Cheryl Woodruff

To find a solution, sometimes we need to reframe the problem and look at it from a different angle. As Albert Einstein said, “In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity,” and in 2007 clinical labs seem to have plenty of both.

At CLMA’s ThinkLab in Houston last month, keynote speaker Peter Salgo, MD, talked about challenges facing the clinical lab industry and ways that clinical labs can look at them. He said the industry is “in the basement, underutilized and undervalued.” Salgo lamented the dearth of funds for clinical labs and urged lab managers to make their voices heard within the American political system by contacting legislators, writing op-ed pieces and fighting lab budget cuts. “Labs hold the key to the future of American Medicine. You know it, but no one else does, and you need to tell them. Don’t let bean counters and MBAs tell you how to do your jobs,” he said.

Salgo offered solutions to some of the lab industry problems. On the manpower shortage, he said, “Pay them and they will come,” and “Achieve economies of scale through automation.” Regarding the trend in point-of-care and retail testing, Salgo said labs should not fight it and let the retailers and doctors’ offices do the easy testing. He said regional and local labs need to do the important work, especially with the possibility of bioterrorism threats, which could require tremendous amounts of lab capacity.

On that same note, Dark Daily is reporting disturbing trends, such as: managed care contracting practices that will likely exclude local and regional labs from provider panels; urologists and gastroenterologists starting their own in-house anatomic pathology labs; Siemens and GE buying diagnostics companies to move into laboratory testing and molecular pathology.

For more information, search for “ThinkLab 07” or “War College” in our online archives.

Dark Report’s 12th Annual Executive War College, scheduled for May 9 to 11, in Miami, will address the issues mentioned above as well as others facing the industry. Among the speakers will be David P. King, the new CEO of LabCorp, who will talk about managed care contracting and his company’s contract with United HealthCare. Dave Hickey of Siemens Medical Solutions Diagnostics will discuss the coming convergence of imaging, informatics, and in vitro diagnostics. For more highlights of the War College, go to the “calendar of events” here or on the navigation bar. This new link will take you to a page about industry events where you can even submit your own calendar entry.

Meanwhile, if you can reframe a problem or offer a solution — or if you just want to rant and rave — please contact me about writing a guest editorial in CLP.

Hope to see you at War College.

Cheryl Woodruff