAGNOSTICS continues to be a big question mark for most clinical laboratories. In many cases, it comes with lots of expenses and without adequate reimbursement.

Along with the rapid acceptance of quality management systems such as Six Sigma and Lean in laboratories, there are ever more opportunities for laboratories to establish and expand molecular diagnostics testing programs. These “twin trends” are bringing swift changes in the operational and financial structure of many laboratories.

To help lab managers and pathologists prepare their laboratory for molecular diagnostics and other challenges, this year’s Executive War College on Laboratory and Pathology Management features a powerful line-up of faculty speakers who’ve already mastered aspects of molecular diagnostics in their own laboratory. Now in its ninth year, the Executive War College will take place on April 27-28 in New Orleans.

Of great interest will be the presentation of James D. Cross, M.D., Aetna, Inc.’s National Medical Director. He will speak to how and why payers like Aetna make coverage decisions and establish reimbursement for new diagnostic tests. This will be the first time Dr. Cross has addressed a group of senior laboratory executives, and it is a rare opportunity for laboratorians to learn what happens on the other side of the payer table.

Molecular Lab Case Studies

Complementing Dr. Cross’ presentation with be detailed case studies by both academic center laboratories and community hospital laboratories which developed financially-viable molecular testing programs. Attendees will learn, first-hand, how Medical College of Virginia (Richmond, Virginia), St. Luke’s Regional Laboratories (Kansas City, Missouri), UCLA Medical Center (Los Angeles, California), and Hartford Hospital (Hartford, Connecticut) developed and maintain thriving molecular diagnostic programs.

Quality management systems are helping laboratories achieve radical improvements in short periods of time. Rick Panning, Vice President of Laboratory Services at Fairview Health Services in Minneapolis, Minnesota will provide an in-depth look at why his seven-hospital system is deploying Lean management techniques into the high-volume core laboratories and histology laboratories as fast as feasible. In Fairview’s first core laboratory Lean project, inpatient test turnaround times were slashed by 50%, labor productivity increased 60%, and the hospital laboratory gained new respect among clinicians, nurses and other staff.

Advances in lab automation get attention as well. With the title “Confessions of a Sinner: I Automated Bad Work Processes in My Core Laboratory!”, Leo Serrano, Administrative Director of Laboratories at Middle Tennessee Healthcare in Jackson, Tennessee will reveal the important lessons they learned from their total laboratory automation project.

The automated lab, constructed in 2000, underwent a Lean project make- over last year. The results were stunning. “After our first major Lean project, average test turnaround time fell 42%. It was reduced from 71 minutes to 51 minutes,” observed Serrano. “And remember, that’s in a highly-automated core laboratory which is performing in the top percentile of its peers! We also achieved comparable percentage gains in labor productivity and quality. Physicians love the changes in our laboratory.”

“Real Time” Anatomic Path

For anatomic pathology groups, there are exciting case studies about automation in histology. For example, at the University of Miami Medical School in Miami, Florida, 70% of pathology cases are signed out the same day. “We have also built a ‘point-of-care’ histology laboratory upstairs next to the oncology department,” stated Azorides Morales, M.D., Chief of Pathology Services. “With our automated histology systems, we are providing full pathology reports at the same time patients are wheeled out of the recovery room.”

Complementing these powerful topics are a total of 40 presentations. These include direct access testing (Ohio State University Laboratories), Getting Your Best Deal from Molecular Test Vendors (NorDx Laboratories), and Anatomic Pathology’s Three-Way Informatics Collision (UPMC Health System).

Full details for the Executive War College and these important sessions can be found at


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