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Justifying New Technology for Improved Medical Courier Operations
Medical laboratories are always searching for ways to become more efficient. However, most labs tend to focus on improving processes inside the lab walls and don’t consider how new technologies could improve their outreach courier services. Operating a courier service internally and keeping accurate records for tracking specimens can be an overwhelming task depending on the number of couriers you employ and the number of daily stops and dispatches you must plan for. Sure, if you only employ one courier that only has one or two stops a day, implementing a new platform may not be imperative. Yet, it’s surprising how many labs we run into that employ multiple couriers and are still operating under manual processes for routing/dispatching and specimen tracking. So, what gives? In cases like these, labs are usually still running courier operations by a manual process for one of three reasons:
- That’s the way it’s always been done, and it works.
- We don’t have the budget for a courier management platform.
- We don’t have the time or resources to implement a new courier system.
However, think about these rationalizations in the context of analytical phase/process of specimen preparation and diagnosis. If your lab were presented with a more efficient way to prep samples, or a technology that helps you more accurately diagnosis a patient would you put more effort into a cost/benefit analysis? Although the preanalytical phase of specimen collection and transportation seems to be a “simpler” part of the overall laboratory process it is no less deserving of evaluating for improvements. This is especially true considering that 70% of all mistakes made in laboratory diagnostics arise from problems in the pre-analytic stage including specimen transportation and missing samples. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3428256/)
So, let’s evaluate each argument and consider the benefits of implementing a new courier software management and specimen delivery system such as MCE.
Our Manual Courier Process Works:
“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it”, right? Well let’s consider what could be lacking from a manual courier routing system and a paper log specimen tracking system and how a courier management platform like MCE can offer improvements.
With a manual routing/management system can you:
- Ensure courier routes are optimized for efficiency to save on gas, time, and possibly the number of couriers that are needed?
- Quickly locate all couriers in real-time, verify scheduled route progression, punctuality, speed, and the ability to report on all?
- Create, send, and track STAT dispatches in real-time?
- Reduce administrative hours creating new routes, dispatching, or managing couriers overall?
- Message and alert all couriers at one time?
With a paper log specimen tracking system can you:
- Quickly scan in specimen bag barcodes for ease of tracking with enterprise grade mobile computers like the Honeywell CT40?
- Record customer notes regarding visit, supplies, missing patient info, inappropriate containers, etc.
- Capture customer signatures and send electronic customer receipts to verify pick-up?
- Instantly see the number of specimens in-route to the lab to brace for preparations in advance?
- Record pick-up and delivery dates/times and number of specimens electronically?
- Record types of specimens picked-up?
- Reconcile and verify no specimens are missing upon delivery?
- Store photos of empty specimen boxes?
- Quickly print historical reports regarding customer visits and specimen entries?
While some labs may consider these abilities to be “unnecessary” the fact remains that the ability to perform these functions will not only improve efficiency in operations it also improves your labs customer service and provides reporting for quality indicators in the pre-analytical processes. It is also important to remember that “Complacency is an intrinsic flaw that prevents organizations from pushing beyond the status quo to achieve exceptional success.” (https://www.torbenrick.eu/blog/culture/the-silent-business-killer/)
We don’t have the budget for a courier management platform.
We understand that if the funds aren’t there a project won’t get pushed through. But looking at budgeting from an operational standpoint have you performed a deep evaluation into your current process to make a financial case and a real need to secure funds?
Steps to consider:
- Define the problem/need in detail
- Perform a deep evaluation into your current process.
- Establish benchmarks.
- Ride with your couriers.
- Record areas for improvement
- Provide historical reports of problems recorded within your courier operations.
- Record labor hours and labor cost of addressing and resolving problems
- Record customer complaints and cost of losing customers over problems.
- Define the overall estimated cost of the problem/need
- What problems can be resolved internally vs. what requires an external solution.
- Provide real examples, reports and studies
- Offer available management software solutions with a cost/benefit analysis.
With real data in-hand you may not be able to adjust your budget for the current year, but at the very least you have made a reasonable case for considering it for next year’s budget.
We don’t have the time or resources to implement a new courier system.
As is often the case for many medical organizations, IT resources are stretched thin. Evaluating new technology systems for HIPPA compliance and security, much less implementing them can feel like a huge burden. Additionally, many lab and courier administrators themselves worry about having adequate time required to train and transition couriers to a new system.
These are very valid concerns, but a good courier system should be able to address these matters as well. For instance, MCE is a cloud-based system that requires little to no IT involvement and MCE does NOT collect patient data. Being cloud based means that there is nothing to download to your system and by utilizing barcode scanning the system doesn’t need to collect patient information. Furthermore, MCE support performs training sessions for all administrator and courier users and provides 27/7 support should you run into any issues down the line.
MCE was developed as a turn-key solution designed specifically for laboratory outreach operations because we understand the value and cost of human resources. For any new system you consider, you should evaluate the time and labor cost and include it in your cost/benefit analysis.
“Even if a company is successful in the present, catastrophe could strike at a moment’s notice. Businesses of any type should be dynamic and adapt to evolving technologies and practices”. (https://www.torbenrick.eu/blog/culture/the-silent-business-killer/) In other words, just because your manual process for courier operations is working today, doesn’t mean that a lost specimen, or more efficient/reliable competitor isn’t waiting to take your biggest customer.
MCE has gained customers because they couldn’t afford NOT to switch from an inferior system. When customers, legal issues, and dollars are on the line it’s a tough spot to be in. MCE is glad to assist labs that find themselves in that situation, but we would much rather boast about our customers who saw the value of MCE as a serious business solution before problems occurred and now find them selves not able to run courier operations without it. Contact MCE today to discuss the needs of your operation and schedule a free web demo of MCE.
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Thanks for your interest in Medical Courier Elite! If you're interested in learning more about our solution and how it can help your business, we'd be happy to schedule a demo, provide a quote or answer any questions you may have.
181 East Evans St. | Florence, SC, 29506
Phone: 843-656-2084 or 877-331-7427