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CRI Lab Quality Advisor

How Resilient is Your Laboratory?

Published December 7, 2015 8:23 AM by Irwin Rothenberg

We all understand how important good management is to the overall success of a laboratory in providing quality patient care, but the defining components of quality care are not static. Whether we are discussing test accuracy, turnaround time, specimen acquisition or result reporting, the technologies, regulations, compensation and treatment protocols are constantly changing.These have been characterized in Dickensian terms as “the best of times and the worst of times” in an article on leadership in a recent issue of Dark Daily.1

The “best of times” describes the flood of new diagnostic technologies that make it possible for clinical laboratories to detect many diseases earlier and more accurately than ever before. How increasing knowledge of the human genome, proteome and microbiome is generating new ways that pathologists, clinical chemists and laboratory scientists can help physicians and patients.

The “worst of times” relates to the steady erosion in the prices for lab tests and the shrinking budgets seen at many labs today. Other negative forces include the shrinking of the most experienced laboratory workforce through retirement, labor shortages, the dislocations experienced through changes in healthcare delivery settings, hospital closures and organizational mergers.

These times call for more than good management; they call for good leadership, but leadership that is more adaptive and agile than ever before—resilient leadership! Leadership that understands change, and can adapt by creating an organizational culture of resilience—enabling the laboratory to not only survive, but prosper and grow.

What is a Culture of Resilience?2
The properties necessary for resilient organizations include:

Top-level Commitment: Top management must recognize performance concerns and address them with continuous and extensive follow-through.

Just Culture: The reporting of issues, problems, events and errors throughout the organization is supported, and culpable behaviors are not tolerated.

Learning Culture: Issues, problems, events and errors are handled with an eye toward repair and true reform, not denial.

Opacity: Management is aware of the laboratory’s proximity to serious problems and events due to weaknesses inherent in their operation.

Awareness: Management collects ongoing data to gather insight into quality of performance, problems and the state of safety defenses.

Preparedness: Management must actively anticipate problems and prepare for them.

Flexibility: New or complex problems are handled in a way that maximizes the ability to solve the problem without disrupting overall work.

Out of this develops a resilient testing process, a process capable of adaptively learning to correct errors and to take advantage of new opportunities (e.g., information technology) to improve quality. The end result is the leveling of silos; enhancing communication; and creating a workforce that is not hesitant to innovate and adapt to change, feels appreciated and experiences less stress when change is needed.

 

References:

1. Does Your Clinical Laboratory or Pathology Group Have the Effective Leaders It Needs During These Challenging Times?  http://www.darkdaily.com/does-your-clinical-laboratory-or-pathology-group-have-the-effective-leaders-it-needs-during-these-challenging-times-31615#ixzz3tISKg0VS

2. Elder N, McEwen T, Flach J, Gallimore J.  Creating Safety in the Testing Process in Primary Care Offices. http://www.ahrq.gov/sites/default/files/wysiwyg/professionals/quality-patient-safety/patient-safety-resources/resources/advances-in-patient-safety-2/vol2/Advances-Elder_18.pdf

 

posted by Irwin Rothenberg

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