Last week involved a full slate of pathology meetings and medical laboratory site visits on both islands of New Zealand during Dark Daily’s visit to this Pacific nation
DATELINE: CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND—There’s a good case to be made that the health system in this South Pacific nation is farther down the path of medical laboratory regionalization and consolidation than most other developed nations.
That’s one insight to be gleaned from a week’s worth of meetings with pathologists, clinical laboratory professionals, and health system administrators in the cities of Auckland on the North Island and Christchurch on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island. Your Dark Daily Editor, Robert Michel, had the opportunity to speak at several conferences and workshops, along with visits to medical laboratories.
A note of explanation about nomenclature will be helpful to Dark Daily’s international readers. In Australia and New Zealand, “pathology laboratory” is the common term for the medical laboratories that typically test blood, urine, saliva, and similar specimens. (In the United States and Canada, “clinical laboratory” is used interchangeably with medical laboratory.) “Histopathology” (or anatomic pathology) is the common term for labs that handle tissue specimens in New Zealand and Australia. (In North America, anatomic pathology, or surgical pathology laboratory is used more frequently than histopathology.) (more…)
It’s been a challenging year for this New Zealand city’s medical laboratory testing professionals
CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND—Two private clinical laboratory companies in this city have had quite a roller coaster ride during the past 18 months. Included in the ups and downs were a series of destructive earthquakes, a new contract bidding cycle that eliminated one of the two existing private medical laboratory companies, and a lab acquisition.
For pathologists and clinical lab administrators in other countries, there are useful lessons to be learned in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes. Among other things, one clinical laboratory company needed to move its testing facility six different times in a year! That’s because aftershocks and ongoing engineering inspections revealed significant damage to these different buildings at different points in time.
Two Major Earthquakes within Six Months in Christchurch
It was September 4, 2010, when a magnitude 7.1 earthquake rocked the city, causing considerable damage but no fatalities. Just six months later, on February 22, 2011, a magnitude 6.3 earthquake hit Christchurch. This second earthquake caused substantial damage and loss of life. For this event, experts noted that the “intensity and violence of the ground shaking was measured to be… among the strongest ever recorded globally in an urban area.” (more…)
Dark Daily Commentary: Treat lab testing as a commodity and risk disrupting the entire healthcare system
Once again, the pathology profession is seeing the consequences of the “penny wise-pound foolish” philosophy relentlessly pursued by government health bureaucrats. This time it involves the Auckland District Health Boards in New Zealand. Having signed a cut-rate, back room deal back in 2006 to save about NZ$15 million per year on lab testing (against an annual healthcare budget in the region of more than NZ$2.5 billion), these health officials are reaping a harvest of voluminous problems and deficiencies in the community because of problems with their new monopoly laboratory testing provider.
Many regular Dark Daily readers know that, ever since Labtests began its contract as the exclusive provider of pathology services and lab testing to the greater Auckland region late this summer, there has been chaos across the healthcare system. Labtests is a new business division of Healthscope Limited, (SYD:HSP) a public company based in Melbourne, Australia. See Dark Daily e-briefing “Long-Awaited Lab Contract Transition in New Zealand Happens Next Monday”.