April 24, 2017

Spotlight on laboratory science and service

During National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, Kaiser Permanente recognizes its thousands of laboratory professionals who are responsible for more than 150 million laboratory tests annually

Mary Kate Gleeson-Kreps, a Kaiser Permanente member in Northern California, was diagnosed with uterine cancer in 2014. Today, she still praises her general practitioner and her ob-gyn who were with her every step of the way, the surgeon who deftly and successfully performed the hysterectomy, the nurses and the staff who provided the pre- and postoperative care. She even rhapsodizes about the radiologists who performed the ultrasounds.

There’s one group she’d like to thank personally but she’s never met them: the professionals in laboratory who quickly and efficiently handled and transported her biopsy sample, correctly administered the proper tests, and had the results in her electronic medical record and back to her doctor within 24 hours.

photo of Mary Kate Gleeson-Kreps
Mary Kate Gleeson-Kreps, a Kaiser Permanente member in Northern California.

“They don’t do it for glory. They do it because they are passionate about getting it right and being efficient and timely,” Gleeson-Kreps said. “They know this can be a terrifying time for patients, many of whom are expecting awful news. They’re unsung heroes.”

It’s time to sing their praises because April 23-29 is National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, the annual opportunity to honor the more than 300,000 scientists, pathologists, technicians, phlebotomists and other professionals around the country for the accurate work they do performing and interpreting different types of lab tests every day.

The American Society for Clinical Pathology, which sponsors the annual recognition, reports laboratory professionals perform and interpret more than 10 billion laboratory tests in the United States every year.

Kaiser Permanente employs more than 7,000 laboratory professionals in nearly 300 laboratories, and manages more than 150 million laboratory tests annually, including tests Kaiser Permanente performs within its walls and tests it sends out to external laboratories. Tests include general laboratory (such as blood and urine), anatomic (cancer screening and tissue tests), and genetic services. The laboratory professionals are a vital link in the quality care provided to our more than 11.3 million members every day.

“Our laboratories play a vital role in the care we provide, as tens of thousands of members utilize our laboratory services every day,” said Lisa Arellanes, executive director, Laboratory Strategy and Implementation. “Approximately three-quarters of all medical decisions are based upon laboratory results. I am so proud to work with so many highly trained and competent laboratory professionals. Without the thousands of conscientious professionals and staff, we wouldn’t have the essential information needed to provide best treatment and care possible.”

Laboratory professionals and staff, along with streamlined turnaround times for laboratory results and the ability for members to view their results on kp.org, play a key role in members’ overall experiences with Kaiser Permanente. They undoubtedly contribute to the organization’s top performance on major accolades such as the J.D. Power Member Health Plan Study and NCQA’s Health Insurance Plan Ratings.

“What makes Kaiser Permanente stand out is they always want to get better, improve — that’s a big deal,” Gleeson-Kreps said. “They (lab professionals) know their job is to be timely and accurate, but they strive to go above and beyond. I’m happy to see them get the recognition they deserve.”

For more information about Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, please visit the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science website.