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Clinical Labs Staff Newsletter

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A Message From Our CEO

We have some good news. It was announced in the Federal Budget on 9 May that the Bulk Bill Incentive (BBI) will remain in the Medicare Schedule. It seems like a long time ago, but this is a win for people power and phlebotomist power. Most will recall the long campaign after the Budget last year, in which the Government announced that it was going to remove this payment. We, along with Sonic and Primary commenced a petition which became one of the largest in Australian history thanks to our phlebotomists.

The BBI was introduced at the same time the Federal Labor government in 2009 dramatically reduced the collection fee (covers everything outside of a lab – collector and courier salary, rent, collection consumables, cars, IT, reports etc) from $14.80 to around $5.10 – almost a $10 drop per patient episode! They then introduced a new fee of about $3 to encourage us to continue to bulk bill patients (no patient payment). Of course, at a $5.10 fee we cannot afford to provide the service, and if it was removed we would have had no choice but to charge patients as we cannot find that amount of money (around $40 million a year) from cost saving! I don’t think anyone would think the current fee of around $8 is adequate compensation for all it is supposed to cover. Remembering we have only had cuts in fees for the last 20 years, never increases.

So thanks to our phlebotomists and our patients we have managed to change the course of a government’s actions, for the benefit of our patients, by avoiding yet another cut. Stay tuned, we hope we don’t need more help in the future, but if we do, we know where we can find it!

 


New Technology in the Fight Against Diabetes

A new instrument has made a remarkable difference to biochemistry departments at Clinical Labs’ core laboratories. The new Roche Cobas c513 analyser is a dedicated instrument that performs HbA1c testing to monitor glucose levels in the fight against diabetes.

Clayton was the first laboratory in Australia to get the analyser when it was installed last December. Since then, the analyser has also been installed at Wayville, Bella Vista and Osborne Park. The analyser can perform double the number of tests of its predecessor.

 “The Roche Cobas c513 analyser represents cutting edge technology and our investment in this instrument will help us deliver a better service to our referrers and their patients.

 “It’s also made a huge difference to our business. In June 2016 the previous model was performing around 4,500 tests each week. Currently, the Cobas c513 is performing 7,000 tests per week and further growth is anticipated. Operating the new analyser has meant we’ve been able to decrease the cost of tests while at the same time being able to perform more tests which has significantly improved our productivity,” State Manager SA and NT and National Procurement Manager, Eric Swayn said.


 

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WA Pathologist Presents Research Work

The recent Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia’s Pathology Update meeting was the first major medical conference held at the new Sydney Convention Centre.  The meeting attracted more than 1,400 people – a record number of delegates - and was followed by a meeting of Clinical Labs attendees, giving an opportunity for some of our newly "blended family" to meet interstate colleagues.

As well as chairing the Anatomic Pathology Programme Committee for Pathology Update, Assoc Prof Chris Hemmings (Clinical Director of our Subiaco laboratory) presented a poster entitled "Stem cell marker expression correlates with radiation response in locally advanced rectal cancer".  This poster described some of Chris's findings from part of her rectal cancer research project, which forms the basis of her PhD.  The poster was adorned with the Clinical Labs logo and plenty of purple and orange!"

You can view the poster here.

The recent Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia’s Pathology Update meeting was the first major medical conference held at the new Sydney Convention Centre.  The meeting attracted more than 1,400 people – a record number of delegates - and was followed by a meeting of Clinical Labs attendees, giving an opportunity for some of our newly "blended family" to meet interstate colleagues.

As well as chairing the Anatomic Pathology Programme Committee for Pathology Update, Assoc Prof Chris Hemmings (Clinical Director of our Subiaco laboratory) presented a poster entitled "Stem cell marker expression correlates with radiation response in locally advanced rectal cancer".  This poster described some of Chris's findings from part of her rectal cancer research project, which forms the basis of her PhD.  The poster was adorned with the Clinical Labs logo and plenty of purple and orange!"


