D_Curran.jpg (8435 bytes)May kicks off a whirlwind three months of clinical laboratory conferences, trade shows and exhibitions, so keep your suitcase packed and your mind open.

First on the calendar for clinical laboratorians in the know is the 2001 Executive War College, which takes place in Cincinnati, Ohio from May 8-9. Sponsored by The Dark Report and hosted by its editor, Robert Michel, the Executive War College provides a forum for some of the best and brightest minds in the clinical diagnostics business to share their successes and setbacks.

When not on deadline with his almost bimonthly Dark Report magazine, Michel travels around the country interviewing lab directors and administrators about their best solutions to the daily challenges of running a top-notch clinical laboratory. The most compelling of those conversations wind up as case study presentations at the War College.

For example, the Wednesday morning Health Bridge case study details the collaborative development and implementation of a private intranet by Cincinnati’s three major healthcare systems. Health Bridge, a non-profit organization, runs the intranet for the more than 20 participating hospitals. It allows physicians with privileges at the three systems in greater Cincinnati to access hospital-generated clinical data wherever they happen to be practicing medicine. Physicians use a Web browser to access the private intranet like any other Web site. Currently, individual hospitals feed clinical lab test results, radiology and transcription data into Health Bridge. Future plans include connecting physicians and hospitals with payers and bringing patients into the communications link.

In a similar case study that also offers an interesting contrast, Bio-Reference Laboratories of Elmwood Park, N.J., has implemented an Internet portal (CareEvolve.com) that allows docs to access patient lab data and the rest of the Internet for a monthly fee. In addition to lab test ordering and results, CareEvolve also provides patient eligibility, claims data and CMEs.

The difference between the two Internet-

enabled laboratories, according to Michel, is how they approach their relationship with physicians. “Bio-Reference Laboratories perceives its relationship with physicians as its strongest asset,” Michel said. “Their approach protects the direct lab-doctor relationship and strives to prevent information management companies from coming between them and the doctors who use them. It’s a think-out-of-the-box business strategy. The market will judge whether they’re right or wrong, but they’re the only laboratory in the United States, to my knowledge, that has figured out how to get doctors to pay for the communications link between lab and doctor’s office for ordering and reporting. ”

Health Bridge chose a different but equally viable route. They built their own information management company and inserted it in between the lab and doctors.

Both the Health Bridge and Bio-Reference case studies will be presented during the morning general sessions, so all can attend. Each of the three 50-minute afternoon sessions offers a choice of four breakout sessions ranging from “Important dos and don’ts in point-of-care testing” to “Vermont’s regional lab network creates effective statewide HgA1c screening and clinical repository program.” An optional third day program offers a choice between two vastly different but highly relevant topics for the lab: “Everything you need to know about web-based laboratory information products” or “High-performance management of the lab billing and collections department.” The tough part is narrowing down your selections.

“That’s the value of the War College,” Michel noted in a recent interview. “You hear these people first hand and evaluate for yourself if you think their strategies are clever and effective and, most importantly, appropriate for your lab to adopt.”

For more information on the Executive War College go to www.darkreport.com  or call 800-560-6363.

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Coleen Curran