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George Kennedy and Leica join art with science.

Realities of today's clinical lab: In the clinical pathology field, a number of key trends have developed that challenge the histology lab and its suppliers. The current national shortage of trained histotechnologists makes it difficult for hospitals to find qualified people to fill open positions. Moreover, many histologists are retiring and schools are not graduating enough technologists to keep up with demand.

There is increased pressure from clinicians for faster turnaround time of pathology services so that physicians can provide more rapid diagnoses. Most labs are experiencing an increase in the number of cases, with a strong focus on small biopsies, as well as the number of tissue sections a pathologist needs to analyze each day. These factors have created a major industry challenge and are the focus of our company's product-development direction.

Embracing the challenge: Trends point to the industry's need for more automation in histology and pathology processes. Automated instruments perform time-consuming, labor-intensive tasks that allow technical staff to facilitate faster diagnoses for clinicians and their patients. Many innovative automated histology systems are replacing traditionally used manual instruments. A healthy combination of art and science is still necessary to prepare a quality slide, and histology procedures are not easily automated.

Therefore, our company focuses R & D on automated solutions that allow technologists to have more time for valuable work, resulting in more standardization within the lab and faster turnaround. The ergonomic design of microscopes that not only comfortably adapt to an individual pathologist but also automate processes and integrate with today's digital technology are the driving forces for our microscope development.

Responding to needs: Understanding customer requirements and work environments is vital before designing an instrument for the lab. Tools such as value stream mapping help us to document and visualize laboratory processes in order to address actionable customer requirements. There is no substitute for face-to-face meetings with customers where they can be observed in their own environment using our equipment. Listening to and acting on the voice of the customer applies to every business area. In addition, our summer seminar series is offered yearly on current hot topics in histology and presents a valuable opportunity to talk to histotechnologists about the issues they face.

The future of the histology field: Automation, rapid diagnosis, safety, and ergonomics are issues that need to be addressed on an ongoing basis. Continuing education of histotechnologists and pathologists about the benefits of automation, safety, and comfort in the lab will help ease the transition to new technology. We have been in business for 130 years providing long-term, tangible value to our customers. The future is bright because there is a full range of new products in various stages of development right now clearly directed to the emerging trends that are important to the lab.

By Allison Long, Associate Editor



VP of U.S. Sales, Marketing & Service for Pathology Diagnostics, Leica Microsystems; Senior VP of Global Sales & Marketing, Vysis; Director of Sales & Marketing, Difco; Laboratory Technologist, ASCP.


BA Biology, Salem State College, Salem, MA; MBA, Suffolk University, Boston, MA.


Lives in Long Grove, IL.

Married with two sons.

Enjoys boating, fishing, and time at the lake with his family.
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Title Annotation:Executive snapshot; Leica Microsystems
Author:Long, Allison
Publication:Medical Laboratory Observer
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2006
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