Diagnostic and medical labs operate in a competitive market. Labs must constantly seek an advantage. Even a small, strategic change can make a significant operational difference.
Diagnostic lab forms, a staple of the laboratory business, is one area that labs can leverage to increase efficiency. In this article, we’ll look at how lab form design can deliver measurable benefits.
Diagnostic Lab Forms
Tracking samples once they reach the lab are critical. Every sample represents a life. Reputable labs follow best practices, audit trails and testing protocols set forth by the CAP (College of American Pathologists) and Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) governing regulations. A properly designed form can allow a lab to take advantage of patient identifiers that meet the standards set forth by governing agencies. Patient labels, often located on the lab forms, allow labs to track work, record and transfer information, and manage important testing protocols.
Information must be recorded on the form correctly. Data on the form should be accessible so the lab can work more efficiently. An accurate form and superior label design are integral for efficient communication between labs.
Best Practices for Laboratory Forms
A qualified print service, one with experience and expertise in lab operations, leverage understanding of laboratory operations to provide more efficient laboratory forms. They understand how lab forms are used, and can suggest ways to increase usability and efficiency with laboratory form design and placement of linear and/or 2D barcodes.
A drug testing chain of custody and control form (CCF) is the paper trail for a sample – documenting who collected, controlled, and analyzed the sample. It is typically handled by 3 or more people, and it must be accurately filled out and processed correctly. Otherwise the information is compromised, and the sample and test are tainted, maybe even unusable.
There are strategies a qualified print service can leverage to increase the usability of the CCF:
- Color coding sections for each person using the form. This makes it easier to find the applicable section and record necessary information.
- Highlighting areas where a signature is required. Users see where a signature is needed, and anyone reviewing the form can quickly identify missing information.
- Boxes for recording data increase the readability of the form, especially for handwritten notes, and make it easy to archive information later.
- The order of the fields can be designed to match the fields in the data collection software systems. This can make it easier for data entry employees to validate information contained on the forms.
- Qualified print services have experience in designing forms to increase the data collected using OCR / ICR software, reducing the need for data entry. OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and ICR (Intelligent Character Recognition) technology allows a scanning software to capture printed or handwritten information from a document.
Designing a form for your lab operations, rather than accepting a form that may not apply to how your business operates, can lead to measurable efficiency benefits.
Taking advantage of the best design practice on lab forms can streamline the testing process as the sample enters the laboratory. Saving a data entry work or helping automate testing of the specimen can lead to increased profits with every sample.
Getting Started with Qualified Lab Services
A few simple steps can increase lab efficiency and profit.
Forms have long been a major expense for the lab, not only in the cost of printing, but also the mistakes and inefficiency the form and specimen tracking label can create.
Qualified print services can help. Contact GO2 Lab Media, a qualified print service with a focus on serving the lab, for a free evaluation and to discuss your needs.