The everyday workings of the laboratory can be relatively routine. Running tests, interpreting results, sharing findings—these are all processes that become standard to pathology and laboratory professionals.
And while these daily routines are essential to the health and wellbeing of our patients, it’s when we step outside the laboratory that we see just how important the laboratory is in shaping the healthcare environment around us. We as pathology and laboratory professionals are critical to effecting change in health care. Without our input and leadership, health care would not be able to progress, nor would we be able to deftly address the needs of our patients and colleagues.
The American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP) has been a leader in pushing forward on changes to the way health care is practiced. Our recent release of the National Pathology Quality Registry (NPQR) is one such example. The data that NPQR captures can be used to improve our quality and performance standards, and determine appropriate use criteria in the lab.
ASCP has also taken on the immense task of effecting change not just locally, but globally. Starting with partnerships with the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief more than a decade ago, we have dedicated time and resources to securing services that have improved health care for people in developing countries. Since 2015 we have led the Partners for Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment in Africa, providing testing, treatment, and care for Sub-Saharan Africa. Because we stepped up to this challenge, we have been able to provide rapid cancer diagnosis in more than 11 countries—and that number continues to grow. How many lives would have been unnecessarily lost had we not embraced the challenge of effecting healthcare change in countries vastly unlike our own? Moving the needle on change, after all, isn’t limited to local environments, but must be extended on a global scale.
In this issue of Critical Values, we look at a few of the ways the laboratory is effecting change in health care not only inside, but outside of the laboratory. In our centerspread article, “Society of Firsts, Part 2,” Drs. Fred Rodriguez, Lee Hillborne, and I provide a follow-up to a 2007 article featured in Lab Medicine that summarized the multiple “firsts” that ASCP has achieved since its inception. We take a look at the immeasurable growth the Society has achieved since then, highlighting the expansion of our breadth of knowledge to reach and better serve patients both locally and globally. These “firsts” have impacted laboratory science and health care in big and small ways, and will undoubtedly continue to do so as the Society advances its mission.
This issue also features our annual 40 Under Forty and Top 5 honorees. These pathology and laboratory professionals are the future of the laboratory, and stellar examples of how we will continue to grow and evolve as a profession, and change the way health care is viewed and practiced. As Dana Razzano, MD, one of this year’s Top 5 honorees noted, “The true core of pathology is that we are physician educators as well as physician scientists. No matter how health care evolves, pathologists will always be needed in this capacity and are truly suited for this role.”
In their article, “What Does Cancer Survival Look Like in the Developing World?” authors Lotte Mulder and Carolyn Taylor look at how cancer—and the potential for surviving the disease—is viewed in different parts of the world. In developing nations, surviving cancer is often viewed as impossible. But by providing educational materials that help patients understand laboratory results and treatment options, the laboratory can help change patients’ views on cancer diagnosis and survival in these low-resource settings.
Without the leadership of the laboratory, needed change within health care will be sluggish at best. As patient-centric and value-based care becomes the norm, health care as a whole will be called upon to provide the necessary information that will help patients better understand what is in front of them. And as pathologists and laboratory professionals, we are the ones who can lead those efforts and effect that change, creating the link between patient and provider that is 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.