Testimonial from Valor Health Emmett, ID Assistant Lab Manager, Robert Thomas

“With April’s Lab Connection, our Lab has been upgraded to compete and thrive in the future. We received a thoroughly detailed and personally tailored program that specificity dealt with the needs of our lab and team. At the time, our team was relatively new, and Lab Connection played a crucial role in fostering unity among leadership and team members. Together, we explored optimal ways to leverage our individual talents, minimize inefficiencies, implement quality control standards, and develop competencies that would instill unwavering confidence in our ability to consistently deliver exceptional results to our patients and providers. This was achieved through a focus on education, teamwork, and respectful communication.  As I aspire to be an exceptional leader for my team here at Valor Health, I am fully confident that Lab Connection’s consultations facilitated the growth of both my own strengths and the collective strength of my team.”

Robert Thomas, ID Assistant Lab Manager for Valor Health Emmett,

Lab Connections is a consulting partner firm specializing in advisement of Medical Laboratory operations, procedures, and management efciencies. We recently teamed up with a prominent Critical Access/Community Health Hospital located in the western US. The Lab Management team for the hospital had several significant areas of concern, the foremost being the ballooning costs and unpredictability of their Quality Control procedures.

Through partnership with Lab Connections, the hospital was able to redesign their Quality Control system and realize a significant cost savings of material and labor, as well as improve the accuracy of their results, resulting in a higher standard of care for patients. Our primary consultant, April German, worked shoulder to shoulder with management and bench staff to demonstrate a marked improvement in quality while simultaneously realizing a reduction in operating costs over two quarters. The hospital lab saw a cost reduction of 27.9% two quarters in a row. This reduction arrives at approximately $48K a quarter.

The pandemic led to a significant turnover of employees, resulting in the hiring of new lab management and entirely new personnel within the past year. This led to a need for costly travel contracts. By bringing stability to the lab the staffing needs have been filled with permanent positions. This was achieved through Lab Connections revising over 100 policies and procedures and developing CLIA regulated competencies. Through technological advances Lab Connections provided training and the completion of competencies in every department without burdening current lab leaders. Job satisfaction was realized by cultivating a culture of ownership and team cohesion by working closely with management and their team. As fellow MLS professionals, we worked shoulder to shoulder with the scientists at the bench, this afforded us a deeper understanding of existing challenges and valuable input from the team to enhance their work environment.

We can attribute a portion of cost a savings to reduced efforts by laboratory scientists by addressing educational needs and processing events that are more preventable with an improved Quality Control design. It is important to note that while the cost estimations are derived from the time spent on unnecessary operations, the impact on staff morale is difcult to quantify. Nevertheless, this situation allows the staff to allocate their time to perform additional testing profiles and engage in daily laboratory bench activities that can be billed for (instead of merely being lost time).

The implementation of quality improvements ensures that accurate patient results are effectively communicated to healthcare providers, instilling confidence that precise diagnostic results are being achieved. The Six Sigma Metric along with the Coefcient Variation Ratio and Standard Deviation Index provided by BioRad (A third party repository for data collection and peer evaluations) was employed for measuring quality improvements within lab testing. The data collected demonstrates a marked improvement. Furthermore, Cap Surveys are passing at 100%. CAP Surveys are laboratory testing audits and are closely monitored by CLIA.

In 2022 this hospital lab had 20 out of 205 unsatisfactory proficiency testing events on two audits in a row. After hiring new staff and the Lab Connections team they are currently passing their Proficiency testing (CAP Surveys) events at 100%.

BioRad quality control reports are posted monthly. In October of 2022 the monthly evaluation included 3 exclusions and 10 warnings stating that quality control events were below or above acceptable levels. In November of 2022 some improvement was realized with 2 exclusions and 7 warnings. Following the original 90-day contract between Lab Connections and Hospital the lab staff realized a goal of zero exclusions and zero warnings. Since February of 2023 quality control standards have been met at 100%. Exclusions are reported when the data submitted is an outlier and will skew the peer data. An outlier means the data is either entered incorrectly or truly represents poor performance. A warning indicates the data is close to becoming an outlier and that closer monitoring and or correction is warranted.

The data collection software contributed to exclusions and warnings observed on monthly reports. Lab Connections worked extensively with Unity (BioRad software) technical support team and the hospital IT department to correct these problems.

A comprehensive revamp of quality control practices and reporting procedures was enacted, accompanied by personalized training sessions for each scientist to enhance their ability to assess quality control incidents and effectively analyze daily, weekly, and monthly reports.

Should you have an interest in exploring cost reduction and quality improvements, do not hesitate to contact Lab Connections. We welcome your inquiries and can provide references, data, and our proof of concept to demonstrate our capabilities.

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