Talking with Randy Daniel

Jan. 1, 2003
Talking with Randy Daniel Dade Behrings North America Customer Management president
Celia Stevens: As your company emerges as a global player in the clinical diagnostics industry, what are the major trends that will most affect the industrys future?Randy Daniel: First, the ongoing shortage of trained personnel will continue to be the key factor that will drive the need for instrument automation and workplace consolidation. For the foreseeable future, we will need to continue to provide customers with increasingly sophisticated instruments that enable fewer technicians to conduct more tests, more accurately. We as manufacturers will need to continue to assist laboratories in operating more efficiently, through the products we design and the added-value services that we offer. Dade Behrings leadership in workstation consolidation, which solves some of the most pressing work-related problems in the labs, is clear evidence of our commitment to making the jobs of lab personnel easier and more cost-effective. Second, regarding added-value services, from our point of view, the success that were seeing in our management consulting entity will continue to grow, offering a needed service to our customers by providing them with techniques for resource management. We offer our customers services in nearly every aspect of the laboratory, such as analysis of needs, floor design and proposals for workcell consolidation, or even consultation about specimen handling. All aspects of resource management become critically important as you have fewer personnel with increasing test volume. Finally, we think, too, that we will see additional vendor consolidation, even though the pace of combinations we saw in the late 1990s has slowed.Stevens: How might the current shortage of clinical laboratory professionals affect your product designs?Daniel: The shortage of professionals has already impacted our approach to instrument design in a way that we believe is unique, with a program called customer-centered product development, or CCPD. With this program, we invite customers to work with us in teams, to help us develop our systems. This ensures that our new products provide customers with workable solutions that they want and need.Our next generation of instrumentation will deliver still greater consolidation, adding nephelometry to general chemistry, and a greatly expanded immunochemistry capability. In coagulation, we continue to work with our partner, Sysmex, to ensure that we offer the best combination of routine and specialty testing. In ID/AST, our investments in rapid testing will give MicroScan customers the best of both worlds: rapid testing coupled with the accuracy of conventional, overnight testing. Also, with the addition of increasingly sophisticated informatics to our instrumentation, we have a management design goal to help laboratory customers eliminate paper and reduce the cost and complexity of managing a lab. These are all working solutions to meet real customer needs.Stevens: What do you expect will bethe impact of genomics and proteomics on your future product offerings and marketing plans?Daniel: We are very intrigued by genomics and proteomics. Right now, the industry isnt sure of their direct applicability, but we know that these areas will be an integral part of the future, particularly proteomics. Long term, there is no doubt that they will be impactive, but its hard to predict the timing. Currently, we are the worldwide leader in plasma proteins, and we think this will position us to participate strategically as the area of proteomics evolves over the next decade. While we do not plan to do research in this area, we do anticipate partnering with discovery companies to bring those markers to the clinical lab market. Our ability to seize the opportunities that will come out of the research laboratories will come from our high-sensitivity homogeneous immunoassay technology, called LOCI. We like to say that when proteomics gives birth to new markers, we have the cradle. That is, our technology will enable us to adopt emerging research on new proteins or protein panels into tests for use in the laboratory, along with the information-processing ability to assist physicians in using the data. Our drive to automate and consolidate testing will enable us to quickly develop and offer new biochemical markers or protein panels in an automated format. Stevens: In 1995, your company was the first manufacturer to introduce the cardiac troponin-I assay. Going forward, in which direction is Dade Behring headed with cardiac diagnostics?Daniel: With ongoing research in proteomics, we think new markers will continue to appear and become important diagnostic tools for cardiac risk assessment. Our troponin-I cardiac marker test remains the gold standard for cardiac risk assessment, and of course, we were also first-to-market with hsCRP, a test which is gaining a lot of attention right now. At the same time, as we introduce new markers, we also focus on educating about the value of the newer tests, to help ensure their adoption.In instrumentation, weve made upgrades that enable our Dimension and Stratus CS equipment to run the same troponin-I test, putting us in a strong position to provide the best correlations across a continuum of patient care that extends from near-patient testing to the central lab.Our cardiac strategy includes developing and offering a model that puts the quantitative assay, and the capability to identify risk, close to the patient so that the cardiologist can make accurate decisions with reduced