News, Analysis, Trends, Management Innovations for
Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

Hosted by Robert Michel

News, Analysis, Trends, Management Innovations for
Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

Hosted by Robert Michel
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Why Nation’s Clinical Pathology Laboratories Are Failing to Train Our Next Generation of Lab Managers

Lab Manager Training will take place in Baltimore, San Francisco, Chicago, and Miami

Very shortly, the lack of experienced and competent laboratory managers will become the next intractable staffing problem for the nation’s clinical laboratories and pathology groups. Most medical laboratories—already struggling to find adequate numbers of medical technologists (MT) and clinical laboratory scientists (CLS)—will find themselves with an even more acute shortage of skilled managers at every level, from bench supervision to senior laboratory leadership.

Clinical lab managers about to retire in waves
Simply said, the nation’s laboratory leaders are about to experience a demographic time bomb that will rapidly decimate all levels of lab managers in their clinical pathology laboratories. Few medical laboratory organizations are prepared to respond effectively to the predicted rapid turnover among their most experienced and skilled lab managers.

Of course, the demographic time bomb refers to the coming tidal wave of baby boomer retirements. As a reminder, on January 1, 2011—just 85 days away—the oldest baby boomer turns 65 and becomes eligible for social security and Medicare benefits!


Sales of Electronic Medical Record (EMR) Systems to Physicians Will Double By End of 2012

Clinical laboratories and pathology groups are likely to need LIS upgrades

Clinical laboratories and anatomic pathology groups may soon face the need to upgrade or switch their laboratory information system (LIS) to a version that is HIPAA 5010 and ICD-10 capable. This is likely to be an overlooked consequence of the mass adoption of electronic medical record (EMR) systems by physicians across the country.

Between 2011 and 2015, it is predicted that 350,000 or more physicians will implement an EMR and use it in their daily practice. This is happening because of the federal incentives provided by the HITECH Act. The scale of the coming tidal wave of EMR adoption is revealed in a recent Frost & Sullivan report .


Inside the Recent CLMA and USCAP Meetings

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

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Digital Pathology to be Highlighted at This Year’s Annual Pathology Informatics Conference

Digital pathology is major trend in the clinical pathology laboratory industry

Among the three dominant trends in anatomic pathology informatics, digital pathology is expected to be of the highest interest to the attendees at this year’s Pathology Informatics 2010 annual conference, which takes place in Boston on September 19-22.

“More pathologists are paying attention to digital pathology because of the swift advances in the technology in recent years,” stated Bruce Friedman, Active Emeritus Professor of Pathology at the University of Michigan Medical School and President of the Pathology Education Consortium (PEC) is a conference organizer. “For example, new digital scanners make it faster and cheaper to produce a whole slide image that has rich detail.


Good News for Anatomic Pathology Laboratories: Tissue-Based Diagnostics Market Predicted to Double by 2016

Advanced histology staining equipment will capture a greater market share

There’s good news for anatomic pathologists in the forecast from one expert watching the U.S. market in equipment for clinical diagnostics. According to Winny Tan, Ph.D, a Senior Analyst with Frost & Sullivan, the increasing rate of cancer incidence in the U.S. will drive robust growth in tissue-based diagnostics.

She predicts that revenues from that segment will more than double by 2016, growing from the $1.029 billion in 2009 to $2.278 billion in 2016. Tan made her predictions in an article in the May 15, 2010 issue of Genetic Engineering News.