The lab as catalyst for efficiency
The example we talked about was the dramatic downstream effect that efficient lab work can bring to the difficult-to-solve equation of providing the right care and the right time, with as little waste as possible.
Late in 2010, Quinter, Kettering Medical Center's director of laboratory clinical services, evaluated a new testing system that could diagnose infectious diseases faster and more accurately than traditional testing. In fact, in most cases, it provides results in six hours instead of the traditional 48. As might be expected, the acceleration has a tremendous effect on patient care, quality, and length-of-stay.
"If we know what they have with a high degree of reliability, that is 98% or better, and a clinically relevant turnaround time, that helps us decide whether patients can be managed in an outpatient setting or in the hospital," she explains. "Patient populations aren't defined. The only way to define is to do a test. But we need those results in a timely fashion in order to do what we want to do interventionally."
Quinter and I talked about the many scientific evaluations that she and her team had to make in deciding whether to introduce the new technology, and I have to admit I got lost a few times. But the essence of her decision was based on accuracy, (the Diatherix-based testing program now used is as high as or higher than culture tests) and, at least as importantly, treatment time.
"If we have a critically ill infected patient, their organism won't grow [in a culture] for 2-3 days, but this test is accurate within hours," she says. "That allows us to shift the balance toward recovery. Knowing the organism that's causing the problem dramatically shifts that balance."