How Resilient is Your Laboratory?
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
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
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
The properties necessary for resilient organizations include:
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.
Issues, problems, events and errors are handled with an eye toward repair and
true reform, not denial.
Management is aware of the laboratory’s proximity to serious problems and
events due to weaknesses inherent in their operation.
Management collects ongoing data to gather insight into quality of performance,
problems and the state of safety defenses.
Management must actively anticipate problems and prepare for them.
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.
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