Clinical pathology services: remapping our strategic itinerary


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Abstract

Both technological advances and economic drivers have led to major changes in clinical laboratories across the world, with vastly improved testing productivity. However, the production process capability advances have far outpaced the clinical pathologists' success in assuring optimal test utilization and interpretation. While productivity of ‘commodity’ testing increases, our healthcare value productivity decreases. Such developments constitute a serious threat to our clinical pathology specialty, not only because pathologists may lose direct control of the commodity testing production activities, but also because the present evolution exposes a failure of our core clinical activities, the pathologist's knowledge processes that translate ‘commodity’ results into medical outcomes optimization. At a time when a revolution in health care organization is inescapable in the years ahead, clinical pathology must proceed from a merely reactive strategy (to fulfill the ‘more with less’ demands) to a proactive strategy where we build excellence and visibility in knowledge services on a strong foothold of operational excellence. Based on a Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats analysis, we argue that clinical pathology should safeguard and expand its healthcare value productivity by assuming leadership in building integrated laboratory services networks. We also suggest that the core knowledge processes deserve a system approach, for example, by applying a risk-based quality management system.

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