Do you consider yourself a control freak? And by control, we mean quality control - the procedures and materials implemented to ensure test accuracy and precision. Most importantly, having the proper controls in place provides confidence in the accuracy of your tests and the reported results, reducing the risk of generating false-positives or false-negatives. A strong quality program has the added benefits of reducing both the amount of valuable staff time expended on troubleshooting, as well as costly instrument and assay downtime.
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How Third-Party Controls Can Help Keep Your Clinical Lab Within Budget (Without Sacrificing Quality)
As a clinical lab director, you are driven by two forces which, at first glance, may seem in opposition to each other. The first is your commitment to delivering accurate diagnostic test results to healthcare providers, a responsibility critical to ensuring that patients receive the most effective and timely treatment possible. In your lab, this means instituting a strong quality control (QC) program aimed at ensuring test performance and preventing the release of inaccurate results. The second driving force is the responsibility you have towards to running an efficient, cost-effective clinical lab operation. This entails the responsibility to manage resources efficiently, to stay within allotted budget guidelines, and to avoid unnecessary spending. The obvious assumption is that higher quality translates into higher costs (and bigger budgets). Look closer, however, and you’ll discover that the two forces outlined above are not necessarily opposed. As you’ll see below, increasing accuracy and reliability in a clinical testing lab — through investment in additional QC measures, such as high-quality third-party controls — can actually translate into decreasing costs. Staying within budget and providing reliable results can go hand in hand.
The world of a clinical testing lab is one of high pressure. The pressure comes from clinicians who want their results as quickly as possible. It comes from directors and managers who demand efficiency. And most of all, it comes from a constant stream of samples that never lets up. In this era of largely automated instrumentation (operating almost always at full capacity), few things are more frustrating to lab personnel than errors that result in downtime, troubleshooting, and the need to rerun tests. Reportable results is the most important metric in a clinical lab. Any result that is not reportable translates into higher costs, more downtime, and a growing backlog. What can you do to reduce momentum-killing test failures and repeats while increasing your reportable result rates?
For Clinical Labs: How to Ensure a Consistent Supply of High Quality Reference Materials
Healthcare is — to put it mildly — unpredictable. You never know when testing demands will change due to a disease outbreak, or a shift in medical consensus. Thus, clinical labs operate with a basic mindset: be prepared.