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Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

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Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

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Understanding Gen Z’s Approach to Healthcare Helps Clinical Laboratories Learn How to Better Meet Their Needs

Healthcare providers of all types will benefit from acknowledging Gen Z’s preference for digital interactions, self-testing, and over-the-counter medications

Each generation has its own unique connection to how it manages its health, and the latest studies into the healthcare habits of Generation Z (aka, Gen Z or Zoomers) are providing valuable insight that savvy clinical laboratory managers and pathologists—in fact all healthcare providers—can use to better serve their Gen Z patients.

According to McKinsey and Company, Gen Z’s “identity has been shaped by the digital age, climate anxiety, a shifting financial landscape, and COVID-19.” And Pew Research states that Zoomers “are also digital natives who have little or no memory of the world as it existed before smartphones.”

As the largest demographic, “Gen Z stands 2.6 billion members strong. … Globally, they hold purchasing power of more than $500 billion and mobile buying power of $143 billion,” wrote Stacy Rapacon, Managing Editor at Senior Executive Media, in an article she penned for HP’s The Garage.

Meeting Gen Zers’ healthcare needs on their terms would seem to be a judicious choice.

Bernhard Schroeder

“Gen-Z’s buying power may exceed $3 trillion,” wrote Bernhard Schroeder (above), a clinical lecturer on integrated/online marketing at San Diego State University, in Forbes. “Their spending ability exceeds the gross domestic product of all but about 25 of the world’s countries.” Thus, it behooves healthcare leaders, including clinical laboratory managers and pathologists, to consider how best to approach treating Gen Z patients. (Photo copyright: San Diego State University.)

Gen Z Leads in Digital Healthcare Use, Self-testing, OTC Drugs

“Gen Z engages in every type of digital healthcare activity more than other generations,” a recent study by PYMNTS noted. A total of 2,735 consumers were surveyed, and though all reported using digital healthcare to some degree, Gen Z stood out.

Patient portal access was the highest digital method accessed by Zoomers (62%), followed by telemedicine appointment usage (55%), the PYMNTS report found.

Knowing the direction Gen Z is trending may lead clinical laboratory leaders to expect self-testing to be on the rise, and that hunch would be correct. “There are two converging trends; the rise of women’s health technology and increased use of at-home sample collection for diagnosis tests,” Clinical Lab Products reported.

“Ongoing innovation in these areas could significantly improve the accessibility of women’s health testing. It will also have repercussions for labs, potentially changing the way samples are received and processed, and the way results are distributed. The quantity and quality of samples may be impacted, too. It’s important for labs to be aware of likely developments so they can prepare, and potentially collaborate with the health technology companies driving change,” CLP noted.

Another area feeling the impact of Gen Z’s healthcare spending is the over-the-counter (OTC) drug market.

“Since the pandemic began, more Americans are paying closer attention to their symptoms and looking for easily accessible information about over-the-counter medications, especially for allergies, coughs, and headaches,” said Kim Castro, Editor and Chief Content Officer for US News and World Report, in a press release.

Zoomers Want Healthcare on Their Own Terms

Gen Z grew up with the internet, Amazon, Netflix, Google, and social media since birth.

“The ‘norm’ they experienced as children was a world that operated at speed, scale, and scope. They developed an early facility with powerful digital tools that allowed them to be self-reliant as well as collaborative,” anthropologist Roberta Katz, PhD, a senior research scholar at Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) told Stanford News.

As digital natives, Gen Z can be more science and data driven and yet still expect to find health advice on YouTube or TikTok. According to an article published by Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare, “Gen Z is the first generation to grow up surrounded by digital devices, and they expect their health benefits to be digital, too. From choosing a benefits package to finding a provider, Gen Z wants to take care of their health on their own terms. And that may just include video chatting with a doctor from the back of an Uber.”

In its 2022 US Digital Health Survey, research firm Insider Intelligence found that “Half of Gen Z adults turn to social media platforms for health-related purposes, either all the time or often.”

