There are no magic bullets to achieve best-in-class performance in clinical laboratories—you have to do a lot of things right. But you can achieve performance in the top quartile by doing these six things:
1. Standardize equipment and reagents
2. Maximize synergies from consolidation
3. Grow your outreach program
4. Manage reference lab and blood costs
5. Apply lean practices
6. Participate in a benchmarking service
Are you surprised or disappointed that there isn’t some special magic to achieve top performance? There’s no magic; it requires paying attention to the basic “blocking and tackling,” the hard work, the things we would rather not do.
In our consulting practice, we see two types of opportunities in labs: known versus unknown opportunities. Would it surprise you if I told you that 80 percent of the opportunities are in the known category? In other words, people choose to stay the same because the effort involved in changing is usually significant. It requires more effort or risk than they are willing to tackle. People choose mediocrity over high performance. This reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Lee Thayer on leadership:
“Most people prefer a problem they can’t solve to a solution they don’t like.”
Becoming a top performer (above the 75th percentile) means that we aren’t in denial about the tough decisions we have to make, such as standardizing equipment platforms, consolidating testing at one site, telling doctors that they cannot order certain tests, seeing laboratory as a manufacturing environment, etc. We do not choose to live with the problem because the solution is difficult or unpopular; we solve it and move on to the next one. That’s what it takes to be in the top 25 percent.
Kathleen A. Murphy, PhD
Chief Executive Officer
Chi Solutions, Inc.