The clinical laboratory environment comes with its own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Conducting a SWOT analysis can show you how well-positioned your lab is in the current landscape, as well as provide you with the data that you need to come up with the strategic goals that lead your company forward. After completing the SWOT, you should have a clearer path of the way forward and understand the opportunities and obstacles that await.
One strength of a clinical laboratory is its availability. A clinical laboratory that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week is going to have an advantage over those that operate only during regular business hours. Offering a wider variety of lab tests than the competition can be another strength. Speedy delivery of results can make a laboratory a natural choice over slower rivals, as is flexibility. If you have the capabilities to run by a nearby nursing home and draw blood for immobile patients, that can be a selling point over rivals. Strengths can be the building blocks for expansion and business development when external forces allow, so this is the list that reveals where your best opportunities may be.
A possible weakness for a clinical laboratory is outdated information systems or a lack of in-house capabilities for analyzing results. If the lab can only perform the procedure and has to outsource some of the analysis,it will take more time and perhaps cost more money. Limited test offerings is a weakness, particularly for patients who need multiple tests done and want to get them all done in one sitting. Payroll can be a weakness if direct labor costs are a drain on the budget. Weaknesses are what leave you vulnerable, whether because an inability to correct them would leave you unable to take advantage of opportunities or more susceptible to threats. For example, if not corrected, you might lose customers to facilities with more offerings or whose lower payroll allows them to devote more funds to expansion.
If a clinical laboratory can streamline its processes and stabilize the cost structure, the health care changes in the United States may provide an opportunity to serve more patients. If it can position itself as less expensive and time-consuming than a hospital but more comprehensive than a physician’s office, the middle ground could be a lucrative place to be. Adding services could also bring opportunities, particularly more specialized gene-based tests that are offered in fewer establishments. Once opportunities are uncovered, you can conduct a cost-benefit analysis to discover which are the highest priorities that can position you for greater success.
Competition is always a threat, as a growing industry could result in rival laboratories muscling into your business area. For clinical laboratories, some of that competitors may be hospitals who are looking to get into that space by offering on-site testing. Government regulation can hurt business if it caps the amount of money that can be billed to insurance for services. As the shortage of health care workers is expected to increase as baby boomers retire, the increasing costs of qualified labor could be a threat to your bottom line. How you decide to mitigate these threats, whether by convincing local hospitals to partner with you instead of competing against you or coming up with an innovative plan to retain your workforce, can determine whether they'll prove to be minor blips in the business plan or potential fatal blows to your business.