Why Your Area Might Be Considering Centralising Their Microbiology Labs
Life is complicated. There is rarely a clear and obvious right answer to our issues – everything comes with shades of grey.
Working out how to manage microbiology services more effectively is no different. What works for one area may not work for another. And there may be no right answer at all.
Many areas are trialling, centralising their services, and having one centre manage the testing for multiple hospitals. For example, one lab would handle all the clia kits from a whole area.
There are some benefits to this – it’s cheaper, some services will be provided more quickly, and you will have all your experts in one place. But there are also downsides to this, like making communication between doctors and microbiologists more difficult.
Today, we are going to be looking at the pros and cons of centralising microbiology services.
Here are three reasons why your area may want to centralise its microbiology service:
Centralising microbiology services means that labs and their workers will have more space to work in and that space will be specialised.
Pre-analytic, analytic, and post-analytic practices would all be done in one place. Tests could move from one stage to the other without too much delay.
All of the equipment that will be needed to run any of the tests required by the hospital will be held in one place and researchers will have easier access to them.
Organisations are often very keen to centralise microbiology services because it allows them to save a lot of money.
If services are to be centralised then the organisation needs to make sure that a lot of advanced planning is done to prevent money-saving choices from being made at the expense of productivity or patient care.
Increased productivity, faster turnovers, and less staff required mean that if an area is looking to save money then centralising this service can be a good option for them.
Increased Access To Microbiology Experts
If an area’s microbiology service is being moved out of multiple hospitals and put into one central location, this will mean that all of the microbiology experts will be working in one place.
This means if someone is looking for an expert to take a look at test results before sending them back to the hospital, this becomes a lot easier. They do not need to phone around multiple hospitals looking for the right person.
Centralising services means that you can also get the best scientists working on more tests and getting the results in doctors’ hands faster.
Here are two reasons why centralising microbiology services might not be the right option for your area:
Distance From Patients
While pre-analytic, analytic, and post-analytic practices can all take place in one location, the start of the tests may be delayed while the test samples are being delivered to the lab.
Before centralization, blood samples would be taken from the patient and delivered to the lab in the same hospital.
Moving to a centralised lab would require all samples to be moved across town, or further, by a courier. This delay could have a big impact on some clinical services.
Many argue that the people who suffer the most when services are centralised are the patients.
Doctors would have a harder time communicating with labs and when one lab is doing all the tests for the area, emergency tests would delay less urgent tests. This could leave customers with chronic but not life-threatening issues waiting much longer for test results and therefore longer to receive their treatments.
Due to emergency tests needing to happen on a regular basis, even if services are centralised, there will need to be some form of lab on-site anyway.
Working out how to restructure your local area’s microbiology lab services is never going to be an easy task. No matter what option you choose, there will be some people who will lose out.
Doctors might be frustrated at having to wait longer for non-urgent test results and having to send all testing to be done off-site.
However, there are also many benefits to centralization.
When you have all the best microbiologists in one location, you should have a better and faster turnover rate of tests. You will also be able to have more experts consulting on difficult cases.
There are both advantages and disadvantages of the centralization of microbiology services.