Barriers to Laboratory Services and How DIY Lab Software Tackles Them

8 October 2021

2 min read

Laboratory testing is an essential part of healthcare, underpinning all scientific analyses behind diagnoses and healthcare decisions. However, not all communities are fortunate to have access to diagnostic tools and adequate healthcare services.

In its report, the Department of Health (DOH) said  70% of the population located in rural areas struggle with no or limited access to quality inpatient and outpatient care services. The inadequate number of clinics and hospitals in rural areas is a major contributing factor to this. The same DOH study cites that only 13% of healthcare providers and 40% of tertiary hospitals in the country operate in rural areas. 

To make the matter worse, the use of outdated technology and the simple lack of modern diagnostic tools impede patients’ access to quality lab services, resulting in poor health outcomes and even deaths.  

With COVID-19 continuing to rage across the world, many healthcare facilities are pushed over to the brink.

When a patient is unable to get to a qualified and well-equipped laboratory for testing, appropriate care, and treatment, achieving optimum health is impossible.   The unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic spurred the rise of DIY laboratory software. Now, modern laboratories are tearing down barriers to laboratory services and bringing the lab right to where the people are. 

1. Time Restrictions

Typical laboratories operate within a specified schedule.  The time allotted for patient visits and appointments is usually limited. In many cases,  busy patients find it challenging to carve out some time to visit labs to set or reschedule appointments.

The use of proactive patient scheduling tools and appointment reminders has proven to help cut down on no-shows. In one study, one hospital in the US saw its no-show rate drop by as much as 40% and appointment confirmation increase by 23%.

A DIY laboratory software with a patient-facing online scheduling tool empowers patients on their own schedule and enables them to set their appointment according to their convenience. Most lab management solutions can function across desktop computers, smartphones, and tablets. This makes scheduling appointments easy, seamless, and frictionless for patients. 

2. Transportation Issues and Geographical Constraints

Transportation and location issues are also reasons patients fail to receive laboratory treatments.

According to a survey, transportation barriers include the lack of gas money (31%), not having a driver’s license (27%), inability to take public transport (24%), and absence of a working vehicle (23%). Aside from transportation woes, patients who live in remote areas cite geographical inaccessibility as one of the reasons their access to lab services is severely hampered.

The rise of DIY Lab software also makes point-of-care (POC) testing more ubiquitous. With POC testing,  laboratories can deploy personnel to a patient's location to perform the test and pull up the results in minutes, productively addressing the patient’s transportation and location constraints.

3. Communication Issues

Another major barrier to laboratory services is the absence of convenient and clear patient-provider communication. 

Healthcare providers in the Philippines lament the lack of a centralized communication system to effectively manage and monitor patients. Additionally, "more hotlines and call forwarding capabilities" and a direct line to the LGUs are needed to improve not just patient-provider communication but also to enhance coordination among different health departments, laboratories, and government agencies.

In the US, 31.5% of patients who do not appear in their appointments cite poor provider communication as their reason.

Similarly, language barrier, or the inability of people to speak and comprehend a common language is another impediment. Laboratories today need to communicate with patients using the patients’ communication channels and language of choice.

The good news is that most DIY lab solutions are built to support multi-platform communication (text, email, chat, etc.). Also, a number of DIY lab systems have a multilingual functionality, which is either out of the box or as an integrable feature that allows them to reach and provide support to non-native speakers.

4. Financial Limitations

The cost of laboratory services can be out of reach, especially for patients who are financially insecure. Simply put, patients who can't afford certain tests elect not to get them at all.

According to a study, 1 in 10 adults said they delayed or did not get care because of financial constraints. The same study found that nearly 20% of adults in poor health conditions chose to put off or forgo accessing medical services due to cost concerns.

With DIY lab solutions, small and midsize labs are able to perform a wide array of tests and treatments at affordable rates. Labs can deliver quality services without pressing patients to expend at such costly health services. 

5. Fear of COVID-19

Even with ongoing vaccination efforts, many people prefer not to seek and receive medical care and services for fear of COVID-19 exposure in their visits to medical facilities.

A study by Octa Research validated this fear. It said some 60% of Filipinos chose to stay at home and go out only if necessary while 43% reported they avoided large congregations and 41% said they steered clear of sick people. The study also showed that 30% of Filipinos do not comply with the prevailing social distancing requirements when they go out.

Labs with DIY lab management platforms can address this fear effectively and safely by providing patients with mobile apps for paperless and contactless registration, scheduling, payment, and updates. Labs can also offer patients point-of-care testing right at their homes to keep the risks of COVID-19 at bay.

Tear Down Barriers to Lab Services with

These barriers to laboratory services have been preventing patients from seeking and obtaining the medical care and attention they need to live healthy and fulfilling lives.

The arrival of next-generation laboratory solutions like empowers small and mid-sized laboratories with capabilities and tools to help patients, particularly the economically vulnerable and resource-challenged, in managing their health and achieving the best outcomes from their health service providers. 

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Written by Misfits for and copyedited by NPC and GV

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