How COVID-19 Changed Lab Testing Forever

August 21, 2021

2 min read

The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted global lab operations, exposing antiquated and inefficient processes, as they are pushed to beyond their limits with the overwhelming increase in demand in lab requests.

In the Philippines alone, the number of COVID-19 tests done per day jumped from just 2,407 in April 2020 to 16,620 in May 2020. This continued to increase throughout the year as the virus continued to spread and doctors and scientists scrambled to understand this new threat to humanity.

NEW CHALLENGES

Since labs haven’t faced a virus as contagious as COVID-19, gaps in communications and manpower, as well as data and specimen collection made it difficult for labs to keep up with the rising demand for a more affordable, safer, faster, transparent, and more accessible lab services.

In addition, the World Health Organization’s “Test, test, test” message further cemented the imperative of testing to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, which put clinical labs under the spotlight as they now played the most critical part in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

This demand not only increased the toll on the manpower of clinical labs, but also on their supplies. In fact, a survey promoted by the American Society for Clinical Chemistry (AACC)

revealed that over 70 percent of respondent labs reported that they are unable to secure supplies needed for running COVID-19 tests, 57 percent say they struggled in securing test kits, and 21 percent expect to be unable to process all requested tests.

TRANSFORM AND REFORM

This increasing pressure forced labs to find a way to evolve and adapt to meet the rising challenges and expectations of a post-COVID world. Labs turned to technology to address issues in customer experience, as well as quality and efficiency of testing.

A recent study by the Medical lab Observer (MLO) reveals that 65 percent of labs have standardized their test ordering procedures and formularies and 31 percent have improved their electronic health record functionalities. The same study shows that 23 percent have implemented a pre-approval program for send-out tests and 21 percent have automated manual processes in the pre-analytic phase of testing.

In fact, nearly all standardization efforts by labs are centered on adopting technology to:

  • Improve quality and reduce costs (32.97%)
  • Cover or replace broken equipment (23.51%)
  • Automate processes to address staff shortages (20.82%)

This rings true even in the Philippines, where Dashlabs.ai was born, where they are now hitting an average of 47,000 tests per day and are even aiming to double these figures to at least 90,000 tests per day according to Coronavirus Testing Czar Vince Dizon in March 2021.

A woman undergoes nasal swabbing for COVID-19 at a booth in the Philippine Red Cross, Mandaluyong.

Although there are still labs that use dated systems, the pandemic has put a spotlight on technology and its role in enabling labs to cope with the challenges and changes brought by the COVID-19 crisis.

THE FUTURE

As vaccinations are rolled out and we continue the battle with COVID-19, we must not forget that there are still thousands of other viruses evolving everyday that could catch us yet again by surprise.

Hence, it is crucial for labs to continuously adapt, evolve and collaborate with technology. DIY lab platforms, like Dashlabs.ai, are every lab’s trusty side-kick who can help make healthcare more accessible by simplifying and automating lab operations. Our services do not only help improve patients’ access to lab testing and other services, but also ensure the quality and accuracy of your services.

Book a demo with us and let’s evolve together! We at Dashlabs.ai would be honored to be a part of your digital journey.

Written by Misfits for Dashlabs.ai. Copyedited by Marianne Dee. Photos by Justin See.

More articles from Dashlabs.ai