Separation of Urgent and Non-Urgent Testing Processes at SPS

SPS has been able to closely monitor the transformation of pathology services from a single site at each hospital to a state-of-the-art ‘hub’ laboratory in Taunton and two ‘essential services laboratories’ on site at each hospital. This transformation has already started to yield improvement in the Turn Around Times (TATs) which we believe are having an impact on clinical outcomes elsewhere in both of the hospital systems.

The key to the success of the transformation of our pathology services was to separate the urgent and routine test work-flows. Clinically led and defined urgent testing remains on-site at the hospitals in a reconfigured process flow, whereas routine tests are now processed much more efficiently via the hub laboratory. By separating the process flows of tests, we have seen a marked improvement in TATs within the hospital.

The mean TATs for urgent and non-urgent testing have decreased by 22% and 29%, and the time taken to complete 95% of testing has fallen by 44% and 52% respectively, bringing our performance in line with the recommendations on turnaround times for emergency departments in the proposed KPIs from the Royal College of Pathologists (90% completion within one hour of receipt).

The shorter TATs, together with the ability to work to predictable results availability allow staff involved in patient care, especially in the emergency departments, to work more effectively

The links between a more efficient pathology service and improvements in the clinical pathway are very encouraging. A twenty-minute improvement in a creatinine test result being delivered to a consultant in A&E can prevent an unnecessary admission or escalate diagnosis and prevent longer lengths of stay, and is important to inform how we deliver integrated care across the hospitals.

Article Date: April 2015