How to Improve Lab Turnaround Time
Labs play an important role in healthcare as they contribute to the patient making the right medical condition. The pathology reports are required by physicians to make them aware of the patient’s results. Getting fast results is necessary as it makes patients trust the doctor and it translates into having an increased money pool due to a large patient base.
However, a common problem that affects the process is having poor turnaround times in the lab. The tests take a long time to be done, and with everything looking the same, there is a high chance of doctors getting the wrong results or having the wrong samples tested. These things end up wasting time and resources that would have been used doing the right tests. In some instances, patients opt to have their tests done in a different hospital since they do the tests faster. Time is a major factor in healthcare since it makes a big difference in treatment, especially when dealing with critical patients.
For the labs to have a fast turnaround time, there are some changes that can be made. Some are mentioned below:
Having a central working bench
There can be a central workbench dedicated to storing samples. The vacutainers can be color coated to establish if the samples are for single tests or need to have multiple tests done on them.
These changes will make it easier for pathologists to do tests since they will not have to spend time looking for shared samples and the entire process will be fast.
There can be a pre-analytical checkpoint where the samples are confirmed by the actual tests. It is beneficial since it will save on time used to test the wrong samples and you can avoid getting the wrong results due to human error.
There can be a list of tests that can be auto validated since they have been performed on automated instruments. The list could include more tests since the machines performing the tests are well calibrated. There could also be auto-authorization, so there is less dependency on a single or team of pathologists to validate every test as it will reduce the time needed to report a test while improving efficiency.
Multitasking training for staff
There are times when the hospital experiences a shortage of management staff. When the situation arises, you need to know how best to manage it without causing backflow in the department. One way this can be handled is by teaching the majority of the staff how to perform tests in different pathology sections. Doing this will save on overtime costs and cover up for the shortage of workforce efficiently.
Using a pneumatic tube system for transporting samples
You cannot expect pathology to give results if they do not get the samples. A key contributor to the turnaround time is the time taken to transport the samples to the labs. To improve the time, you can use pneumatic tube systems as it will ensure the samples are transported safely and timely. The sooner the samples reach the pathologists, the faster they can start running the tests.
The main factors that make a lab stand out are:
- high volume reports
- high efficiency reports and
- fast delivery of reports.
Having a fast turnaround time is beneficial since you can generate more revenue. These measures will help improve that and will also help improve other departments. Having an automated lab improves the efficiency and streamlines lab operations. It also improves the TAT and makes it rise to significant levels.