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Outside the Lab Profession, Training and education

Creating Blueprints for Our Future

In recent years we’ve witnessed a transformation – sometimes subtle, sometimes more overt – of the medical laboratory. We are no longer content with being contained solely within the laboratory, and instead, pathologists and medical laboratory scientists are stepping out from behind the laboratory walls and into the forefront of patient care. 

Becoming a more patient-facing profession is critical to patient outcomes and to increasing visibility. We are responsible for so much of a patient’s healthcare journey (we're all familiar with the 70 percent statistic) and it is only prudent that our patients can put a face with a name, and vice versa. On top of this shift, we’ve seen the broader implementation of artificial intelligence (AI), and a rise in telepathology that has allowed us to treat patients not only in our own institutions, but institutions in otherwise underserved parts of the world.

These evolutions don’t happen overnight, and they all come with a learning curve. As we move through the processes, we are developing models for success as we go, learning from our experiences and adapting to ever-changing demands on the laboratory, and of healthcare overall. These models allow us to not only share knowledge internally but also to contribute to a broader collaborative ecosystem and foster a culture of continuous learning and growth. ASCP continues to advance progress in healthcare with the establishment of innovative and necessary tools like the National Pathology Quality Registry, for example, which takes large amounts of transactional laboratory data and converts it into actionable, customizable, real-time benchmarking dashboards laboratories can use to make informed, strategic decisions on quality improvement, business analytics, and test utilization. 

What’s more, these models are applicable to many initiatives in and out of the laboratory. The fact of the matter is that if we want to see significant change not only in the laboratory but in healthcare, we must be the ones to implement it. We must be the ones to foster change. We must be the ones to lead. We must be the ones to show others not only how to do it, but why it is necessary.

Knowledge supports growth

We cannot have progress without knowledge, and for that knowledge to take hold, it must be disseminated across institutions. Models, blueprints, strategies for change – these all serve as tangible representations of accumulated knowledge and provide us with structure to help transfer knowledge from one individual or one group to another. These representations shine a light on the successes and yes, the failures. But it’s important to note that both are something even more valuable: opportunities. Whether we succeed or we fail, we have seen an opportunity where we can grow, and the outcome, good or bad, serves as a guide for future decision making and problem solving.

I think what is most exciting about the period of laboratory evolution – or perhaps laboratory revolution is a better term, in light of the great innovation emanating from laboratories – is that this isn’t a static exercise. Creating the models and blueprints we need to affect change is a dynamic endeavor that encourages continuously improving upon outcomes. That translates to the understanding that our strategies must continually evolve, through the incorporation of new insights, technologies, and methodologies. 

Every institution is unique and has its own set of challenges and goals. In committing to building the models, strategies, or blueprints we need to overcome those challenges and meet those goals, we not only embrace change, but we also strengthen the future where the laboratory is the preeminent leader for patients.

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About the Author
E. Blair Holladay

CEO of the American Society for Clinical Pathology

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