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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What Key Laboratory Leaders Will Learn at This Week’s 2023 Executive War College on Diagnostics, Clinical Laboratory, and Pathology Management

Executives and pathologists from many of the nation’s most prominent clinical laboratories are on their way to the Crescent City today to share best practices, hear case studies from innovative labs, and network

NEW ORLEANS—This afternoon, more than 900 lab CEOs, administrators, and pathologists will convene for the 28th Annual Executive War College on Diagnostics, Clinical Laboratory, and Pathology Management conference. Three topics of great interest will center around adequate lab staffing, effective cost management, and developing new sources of lab testing revenue.

Important sessions will also address the explosion in next-generation sequencing and genetic testing, proposed FDA regulation of laboratory-developed tests (LDTs), and innovative ways that clinical laboratories and pathology groups can add value and be paid for that additional value.

All this is happening amidst important changes to healthcare and medicine in the United States. “Today, the US healthcare system is transforming itself at a steady pace,” explained Robert L. Michel, Editor-in-Chief of The Dark Report and Founder of the Executive War College. “Big multi-hospital health systems are merging with each other, and payers are slashing reimbursement for many medical lab tests, even as healthcare consumers want direct access to clinical laboratory tests and the full record of their lab test history.

“Each of these developments has major implications in how clinical laboratories serve their parent organizations, offer services directly to consumers, and negotiate with payers for fair reimbursement as in-network providers,” Michel added. “Attending the Executive War College on Diagnostics, Clinical Laboratory, and Pathology Management equips lab leaders with the tools they’ll need to make smart decisions during these challenging times.”

Executive War College

Now in its 28th year, the Executive War College on Diagnostics, Clinical Laboratory, and Pathology Management convenes April 25-26 in New Orleans. Executive War College extends to a third day with three full-day workshops: LEAN fundamentals for lab leaders, a genetic testing program track, and a digital pathology track. Learn more at (Photo copyright: The Dark Intelligence Group.)

Challenges and Opportunities for Clinical Laboratories

With major changes unfolding in the delivery and reimbursement of clinical services, clinical laboratory and pathology practice leaders need effective ways to respond to the evolving needs of physicians, patients, and payers. As The Dark Report has often covered, three overlapping areas are a source of tension and financial pressure for labs:

  • Day-to-day pressures to manage costs in the clinical laboratory or pathology practice.
  • The growing demand for genetic testing, accompanied by reimbursement challenges.
  • Evolving consumer expectations in how they receive medical care and interact with providers.

Addressing all three issues and much more, the 2023 Executive War College on Diagnostics, Clinical Laboratory, and Pathology Management features more than 80 sessions with up to 125 lab managers, consultants, vendors, and in vitro diagnostic (IVD) experts as speakers and panelists.

Old-School Lab Rules Have Evolved into New-School Lab Rules

Tuesday’s keynote general sessions (to be reported exclusively in Wednesday’s Dark Daily ebriefing) will include four points of interest for clinical laboratory and pathology leaders who are managing change and pursuing new opportunities:

  • Positioning the lab to prosper by serving healthcare’s new consumers, new care models, new payment models, and more, with Michel at the podium.
  • How old-school lab rules have evolved into new-school lab rules and ways to transition the lab through today’s disrupters in healthcare and the clinical laboratory marketplace, with Stan Schofield, Managing Principal of the Compass Group.
  • The growing trend of clinical laboratory-pharmacy relationships with David Pope, PharmD, CDE, Chief Pharmacy Officer at OmniSYS, XIFIN Pharmacy Solutions.
  • Generating value by identifying risk signals in longitudinal lab data and opportunities in big data from payers, physicians, pharma, and bioresearch, with Brad Bostic, Chairman and CEO of hc1.

Wednesday’s keynote sessions (see exclusive insights in Friday’s Dark Daily ebriefing) explore:

Wednesday’s keynotes conclude with a panel discussion on delivering value to physicians, patients, and payers with lab testing services.

Clinical Labs, Payers, and Health Plans Swamped by Genetic Test Claims

Attendees of the 2023 Executive War College on Diagnostics, Clinical Laboratory, and Pathology Management may notice a greater emphasis on whole genome sequencing and genetic testing this year.

As regular coverage and analysis in The Dark Report has pointed out, clinical laboratories, payers, and health plans face challenges with the explosion of genetic testing. Several Executive War College Master Classes will explore critical management issues of genetic and genomic testing, including laboratory benefit management programs, coverage decisions, payer relations, and best coding practices, as well as genetic test stewardship.

