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

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

Hosted by Robert Michel
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Gen Z Set to Outnumber Baby Boomers and Will Be 75% of the Workforce within the Next Year, Report States

Zoomers’ unique approach to work and personal health could affect clinical laboratory workplaces, how staff is managed, and how they personally use lab tests

Would it surprise you to learn that Generation Z is poised to make up 75% of the workforce in the United States by 2025? This fact has many implications for clinical laboratories, genetic testing companies, and pathology practices. That’s because Zoomers, as they are called, will be dominant in two ways. First, they will make up the majority of the lab workforce. Second, they will be the majority of consumers and patients accessing medical laboratory testing services.

Zoomers (born 1997-2012) approach work and their own healthcare differently than previous generations. This is partly due to Zoomers being “digital natives who have little or no memory of the world as it existed before smartphones,” according to Pew Research.

Now, a recently released report by economic research firm Glassdoor on 2024 workplace trends states that Zoomers are about to overtake Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) in the full-time workforce, and that the shift will “represent a pivotal moment of cultural change that US companies cannot ignore.” This includes clinical laboratories and pathology groups that employ them.

According to Glassdoor, Gen Z workers “care deeply about community connections, about having their voices heard in the workplace, about transparent and responsive leadership, and about diversity and inclusion.”

Zoomers bring unique requirements and attitudes to the workplace, but they may also be the fresh infusion of talent a shrinking healthcare workforce needs. It’s no secret that clinical laboratories and pathology groups are facing a labor shortage. An aging workforce combined with burnout from the COVID-19 pandemic have left the entire healthcare industry scrambling for workers.

“A recent survey by Elsevier Health predicts that up to 75% of healthcare workers will leave the profession by 2025. And a 2020 study conducted by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) projected a shortfall of up to 139,000 physicians by 2033,” Medscape reported.

In “Clinical Laboratories Suffer During the Great Resignation,” Dark Daily noted other causes that are behind the abundance of open positions, such as early retirements, graduating individuals experiencing more specialized training programs, and a shift in the way the current working generation views employment.

Thus, the current healthcare workplace should not only expect unique challenges as Zoomers take over, but also changes that come with adapting to a smaller, younger workforce.

Mark Beal

“[Gen Z] will pressure employers to establish a company’s purpose in a way that contributes to a better society and prioritize a company’s purpose along with profits,” Mark Beal (above), Assistant Professor of Professional Practice and Communication at Rutgers University, told Forbes. “Having succeeded at remote learning, they will influence an increased transition to hybrid and remote work as well as the four-day work week.” Clinical laboratories that understand Zoomers’ motivations will likely have more success integrating them into their workforce. (Photo copyright: Rutgers University.)

Generational Shift in Healthcare

Zoomers are the most technically-minded generation yet, especially considering they had to master remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. And, as we reported in “Despite Technical Challenges During COVID-19 Pandemic, Healthcare Networks Plan to Increase Investment in Telehealth Technologies,” healthcare systems that have increased their investment in telehealth technologies may benefit greatly from having these tech-savvy workers on board.

However, there could be unique challenges with a Zoomer workforce as well. According to Forbes, more than half of these new workers are willing to leave their jobs over “dissatisfaction with fulfillment (59%), professional development (57%), and providing value (53%).”

Although this may make some older workers scoff, each generation has entered the workforce with its own unique perspective based on personal values, and the workplace has shifted and changed to reflect the new workers. The same can be said of the clinical laboratory and pathology workforces.

The chart above shows the different generations as a proportion of the total population of the United States as of 2025. It dramatically illustrates why the largest number of working age individuals will be from Generation Z (aka, Zoomers). With their unique interests and traits, Zoomers will want their workplaces to be responsive in ways that are much different than the generations that preceded them. This will be equally true of how Gen Z accesses clinical laboratory testing services. (Graphic copyright: The Wall Street Journal.)

Gen Z Likes Automation

Another aspect to the increasing Zoomer workforce is Gen Z’s comfort with automated technology. Automation has always shifted how clinical laboratories work, and it can have great benefits for clinical pathology as well.