 

 

Sydney Team Hosts Oncology Event

Australian Clinical Labs in partnership with Myriad Genetics recently hosted an evening with surgeons and oncologists from across Sydney.  Presentations were delivered by leading experts in breast pathology and oncology - Professor Sandra O’Toole from Clinical Labs and Professor Marion Kiechle Director of the Women’s Clinic - Technical University of Munich.

Professor O’Toole as part of her presentation explored the multidisciplinary treatment decisions in ER positive breast cancer in the genomic era, drawing on her in-depth knowledge and years of experience leading research into breast cancer. Professor O’Toole’s presentation included healthy discussion surrounding best practice of tissue handling and preservation which has a major impact on the quality and timeliness of analysis that can be done.

 

Professor Marion Kiechle demonstrated the importance of prognostic markers in early breast cancer and EndoPredict’s clinical utility and superior clinical results. She was also able to show the very real impact that quality prognostic data provided by EndoPredict can have on treatment options.

 Concluding remarks by attendees were overwhelmingly positive with many saying that the “clinical utility of testing was now a no brainer” for them and one specialist saying that they would start lobbying departmental groups for funding to support wider use of EndoPredict testing for patients.

The event allowed us to showcase our scientific leadership by offering a test that is clinically superior to competitive offerings, market leading technology that allows us to exclusively perform this test locally in Australia and, our talented people Prof O’Toole and Prof Bilous who are highly regarded experts in breast pathology. EndoPredict is a test that empowers decision making that improves our patients’ lives. It is just another way that Australian Clinical Labs is delivering on its vision, mission and values.


 

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NSW Update - Chris Brownlow

When you factor in sleep, many of us spend more than 50 per cent of our time travelling to work, at work or thinking about work.  This also means that without exception, every employee of Clinical Labs spends an inordinate amount of time interacting with others – colleagues, customers and patients.  It has been said many times over but we absolutely are a people business and in our case it is one of our greatest strengths.

 The challenge for all of us is to understand the value of our people.  And before you read this and say yes that is right but my boss doesn’t get it, I do not see this as a management issue alone.  Although the main reason people go to work is to earn money, many studies show that this is definitely not the sole motivator.  People like to be good at something and we like to be noticed through appreciation or praise.  This increases our interest and then makes us want to return.  So my point is that we are all responsible for being good at what we do, interacting appropriately and providing thanks and recognition to each other - across functions and multi-directional.  I understand that disagreements will occur and sometimes we are put out, however if we are ultimately guided by our vision and values we should be able to move past these with the aim of being good at and feeling good about what we do.

This brings me to my recent experiences in meetings with staff and managers across many parts of our business, both metro and regionally.  We are often communicating past, present and future changes and it was great for me and some of the other NSW management team when meeting with a number of regional labs, couriers and collection staff to see how pleased they were to be recognised for their work and contribution to the company, and share with them our plans for the future.  I came away feeling even more positive about our prospects, what we can achieve as a team and felt that we have a clear purpose and framework to operate.  So I would like to not only thank all of the people I have interacted with over the last month, but to all of our staff for your ongoing commitment to what we do and to each other.

Lastly, I wanted to congratulate all of the expectant mothers and fathers from our NSW business (the number is in the double digits).  There is a development and population boom in NSW and it seems that many of our staff are doing their bit.  For those of you in regional labs and our couriers and collectors, on behalf of everyone at Clinical Labs I would like to congratulate you on your expectant child and wish you a healthy and safe childbirth – perhaps the next generation of Clinical Labs people.


WA Update - Dr Wayne Smit

If you want to go fast, go alone.

If you want to go far, go together.”

African Proverb

 

It has been a month to remember. The rebranding is complete and the face of our collection centres and laboratories has changed across Western Australia. The team look fabulous in their new uniforms and the cars are already getting lots of attention. I know the process is not complete, but I would like to again acknowledge the great work done to measure up and co-ordinate all this, particular from Mike Watts and the marketing staff here in WA.

