There is a remarkable improvement in the healthcare industry over years, and as the awareness of self-health among the public is rising every day, healthcare services are witnessing high demand from time to time. One such requirement is the services from medical diagnostic labs. Laboratories, Pathology, or Diagnostic, take in orders from doctors of various specialties, or even self-orders from the common public every day, and are obligated to arrive at highly reliable results every time, and it is important that they maintain rapport with every customer.
This is a great challenge for laboratories facing high intake every day. Accordingly, it is highly essential that the important part of a lab test - “the Sample”, is handled with great care, as a first step towards efficient operation management. This explains the need for reliable sample management, tracking & batching. For every lab order, the required sample is first collected, which is next moved to the appropriate laboratory and analyzed. Every sample that undergoes a lab test goes through the sample lifecycle and is managed as implied in the following manner.
A sample is simply a small amount of the required test input, that is collected from the patient, for analysis. The term “sample management” implies how a test sample is collected, tracked through the entire sample lifecycle, and how it is handled post-analysis.
The Sample Lifecycle:
Every laboratory test goes through the following phases as it enters the sample lifecycle:
● Pre-Analytical phase: Clinical test is ordered, the sample is collected and moved
● Analytical phase: Clinical test is conducted and the sample is analyzed
● Post-Analytical phase: Clinical test report is generated.
Sample Collection and Movement:
Usually, once a test is ordered, the labs start the procedure by collecting the required samples from the patient. Based on the type of test, the required type of sample, and the quantity of the same varies.
With a modernized Lab Information Management System, there is a facility to track the samples with barcodes, which makes it possible to have a unique ID for every sample collected. These barcodes, further assist in tracking the sample movement throughout the test process.
Once the sample is acquired, it is subjected to accession or rejection, to ensure that the sample is valid to conduct the test. Once passed, the sample is segregated based on the test ordered. The collected sample is then moved to the laboratory where the test is to be conducted. Now, this could be any lab, a franchise, an outsourced lab, or a B2B lab, based on the requirement. This typically covers the pre-analytic phase of a sample lifecycle.
This is when the collected sample is tested by centrifugation, as per the order, and the test results are generated, which are further verified by a professional who can understand the test and the results.
This is a procedure that is carried out on the sample collected for certain tests, where the sample is stored for a long term after test completion, which could be useful as evidence or for audit purposes in the future.
After the lab test is conducted and the desired results are achieved, it is verified by a suitable specialist, and a test report is generated. This test report is a clear and precise record of the patient’s health condition, that is revealed from the test. After the report is created, the healthcare center or the patient is promptly notified of that. Some LIMS offer Email report generation as well. Finally, the test report is dispatched to the customer.
As indicated, the sample is the most crucial component for a lab test. Thus supervising and operating the same with esteemed care is as important as arriving at precise results, and maintaining a great TAT.
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