This year’s Executive War College also devotes a one-day intensive session on how community hospitals and local labs can set up and offer genetic tests and next-generation sequencing services. This third-day track features more than a dozen experts including:

During these sessions, attendees will be introduced to “dry labs” and “virtual CLIA labs.” These new terms differentiate the two organizations that process genetic data generated by “wet labs,” annotate it, and provide analysis and interpretation for referring physicians.

State of the Industry: Clinical Lab, Private Practice Pathology, Genetic Testing, IVD, and More

For lab consultants, executives, and directors interested in state-of-the-industry Q/A and discussions concerning commercial laboratories, private-practice pathology, and in vitro diagnostics companies, a range of breakout sessions, panels, and roundtables will cover:

  • Action steps to protect pathologists’ income and boost practice revenue.
  • Important developments in laboratory legal, regulatory, and compliance requirements.
  • New developments in clinical laboratory certification and accreditation, including the most common deficiencies and how to reach “assessment ready” status.
  • An update on the IVD industry and what’s working in today’s post-pandemic market for lab vendors and their customers.
  • Federal government updates on issues of concern to clinical laboratories, including PAMA, the VALID Act, and more.

Long-time attendees will notice the inclusion of “Diagnostics” into the Executive War College moniker. It’s an important addition, Michel explained for Dark Daily.

“In the recent past, ‘clinical laboratory’ and ‘anatomic pathology’ were terms that sufficiently described the profession of laboratory medicine,” he noted. “However, a subtle but significant change has occurred in recent years. The term ‘diagnostics’ has become a common description for medical testing, along with other diagnostic areas such as radiology and imaging.”

Key managers of medical laboratories, pathology groups, and in vitro diagnostics have much to gain from attending the Executive War College on Diagnostics, Clinical Laboratory, and Pathology Management, now in its 28th year. Look for continued coverage through social media channels, at Dark Daily, and in The Dark Report.

Clinical laboratories are invited to continue the conversations by joining the Executive War College Discussion Group and The Dark Report Discussion Group on LinkedIn.

Liz Carey

Related Information:

Executive War College on Diagnostics, Clinical Laboratory, and Pathology Management Agenda

Six Important Themes to Help Labs Succeed

Executive War College Press

The Dark Report

Dark Daily eBriefings

The Dark Report Discussion Group

Executive War College Discussion Group

Lab-Specific CRM Helps Innovative Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups to Intelligently Cut Costs while Boosting Service to Physicians, Patients

Sonora Quest Labs and Incyte Diagnostics streamline operations, eliminate data silos, and increase efficiencies using real-time analytics from laboratory-specific CRM

Across the nation, clinical laboratories and anatomic pathologists face two common challenges. One is shrinking lab budgets and less payment for lab tests. The other is the need to maintain physician and patient services at a high level. Both factors are fueling greater interest in lab and healthcare-specific customer relationship management (CRM).

Stated another way, labs and pathology groups are being squeezed by the need to operate on less revenue, while also increasing their quality of customer service to retain existing clients and expand market share. CRMs are a proven way to achieve and sustain superior levels of customer service in a surprisingly cost-effective way. In fact, many labs that implement a CRM find that the return on investment comes swiftly, in just a few months.

Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups Hit by Declining Prices, Revenues

“The clinical lab industry is solidly in an era where payers are slashing the prices they pay for lab tests and hospitals—struggling with their own financial problems—are cutting their lab budgets,” observed Robert L. Michel, Editor-in-Chief of The Dark Report, “These factors are motivating lab administrators and pathologists to look for solutions that allow them to run their lab at less cost, while improving staff productivity and customer service.

“This is why first-mover and early-adopter medical labs saw the potential of real-time analytical middleware and lab-specific CRM solutions to help them meet the challenge of running their labs on less money, while simultaneously sustaining superior levels of customer service,” continued Michel. “Every lab manager knows that the path to improved profitability is blocked by poor workflows, time-consuming quality metrics processes, and disconnected sales and customer service teams.”

Innovative medical laboratory managers report that their investment in laboratory-specific CRM systems (also known as healthcare-specific CRM) suddenly gives them access to data that has been locked away within their legacy LIS and other software systems. By unlocking this data in real-time dashboards and reports, they gain competitive advantage in the lab testing marketplace. A healthcare-specific CRM makes it possible to monitor a wide range of activities, including:

  • Proactively tracking relations with client physicians;
  • Monitoring workflow and lab operations in real time; and
  • Gaining a comprehensive view of all sales and customer service activities at both the aggregate and provider levels.

