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Is the sky really falling?

Is the sky really falling?

Remember the story of Chicken Little and her panic because she thought the sky was falling? The lesson we learned from our frantic fowl was that it's best to take a realistic and calm approach in the face of projected disaster.

People are saying that medical technology is a dying profession. In this case, the sky really may be falling . . . unless we are willing to plan for what is being predicted in such diverse areas as technology, staff utilization, legislation, and shared services.

New technologies being developed to diagnose and treat disease will alter present lab procedures. For example, a recently reported blood cycling technique eliminates the need for much of the donor blood now used in open-heart surgery. It will also negate the need for compatibility testing.

To maximize staff utilization, a few larger hospitals have already instituted allied health education programs designed to develop multiskilled workers in such groupings as laboratory/x-ray and nursing/respiratory therapy. Hospitals are also joining with vocational schools or junior colleges to train students as phlebotomists, histology assistants, and other support personnel. Employees are encouraged to learn an extra skill by taking these courses.

If that isn't enough, the Federal Government is implementing provisions of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985. COBRA will reduce total laboratory revenue through caps on outpatient test reimbursement and cut available funds for medical technology education. The law imposes a moratorium on Medicare competitive bidding demonstration projects until next Jan. 1. If competitive bidding does begin thereafter in selected regions, it will turn the lab market upside down and inside out.

Consultants to the Health Care Financing Administration are also suggesting that Medicare Part B payment for all hospital-based physicians be shifted to Part A. This would give hospitals a greater incentive to cut back on services.

Finally, there is much activity across the country to share services, merge facilities, or contract out lab work. Just a year ago, it seemed improbable for a hospital to have only a Stat lab. Today, some are even cutting out Stat labs and maintaining nothing more than drawing stations.

I'd like to think that an awareness of what can happen will stimulate creative approaches to dealing with change rather than a negative response that seeks to salvage what is.

The primary responsibility for identifying areas for change lies with the laboratory manager. In this position, one should combine business expertise and people skills with the ability to manage oneself. Self-management is the very basis for leadership.

To begin your program for responding creatively to change and becoming a more confident manager, take these steps:

Develop self-awareness by knowing who you are, what you value, and what your expectations are. Set your own goals. Don't let others set them for you.

Extend yourself to new people and open your world to them. Let others feel important, and they will be glad to know you.

Pay close attention to your appearance. First impressions are powerful and very hard to change. So be alert to the clothes you wear, the body language you use, and the visual image you project.

Expand your knowledge by reading, listening to audio-cassettes, and attending seminars and workshops in areas outside your specialty. Study the lives of successful people who have accomplished something worthwhile and borrow their ideas.

Give yourself positive reinforcement. Congratulate yourself when you do something right. If you err, say to yourself: "That's not like me. I can do better.'

Set goals and objectives, develop action plans, and organize yourself to get results.

Cultivate a sense of humor. Looking at the lighter side reduces conflict and eases tension.

Let go of the problems and concerns of yesterday, live in the here and now, and plan for tomorrow through a daily program of attitude adjustment.

Prepare for different eventualities by staying on top of professional activities in all arenas.
COPYRIGHT 1986 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:new technologies will alter lab procedures and laboratory managers should respond creatively to change
Author:Barros, Annamarie
Publication:Medical Laboratory Observer
Article Type:column
Date:Aug 1, 1986
Previous Article:What should go into a lab computer contract.
Next Article:Laboratories fare well under revised hospital regulations.

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