“Gen-Z will make up 31% of the world’s population by 2021 and they have deeply formed perceptions and beliefs … This has led to an amazing change in the way Gen-Z is disrupting several industries simultaneously,” wrote Bernhard Schroeder (above), a clinical lecturer on integrated/online marketing at San Diego State University, in Forbes.

What Can Clinical Laboratories Learn from These Findings

Gen Z seeks accuracy and trustworthy information. “Gen-Zers’ natural penchant for skepticism and frugality—coupled with low levels of confidence in the US healthcare system—makes them less likely to trust providers, more likely to research prices before seeking care, and more apt to worry that their health insurance won’t cover their treatment,” Insider Intelligence noted.

According to Contract Pharma, “Gen Z is concerned with holistic health and self-care, rather than a one size fits all pharmaceutical approach. They share a hesitancy for traditional healthcare models but with very interesting differences. By understanding these differences, the consumer healthcare industry can focus on agile and distinctive brands to harness Gen Z’s tremendous purchasing power.”

Savvy clinical laboratory leaders can better serve their Gen-Z client physicians and patients by better understanding why Zoomers are more inclined to order their own lab tests (without a physician), collect their own specimens to send into labs, and/or collect their own specimens to do home testing (think COVID-19 self-test kits). Zoomers may need an entirely new business model from their healthcare providers, including clinical laboratories.

Kristin Althea O’Connor

Related Information:

What is Gen Z?

On the Cusp of Adulthood and Facing an Uncertain Future: What We Know about Gen Z So Far

How Gen Z is Redefining Their World through Technology

Gen Z Is ‘Generation Digital Health’ as 62% Use Digital Patient Portals

What Self-Sampling for Women’s Health Testing Means for Labs

US News Top Recommended Over-the-Counter Health Products

Gen Z Are Not ‘Coddled.’ They Are Highly Collaborative, Self-Reliant and Pragmatic, According to New Stanford-Affiliated Research

Who is Gen Z and How Are They Shaping the Future of Health Benefits?

Generation Z: Transforming Consumer Healthcare

Gen Z’s Take on Healthcare

US Generation Z Healthcare Behaviors

High School Students in Upstate New York Learn 60 Critical Medical Laboratory Skills

Program launched by a Rochester-area technical center is intended to provide early study for students interested in a career in clinical laboratory medicine

Acute shortages of clinical laboratory staff across all types of skills is one of the big stories of this new year. It is also triggering unconventional approaches to reach students in high school and interest them in careers as medical technologists (MTs). One such example is a high school in New York that now offers a top-level medical laboratory program designed to create interest—then train—high school students for a career in laboratory medicine.

A recent CLP podcast, titled, “Has a High School Found the Solution to the Laboratorian Shortage?” outlined the Medical Laboratory Assisting and Phlebotomy program that is offered to students at Western Monroe and Orleans Counties (WEMOCO) Career and Technical Center in Spencerport, New York, a suburb of Rochester.

“With the acute shortage of medical technologists, this effort by one high school to reach students early and encourage them to pursue a career in clinical laboratory medicine should be of interest to all laboratory professionals,” said Robert Michel, Editor-in-Chief of Dark Daily and its sister publication The Dark Report.

Jim Payne

“Our juniors and seniors in high school will learn about 60 employable laboratory skills,” said Jim Payne (above), a Medical Laboratory Assisting and Phlebotomy program instructor at WEMOCO. “They learn not only medical laboratory skills, but [the skills] are transferable to biotechnology, to chemical labs, food labs, environmental labs, research, forensics, and so on. The goal is each individual student comes out skilled in all 60 skills.” Clinical laboratories may want to explore creating similar programs with high schools in their own areas. (Photo copyright: Twitter.)

