Last week, The Dark Report was in San Diego and Houston to attend the annual meetings of the United States & Canadian Academy of Pathology (USCAP) and the Clinical Laboratory Management Association (CLMA). Time spent in the exhibit halls of both meetings spoke volumes about the changing trends in the laboratory profession.

First was the USCAP meeting, conducted in San Diego, California. This is a growing meeting and attracts more than 3,000 pathologists from countries around the world. One can hear many different languages spoken as one walks among the crowd between sessions. The exhibit hall of USCAP is also growing. It featured 245 exhibitors and represented a good cross section of companies selling instrument systems, consumables, and services to anatomic pathology laboratories.

Of particular note were two things seen in USCAP’s exhibition hall. First, there was an intriguing spread of companies offering digital solutions for anatomic pathology. Technology is advancing and, even if the current generation of products fall a bit short of the functionality desired by customers, it is clear that lots of money is being invested to advance all aspects of pathology informatics and digital imaging. Second, molecular pathology was definitely a major product sector at this exhibition. Whether it was the marketing of new diagnostic assays or companies offering services in molecular pathology, there was high interest in how molecular pathology could be used to provide higher quality diagnostic support to pathologists and their referring clinicians.

Following the USCAP meeting, I flew to Houston, Texas to catch the CLMA annual meeting. Just as laboratory consolidation in the hospital industry over the past decade has steadily concentrated laboratory management duties into the hands of fewer people, CLMA has seen a corresponding shift in the numbers of attendees and the composition of vendors in its exhibition hall. One obvious difference from past years is the lower profile of several in vitro diagnostic (IVD) companies at this year’s event. Yet, a survey of vendors throughout the exhibition hall indicated that the people passing through the exhibition were qualified buyers and their expectation was that new business would be result from their participation at the exhibition.

Just as at the USCAP exhibition hall, CLMA’s exhibitor line-up featured a growing number of software and informatics vendors compared to past years. I take this as a sign that laboratory directors and pathologists are taking active steps to use information technology to guide their management of laboratory operations and work flow. The range of middleware solutions and vendors on the exhibition floor would be a response by vendors to the demand for those functions by laboratory customers.

Another observation was gained from attendance at the annual meetings of USCAP and CLMA. There is plenty of optimism about the future of laboratory medicine among attendees and vendors at both events. Despite the rapid pace of change in healthcare and unfavorable reimbursement trends, pathologists and laboratory managers believe that new diagnostic tests and advances in laboratory medicine are giving them important new tools to help patients and their physicians.

Your traveling editor,
Robert Michel

Send your comments and observations to Robert at rmichel@darkdaily.com.