Innovative pathology laboratory organizations in the UK and Europe will come together at the Frontiers in Laboratory Medicine (FiLM) conference on January 31-February 1, 2012
For decades, the pathology and medical laboratory service in the United Kingdom has been the envy of many developed nations. But times change and the National Health Service (NHS) finds itself coping with increased demand, shrinking budgets, and soaring healthcare costs. As a result, the NHS is asking pathology testing labs in the UK to do more with less.
Consequently, the status quo for pathology and medical laboratory medicine in the United Kingdom is undergoing fundamental change—often at a rapid pace. In some areas, multiple hospital laboratories are being asked to consolidate into a single regional lab organization.
Another change is that price competition for pathology testing has become a factor. Within the NHS, primary care trusts now tender for pathology testing services and commission those pathology laboratories that bid the most competitive prices. The tender and commissioning process is creating new economic winners and losers among pathology laboratories throughout the United Kingdom.
Pathology and Histopathology Laboratories Need to Deliver Added Value
At the same time, pathology laboratories and histopathology labs have the opportunity to bring up new genetic tests and molecular diagnostic assays that deliver added value to physicians and patients. But these new molecular diagnostic technologies require capital and new scientific skills, both of which are in short supply as the NHS attempts to shrink budgets and squeeze more out of existing resources.
Because of all these factors, pathology testing in the United Kingdom is dealing with more threats and a faster pace of change than at any other time during the six decades that the National Health Service has been in existence. In fact, all of these important developments will be front and center when the 10th annual Frontiers in Laboratory Medicine (FiLM) conference takes place on January 31-February 2, 2012 in Birmingham, England.
“This year’s line-up of speakers and topics at FiLM is specifically designed to help all pathology laboratory directors, managers, and administrators deal with the new realities of healthcare and associated reforms,” stated Neil Anderson, Ph.D., Director at Coventry and Warwickshire Pathology Services, and Programme Chair for FiLM 2012. “Over the past decade, FiLM has established itself as the premier meeting devoted to excellence in the management and operation of pathology laboratories.”
Pathology Tenders Represent a Pricing Opportunity and a Challenge
One topic of keen interest is how to sustain pathology budgets and deal effectively with commissioners and the tenders that could lead to reduced prices for pathology test services. “In the NHS, commissioning of pathology tests is a major new development,” observed Robert L. Michel, Editor of The Dark Report and a co-producer of FiLM. “Lab leaders within the NHS now must develop skills to more effectively defend pathology budgets and negotiate primary care trust tenders for pathology testing services.
“FiLM will provide expert speakers on the topic of commissioning of pathology testing services,” continued Michel. “This will be the topic for Hemal Desai, who is Clinical Advisor to the Strategic Projects Team for NHS Midlands and East. He is leading the development of a national commissioning toolkit that PCTs and CCGs will use to commission pathology services. Desai will provide an inside look at how pathology laboratories can demonstrate value during the tender process.”
Several other speakers will address aspects of commissioning that involve pathology services. Dr. Paul Zollinger-Reid, who is Chief Executive of NHS Cambridgeshire and a GP, will discuss the role of Quality Assurance within the GP commissioning process. In his remarks about the strategic direction for UK pathology, Ian Barnes, National Clinical Director of Pathology at the UK Department of Health will also speak to how pathology labs should respond to commissioning tenders.
“Workforce issues are front and center at this year’s FiLM,” added Michel. “Pathology laboratories need effective strategies to maintain adequate levels of trained lab scientists. More retirees are expected to shrink staffing levels faster than the education system produces new graduates.
“It is also important to understand that FiLM is a proven resource in the area of pathology laboratory management and operations,” explained Michel. “It brings together the innovators and pathology leaders from the United Kingdom, Europe, and North America. That makes it a must-attend programme for every pathology director and manager who wants to position his or her laboratory organization at the leading edge of clinical excellence and financial sustainability.”
FiLM has also become a useful gathering for in vitro diagnostic (IVD) manufacturers, laboratory informatics companies, and pathology consulting firms. For the past decade, it has served as a first-rate networking venue for pathology professionals and clinical biochemists. FiLM is jointly produced by the Association for Clinical Biochemistry (ACB) and The Dark Report.
Laboratory professionals and pathologists interested in attending this year’s Frontiers in Laboratory Medicine conference can register today. (Copy and paste this URL into your browser: http://www.acb.org.uk/site/film.asp) There is still time to take advantage of savings provided by the early bird registration discount.
Use this link to find the full agenda, with speakers and topics. Or access the entire programme brochure by pasting this URL into your browser: http://www.frontiersinlabmedicine.com/resources/PDFs/FiLM-2012-Brochure.pdf
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