Dynamic Curriculum of Clinical Laboratory Skills

During the first year of the WEMOCO program, students learn skills that Jim Payne, a Medical Laboratory Assisting and Phlebotomy program instructor at WEMOCO, stated he learned in college. These include:

The students also learn the theories and techniques behind phlebotomy and how to perform blood draws (venipuncture).

Students spend 40 hours drawing blood samples from real patients in local medical laboratories and can earn a certification as a Phlebotomy Technician after completing the necessary coursework.

During the second year of the program, students learn college-level:

They also receive their certifications in American Red Cross CPR/AED and First Aid and spend 80 hours actually working in local clinical laboratories. Upon completion of the second year of coursework, students can earn a certification as a Certified Medical Laboratory Assistant.

“In both cases, they can get jobs straight out of the program,” said Payne in the CLP podcast. “But a lot of our grads go on to college for medical laboratory careers.”

Overcoming Vocational School Stigma

Recruiting students into the program was initially challenging as some of the negative stigma surrounding non-traditional coursework had to be overcome. Vocational education is now referred to as career and technical education and the WEMOCO program is more academically focused than previous vocational studies. Students can obtain some college credits when completing the two-year program.

“With my students, when we are teaching them how to do the math around making laboratory solutions, for example, that requires algebra,” Payne explained. “And they have to actually make something with the algebra and suddenly it starts to make a lot more sense than the way that they were taught in a traditional high school.”

In addition, some students interested in the program struggled in a typical high school environment due to lack of direction, according to Payne. However, when those same students found their focus, discovered a passion, and were motivated and challenged, they flourished. 

Originally, Payne gave a talk to potential enrollees. But he found there was more interest if students were given a hands-on experience at their first exposure to the program. He also lets current students interact with interested students and allows them to answer any questions in a student-friendly manner. 

“Students who are interested in the program come in, they get lab coats on, they get gloves on, and they are then told a story about a case and have to perform a few experiments to try to determine what is wrong with a patient. They actually do things,” Payne explained.

Multiple Career Paths in Clinical Laboratories upon Graduation

One advantage to completing the two-year WEMOCO program is that students can explore all the different careers in clinical laboratory medicine and are offered opportunities to work in medical laboratory situations. Phlebotomy students perform 40 hours of work in a blood lab with a goal of performing 50 successful sticks, although many students perform more than that.

“I have students who are under the age of 18 drawing blood on real patients with real samples with these companies’ trainers. It’s like they have been hired,” Payne said. The medical laboratory assistant work is broken up into increments of two hours a day over the course of several months.

Another benefit to the WEMOCO program is that students are prepared for a job right out of high school, which pleases both the students and the parents. Many graduates of the program go on to college to study different fields within the clinical laboratory profession.

Attracting Young Students to the Clinical Laboratory Profession

Payne believes it is important to get young kids interested in the medical laboratory profession in the lower grade levels. His suggestions for stoking that level of interest include:

  • Developing programs that are age-appropriate but contain medical laboratory concepts.
  • Outreach programs where clinicians talk to students in the lower grades to spark interest.
  • Outreach programs where kids can perform simple experiments like staining onions and seeing results.
  • Telling stories and explaining the roles labs play in helping patients.
  • Holding field trips where students visit local clinical laboratories and observe medical laboratory professionals.
  • Opportunities for students to shadow medical laboratory technicians so the kids can imagine themselves in the profession.
  • Participating in local activity day/career day events.

He also believes that clinical laboratory professionals should promote their field at every opportunity.

“The biggest thing is actively advocating for the profession. Any chance I get, I’m going out and trying to talk to anyone about the clinical laboratory. Try to have some statistics in your back pocket or other things that can be a good talking point and make a powerful statement to people,” Payne suggested.

Determining unique ways to garner interest in the medical laboratory profession is a crucial step in mitigating staffing shortages. Clinical laboratory leaders may want to participate in community outreach programs and serve as advocates for their profession.

