Reducing Turn Around Time (TAT) in Clinical Laboratory
Reducing Turn Around Time is considered one of the most significant procedures of a laboratory’s service and is used many times to judge its quality. Turnaround time (TAT) in clinical laboratories, is the time from when a test is ordered to when the verification of results make them ready to be delivered.
Along with accuracy and reliability, timely reporting of laboratory test results is important aspect. Whether or not, faster turnaround time can make any medical difference. It is true, that patients and their physicians want reports as rapidly as possible. Patient satisfaction as well as length of hospital stay.
With more than 60% of the information on a patient’s record coming from laboratory test results, quick service is directly depended on Laboratory TAT.
Reducing Turn Around Time
Reducing Turn Around Time in Clinical Laboratory is a complex task involving education, equipment acquisition, and planning. All the steps from test ordering to results reporting need monitoring, so the steps that lab takes to improve the processes. However, most easy way to reduce Turn-Around-Time is to purchase a higher throughput analyser. The Sample Transportation System also affects TAT. A LIS with enough intelligence and performance, can improve the poor performance of transportation system. Therefore, that is a better solution than purchasing a bigger – higher volume analyser.
Additionally, to determin reasons for system failure, labs use commonly as a method, the outlier analysis in industrial quality control. Moreover outlier rates express the percent of total laboratory examinations failing, to meet targeted reporting times. Above all, improving TAT requires education of a wide variety of individuals, long-term planning, and completion of innumerable tasks. Small investments in the clinical laboratory resources may improve TAT and greatly improve clinicians’ efficiency. Similarly help reduce required days of hospitalization for patients. Overall cost reduction, however, may be difficult, if not impossible, to prove.
With limited exceptions, studies to date fail to show that decreased TAT improves the length of hospital stay or patient care. Practitioners needs to become more efficient. From the clinicians’ viewpoint, it is easy to see the benefits of rapid return of results. The appropriate information available, explains laboratory results to the patient. Therefore the treatment adjusted all in one encounter, thus increasing clinician efficiency and patient satisfaction. If laboratory results provide essential information for patient diagnosis and treatment, it follows that more timely results will improve patient care. Patient outcomes undoubtedly are affected by delays in diagnosis. It is important to remind those who allocate resources, that laboratory results must be quickly available. This is not only for diagnostic use but also before implementation of many treatments and procedures.
Thus, despite the lack of data, it is reasonable to assume that timeliness of laboratory results affects physician efficiency and hospital length of stay. Therefore, monitoring and enhancing timeliness of results reporting are fundamental to laboratory quality improvement.
Benefits of reducing TAT and advancing Total Laboratory Automation (TLA)
Total Laboration Automation improves :
- the quality of service by reducing delays in preanalytical processing,
- service to healthcare professionals and patients through decreased turnaround time (TAT),
- job satisfaction by reducing specimen handling and manual processing,
- workstation consolidation, with reduced number of analytical platforms,
- time required for routine maintenance,
- staff training procedure.
- Lowers health risks from exposure to hazardous material
- Offsets the shortage of technical staff or reallocating those personnel to new activities,
- Limits the time needed for specimen retrieval from refrigerated storage,
- Enhances patient safety by automating manual, error-prone activities (ie, preventing errors in specimen aliquoting),
- Increases productivity with limited cost,
- Consolidates clinical chemistry, immunochemistry, hematology, etc within a single functional platform.
Diagnostic responsiveness is critical to providing optimal service in high volume patient care.