This has also been a month where we have regrettably farewelled a number of long time staff. Without listing them all, I would like to acknowledge and thank them for their contributions to pathology here in Perth and wish them well in their future endeavours.

Substantial changes to the processes and responsibilities within Microbiology are now complete. Dr Sudha PottumarthyBoddu remains as pathologist in charge while the on call roster has been supplemented by the addition of four infectious disease physicians. Our experienced scientists will now also be authorizing out more of the routine samples. Early indications suggest these changes have further improved service and turnaround times.

The pace of our journey to create the WA Clinical Labs team has been building over time, and in the months to ahead we will continue to define how we can best operate as part of the national team. In so many parts of Clinical Labs WA I have been impressed by the efforts people have made to cooperate and make these changes happen. While it is vital to have outstanding and talented individuals, it is our ability to collaborate and work together that will ultimately determine our success.

Continuing with the teamwork theme, I’m happy to announce our WA couriers have been recognised by our CEO Melinda McGrath with a Staff Achievement Award. In what was a difficult time for all, Didi Ellies and Cushla Foster led the courier team to pull together and ensure a reliable and uninterrupted service throughout the merger. The success of this teamwork stood out to Melinda, and was highly valued. I hope you all join me in congratulating our courier team for their outstanding work. 

I hope to share more great stories about our business as we come together over the weeks and months ahead.

Once again, thank you for your great work.

Regards,

Wayne


 

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SA Update - Eric Swayn

The South Australian business currently employs over 500 local South Australians (including Broken Hill in NSW). Our network reaches from Broken Hill, that wants to be in SA, to Whyalla way out west, across to the Victorian border in Berri and Barmera, and then down south to Mt Gambier. We have a vast network with a huge number of loyal and respected staff.

Our collectors and couriers sit at the frontline. They are the face of our business, and represent us daily by providing the highest level of professionalism and respect to our huge patient base.

The sample hits our main lab and straight into SRA. A number of staff have served this business longer than the Adelaide Crows have been in the AFL, and continue to be professional and always have the patient at the forefront of everything they do. Into the departments the sample moves. Our Haematology department is fully focused on high quality results and best outcomes for our patients. They perform all of SA’s work as well as all of the Hb Electro work for the national business. Biochemistry has a long and loyal staff base who push the work through making sure patient and quality is front and centre. Our special chemistry department continues to service not only SA patients but all of Australia.

Next we come to Microbiology, yep the smelly department, highly hands on and less automated than other areas.  also contains lots of long-term and loyal Fun Guys and Fun Gals! They also run all the Fungi for the National business.

Down a corridor and you hit Anatomical Pathology, hidden away out of sight. The staff here have very labour intensive duties. Tirelessly processing samples, cutting sections, looking down microscopes and delivering high quality product to our Pathologist team.

And on the end of the phones we have our combined services centre staff. Welcome to Australian Clinical Labs, how can I help you? Patiently answering calls from our doctors and clients and the general community. A tough job as it’s always hard to keep everyone happy, but they are fully focused on making sure we always have a good outcome.

The management team, the sales team and the Pathologist team, always focused on our patients.

I am so happy to manage this wonderful business, staff are always mindful of the fact that a sample could belong to their partner, mother, father, brother, sister or child, and the list goes on, but in the end it belongs to someone who deserves the best possible result and outcome.

The staff in SA and NT (and Broken Hill), are our greatest ASSET, and one of the best teams I have ever had pleasure to be a part of.


 

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Victorian Update - Anthony Friedli

My six year old son asked me on the weekend “why do you like Australian Clinical Labs so much?” (I was so proud of him not using the taboo ‘’ACL to describe us!). It was a very interesting question and I must admit it probably caught me off guard compared to the normal questions I am asked about his favourite football player or why ice cream isn’t mandatory at all meals! So, like any good manager I leapt into a discussion on how we are bringing our values to life –how we are investing in science for the future, looking at leapfrogging our competitors in IT and being a really efficient and patient-centric organisation. His glazed look told me something: he did not want to know what I like about Clinical labs but WHY I like it! A big difference in his world. And it reminded me of an awesome book I read a few years ago by Simon Sinek called “Start with Why” (a really good TED talk if you are interested).