According to Today’s Clinical Lab, automation reduces error rates by more than 70% and reduces the time needed for each staff member per specimen by 10%.

However, the benefit does not come from automation replacing workers, rather that automated processes reduce repetitive work that takes time and attention away from workers. And, as noted, Gen Z workers tend to be extremely tech-savvy given the prevalence of technology in their lives.

Automation could fill gaps when it comes to labor shortages, not by replacing workers, but by helping adjust the workflow and avoiding worker burnout by automating tedious tasks. And Gen Z workers may be uniquely suited to engage with automated testing technologies.

Evolving Healthcare Workplaces

“The coming year will … represent a pivotal moment of cultural change that US companies cannot ignore as Gen Z workers—who care deeply about community connections, about having their voices heard in the workplace, about transparent and responsive leadership, and about diversity and inclusion—make up a rapidly growing share of the workforce,” the Glassdoor report stated, adding that 2024 “will test the robustness of workplace institutions,” The Hill reported.

Clinical laboratory managers and pathologists will be managing a multi-generational workforce, each with its own attributes and requirements. Thus, lab managers will need to reflect these difference in the management decisions they make and how they organize the laboratory workplace.

—Ashley Croce

Related Information:

Gen Z Set to Pass Baby Boomers in Workforce: Report

Glassdoor’s 2024 Workplace Trends

Physicians May Retire En Masse Soon. What Does That Mean for Medicine?

Clinical Laboratories Suffer During the Great Resignation

How Gen Z’s Impact on the Workplace Continues to Grow

Despite Technical Challenges During COVID-19 Pandemic, Healthcare Networks Plan to Increase Investment in Telehealth Technologies

Should Lab Staff Be Concerned about Automation?

Autopsies Clearly Help Pathologists Understand COVID-19 and How It Affects the Body, So Why Are More Not Being Performed?

Payers are unwilling to reimburse for autopsies despite the fact that autopsies are a proven way to learn more about new diseases and how they attack the human body

Each year, less money is spent by Medicare and private health insurers on autopsies. However, autopsies regularly provide pathologists with relevant, clinically useful information about exact causes of death and other elements of disease in the deceased. Some diseases cannot be identified any other way but by autopsy. And data from autopsies have helped developers bring critical new medical laboratory tests, therapeutic drugs, and vaccines to market.

Thus, the healthcare system is losing valuable research that would bring a better understanding of diseases and processes in the body that contribute to poor health and death. This is true with COVID-19. Autopsy results have already provided revelations into how the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus affects the body, and yielded clues that are helping pathologists combat the illness.

Looking Closely at Death from COVID-19

“You can’t treat what you don’t know about,” Alex Williamson, MD, an anatomic/clinical/pediatric/forensic pathologist at Northwell Health in New York and Associate Professor of Pathology at Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell, told the Associated Press (AP), ABC News reported in “The Autopsy, a Fading Practice, Revealed Secrets of COVID-19.”

“Many lives have been saved by looking closely at someone’s death,” he added.

Autopsies performed on deceased patients could help clarify why there is such a wide array of symptoms for those affected by COVID-19 and provide details that cannot be detected in living patients.

For example, autopsies completed early in the pandemic confirmed that the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus causes respiratory disease, and that extended use of ventilators could cause considerable damage to the lungs, the AP article noted. This discovery led physicians to re-evaluate how ventilators should be used on COVID-19 patients.

The AP story also stated that pathologists learned the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus may spread the illness to other organs such as the heart, brain, liver, kidneys, and colon.

Through autopsies, COVID-19 patients also were discovered to have dramatic blood clotting issues in almost every organ of the body and micro-clotting in the lungs.

“The clotting was not only in the large vessels but also in the smaller vessels,” said Amy Rapkiewicz, MD, an anatomic and forensic pathologist, Chair of the Department of Pathology at NYU Langone Medical Center and Associate Professor, Department of Pathology at NYU Long Island School of Medicine, in an Advisory Board Daily Briefing. “And this was dramatic, because though we might have expected it in the lungs, we found it in almost every organ that we looked at in our autopsy study.”

