Danette Godfrey, MS, MT(ASCP)
Diagnostic laboratories are continually pressured to improve the accuracy of their tests. This pressure is heightened by regulated clinical quality metrics and increased quality assurance monitoring and documentation requirements. Meanwhile, these labs are also tasked with processing more tests in less time, while managing the challenges of operating with less staff and tightened budgets. Fortunately, advanced tools and powerful software systems are available that provide greater insight into—and control over—quality management while also improving lab efficiency.
The following are several quality management tools that can also help to create a more efficient laboratory:
- Automated instrument calibration and calibration verification programs help laboratories maintain quality and reduce compliance risk, while eliminating non-productive analyzer time.
- Usable and actionable reports put valuable quality assurance metrics into the hands of the laboratorian, while business intelligence reporting brings greater visibility to clinical performance and productivity to enable informed decision support.
- Performing laborious manual reviews of quality statistics is time-consuming and, when using antiquated quality control rules, can be confusing and inconsistent to the end user. Powered by innovative big data analytics, web-based quality assurance and management tools help labs simplify the process of running controls and verifying result acceptability, reducing the margin of human error and increasing the quality monitoring of results. Furthermore, applying six-sigma principles to quality control programs can result in lower false-rejection rates and less time spent needlessly repeating quality control analysis.
- Features such as real-time performance feedback, color-coded instrument status alerts, and interactive troubleshooting guidance can help detect and resolve failures before they can impact patient results and workflow efficiency.
Laboratory operations have the greatest chance at improving when all members of the lab staff are properly trained on hardware and software quality management solutions.
As staff shortages, increasing workload, and decreasing reimbursement continue to influence lab policies and procedures, so will the demand for products and services that bolster laboratory accuracy. By leveraging quality assurance programs and innovative technology tools, labs can expedite workflow, improve safety, and optimize their use of diagnostic laboratory solutions. This will give laboratory professionals more time to focus on the scientific expertise they bring to the patient care continuum.