This issue marks the start of the tenth year since Critical Values magazine first debuted. In the past decade we’ve covered a multitude of topics and issues that affect pathology and laboratory medicine as a way of providing our members with the resources and information they need to stay informed about the continually changing healthcare landscape. Critical Values is the tangible embodiment of our dedication to and appreciation of our members, and one of the ways we as a Society show our commitment to improving the quality of our practice and our care for patients.
Quality is one of the core tenets of pathology and laboratory medicine, and as the laboratory’s role in patient care continues to rise, quality has never been more important. As a Society we are committed to engaging in endeavors that promote excellence, and that will spark and support prolific and needed changes to the way laboratory science is practiced. We pursue extraordinary collaborations so that others may benefit from the high standards we’ve set within healthcare. Because of ASCP’s commitment to quality, we have achieved and shared so much for the betterment of patients and laboratory professionals.
In this issue of Critical Values, Drs. Ali Brown and Steven Kroft provide an update on the National Pathology Quality Registry. The NPQR, launched in 2016, goes beyond benchmarking and ties ASCP’s expertise with educational content to provide those practicing pathology and laboratory medicine the tools to motivate needed change. This registry is an important tool for government reporting, but it also offers “opportunities for tangible quality improvement and meaningful impacts on patient care delivery.” Ultimately, the authors write, “we are driven by our mission to improve patient care, which was supported broadly by the pathology and laboratory community whom we initially surveyed to gauge interest in a performance improvement platform.” Kristi Fahy, from the American Health Information Management Association, discusses the need for information governance in her article, “Information Governance: The Key to Advancing Laboratory Workflow and Outcomes.” Ms. Fahy focuses on the questions of coordinating disparate information sources, the processes to ensure accurate information, and complete records to provide the best care plan or diagnosis for a patient. “These are questions that we must be able to confidently answer to ensure that we can rely on our information resources,” she writes. “We have to implement controls, technologies, policies, and procedures that will give us the confidence we need to successfully perform our duties and positively influence patient care and other clinical outcomes.”
In the past decade we have seen the fields of data science and analytics surge, and laboratory professionals can play an integral role as it continues to escalate. Dr. Gaurav Sharma and colleagues discuss in their article, “Skills in Data Science and Analytics: The Next Frontier for the Medical Laboratory Scientist?” the need for laboratory professionals to get involved in data science, and contribute their unique skill set to an evolving and innovative area of practice. “This unique set of circumstances—computerization of records, advances in artificial intelligence, and an urgent emphasis on decreasing costs while increasing quality—presents unprecedented opportunities for medical laboratory scientists and pathologists,” the authors state. As we move into our second decade of Critical Values, we are unwavering in our responsibility to keep our members informed about the issues affecting pathology and laboratory medicine both inside and outside of the lab. We are steadfast in our commitment to quality, and we know that commitment is most powerful when we are STRONGERTOGETHER.
Thank you for your continued support of ASCP. Please send me your comments and suggestions at Blair.Holladay@ascp.org. My very best to each of you.