Clinical Pathology service as backbone of an Anatomic Pathology group

July 23, 2020

How one pathology group’s role in clinical pathology helps them build a solid health system relationship.

Strong clinical pathology service is the foundation of a good health system relationship. This is the premise on which Tony Kubat, M.D., the President of Michigan Pathology Specialists, leads his 26-person pathology group in working with Spectrum Health System in Western Michigan. 

In a recent conversation, Dr. Kubat noted that during the COVID-19 challenge his team and their strong efforts in clinical pathology, primarily led by Executive Medical Director Bill Chopp and the clinical pathologists, helped lead the entire health system with COVID-19 testing. He also noted their strong work in clinical pathology bolsters the anatomic side of the practice, which in turn helps strengthen their relationship with their health system. 

The backbone of their pathology group is a strong cadre of mid-level leaders, pathologists with experience which generally averages around a decade, at least in MPS. These experienced pathologists were able to find solutions and solve laboratory problems while helping the health system respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The core of any good team is their experienced team members, people who have knowledge and the ability to get things done. 

Dr. Kubat noted, “the clinical laboratory sees virtually 100% of the patient population in the hospital and the impact may be diluted by patient, but is very impactful by outcome.” 

When the challenges of COVID-19 became apparent, the experts at Michigan Pathology Specialists met with the system’s Physician Leadership to game plan their approach. Additionally, Dr. Kubat had a separate meeting with the system’s president. Then, with their experienced staff and clinical pathology team leading the way, they made changes that allowed to the entire health system to respond to issues as they arose and provided an intelligent outcome for the heath system and a quality outcome for the patients of the community. 

“Anatomic pathology may be 90% of the revenue in a pathology practice but clinical pathology is 90% of the relationship,” said Dr. Kubat. “The relationship is a real key; the clinicians want someone to go to who has answers. Because our Executive Medical director and clinical pathologists built relationships, physician and system leaders knew who to approach in the lab. We really opened up the ‘black box’ and provided value in a time of crisis by validating testing on an emergent basis. COVID-19 gave us an opportunity to get out from behind the microscope and step out and establish ourselves as high visibility impact players in order to live up to our group’s mission of optimizing patient care through diagnostic excellence and lab leadership.”

This also has provided a foundation for a next step for the pathology group—creating the ability to order a laboratory consult, beginning with transfusion medicine and coagulation, two areas which are poorly understood and poorly utilized by our clinical colleagues.

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