Saturday, October 19, 2013

The importance of meetings

The importance of meetings
The importance of meetings is that people meet. Today we have to change that a old adage a bit, because people can also “meet” over video conference and webcast and text conferencing;  all these have value, but from my perspective are not the same as a good old fashioned face-to-face  meeting and having the opportunity to share common live experiences.  

Over the last few days we have been hosting the Quality Management Conference for Medical Laboratories here in Vancouver.  We have about 130 people here, talking, eating, and sharing experience in one room.   The audience included the full spectrum of laboratory professionals interested in laboratory quality.  There were laboratory technologists, administrators, leaders and directors, investigators and consultants, and of course, very important, partners and sponsors.  There were presentations and discussion, agreement and (respectful) disagreement, and good food and entertainment.

It was, from my very biased perspective, a very successful meeting of tangible minds in a live reality experience.

F-t-F meetings are actually becoming a lot harder to orchestrate, at least in Canada because resources for hosting meetings and resources for attending meetings are shrinking.  Both the public sector and private sector are feeling the squeeze.  But laboratory administrations do need to recognize that Quality improvement does not happen in a vacuum; improvement needs to be linked to continuing education.  Education without meetings can and does occur, but books and webcasts and staring at a computer can go only so far.  And while I appreciate that industry is under its own set of pressures from competition and Merger and Acquisition (M&A), cutting off its audience doesn’t make things better; it makes things worse.  A single meeting brings the sponsor together with a hundred or more contacts.  Everybody wins.

There were a number of themes that arose during the two and a half days:
·       There are links between medical laboratory quality and standardization in all its guises.
·       Quality and Safety and Risk and Error are intimately linked and improved through appropriate application of Quality tools
·       The critical role for Quality education at all levels.  (over all consensus is that starting on-the-job is way too late!)
·       Laboratory Quality has huge impact on patient care, and its corollary, patients can and do make their mark on laboratory management through voicing concerns and compliments and complaints. 

More information to follow.

This was not our “first rodeo”; over the years we have put on about 25 conferences.  This was our most ambitious, and from many perspectives, our most successful. 
The presentations will soon all be posted and we will share the link.

Our most immediate task is to make sure people fill in the Evaluation form.  I don’t know why, but getting that part done is often like pulling teeth.  I am hoping that we can get to 15%, but even that may turn out to be a lot of work.

I am starting to think we have to start building in incentives for submitting an evaluation.  I

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