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Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
Transplant patients require frequent testing to keep them and their new organ healthy. As the number of yearly transplants increases nationwide, and as younger patients receive more transplants, the need for more testing, and monitoring over a longer period, has increased as well, taxing an already overburdened hospital workforce.
One strategy that many busy transplant centers have adopted to cope with this increase is to collaborate with a reliable laboratory services provider to improve workflow, enable expedited care decisions, and ensure patient adherence with the testing regimen. By collaborating with a nationwide lab services provider, a transplant center can provide timely testing support for any patient, anywhere in the country.
The key benefits that such a collaboration can offer include:
Seamless electronic records connectivity, to enable simple electronic test ordering that automatically checks for missing information and provides specimen requirements and patient instructions. Further advantages are available by automating steps in the donor screening process. When Yale New Haven Health took this approach, they saved 470 hours of nurses’ time in only 8 weeks at just 1 hospital.1
Reduction of unnecessary testing, through adoption of diagnostic stewardship technology. In this model, the collaborating partner takes on the responsibility of ensuring that test requisitioning is compliant with the most up-to-date guidelines and system protocols. A recent study of such a system reduced testing for C. difficile infection by 33% with no impact on mortality or readmission.2
Proactive tracking and specimen monitoring, to save time and provide assurance of timely delivery.
Support for expedited clinical care decision-making, through rapid testing and reporting. Testing provides the information the clinical team needs to monitor the immune system, prevent infection, and maintain the correct levels of drugs in the bloodstream. Rapid turnaround and easy access to results provides clinicians the support they need to provide for the best outcomes. The right lab service can also provide advice on test selection and interpretation of results, all of which can help the clinician make the best decision for the individual patient. It is important to remember, however, that rapid turnaround may be affected by events that can cause disruptions in service.
Increasing the likelihood of patient compliance, through a nationwide network of convenient testing centers. Testing noncompliance is a known contributor to late acute rejection. When patients have to travel further for their tests, compliance may suffer, especially over the longer term. Access to a nearby testing site, one whose service hours are designed to fit patient schedules, can keep them coming back for the tests they need over the long haul. Billing flexibility and broad insurance coverage can also increase the likelihood of compliance. Improved compliance can also reduce staff time dedicated to patient follow-up for missed tests.
A comprehensive, end-to-end transplant testing solution that is aligned with clinical workflow can help ensure the delivery of timely test results, enable expedited clinical-care decisions, and support testing adherence, while reducing costs and unnecessary tests. With the right lab partner, health systems, clinicians, and patients can achieve better outcomes across the transplant journey.