The belief that better information can lead to more effective treatments and better outcomes is what Miraca Life Sciences is all about. Its expert pathology labs provide physicians with the information needed to make critical individualized treatment decisions. As an organization, Miraca Life Sciences is striving to optimize its own internal operations to help in this noble cause.
“Every patient deserves the right answer,” says Kathleen Winter, vice president of materials management and facilities. “That is our mission.”
Previously known as Caris Diagnostics, Miraca Life Sciences emerged in early 2012 after Miraca Holdings Inc. acquired Caris in 2011. Miraca Holdings is Japan’s largest clinical pathology diagnostics and laboratory testing service provider.
Headquartered in Irving, Texas, Miraca Life Sciences specializes in the development and commercialization of the highest-quality anatomic pathology services. Its offerings include subspecialty anatomic pathology services in dermatology, gastroenterology, hematology and urology, as well as general surgery pathology services.
With state-of-the-art pathology labs located around the country, the company serves more than 3,000 patients every day. It employs a team of more than 70 academic-caliber specialists, many who are faculty members at leading institutions around the country and actively involved in research programs.
Miraca Life Sciences differentiates itself through diagnosing difficult cases and quality assurance. The company continuously strives to improve diagnostic precision.
Miraca Life Sciences has been shoring up its supply chain operations in recent years. Winter says the laboratory industry has an immature supply chain as samples move from the patient to the laboratory.
“We have to make sure the physician has the right supplies and kits so they can take a biopsy,” Winter says. “They need the right shipping tubes and the ability to get samples to the lab in a timely fashion. And we monitor the touch points as samples move via special couriers or a UPS-type pickup to our labs.”
One of its transformative efforts has been focused on consolidating procurement. It used to have dozens of people ordering inventory across four locations; now, two people order for all of its locations.
“We’ve also been working to be sure we have the right number of people to take care of specimens and the right number of pathologists so we can meet our commitments to customers,” Winter says, “We do this through utilizing the sales and operations planning process.”
Another focus for Miraca Life Sciences has been on closing the tracking gap. The company has engaged UPS’s proactive response tool, which raises flags if an item doesn’t scan at the expected time.
The company also partnered with Path-Tec, a provider of specimen management solutions, to work on an end-to-end implementation of a solution to provide Miraca Life Science with visibility into supply inventory levels at physician offices.
Miraca Life Sciences has also been focused on standardization of everything from reagents to processing tools throughout its footprint. That way, a sample in Texas is processed the same way anywhere else.
“That is in line with giving patients the right answer,” Winter says. “We implemented a perpetual inventory system in three lab locations to set the foundation for standardization. Now every lab is processing the same way.”
Adapting to Change
Of course, there are always challenges. Miraca Life Sciences has been dealing with a 25 percent cut in reimbursement to labs enacted earlier this year, so it has been focused on working with suppliers to have them become business partners.
“We are working on service level agreements and tracking the steps in the value chain,” Winter says.
An additional challenge is related to growth. Miraca Life Sciences acquired PLUS Diagnostics in October, a major cytology, histology and molecular pathology laboratory with specialization in dermatopathology, hematopathology, gastrointestinal pathology and genitourinary pathology.
As Miraca Life Sciences moves forward, its supply chain team has the support of the company’s executives, who recognize the value that supply chain can bring to the company. Miraca Life Sciences has elevated the importance of tracking and getting specimens in early, and it understands the importance of working with strong business partners while being progressive and transparent.
The company creates the best of both worlds by combining what Miraca Life Sciences and PLUS do well. “We won’t accept disparate service levels,” Winter says.