An Interview with Robert Michel

In September, we brought together some of the leading voices in the laboratory industry at the Utilization Management 2015 and Leveraging the Laboratory conferences to discuss utilization management, health care reform, the role of laboratory outreach, and what laboratories need to do to thrive in the years to come. Over the next several months, we will be sharing interviews we conducted in Denver.

First up, Robert Michel, the editor of The Dark Report who spoke at both conferences. A full transcript of the interview is available below.

Our Interview

Mayo: I’m here with Robert Michel, Editor of The Dark Report, a business intelligence service for pathologists and lab professionals. He spoke earlier today at the UM conference, hosted by Mayo Medical Laboratories; and Mr. Michel, I’d like to ask you if you could just give us an overview of what you spoke about.

RM: Well, there were two dimensions of this. First of all, we talked about how healthcare is evolving and changing, and it’s an emphasis to proactive medicine informed by genetic and molecular analysis. So this plays to the labs. And then second part that we discussed was how labs that you would consider first-mover and early-adopter laboratory organizations are advancing their services to deliver more value to the physicians and to the patients; and you can measure this value because you can see improved patient outcomes when physicians do a better job ordering the right test at the right time for the patient; and then a useful lab test at the right time can lower the overall cost per episode of care. So spending a little more money on the right lab test may end up saving thousands of dollars for a patient’s stay in the hospital, for instance.

Mayo: Why is UM so important for large organizations and those community laboratories as well?

RM: It’s long been known by pathologists and lab professionals that many, many doctors either won’t order the right test at the right time or will order the wrong test at the right time, and it’s . . . . . . one of the reasons is that they are taught so much in medical school, it’s difficult to stay up with approximately 2000 different kinds of lab tests; plus, over the last 20 years, you’ve had such an explosion of knowledge, both in medicine and in laboratory science, that there’s many new tests that are available to which many physicians have not learned much about the details. So, think of it like the lab people are very much expert in the right test for the right patient at the right time, and they’re in a position to be more interactive with physicians to help them understand—here’s the new science that’s just come out in the last three to six months or a year, and here’s how you can apply it to your patients to their benefit.

Mayo: Excellent! Tell me about The Dark Report. Tell me about why we need to be reading it, what great things are in there, what good nuggets I’m going to get out of it? I do get it every day. But tell me a little bit about that.

RM: Okay, well we actually have two versions. The Dark Report, itself, is the flagship publication, and that was founded in 1995, and that’s actually in a magazine format that goes out to the subscribers, and the focus of The Dark Report is really to provide information about the financial, the business, and the management side of what’s going on with labs. And then about 10 years ago, we started a similar service, called The Dark Daily. These are emails that are sent electronically to the recipients; and currently, we have 22,000 email readers in 186 countries; and Dark Daily covers much of the similar material as The Dark Report but maybe more with a focus on some of the technology breakthroughs that are happening but are three to five years away from becoming clinically approved and ready for use on patient care.

Mayo: So, I know that you live in Austin, Texas; do you say soda, coke, or pop?

RM: Well, I have to betray my roots. I grew up in southern California where we say soft drinks.

Mayo: Oh, okay. Thank you so much. Loved your presentation. I’m glad you’re here. Hopefully, we’ll see you later.

RM: Yes, well thank you very much.

About Robert Michel

Robert L. Michel is Editor In Chief of THE DARK REPORT, an intelligence service and publication providing economic and strategic assessment of the clinical laboratory industry for senior executives and pathologists that was founded in 1995. He produces the Executive War College on Laboratory and Pathology Management, held every May.

In 2006, Michel established His DarkDaily e-briefings are now read each day by more than 15,000 people in 186 different countries around the world.

Mr. Michel has been at the forefront of the effort to introduce quality management methods into healthcare and laboratory medicine. Each September since 2007, he has produced “Lab Quality Confab and the Process Improvement Institute,” which has become an international conference on the use of Lean, Six Sigma, ISO 15189 and similar quality management methods in laboratories and hospitals.

Mr. Michel’s expertise is strategic analysis, corporate planning and market trend assessment. Formerly he was Director of Strategic Analysis and Special Projects for the regional laboratory division of Nichols Institute prior to, and through, the merger with Corning Clinical Laboratories (now Quest Diagnostics Incorporated). Mr. Michel’s corporate experience includes executive positions with Procter and Gamble Distributing Company, Financial Corp. of America and Centex Corporation.

He attended University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), earning a B.A. in Economics. He is a winner of the Newsletter and Electronic Publisher’s Association prestigious “Best Investigative Reporting” Award and is listed in Marquis’ Who’s Who in Healthcare and Medicine.

Andy Tofilon

Andy Tofilon

Andy Tofilon is a Marketing Segment Manager at Mayo Clinic Laboratories.