Panic in the lab!

Perhaps one of my favorite stage names is "Panic at the disco!", and I've taken it as the name for this entry. 2020 was a particularly difficult year for everyone. Personally, looking at things with some long-term perspective, I deduced that the Covid-19 pandemic is not just a rare once-in-a-lifetime event, but a rare event once in at least four lifetimes. My grandmother, may she rest in peace, was born after the Spanish influenza pandemic. She lived for many years, but did not manage to see events such as the turn of the century and millennium, the reversal of the Panama Canal, cell phones or the Internet, and certainly this pandemic. That says a lot about the magnitude of this event.

During 2020 we experienced catastrophic events in the lab such as the death of one in our team, having to liquidate almost the entire staff to keep the company afloat and re-inventing many things that already existed, changing the landscape. As a pathology lab, when we started operations in 2008, we found a completely analogous, slow, anecdotal and non-standardized market.

"Win like you are used to it; Lose like you enjoy it."

"Win like you are used to it; Lose like you enjoy it."

With great pride we can affirm that we changed the market then, implementing digital reports in PDF format, the use of digital photographic documentation of surgical specimens and histological preparations, the coding of neoplasms and standardizing the use of topographic sites, the use of substitutes for harmful solvents used in histological processing, and many other innovations that we think would remain as academic experiments. Now, we've re-thought the requests for histopathological study that are reproduced throughout our country with a format of when the reports were transcribed by typewriters on the same sheet where said study was requested.

Having put into practice the productive results of all those trials and errors of the last ten years proved to be vital in the survival of the laboratory and its expansion in a time of crisis. I'm sure no one likes problems or unpleasant surprises, but to think that we will never come across these experiences is simply naive.

The difference between living and dying well can be the attitude with which we face them, making use of the strengths that we already have, addressing the weaknesses that we've self-diagnosed in our own organizations and looking for new "hills of opportunity" as Jeremy Gutsche would call it.

It cannot be denied that technology made this quarantine a less traumatic experience for everyone, but it has also proven to be an important tool for small businesses, just like ours, improving their exposure, competitiveness and innovation. Finding a beautiful calm meadow making use of these tools can be a breath of fresh air when you've almost drowned, but believing that it is the final solution can be a mistake in anticipating that circumstances may change dramatically again in the future.

Until now, health professionals have found in video conferencing, the use of social networks and freeing themselves from paper in interactions with their patients a solution for survival. However, these new obligations of having to do so many things, sometimes at once, can be exhausting and diluting the effort, because before the consultation was concentrated in an act within the office and now promotion is done on social media, scheduling is done by phone, the service can even be given over the Internet, charging for services through bank transfer and sending documentation by email.

In our lab, as you can see, we own a domain with the name of the company where we do our own advertising and communicate with the community. Emails are also personalized and communication takes place almost entirely on our biopsy platform and by email. We use social media to reach out with what already is on our website, and we don't create new content for each of the different social networks, which is a fairly substantial divergence from the common denominator of our competitors. What do you do to improve the performance of your organization, be it private practice or a small business, to adjust to the "new normal" and anticipate future changes in the work environment?

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