Erica Humbach is the General Manager at HealthTrackRx. In this position, she oversees the daily function of all laboratory operations. This is no small task, as HealthTrackRx operates several laboratories, and the services they offer often change to meet the evolving needs of clients. Currently, Erica manages four laboratories: Pre-Analytical, which receives, accessions, flags missing sample information, and processes billing for incoming samples; Serology, which tests blood samples for COVID-19 antibodies; Infectious Disease Technical, which tests for the presence of specific pathogens within a variety of samples; and, finally, Post-Analytical, which analyzes the data and provides reports to clients.
Her job is complex and technical, and Erica is well-suited for the task. She holds a B.S. in chemistry with a minor in math, and an M.S. in chemistry with a minor in business administration. Prior to being promoted to General Manager, Erica was Director of Lab Operations, so she was already familiar with the laboratory team. She stepped into the new position to meet a sudden need when the department underwent some quick restructuring.
Erica is approaching year seven with HealthTrackRx. During this time, she has facilitated tremendous growth for the company. “The Infectious Disease Laboratory was originally four employees,” Erica told me during a recent conversation, “one shift with a cut-off time of 1:00 p.m. If the samples weren’t in by then, they got run the next day.” Now, in stark contrast, “we are open and processing samples twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.”
Responding to COVID-19
Part of Erica’s job involved helping the laboratories scale to meet the demands brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. This included, among other tasks, hiring and training dozens of new lab technicians. Erica represented HealthTrackRx at hiring fairs, where, as she described, “we even had workstations set up to show everyone what the job was and what it would entail—to make sure that we were upfront with realistic expectations.” During peak hiring rates, “we were bringing in around thirty people a day to start training.” Even the laboratories’ data-entry system got an update to make it more efficient: “We implemented a brand-new layout of the Laboratory Information System that completely changed how our laboratory technicians log and access information.”
“I remember being up here one night—it was probably ten at night—but we had to get this training video completed. We completed the training video that night and then we had to send it out to all the temps, and they had to take a quiz about it, showing that they understood the new system and could be efficient at it. Any issues that arose from that training we would then tackle head-on.”
“So yeah,” Erica concluded with a wry smile, “COVID was definitely stressful.”
How HealthTrackRx Excels
HealthTrackRx, in no small part because of Erica’s hard work, has emerged from the pandemic more efficient, capable, and flexible than ever. I asked Erica what she thought the company did well. “I think that because we are a specialty lab, we can cater to the market quicker,” she answered, offering an example: “We have one client that would like tuberculosis testing on urine samples, but we only offer tuberculosis testing in our respiratory panel. So right now, we’re looking to add to our Urinary Tract Infectious Disease panel for that specific client.” Erica was also proud of her department’s turnaround time, noting that the company offers results within twenty-four hours for 98 percent of the samples it receives.
It is Erica’s love for her team that keeps her so motivated. “I really enjoy working with the lab team,” she shared. “I’ve worked with these people for the past seven years, and whether they leave and come back or they find greener pastures, I always try to stay in touch. I know the lab is always underappreciated; trying to show appreciation for my team is something I live for!”