JP Schlingman

Related Information:

Has a High School Found the Solution to the Laboratorian Shortage?

Medical Laboratory Assisting and Phlebotomy

Forbes Senior Contributor Covers Reasons for Growing Staff Shortages at Medical Laboratories and Possible Solutions

Critical Shortages of Supplies and Qualified Personnel During the COVID-19 Pandemic is Taking a Toll on the Nation’s Clinical Laboratories says CAP

Canadian Diagnostics Executive Forum Will Provide Firsthand Insights into How Clinical Laboratories Can Leverage Technology and Innovation to ‘Do More with Less’

As demand rises, Canadian clinical laboratories must learn to juggle test systems automation, funding challenges, and staffing shortages

Canada’s clinical laboratories are deeply affected by many of the trends impacting the Canadian healthcare system overall. Deployment of new technologies, such as test automation and artificial intelligence (AI) for example, are forcing Canadian labs to adapt during times of changing demographics and funding pressures.

Thus, the Canadian Diagnostic Executive Forum (CDEF), which takes place October 24-25 at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel in Toronto, will provide an opportunity for clinical laboratory leaders to learn how to leverage technology and create positive change in their medical laboratory operations.

Change Management and Clinical Laboratory Leaders

The development of disruptive new technologies is becoming the norm and the laboratory’s role in healthcare delivery is growing. That’s why change management has become a focus of clinical laboratory leaders.

Sheila Woodcock, Convenor, WG 1 Quality and Competence in the Medical Laboratory at ISO/TC 212, and President and Principal Consultant at QSE Consulting Inc., Nova Scotia, Canada, says “allocation of resources” is a challenge for senior diagnostic executives juggling financial, technology, and staffing decisions.

In an exclusive interview with Dark Daily, Woodcock said, “The number one lab challenge today is not having enough money; second is not having enough people. Because if you don’t have enough money, even if there are people out there, you can’t hire them. Money, people, and trying to keep up with all the technological innovations bombarding us nowadays are the main reasons to make changes.”

From deployment of digital pathology services and point-of-care (POC) testing to the introduction of automation and AI, innovation is happening at a rapid pace. It may or may not increase medical laboratory efficiency or support precision medicine, but it definitely alters laboratory infrastructure.

“Change is nearly constant in the clinical laboratory and the healthcare network worlds, and there are many complexities that go with that,” Woodcock said. “With the implementation of new technologies, and the rapidly advancing world of automation in clinical laboratories that have never before been automated, how do we ensure that when we automate new technology it doesn’t negatively impact the quality of the testing process?”

Disruptive Changes are Redefining Clinical Laboratories

As Clinical Lab Products (CLP) points out, medical laboratories have become a reservoir of data that can “guide fact-based decisions to improve operational, financial, and clinical performance throughout their institutions.” As a result, clinical laboratories are increasingly shedding their “traditional and narrowly defined roles” in which “physicians order tests and labs report results.”

Emerging technologies also are ushering change outside of the medical laboratory. Drones soon may routinely transport patient specimens across healthcare networks. Dark Daily has reported on several new drone transport systems under development around the globe. One such system in the US involves UPS, the FAA, and WakeMed. Such high-tech specimen tracking and delivery systems could lead to fewer spoiled samples and possibly save lives, and clinical laboratories are at the heart of these innovations.

Kevin D. Orr (above), Senior Director, Hospital Business at In-Common Laboratories, told Dark Daily that laboratory leaders need to keep up with technology breakthroughs. However, knowing which tools and strategies are worth implementing is not so easy. Orr says diagnostic executives should take advantage of opportunities to “network to understand what is going on in everybody’s backyard, and to leverage some of the strategies, tools, and technologies innovators have used elsewhere.” (Photo copyright: LinkedIn.)

