What is Turnaround Time?
The time taken for the delivery of a service is termed lab Turnaround Time or laboratory TAT. In a medical lab, test turnaround time is the amount of time from patient registration to report delivery. Mainly, the importance of turnaround time in medical laboratory is to help you define & measure the efficiency of your lab’s service delivery. Hence, it is considered as a key performance indicator for medical labs.
The higher the lab Turnaround Time, poor is the quality of service delivery. Therefore, for diagnostic centers, calculating, improving, and managing the laboratory TAT is the key to providing timely patient delivery.
How to Calculate Turnaround Time In Medical Laboratory for your Tests?
The laboratory TAT (turnaround time) is measured from when the sample is collected to when the report is delivered. This parameter varies for each test since diagnostics and pathology is a wide spectrum. For example, a molecular lab test turnaround time will be more than a clinical pathology TAT. Therefore, to measure it for a wide range of tests, having a diagnostics lab solution becomes very important.
There are three principal parts of this metric namely –
- Pre-analytical TAT – The time between patient registration at sample collection to sample accessioning is the pre-analytical laboratory TAT
- Analytical TAT – The time required to process a sample is the analytical laboratory TAT
- Post-analytical TAT – The time needed for report generation, interpretation, approval, and delivery is termed post-analytical laboratory TAT in the laboratory business
You should record all three parameters for every test to create a master list. Then compare these recordings to the system-generated TAT in lab. You can also get the average TAT value, and note and compare it every day to understand your lab’s performance. This everyday recording can be stated as expected TAT in lab.
It is highly important that you understand the importance of turnaround time in medical laboratory to delivery the best experience to your patients & clients.
What happens when in Exceeded laboratory TAT?
The lab test turnaround time may vary depending on the processes and machines (analyzers), as per sample type, total or partial lab automation, and many other reasons. Despite considering the above factors for calculation, if a lab exceeds its expected medical TAT, it indicates a problem. Hence, recording and measuring this parameter in your system is highly essential.
An Expected TAT helps with the following –
- Decision Making – Knowing the medical TAT exceeded tests, labs can monitor the depending aspects and make better decisions on optimizing it.
- Improves Process Cycle & Prioritization – TAT-exceeded reports must be prioritized to fix issues at the earliest.
Clinical & Business Advantages Of Optimized Laboratory TAT
Clinical Advantage of Lab Test Turnaround Time Control
- Quick turnaround time in medical laboratory helps labs to offer a clinical advantage, especially to hospitals facilitating faster diagnosis to patients that require immediate care.
- On-time report delivery makes it easier for clinicians to attend to patients without delays. Digital reporting with optimal medical TAT makes that possible.
- Improved medical TAT fastens report delivery to patients seeking medical help.
Business Advantage Of Optimized Lab Turnaround Time
- Improves and doubles your throughput; enhancing performance
- Improves testing capacities; improving revenue cycles
- Enhances the overall experience of doctors and patients