Doctors are now exploring whether blood thinners should be utilized to prevent blood clots from forming in COVID-19 patients.

Lab samples and Amy Rapkiewicz, MD, Chair of the Department of Pathology at NYU Langone Medical Center and Associate Professor, Department of Pathology at NYU Long Island School of Medicine
“When you’re able to see what’s happening at the level of the cells, you just have a broader picture of the potential mechanism by which the disease is happening,” Amy Rapkiewicz, MD (above), Chair of the Department of Pathology at NYU Langone Medical Center and Associate Professor, Department of Pathology at NYU Long Island School of Medicine, told Undark. (Photo copyright: Associated Press.)

Autopsies Identify Secondary Causes of Death

Autopsies also have shown that some COVID-19 patients are dying from secondary bacterial infections that appear alongside the disease. This discovery may help doctors understand lingering symptoms that plague some coronavirus patients.

“What you see at autopsy represents an effective catalogue of the injury that occurs in patients who have COVID,” pathologist Stephen Hewitt, MD, PhD, associate research physician, Laboratory of Pathology, and head of the Experimental Pathology Laboratory at the National Cancer Institute Center for Cancer Research, told Undark. “And it gives you an understanding and a basis to try and forecast forward what we’re going to see in post-COVID syndrome.”

Shortage in Funding and Forensic Pathologists

With advances in technology, clinical laboratory testing, and imaging scans, autopsies are performed much less than they were in the past. In the 1950s, autopsies were performed on about half of the patients who passed away in hospital situations, but now that number is somewhere between only five and 11%, ABC News reported.

At this time, hospitals are not required to provide autopsy services and the costs to perform autopsies are often not covered by private or government insurance.

“As medicine has become closer to the bottom line, community hospitals don’t want to perform the autopsies because they’re not getting any functional reimbursement for them,” Hewitt told Undark.

Hospitals usually have to cover costs associated with autopsies themselves or pass those expenditures along to the deceased patient’s family. Autopsies typically cost anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 per patient, Undark reported.

“When you consider there’s no reimbursement for this, it’s almost an altruistic practice,” Billie Fyfe-Kirschner, MD, a pathologist with Rutgers University, told the Associated Press. “It’s vitally important, but we don’t have to fund it.”

According to the AP, the US faces a critical shortage of forensic pathologists who are trained to perform autopsies. It is estimated, AP reported, that “the US has only a few hundred forensic pathologists but could use several thousand—and less than one in 100 graduating medical school students enters the profession each year.”

Clearly, pathologists have much to offer in the field of autopsies. Autopsying patients who died from COVID-19 may provide data that could greatly affect treatment for those diagnosed with the disease and improve patient outcomes overall.

—JP Schlingman

Related Information:

The Autopsy, a Fading Practice, Revealed Secrets of COVID-19

Collection and Submission of Postmortem Specimens from Deceased Persons with Confirmed or Suspected COVID-19

Autopsy Rates Were Falling for Years. Then COVID-19 Came Along

What Dozens of COVID-19 Patient Autopsies Have Revealed About the Disease

Autopsies in Maryland Show Much Higher Rate of COVID-19 than Expected

Dirty, Smelly, Raw: The Future of Forensic Pathology

Roche Diagnostics to Invest a Whopping $300 Million in Indianapolis to Support Expansion of its Clinical Lab Testing Business

Roche is refocusing its resources as it works to rebalance its businesses in pharmaceuticals and clinical laboratory testing

Roche Diagnostics is pumping $300 million into its North American headquarters in Indianapolis. At the same time, the Roche research and development campus in Nutley, New Jersey will be closed. Collectively both actions are a sign of the company’s confidence in the growth prospects for clinical laboratory testing, molecular diagnostics, and genetic testing.

Many pathologists are aware that Roche Diagnostics has experienced rapid year-over-year growth in its molecular diagnostics business. The company wants to expand its facilities to support further growth in this sector. (more…)