Kevin D. Orr, Senior Director, Hospital Business at In-Common Laboratories, believes technology may help laboratories overcome one major issue—a growing demand for testing services at a time when the laboratory workforce is shrinking, and provincial and territorial global funding is not keeping pace with diagnostic utilization rates. Orr points to digital pathology as an example of a technology that may enable labs to “do more with less” in terms of both funding and staffing.

“As people get older, there’s more demand for healthcare services and because of that more clinical laboratory testing has to be done,” Orr told Dark Daily. “The peak of the Baby Boomers is starting to get sick now. We need to focus on innovations and technologies clinical laboratories are employing to address the overarching issue of doing more with less.”

How Clinical Laboratories Should Demonstrate Value

Woodcock, however, maintains that clinical laboratories also need to do a better job of lobbying for funding, so they have the money needed to implement new technologies.

“Traditionally, when labs are told they have cutbacks, they do their utmost to work within what they have been assigned. But other departments might be jumping up and down, getting more attention, and getting more funding,” she said. “One of the things lab people have to learn—and are getting better at as time goes on—is giving the lab a voice and making known the contributions the lab makes to diagnosis and treatment of patients in a facility.”

The Canadian Diagnostic Executive Forum on October 24-25 at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel in Toronto provides such an opportunity for laboratory leaders to learn how to leverage technology to create positive change in lab operations.

“We want to inspire people,” Orr told Dark Daily. “We want people to leave this conference excited about what diagnostics is doing and where it’s headed and what other people are doing. We want to show them the bright light at the end of the tunnel, because sometimes when you’re dealing with the negative aspects of no money or no staff or no this or that, it gets pretty awful. We want to breathe some life and show them the rainbow and that the light at the end of the tunnel could be just around the corner.”

The CDEF conference will be hosted by In-Common Laboratories, in conjunction with The Dark Report, Dark Daily’s sister publication. This two-day event will be packed with thought-provoking sessions on digital pathology, next-generation technology, precision medicine, blockchain, sample tracking, and artificial intelligence, as well as updates from across Canada on the latest innovations and technologies being implemented in medical laboratories.

Canadian technology entrepreneur and philanthropist Jim Estill, CM OOnt, CEO Danby Appliances and ShipperBee, will be a featured speaker.

Other speakers include:

To register for this critical learning opportunity, go to or e-mail:

 —Andrea Downing Peck

Related Information:

Canadian Diagnostic Executive Forum

Making Headway with Digital Diagnostics

UPS and WakeMed Now Use Aerial Drone for Daily Transport of Clinical Laboratory Specimens: In Australia, Google Wing Initiates Drone Delivery Service

Technological Revolution in Hospital Design and Care Delivery Will Bring Changes for Clinical Pathologists and Medical Laboratories

High-tech hospitals of the future will ‘bring the healing to the patients’ with virtual consultations and remote diagnostic/monitoring services delivering added value to patient care

Hospitals of the future may look nothing like the hospitals of today and those changes could have major implications for clinical pathologists and medical laboratory scientists.

That’s according to Samuel Smits of Gupta Strategists, a consulting firm in the Netherlands that focuses on the four pillars of the healthcare value chain: suppliers, payers, providers, and government institutions.

In an article in The Economist, Smits predicted that traditional hospitals soon will be no more. “We have reached the peak of bringing patients to the healing centers—our hospitals,” he said. “We are on the brink of bringing the healing to patients.”

The article further notes that the technological revolution on the horizon “means abandoning long-held assumptions about the delivery of care, the role of the patient, and what makes a good doctor.” Virtual consultations and remote monitoring will mean fewer patients will need in-hospital care, while those who do will find a facility that operates “more like a cross between a modern airport and a swish hotel, with mobile check-in, self-service kiosks for blood and urine tests and the like, and updates on patients’ and relatives’ phones,” the Economist article states.

Changing How Care is Delivered

The Economist predicts that “as some sophisticated diagnostics, including blood tests and virtual imaging, become available remotely, more patients will receive hospital-quality care without leaving home.”

