Executive War College ’23 Recap
Another Executive War College conference is in the book, and for us and the nearly 1,000 attendees, it was a success. The phrase “year of opportunity” was heard more than once, and the challenges for labs pivoting in a post-pandemic environment were much talked about. Valuable knowledge was shared, and the phrase, “it was nice meeting up with friends and colleagues” was heard often. This year everyone’s excitement for being there in-person was palatable, and the friendliness and desire to learn more to keep up with our ever-changing industry was clearly a priority for all of us.
U.S. HealthTek has attended Executive War College’s annual conference for years, usually as a sponsor. This year, to reflect the expansion of our products, services and talent, we increased our sponsorship participation. This included many aspects large and small, the biggest being hosting the panel discussion Leveraging IT Investments: Maximize Your Lab’s Value and Performance which we hope gave participants some valuable insight into making the most of their internal spends with regard to IT tools and services.
It all added up to being our best, most fruitful, and frankly, most enjoyable conference ever. This industry conference is one we always make sure we attend because of the quality of the people it attracts. Lab-industry C-Suite executives confirm its value by showing up to it year after year.
Confronting Industry-Wide Changes
It started on Monday, April 24th, with a reception and happy hour, which we always look forward to. This year’s conference was held in the Hyatt in New Orleans rather than the Sheraton, which meant the event was held in a windowless interior room – all it needed was a disco bar and it could have been a dance club!
The General Sessions were well-attended and had a lineup of prestigious speakers. Robert Michel, president of the Dark Intelligence Group, gave a thought-provoking speech on Positioning Your Lab to Prosper by Serving Healthcare’s New Consumers. He spoke about how, in our post-pandemic environment, many in the health care industry are trying to figure out a business model that works, and that going forward, value-based reimbursement will affect labs in profound ways. Health care in general will continue to change as consumer demands change; the recent news that CVS just bought Aetna is a clear example, and those acquisitions are becoming more common, speaking to the monumental industry-level changes happening everywhere.
“The overarching aspect is that organizations like CVS are owning their own health care system, and the consolidation will be far-reaching,” noted Mike Pratt, our VP, Sales and Marketing executive. “No one saw that move by CVS coming, but now it means that consumers will be able to bypass the doctor’s office for many health care needs. It’s all about the consumer’s choices, and if they can participate in a system that is far less time-consuming for them, they will.”
Leveraging IT Investments
Leading up to our morning Benefactor Session on helping labs positively leverage their IT investments, we honestly didn’t know what to expect. But we did know to prepare, and after hours of team meetings and lots of hard work by our three panelists, Bryan Firestone (Founder), Robert Negosian (President and CTO), and Lee Barnard (SVP), we were ready. It was ambitious in that there was a lot of material to cover, as the topic of mergers and acquisitions is extremely relevant to our industry today.
It all paid off. It was well-attended, and after the presentation many people wanted to continue the conversation. The fact that people didn’t want to leave says it all!
“Our panel provided fantastic delivery of vitally important information,” Mike says. “Personally, it was gratifying to hear our three colleagues explain the process in a manner that helped people visualize the process. I was particularly impressed with the questions after.” The questions ranged from general questions on valuation to specific individual situations on how an M&A would affect their organization. (We will do an entire article summarizing the session in the near future, but if you can’t wait, reach out and contact us today for guidance, as we are well-suited to help with this trend.)
There were many educational and thoughtful sessions. Consultant/advisor Chuck Locke did a master class about developing management disciplines that allow teams to efficiently monitor and report the most important KPIs and trends. Another good master class was by Lindsay Strotman (Lab Director) and Nora Hess (Senior Consultant, Accumen). They spoke on issues that keep new CLIA lab directors up at night: compliance requirements, changes in enforcement, and overlooked sources of risk. There were many other great sessions, too, with the best ones addressing the changes happening here and now.
Mike noted that there was much discussion on the shifting and pivoting needed to happen for labs from COVID, embracing digital pathology, and how AI might affect clinical labs and health care in general. “After the EWC, I went to the COLA [Commission on Office Laboratory Accreditation] conference, and an overlapping issue at both was a focus on the workforce shortage. It’s a serious problem for this industry, and we’re in the fortunate position to help companies with that.”
Two moments bookend for me what the EWC is all about. Our first night provided the opportunity to take a client out to dinner and get some enjoyable personal interaction in, reinforcing our working relationship and getting to know them, and their company, even better. The second was our dedicated meeting room at the conference, where we invited people to set up meetings with members of our team, or just drop by for a bottle of water and a quick hello. One client, who we’ve been working with for 10 years, fell into that latter category – but it was the first time we had ever met her in person. It’s a small thing, perhaps, but it meant the world to me, as nothing is more valuable than those face-to-face moments to make the work we do every day more meaningful and more personal, all of which the #EWC2023 made possible.
We have already committed to be a sponsor at Executive War College 2024 and will be hosting another panel next year to help keep labs current in making sure their IT systems are humming along, and supporting their company in the best way possible. We will see you there!