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    Kimberly Zunker

    The Importance of Agility in Your Lab

    Global Impact: Rebecca Rock, RN and SABM CFO talks with HPI about two roles across two countries

    From Lab Trend Visionary to Dark Group CEO: HPI connects with the Founder and Editor of the Dark Report, Robert Michel

    Two Imaging Leaders, Two Systems, One Outcome: Communication

    From Communication Strength to Just in Time Reopening at MGH A conversation with Dr. James Brink, Chief of Radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital

    From Time Magazine to PBM Influencer: Sherri Ozawa's Mission to Define the Value of Blood

    Buried Blessings: Pandemic perspective from Tom Strauss, CEO at Sisters of Charity Health System

    Katie Castree, Career Healthcare Process Improvement Connoisseur

    Solving Lab Challenges through Recruiting Innovation: HPI connects with Lighthouse Lab Services President, Jon Harol

    Providing Value-Based Care in a Pandemic through Telehealth and Data Resources: An HPI exclusive with Dr. Darrel Weaver

    From Supply Chain Crisis to Innovation in a Pandemic

    From Navy Medic to running a Clinical Laboratory . . . during a pandemic

    Planning for Blood Shortages in a Pandemic with Dr. Claudia Cohn

    Blood Banking is more complex today than ever before. Rob Van Tuyle, President of Vitalant's Blood Division, tells us why.

    Profoundly Impacting Healthcare with Breakthrough Anemia Management

    Supporting Imaging Precisely Where You Need It

    Working Together Makes End of Life Conversations Easier to Have

    The Future of Imaging: Assessing the early impacts of COVID-19 and the path to innovation through Artificial Intelligence (AI) A conversation with Dr. Geoff Rubin

    Pivoting in a Pandemic: How a U.S. 3D printing manufacturer is helping healthcare in its time of need

    Mara G. Aspinall: Diagnostic evangelist educating the world on the power of diagnostics today

    How The Joint Commission is addressing the COVID-19 Pandemic

    CHI Nebraska’s Laboratory Director Connie Wilkins, describes How To Manage a Clinical Laboratory During the pandemic

    Former Commercial Lab Leader Highlights the Hospital Lab as the Solution to Community Sustainability in a Healthcare Crisis

    Three Phases Essential to Crisis Preparedness in Patient Blood Management with Anne Burkey of St. Luke's Health in Boise, ID

    The Importance of Agility in Your Lab

    Dr. Paul Biddinger Shares Three Ways to Prepare for COVID-19

    Bringing Clinical Skills to Operational Leadership During a Time of Crisis; Dr. Blanton, Chief Medical Officer at Peterson Health

    7 Team Attributes to Teams that Work in Challenging Times & Through Rapid Innovation

    From Finding Problems to Saving Lives: The Evolution of Interventional Radiology

    Identifying the Potential with AI in Radiology with Dr. Chung

    Communication in the C-Suite with Cliff Robertson of Catholic Health Initiatives

    Reviewing Your Patient Financial Journey with Melody W. Mulaik, President of Revenue Cycle Coding Strategies

    Ask An Accumen Expert: Carolyn Burns, MD, a Patient Blood Management Advocate

    Linda DeVee, Leads Radiology Services at Edward-Elmhurst Health

    Theresa Mouton, Market Chief Financial Officer with Steward Health

    PELITAS President and CEO Steven Huddleston Wants Patients to Have a Great Experience – Both Clinically and Financially

    How Do You Deal with 2 Billion Forms a Year? Ask Randy Campbell

    Medical Director of Telehealth for UAB Knocks Barriers Down to Treat Patients on Their Terms

    C-Suite Spotlight: Wayne Bohenek Chief Ancillary Services Officer, Bon Secours Mercy Health

    A Leader in the Laboratory Service Line : Pierre Mouawad

    Healthcare Partner: Autumn Farmer, Chief Laboratory Officer, Bon Secours Mercy Health

    How Imbio is using AI to close the gap of missed diagnosis with Mike Hostetler

    Spit Matters with Bill Phillips from Spectrum Solutions

    How COVID-19 inspired TeraRecon to accelerate their imaging solutions to the point of care with Jeff Sorensen

    The impact of COVID-19 on laboratories is being felt both in theory and in practice. Testing shortages dominate disease mitigation and public policy conversations. The United States initially relied solely on the CDC and Public Health labs to supply all testing needs. When these resources proved insufficient, the FDA opened testing and the two largest national laboratories began testing, but this did little to abate the swell of demand. Insufficient capacity to meet mounting demand resulted in turnaround times of eight to ten days. The inability of these combined efforts to handle COVID-19 volume demonstrates the importance of agility – the ability of laboratories to adapt quickly and meet the needs of their local communities.

    Since March 12th, the FDA has authorized 26 commercial COVID-19 tests that are now available for purchase (as of April 9, 2020). The ability to successfully bring new testing into your lab is critical. Local testing for COVID-19 results in shorter turnaround time and faster decisions, especially surrounding isolation precautions, which can conserve much needed PPE. There are several areas of the lab that can benefit from demonstrating agility.

    Culture of Agility

    Leadership must foster a culture of agility. Transitioning from firefighting to a structured response is critical. With lower volume in areas yet to be inundated with COVID-19 cases, and higher sustained volume where already impacted, we must approach our staffing, supply chain, and testing processes with agility in mind.

    Schedule Agility

    In a recent webinar titled: Sustainable Approach to Lab Productivity Improvement, keys areas to demonstrate agility are emphatically highlighted.

    Staff Schedules are the main point of control for Labor Management and Productivity planning. Poor volume visibility and lack of scheduling optimization tools result in misaligned resources and unnecessary overtime expense.

    Schedule Agility ensures that the right staff, working at the right bench, at the right time, at an ideal productivity utilization to ensure accurate test results that meet service requirements.

    COVID-19 forced the reduction of elective procedures and most care that is non-emergent/not COVID related. We are seeing reduced volumes at some locations and increased volumes at others. Staffing may need to be reduced for now; however, a plan should be in place to quickly ramp back up with appropriately trained professionals when COVID-19 reaches their location. Alternatively, if your laboratory is experiencing reduced volumes, this time could be used to prepare for a coming influx of COVID patients by cross-training techs to perform method validations to bring in new testing and increase the amount of techs trained to perform any validated COVID testing.

    Supply Chain Agility

    Supply chains will be tested by COVID-19. It is crucial to evaluate inventory management, implement a process for elevated need, and to communicate with network labs and suppliers to ensure that orders will be fulfilled.

    As demand for medical supplies increase, it is vital to ensure that supplies are received and that the contracts in place for high demand items have prices fixed to avoid unexpected budgetary strain. Now is the time to call upon existing vendor partnerships for assistance and build new ones as you recognize gaps in service. Taking both, parallel approaches will help you best meet current demands as well as be better prepared for future surge or recovery needs.

    Testing Agility

    Plain and simple – being prepared means having options. In this time of uncertainty, having multiple testing platforms validated, i.e. PCR versus serology, as well as having multiple vendors, can support the fluctuating needs of your patient population as well as provide backup methods and suppliers to handle reagent shortages.

    Final Thoughts

    Your lab must be agile enough to make decisions quickly and implement effectively. This pandemic is changing daily. Whether you are in the middle of a hot spot or in a location that has not yet surged, NOW is the time to identify gaps in your ability to be agile, take action and enhance your healthcare provider teams’ ability to best treat patients.

    This article was bylined by Kimberly Zunker.

     
    Kimberly Zunker

    Kimberly Zunker

    MBA, MLS (ASCP), Consulting Manager