Patrick Murray, PhD, Senior Director of Worldwide Scientific Affairs for Becton Dickinson Diagnostics in Franklin, NJ, stated in a Clinical Lab Products (CLP) article that technological advances in laboratory testing and diagnosis will enable pathologists to find increasing numbers of ways to deliver added-value to patient care.

“In my opinion, all diseases and conditions—particularly in the areas of overall wellness, women’s health, chronic diseases, and infectious disease—will benefit from the development of new tests and technologies,” Murray stated in the CLP article. “Additionally, new technologies can help meet the need to ensure traceability and seamless communication of test results not only within the lab, but also with the pharmacy, retail clinics, and physician offices, ultimately aiding in better patient management and providing more accurate insights in public health.”

Patient-and-Digital-First Hospitals

While experts predict patient-and-digital-first philosophies to be the future of hospital design, some healthcare systems already have embraced the trend. At Humber River Hospital in Toronto the future is now. An article in Modern Healthcare describes the patient-centered, high-tech, 656-bed facility, which opened in October 2015, as North America’s “first fully digital hospital.” The hospital leverages technology “wherever possible to improve quality, safety, efficiency, and customer service,” the hospital’s website states.

Humber River Hospital (above) in Toronto has been described as North America’s “first digital hospital.” It offers virtual check-in and registration as well as integrated bedside patient computer terminals that enable patients to order meals, adjust lights, play games, and access internet, television, radio, and their patient portal. (Photo copyright: Humber River Hospital.)

Humber River Hospital’s high-tech features include:

  • Robotic blood and specimen testing with results available in minutes and sent electronically to the care team with alerts for immediate attention;
  • Computerized patient documentation for immediate bedside charting;
  • Bedside computers that enable patients to control lights, use telephone and internet, order food, and review their medical, virtual check-in, and registration information;
  • A 4,500-square-foot “Command Center” (opens late 2017) will provide real-time data and predictive analytics to improve clinical, operational, and patient outcomes.


  • Three-fourths of the hospital’s supply chain is fully automated; and
  • Real-time locating systems (RTLS) track wandering patients and improve security for newborns.

Quality, Safety, Efficiency, Customer Service

Despite all the predicted upheaval to the status quo, John Deverill, Managing Partner at GE Healthcare Partners, expects the modern hospital will survive in some form. “There will always be hospitals where patients with complex needs go for multidisciplinary diagnosis and treatment by teams of specialists,” he stated in the Economist article. He does note, however, that stand-alone facilities for specific surgical interventions, such as joint replacements, may become the norm.

However, former Humber River Hospital President and CEO Rueben Devlin, MD, recommends hospitals not assume every high-tech healthcare innovation is worth pursuing.

“The four things that I think about are quality, safety, efficiency, and customer experience,” he stated in the Modern Healthcare article. “People talk about the Internet of things. I think about the Internet of junk. They’re nice toys but they need to show value to healthcare to make it purposeful.”

Anatomic pathology laboratories have a track record for adopting new technologies. Pathologists were early users of the remote telemedicine models, where telepathology systems enabled a pathologist to remotely control the stage and microscope of the pathologist who originated the telepathology session.

Similarly, the current generation of whole-slide imaging and digital pathology systems are gaining regulatory clearance in both Europe and the United States. If this next wave of technological innovations produces a shift in how clinical care is delivered, an opportunity will be created for clinical pathologists and medical laboratory scientists to adopt technologies that deliver added value to patients, including making inpatient hospital stays less likely.

—Andrea Downing Peck


Related Information:

How Hospitals Could Be Rebuilt Better Than Before

The Hospital of the Future Is Here…But it Needs more Gadgets and Bandwidth

Clinical Lab Trends 2016

NASA-like Command Centers are Coming to Hospitals

Will Growth in Number of Tele-ICU Programs in the Nation’s Hospitals Create an Opportunity for Clinical Pathologists to Deliver Added Value?