turnaround time. Stevens: Do you expect demand will heighten for drugs-of-abuse testing products in the next five years? If so, why?Daniel: Yes, there will be growth in this segment. What weve seen occur is an increased interest in drugs-of-abuse testing in the criminal justice system and industrial arenas. It seems that testing is becoming standard across all industries coming from a combination of the prevalence of drugs in society, and also due to safety and liability issues. Theres also the issue of in-school drug testing, which in some places is occurring, and in other places is in debate. That is yet to be resolved on a government level. Stevens: What role will Dade Behring take in the direct access testing market? Which of your major product areas have the most potential for use as direct access testing?Daniel: Our core strategy focuses on the clinical lab, where our strengths lie and where there is significant growth potential. We continue to assess opportunities with point-of-care and physicians office labs, but we believe it makes good business sense to focus on what we do best, which is providing quality instruments, products and services to professionals in the laboratory. Stevens: How important is online interaction with your customers, and do you expect that interaction will expand in the future?Daniel: Online interaction is very critical to our strategy, and weve made significant investments in our capabilities in this area over the last several years. Customer acceptance continues to grow, with more than 10 percent of our orders placed online. They are also making good use of online access to technical documents, eLearning and order-status check offerings. In fact, our website is so effective that Dade Behring was named to the Information Week 500 as one of the nations most innovative users of information technology.We are moving toward making our instruments Internet-capable, which will be a tremendous laboratory management advance. We also plan to deliver preventive maintenance and troubleshooting capabilities through the site, and increasingly, we will continue to use the website to educate our own sales and service personnel, to better serve the customer.Stevens: How does Dade Behring view physicians office laboratories, one of the fastest-growing laboratory segments?Daniel: Weve recently established a greater focus on this segment of the laboratory by becoming involved with several regional physicians office laboratory distributors. Certainly, we have products that are a good fit for the physicians office laboratory market. Again, the clinical laboratory will always be of key importance to us, but we do see testing taking place in physicians office laboratories, and we will investigate opportunities in this area for the right relationship to provide avenues in this market. Stevens: What are the most significant challenges facing clinical laboratories in the next five years? How will Dade Behring help those labs meet those challenges?Daniel: As we have been discussing, key industry challenges will continue to be the shortage of medical technologists and operating-cost challenges. These factors drive the need for automation and platform consolidation. The customer will continue to look to manufacturers for solutions to these ongoing issues. As to our approach in facing these challenges, we believe that Dade Behring has a unique brand in clinical diagnostics, which differentiates us, and we think that we now have the opportunity to promote that brand and the attributes it represents. We are the worlds largest company devoted exclusively to serving the clinical laboratory, and therefore have a more in-depth knowledge of our customers and their needs. This is a sharp focus from which we will not veer, and it is a promise to our customers, as well. We know that, in this industry, relationships are built on trust, which is a long-term proposition that reflects the ability to provide customers with quality products and superior service, consistently over time and we do that. We also know that our customers are looking for innovative solutions to the challenges they face today, as well as those that will arise long term, and here we believe were strategically sound. The diversity of our product offerings helps ensure that we can meet essential laboratory requirements with the most current technological solutions available. Our offerings for workplace consolidation help fill the gap in personnel with automated instrumentation. Our consulting services provide answers to unique laboratory challenges, and our robust pipeline demonstrates our commitment to the future of our partnership. Finally, we provide the kind of helpful, responsive service that truly solves problems and makes the jobs of lab personnel considerably easier.I think we will see that diagnostics will become an increasingly important and visible component to healthcare, and to cost-containment efforts, so we look at ourselves as active collaborators with our customers in creating this future.Randy Daniel is president of Dade Behring North America Customer Management, having previously served as president of North America Sales and Service. He came to Dade Behring upon the formation of the company with the divestiture of Baxter Internationals diagnostics business, after having served in various sales and service functions within Baxter and American Hospital Supply Corp. A microbiologist by education, he is a registered medical technologist with the American Society of Clinical Pathology.                                                             January 2003: Vol. 35, No. 1