Tracking Key Benchmarks, Productivity, and Accountability

Sonora Quest Laboratories (SQL) of Tempe, Ariz., a joint venture between Banner Health and Quest Diagnostics (NASDAQ:DGX), wanted to reduce the amount of time spent collating reports and performing manual calculations, as well as breaking down cumbersome data silos across the organization in order to streamline communication and collaboration.

Prior to activating a laboratory-specific CRM platform, employees at SQL spent five hours per day pulling key metrics and reports. To move forward with strategic initiatives, the company could not continue to “struggle with endless silos of data and information,” a case study on SQL’s challenges states.

CRM Designed for Medical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

To address these concerns, SQL turned to a laboratory-specific CRM that integrates existing silos and systems into a centralized interface through automated data capturing. The solution provides detailed, real-time dashboards with visibility across the organization. Graphs and charts enable users to:

  • Track their progress meeting turnaround time benchmarks;
  • Ensure their volume is level-loaded; and
  • Track by the hour how many tests are coming in and completed, the case study notes.

hc1 customer-relationship management

The hc1 customer-relationship management (CRM) dashboard (above) provides an easy-to-navigate interface for tracking multiple benchmarks and key workflows for clinical laboratories and healthcare providers. (Image copyright: hc1.)

“The first step was to integrate our LIS [laboratory information system], and our timekeeping, call center metrics, and bench scheduling tools, into the hc1 CRM solution we had installed,” stated Tamara Nelson, Lean Master Black Belt at SQL. “Once that was accomplished, we could build actionable reports to determine where to focus our process improvement efforts.

“Now we can look at high-level trends in lab productivity,” noted Nelson. “We can also drill down to look at every process in our lab by hour, shift, discipline, instrument, and employee to compare time periods and other factors.”

According to the case study about Sonora Quest Laboratories, after its activation of the healthcare CRM, SQL reduced time spent pulling daily performance reports from about five hours per day to just 45 minutes a day. This increased overall employee efficiency by 85%.

SQL’s use of the CRM now makes it possible to:

  • Provide real-time financial and operation trend analysis to key stakeholders;
  • Use live dashboard and reports to review and manage TAT (turn-around time) benchmarks, utilization, reimbursements, volume, and productivity;
  • Track employee productivity across departments to drive accountability; and
  • Broadcast reports to immediately notify key stakeholders of any risks, missed benchmarks, or red flags.

Better Way for Clinical Laboratories to Track Client Interactions

Another medical laboratory that benefitted from implementing a laboratory-specific CRM is Incyte Diagnostics of Spokane Valley, Washington. Founded in 1957 by pathologists, Incyte provides anatomic pathology services throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Incyte needed a way to consolidate data coming from the multiple systems used to manage its sales process and payer information. The different systems created a disconnect between departments and, as structured, could only deliver a few real-time insights into volume or revenue shifts, client account activity, marketing campaigns, or sales activities.

Having received 35,000 e-mails from his sales team during the previous two years, Incyte’s Chief Marketing Officer Nate Koenig knew he had to find a better way to track client interactions.

“We needed a better understanding of what was taking place within our clients’ hospitals. To grow, we had to improve. That’s where the CRM solution we selected proved invaluable,” stated Koenig in a case study detailing how Incyte found a solution to tedious workflows and disorganized information tracking.

After adopting a healthcare CRM, Incyte could:

  • Help sales reps gain more field time;
  • Centralize client information;
  • Track sales activities;
  • Properly store data; and
  • Gain access to real-time analytics.

Anatomic Pathology Lab Exceeded Production Goals and Customer Expectations

According to the case study, by eliminating data silos and streamlining sales operations Incyte was able to:

  • Exceed its sales growth goal in 2016 by 107%;
  • Retain 99.51% of current business;
  • Reduce the overall workload of the client services team 6.25%; and
  • Gain 32 additional days of field time for its 17 sales reps.

Both Sonora Quest Laboratories and Incyte, Inc., are examples of how innovative medical laboratories are using informatics to meet the challenges of declining revenue and the need to sustain a high level of customer service. In today’s connected world, those labs that are first to achieve useful integration of their LIS with a CRM will enjoy competitive advantage.

