Turn-around times and critical value reporting are among the most obvious indicators of laboratory service and performance, particularly for our clinical colleagues. Turn-around time can have many definitions, but in general is defined as the time it takes for a laboratory to deliver test results to the ordering provider. A critical value is a test result that conveys information that is of concern to a patient’s health or even their mortality. It represents an out-of-range test result that must be reported immediately.
Benchmarking data on turn-around times for both regular and critical value test results are useful in setting goals for improvement. Without a thorough understanding of its current state of operations, a lab will often find difficulty proceeding effectively to improve. Although much of these data reside in the LIS, they are often not readily accessible in a digestible format for facilitating improvement projects. Since you can’t manage what you can’t measure, harnessing these data are essential to determining whether an implemented change is actually an improvement. The NPQR allows pathologists and laboratory professionals to easily monitor these data, with the capability to drill-down to individual test types and patient results.
Efficient laboratory turn-around time and critical value reporting are key to providing optimal patient care. “Often, the clinician can’t move forward without data from the lab,” said Ali Brown, MD, FASCP, Medical Director of ASCP’s National Pathology Quality Registry (NPQR). “Delays in reporting results could cause a delay in the diagnosis and management of our patients, which can have significant consequences for cost, time and the patient’s well-being.”
A team of ASCP experts have developed a set of consensus-based recommendations to address turn-around times and critical value reporting. The NPQR captures and communicates information on turn-around time and critical value reporting, translates these data to aid in developing an action plan, and helps labs effectively operationalize these recommendations. Once baseline data is examined, the NPQR provides educational support and tools to help facilitate downstream changes to ultimately improve patient care. These support materials also meet criteria to satisfy CME and MOC requirements, providing a practical resource for members with just one tool.
“In the laboratory, we are providing results that have serious implications for the health and wellness of the patient. It makes sense that you have to deliver the most accurate test result as quickly as possible,” said Dr. Brown. “It’s often difficult for many labs to have an overall view of turn-around times for the vast number of tests performed. The NPQR is a tool that will help them get that with dashboards you can click on and drill down to a level where you can find out exactly what is going on.”
Another benefit of the NPQR is that participants can use a subset of the registry’s measures to fulfill the requirements of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ MIPS program, a quality payment program that rewards or penalizes providers based on their performance. To learn more about the benefits of participating in the NPQR, click here. For more information and descriptions of the NPQR's measures click here.