So why do I like Clinical Labs? Well, the answer became quite simple in the end – the people I get to work with each and every day. I just love the thought of coming in each day and working with smart people who truly want to make their mark on this world. People who know that if we get this right that our business will not only survive but flourish. People that can see our testing being a vital piece in the health fabric of this country. It really is uplifting to be in this environment. There are lots of examples of this happening all over the business, and here are just a few that I would like to mention:

Business Development – We are going through a real revolution when it comes to the way we interact with the market. Conversations about value, partnership and excellence are being had throughout the state. The number of contracts we are reviewing and new doctor practices we are evaluating is outstanding and a testament to Darren and the team. And with the formalisation of the Specialist and Hospital team under the leadership of David Wragg I feel the best is yet to come.

Integration – If there was a team that epitomised the tagline – Plan and Execute it would be Kelvin Lee and the team working on bringing our two great businesses together. With Operations working in conjunction with the hard working IT team they are systematically bringing our dreams to life. Change is one of those things that can have many upsides but also create stress within a business. It is great to see a team that not only sees the process and its opportunities, but ensures the people impacted are supported and respected.

Collection Centres – For the biggest team in the group (I am told its 909!), they continue to make the difficult happen without much fuss. The complexity of such a big team cannot be under-estimated. From rostering to hiring to induction to new products to new sites to closed sites – it’s a daily puzzle that gets solved over and over again. Donna and her direct team of Kaylene Williams, Kelly Wright and Linda Johnson bring ideas to life and never stop wanting to do better. They do not see their team being on a rotating wheel going nowhere, but on a set of stairs marching towards Exceptional Patient Experience.

Lab Redesign – There is an amazing amount of activity happening at Clayton at the moment – there are walls coming down, glass going up, departments on the move, departments expanding and lots of great additions that will benefit us all as a group. With Adrian Matuk and Andrew Shaw driving these improvements we are starting to see dreams become reality. And at the same time Tony Field, Jo Mercuri and Graeme Carter are creating the team of the future which has plenty of mix of people from both businesses. Each and every week there is something new to see – which is exciting!

Pathologists – there is lots happening with our pathologists as well. Forums are being setup where topics of national significance are debated (most passionately!) and real positive decisions are made for the good of the group. National centres of excellence are being designed and ready for trial as well as working on increased communications. The feeling is electric.

So after satisfying my son’s question his response to me was priceless – “that’s really good daddy. It must be really good to go to work and see nice people”.

Good luck to you all for the coming month!

Anthony


 

Staff Achievement Awards 

Congratulations to our staff who were recognised for their great work through the Staff Achievement Awards and Customer Excellence Awards in March.

Some of the recipients are pictured below.

 

Staff Achievement Award 

Darren Dunn Client IT Support, SA

Darren was nominated for his responsiveness
to his internal stakeholders.

"There's no 'no' or 'can't' in his vocabulary."

Pictured with Eric Swayn

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Staff Achievement Award 

WA Courier Team

WA couriers were nominated for their efforts during the merger. In what was a difficult time for all, Didi Ellies and Cushla Foster led the courier team to pull together and ensure a reliable and uninterrupted service.

Back Row: Sonya Anania, Sandra Taljaard, Peter Ruffell, Wayne Smit, Di Nason, Hannah Austin.

Front Row: Cathy Bubnich, Jill Skinner, Didi Ellies, Cushler Foster, Robyn Cureton, Brian Harfield.

Customer Excellence Award 

Fiona Leverington

Collections, SA

Pictured with Eric Swayn

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Customer Excellence Award

John Cunningham

Courier, Geelong VIC

Pictured with Jacinta Munro