Surviving in this challenging environment means clinical laboratories and anatomic pathology groups must unlock the power of data informatics to improve their financial performance and better serve providers and patients. To help laboratory leaders reach these goals, The Dark Report recently published  a white paper titled, “3 Critical Rules for Surviving in 2017: Your Medical Laboratory’s Guide to Thriving in Today’s Healthcare Landscape.”

This essential resource demonstrates how a laboratory-specific CRM enables medical laboratories to not just survive, but to thrive in today’s healthcare environment, while providing added value to healthcare consumers and providers.

3 Critical Rules for Surviving in 2017: Your Medical Laboratory’s Guide to Thriving in Today’s Healthcare Landscape

Get your copy of this important asset by clicking on this link. Or, copy this URL into your browser:

—Andrea Downing Peck


Related Information:

3 Critical Rules for Surviving in 2017: Your Medical Laboratory’s Guide to Surviving in Today’s Healthcare Landscape

How Incyte Dx Eliminated Data Silos and Streamlined Operations to Exceed Sales Growth Targets by 107%

How Sonora Quest Labs Eliminated 4 Hours a Day in Performance Report Work

Clinical Laboratories Turn to Healthcare-Focused CRM to Optimize Operations and Increase Market Share, Despite Decreasing Reimbursement

More Clinical Pathology Laboratories Use Middleware for Business Intelligence and Lab-specific Customer Relationship Management


Clinical Laboratories Turn to Healthcare-Focused CRM to Optimize Operations and Increase Market Share, Despite Decreasing Reimbursement

With more medical laboratories making progress on improving the operational performance of their labs, and the level of service they provide to their clients, they are finding it essential to have real-time analytics and healthcare relationship management systems

In today’s world of clinical laboratory medicine, the pace of daily operations continues to increase. Everything happens faster as the nation’s leading medical laboratories apply Lean and other process improvement methods to speed up workflow with the goal of shortening lab test turnaround times.

However, those labs making progress on doing more faster and in less time have a challenge: they require information systems and software that can feed essential information to lab managers and staff in real time. It is for this reason that some of the best-selling informatics products in the clinical laboratory industry these days are middleware solutions and healthcare relationship management (HRM) solutions that support real-time analytics and help medical labs improve their client service.

In the past, clinical laboratories and pathology groups often developed in-house solutions to help manage data and generate reports. While data in these systems often drove diagnostic decisions, with the pace of technological change and demands for reduced turnaround times (TATs), these systems often struggled to provide: (more…)

For Clinical Pathology Laboratories Seeking to Create Value for Physicians and Patients, Real-Time Analytics Systems Are Becoming Indispensable Management Tools

Use of customer relationship management (CRM) systems is becoming more widespread as progressive medical labs and pathology groups use them to boost service levels and win greater market share

If there is a single “big trend” in pathology and clinical laboratory informatics today, it is the acquisition and use of software that makes it possible to access a wealth of data in real time. This trend is due directly to the need for medical laboratories to cut costs while sustaining and improving quality in every aspect of lab testing.

One part of this trend for increased use of real-time analytics can be seen in the decision by some innovative clinical lab organizations to invest in a customer relationship management software system (CRM). These systems make it possible for lab managers to use the CRM to monitor a wide range of activities, particularly in tracking relations with client physicians. Some CRMs also can report data on a variety of medical and pathology laboratory performance measures every hour of every day.

A handful of hospital and health system laboratory outreach programs have recognized how their use of a CRM gives them a competitive advantage in the lab testing marketplace. These labs use their CRMs to boost productivity and profitability of their outreach sales and marketing efforts. (more…)

Innovative Clinical Laboratories Use Business Intelligence to Deliver Data Insights that Help Physicians Improve Patient Outcomes and Meet ACO Goals

Clinical laboratories and pathology groups are deploying customer relationship management tools as a way to deliver more value to physicians and other providers

Healthcare’s accelerating shift away from fee-for-service payment and toward value-based reimbursement presents new challenges to clinical laboratories and pathology groups. These new payment models motivate providers to seek strategic partners who can deliver added value.

To succeed in this paradigm, clinical laboratories must differentiate themselves. This will require effective management of client relationships. Labs will soon need to do much more than simply process medical test orders and send lab results back to referring physicians. In fact, early-adopter lab organizations are accomplishing these goals by using client relationship management (CRM) tools.

To serve these lab organizations, vendors are bringing customized CRM tools to market. Unlike the generic customer relationship management products of past years, these next generation CRM products are tailored to meet the complex needs of healthcare organizations. CRM systems that are customized to the needs of clinical laboratories and pathology groups are now available.