Why inbound visibility is so important for medical laboratories – and patients.
As you arrive at your doctor’s waiting room, you may notice a UPS Lab Specimen Pickup Point for patient specimens destined being shipped to testing labs. It may look simple enough, but the technology behind the simple “drop box” can benefit laboratories and patients in surprising ways.
Of course, patient samples need speedy, secure transport to the lab, but UPS provides something more than just transportation to the lab: inbound visibility. The receiving lab is able to see what’s arriving and when.
In addition, UPS tracks these shipments throughout their journey, predicting delays and standing ready to intervene if one occurs. If it is necessary to preserve samples, UPS healthcare experts can utilize refrigeration, re-icing or expediting via another service such as a courier to get a package there on time.
“Labs [want] to enhance inbound specimen visibility so they can improve operations and provide better service for their clients.”
– UPS’s Robin Hooker
How patients benefit
For the patient, the specimen can be critical for the proper diagnosis and treatment of their condition. From the patient’s perspective, when the transportation provider knows where the sample is at any given time, they can protect or expedite the shipment if it becomes at risk of delay. This means the patient gets results and treatment sooner, and there is less chance of being called back to the doctor’s office for a redraw.
How laboratories benefit
For a lab operations manager, having complete inbound visibility can help them staff efficiently with lab technicians for the next day, and optimize labor and operating costs. Valuable insight into the next day’s deliveries provides advanced knowledge of what the next day’s lab testing activities will be. Plus, communicating with a transportation provider is not a problem when both parties can see the same information. That means that labs’ customers—doctors’ offices, for example—can get problems solved sooner.
How does it work?
The secret is in the barcode on the Lab Specimen Pickup Point. When UPS drivers pick up the shipments, they scan a barcode at the pickup point. That identifies the doctor’s office to the lab, and then the driver scans each shipment, which gets associated with the lab. Within minutes, the lab will be able to see that the specimen package has been picked up and when it will arrive.
Robin Hooker, director of healthcare strategy at UPS, says that more labs are interested in having information like this at their fingertips because the testing industry is facing headwinds such as regulation and competition. “Many labs have business objectives to enhance inbound specimen visibility so they can improve lab operations and provide better service for their clients,” he says. “The UPS Lab Specimen Pickup Point will help lab managers achieve these goals.” It will also help their businesses be more attractive to doctors’ offices and other clinical points of care, potentially boosting business, according to Hooker.