Operational Efficiency is Essential Amid Growing Demand for Routine and Specialty Testing
This Laboratory Professionals Week, we honor the innovators, collaborators and colleagues who have gone above and beyond behind the scenes to meet patient need. Today, ACLA is featuring Brian Hatcher, Director of Laboratory Services at McLaren Health Care, who was quick to roll up his sleeves and lead the facility’s efforts to take on additional testing needs related to the pandemic – all while maintaining prompt turnaround times and training the next generation of leaders in the laboratory.
Throughout the pandemic, laboratory leaders have had to adapt and take on new roles to maintain quality patient care. Brian Hatcher, Director of Laboratory Services at McLaren Health’s corporate laboratory in Michigan, is one such laboratory professional who moved outside of his comfort zone to take on new responsibilities. Pivoting from the management of McLaren’s microbiology lab to learning all facets of core lab operations, Brian quickly immersed himself in departments he hadn’t worked in since his clinical rotations.
“During the early days of the pandemic we faced a lot of uncertainty, but our commitment to serve patients with the laboratory services they need never wavered,” says Brian. “This meant our team, myself included, had to think outside the box and take on additional roles to ensure we could continue providing high-quality, convenient and cost-efficient services to our patients and their providers.”
McLaren’s corporate facility is one of many laboratories that are part of the Joint Venture Hospital Laboratories (JVHL). Together, JVHL’s laboratories perform approximately 70 million tests annually and have a network that serves about 34,000 physician clients with more than 450 patient services. Despite workforce gaps and staffing shortages during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders at McLaren’s corporate laboratory decided to take on non-urgent testing requests from hospital laboratories.
“This was done to ease the burden on hospitals so they could focus on their urgent testing needs in addition to COVID-19 testing,” explains Brian.
To support the additional workload, McLaren’s corporate laboratory incorporated the Roche Chemistry platform into its processes to improve efficiencies and accelerate diagnostic turnaround times. Brian was quick to dive into the effort – first by observing the setup of the equipment and second by participating in the validation and testing of the platform to ensure the three lines of analyzers, the two input modules and the storage unit were all communicating properly. In addition to managing the operational components, Brian also trained lab technical assistants to become “super users,” equipping them with the expertise to help him with system maintenance and troubleshooting.
“Setting up the Roche Chemistry automated line was rewarding because it meant our laboratory would become more efficient and better equipped to support our patients and providers with their testing needs,” adds Brian.
Ensuring that the automation line was functional required a rapid and successful “Go Live” plan. This plan was essential for Brian and his team and continues to be important for McLaren’s broader health system.
“By adapting to a new role and adopting new skills critical to lab operations, Brian was able to facilitate his lab’s fast turnaround times to ultimately deliver high quality results for patients and providers,” says RoseAnn Carlsen, Vice President of Corporate Laboratory Services at McLaren Health Care. “During the past two years, all of us have had to step up, learn new skills and work in very challenging times. Brian, along with our entire team of laboratory professionals, have proven themselves to be true leaders, who often go far beyond the call of duty to optimize diagnostic value.”