We maintain our Quality Program to help us achieve our goal to deliver superior quality care, identify opportunities for improvement, and resolve identified problems. It includes policies, procedures, and frameworks for employees to document, measure, and monitor the effectiveness of our operations and maintain quality processes.
In our laboratory operations, our quality assurance efforts focus on pre-analytic, analytic, and post-analytic processes, including positive patient identification of specimens, appropriate specimen transport, analysis and report accuracy, reference interval establishment and review, statistical process control, and personnel training for our laboratories and patient service centers. We utilize internal proficiency testing, comprehensive quality control, and rigorous process audits. We have introduced comprehensive and digitized data analytics software that implements advanced automated quality control procedures, offering both real-time and post-analytic analysis of data at the laboratory and corporate levels. We monitor test results to identify trends, biases, instrument failures, and population shifts through digitization and data analytics. We also focus on the licensing, credentialing, training, and competence of our professional and technical staff.
We have accreditation or licenses for our clinical laboratory operations from various regulatory agencies or accrediting organizations, such as the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the College of American Pathologists (CAP), and certain states. All our laboratories participate in external quality surveillance programs, including proficiency testing programs administered by CAP and several state agencies. CAP is an independent, non-governmental organization of board-certified pathologists approved by CMS to inspect clinical laboratories to determine compliance with the standards required by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act (CLIA). CAP offers an accreditation program to which clinical laboratories may voluntarily subscribe. All our major laboratories, including our laboratories outside the US and several of our rapid response laboratories, are accredited by CAP. Accreditation includes on-site inspections and participation in the CAP (or equivalent) proficiency testing program. In addition, some of our laboratories also have International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certification for their quality management systems. We also maintain quality assurance programs for Integrated Delivery Network laboratories and for our service offerings outside laboratories. Being selected as a participant in the UnitedHealthcare® Preferred Lab Network reflects our commitment to quality.
Having a high-quality supplier network is also important to Quest and we expect suppliers to provide the highest quality products and services and to embrace an ethic of transparent quality collaboration. In our program, we aim to ensure and improve the quality of purchased products and services. Our suppliers are expected to operate under quality management principles that meet industry standards, strive for zero-defect manufacturing, use statistical analysis to reduce variation, and meet applicable regulatory standards. In choosing suppliers, we evaluate their quality systems and quality performance metrics. Our supplier qualification process is risk-based, with assessments and on-site audits based on risk tiers. Contracts with our suppliers include specific quality, compliance, and change management provisions as appropriate. We use supplier quality engineers who are trained to audit ISO standards and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) regulations applicable to suppliers’ processes, and a procurement engineering team to assist with qualification and validation of new supplies and products. We actively manage supplier performance, utilizing a problem reporting and resolution process designed to drive to root cause and corrective actions. We maintain a continuous improvement dialogue with our suppliers, and with operationally critical suppliers deliver a supplier scorecard that supports continuous improvement.