28.10.2021 | original article
Benchmarking diagnostic laboratory performance: Survey results for Germany, Austria, and Switzerland
Erschienen in: Wiener klinische Wochenschrift | Ausgabe 3-4/2022Einloggen, um Zugang zu erhalten
Background and aims
The need for patient safety through consistent diagnostic performance has increasingly been brought into focus during the last two decades. Around the globe operational efficiency of diagnostic laboratories plays a key role in satisfying this need, which has impressively been shown during the recent months of the SARS-CoV‑2 pandemic. On a global level, however, there has been a lack to collate and benchmark data for diagnostic laboratories. The goals of this study were to design and pilot a questionnaire addressing key aspects of diagnostic laboratory management.
The questionnaire was designed using an iterative process and taking into consideration information that could be extracted from the literature, author experience and feedback from informal focus groups of laboratory professionals. The resulting tool consisted of 50 items, either relating to general information or more specifically addressing the topics of “operational performance”, “integrated clinical care performance”, and “financial sustainability”. A limited number of laboratories were surveyed to be able to further improve the newly developed tool and motivate the global laboratory community to participate in further benchmarking activity.
Results and conclusion
Altogether, 65 laboratories participated in the survey, 42 were hospital laboratories and 23 were commercial laboratories. Potential for further improvement and standardization became apparent across the board, e.g. use of IT for order management, auto-validation, or turn-around time (TAT) monitoring. Notably, a gap was identified regarding services provided to physicians, in particular “reflexive test suggestions”, “proactive consultation on complex cases”, and “diagnostic pathways guidance”, which were only provided by about two thirds of laboratories. Concordantly, within-laboratory TAT (Lab TAT) was monitored by about 80% of respondents, while sample-to-result TAT, which is arguably the TAT most relevant to clinicians, was only monitored by 32% of respondents. Altogether, the need for stronger integration of the laboratory into the clinical care process became apparent and should be a main trajectory of future laboratory management.