Laboratory facilities today are more focused on offering services that are reliable and easily available to patients. Hence, keeping time and quality on priority, these centers are working towards reaching this goal. Many laboratories emphasize more on reliability with error reduction. However, Turnaround time (TAT) is a crucial aspect that defines the throughput, revenue cycles, and Patient, Doctor Experience with your Lab.
TAT is a metric used to monitor the efficiency and productivity of your laboratory. Hence, it is an important aspect of lab management. So, we must know its significance and attributes that contribute to making our services better for end-users.
Secondly, using TAT to measure different laboratory aspects as well as optimize them, holds huge benefits. These benefits are both operational and financial focused. Know how to set TAT for your tests here.
Benefits of TAT control
Optimized turnaround time for lab operations acts as a credit to your daily revenue. It plays a huge role in improving your monthly revenue cycle.
With faster and reliable report delivery time, you have more credibility from patients, referrals, and business partners as well.
In addition to that, improved service delivery time leads to an increase in the volume of samples processed per day. You can see double monthly throughput with a shortened delivery timeline. Meanwhile, a shorter reporting time enables doctors to take quick action on reports. This improves patient service time. As a result, such optimization of the timeline improves doctors’ and patients’ experience with the diagnostic center.
Such tangible and intangible advantages offer your laboratory center the opportunity to scale.
Now that we are aware of its importance, Let’s understand the basics.
What is Turnaround Time (TAT)?
The total amount of time required to complete a process cycle is called Turnaround Time (TAT). In laboratory management, this cycle encloses the time from ordering a test to delivering reports to end customers. However, there are many other processes like order, collect, identify, transfer, segregate, test, report, assess, and deliver involved in the loop. The total turnaround time of a test is a factor entirely dependent on all these processes.
Improved completion time improves your lab’s throughput; giving all referrals, partners, and patients the liberty to be easily reliable to your diagnostic center.
Types of Turnaround Time (TAT):
Pre-analytical turnaround time: Processes from test request to sample transfer
Analytical turnaround time: Processes from the segregation of samples to report generation
Post-analytical turnaround time: Processes from doctor’s assessment to report delivery
How To Measure Turnaround Time For Your Tests?
Every process for a given test varies on its type. For example, For tests A & B, if sample A is to be collected and processed directly, whereas Sample B must be centrifuged, the time required for the test performed on sample A varies from the test to be performed on Sample B. This indicates that turnaround time varies for each test.
Routine and special tests are the two types of tests that mainly fall under pathology tests. Therefore, considering the time required for a particular test based on its type and priority, we must create a list of tests performed for a lab. Once we have a list, we can set an expected TAT on each one of them based on their priority and type.
You can compare the turnaround time with the values of your test list soon after the test is ordered. This helps you measure it for each testing procedure. You can set a filter in the lab information system each time the time exceeds. This is a good practice for notification
Why do we need to measure TAT? Why is it Important?
Monitoring the variabilities in TAT helps us get insights into the causes of delay. This can be useful in making improvements in different areas of our end processes and also resolve dependent problems that hamper lab efficiency and staff productivity. Thus, reviewing TAT can help reduce delivery time, and customer satisfaction & reduce costs in a significant manner.
How can you shorten your Lab’s TAT?
There are certain parts of laboratory management that should be updated as per current trends. This will reduce the overall turnaround time and ensure convenient diagnostics services for end customers. Some of them are as follows –
- Automation of redundant processes (5–10% saving)
- Barcoding of samples which helps further automated testing
- Machine Interfacing to automate the entry of tests (>20% saving)
- Electronic report delivery (5–10% saving)
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