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Marketing to Clinical Laboratory Leaders in Healthcare

Understanding Their Role

Hospital laboratories are sections of a hospital that most of the public do not see.1 These busy hospital departments contain two separate laboratory specialties – clinical and anatomical pathology. Clinical pathology deals with the diagnosis of disease through analysis of tissues, cells or bodily fluids. It is the clinical pathology branch of laboratory medicine that processes common tests such as blood cell counts, urinalysis, and blood glucose levels. Anatomical pathology is involved with the diagnosis of disease using surgical specimens.2 Not all hospitals maintain their own clinical laboratories. Almost fifty percent of hospitals are served by commercial lab services such as market leaders LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics. Commercial lab companies may contract to manage, or outright purchase in-hospital labs or service may be outsourced directly to central laboratory locations.3


Laboratory Staffing


The term laboratorian applies to all professional staff who work in clinical laboratories dedicated to the diagnosis and control of disease. Members of the clinical laboratory team can include:


  • Pathologist
  • Pathologist Assistant (PA)
  • Clinical Biochemist
  • Medical Laboratory Technician or Clinical Laboratory Technician
  • Medical Laboratory Scientist (MLS) or Medical Laboratory Technologist
  • Medical Laboratory Assistant (MLA)
  • Phlebotomist (PBT)


A pathologist is a physician who has undergone a residency in pathology and may have taken additional specialized training in areas such as forensic pathology. Pathologists are often the director of hospital clinical laboratories. Medical Laboratory Scientists or Medical Laboratory Technologists must have a four-year college degree from a program accredited by the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science, pass a national certification exam and be licensed in some states. Those with the title of Medical Laboratory or Clinical Laboratory Clinician have a two-year degree in their field and may be licensed by their state. Clinical biochemists must possess a bachelor's degree or higher and may have to be certified. Clinical biochemists that work in a clinical laboratory generally are involved in research such as determining new methods for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. Phlebotomists are a member of the laboratory team that patients come into contact with on a regular basis as they are the professionals that draw blood for testing. To be a phlebotomist, it is necessary to finish a training program from a community college or vocational school. Most hospitals also require that phlebotomists be certified through the National Phlebotomy Association and some states require licensing.4




Clinical laboratories that deal with human samples for the diagnosis of disease are required to meet certification requirements as part of Clinical Laboratory Improvements Act administered by the US Department of Health and Human Services. Minimum standards for certification also cover requirements for clinical laboratory staff. Accreditation for laboratories is available from such organizations as the Joint Commission College of American Pathologists (AAB), the American Association of Bioanalysts and local and federal government agencies.5





The field of laboratory science is unusual in terms of state licensing. While professions such as electricians, massage therapists, nurses, realtors and even barbers are required to be licensed in all states, there are only twelve states that mandate medical laboratorians to be licensed. Almost 70% of objective patient information that is used in the diagnosis and treatment of patients is supplied by MLS or MLT professionals. It then seems strange that laboratory professionals are not uniformly required to be licensed. Industry experts fear that with only 2,600 MLS and 2,300 MLT students graduating on an annual basis and with more than 9,100 laboratory job openings, hospitals, and commercial labs will hire non-certified employees. The ability to fill professional lab positions is expected to worsen as more baby boomers require medical care and the need for trained clinical laboratory workers continues to rise.6


“Today, highly automated labs process hundreds of samples a day, as medical laboratory scientists sort ‘panic values’ from routine results. But unlike doctors and nurses, their essential work is done out of public view.” - Lisa Esposito, Patient Advice Reporter, U.S. News & World Report 7

1  Esposito, Lisa. “Hospital Labs Behind the Scenes.” US News & World Report. January (2015). Accessed 11/9/2015. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/patient-advic...

2 Griffin, Donald J. Hospitals: What They Are and How They Work . 4th ed. 40 Tall Pine Drive, Sudbury, MA 01776, 978-443-5000, www.jblearning.com: Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2012.

3 Lee, Jaimy. “Evaluating Lag Outsourcing.” Modern Healthcare 44, no. 35 (2014): 22 – 24. EBSCOhost(97873292).

4 Griffin, Donald J. Hospitals: What They Are and How They Work .

5 Baron J. M., and A. S. Dighe. “The role of informatics and decision support in utilization management.” Clin Chim Acta. 2014 Jan 1;427:196-201. doi: 10.1016/j.cca.2013.09.027. Epub 2013

6 Rohde, Rodney, David M Falleur, and Joanna R. Ellis. “Almost anyone can perform your medical laboratory tests – wait, what?” Elsevier Connect. March 10 2015. Accessed November 10, 2015. https://www.elsevier.com/connect/almost-anyone-can...

7 Esposito, Lisa. “Hospital Labs Behind the Scenes.


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Copyright © 2016 Fusion Point Research, Inc.

Marketing to Leaders in Healthcare

Clinical laboratories conduct a variety of tests needed for the diagnosis and treatment of disease. These busy laboratories are staffed by highly educated professionals. Many hospitals have chosen to outsource all or portions of their needed laboratory services to specialized companies.