Reducing Turn Around Time in Clinical Laboratory (TAT)
Turnaround time (TAT) in clinical laboratories, is the time from when a test is ordered to when the results are verified and ready to be delivered. TAT is considered one of the most significant measure of a laboratory’s service and is used many times to judge its quality.
Along with accuracy and reliability, timely reporting of laboratory test results is now considered an important aspect. Whether or not, faster turnaround time can make any medical difference, patients and their physicians want reports as rapidly as possible. Patient satisfaction as well as length of hospital stay are affected by timeliness in reporting of laboratory results.
With more than 60% of the required information on a patient’s record coming from laboratory test results, quick service is directly depended on Laboratory TAT.
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 should be monitored and steps taken to improve the processes. Most easy way to reduce Turn-Around-Time is to purchase a higher throughput analyser. The Sample Transportation System also affects TAT. If the Lab is equipped by a LIS with enough intelligence and performance, can improve the poor performance of transportation system which is a better solution than purchasing a bigger – higher volume analyser.
Outlier analysis is commonly used in industrial quality control as a method of determining reasons for system failure. In the clinical laboratory, outlier rates are expressed as the percent of total ¬laboratory examinations failing to meet targeted reporting times. 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, as well as 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. With the appropriate information available, laboratory results can be explained to the patient and 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 available not only for diagnostic use but also before many treatments and procedures can be implemented.
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 TLA
• Improving the quality of service by reducing delays in preanalytical processing
• Enhancing patient safety by automating manual, error-prone activities (ie, preventing errors in specimen aliquoting)
• Improving service to healthcare professionals and patients through decreased turnaround time (TAT)
• Improving job satisfaction by reducing specimen handling and manual processing
• Lowering health risks from exposure to hazardous material
• Offsetting the shortage of technical staff or reallocating those personnel to new activities
• Limiting the time needed for specimen retrieval from refrigerated storage
• Increasing productivity with limited cost
• Improving workstation consolidation, with reduced number of analytical platforms
• Improving time required for routine maintenance,
• Improving time required for staff training
• Consolidating clinical chemistry, immunochemistry, hematology, etc within a single functional platform