Laboratorians who sign up for a free AACC webinar on July 7, “Understanding and Developing Quality Metrics for the Clinical Laboratory,” will learn which quality metrics they should use to improve their lab’s performance and meet quality goals. The upcoming discussion is the second in the 2015 Thought Leadership Series of webinars supported by Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics.

Frederick G. Strathmann, PhD, medical director of toxicology and associate scientific director of Mass Spectrometry at ARUP Laboratories in Salt Lake City and an assistant professor of pathology at the University of Utah, plans to review common quality metrics for assessing performance characteristics such as test utilization, turnaround time, and analytical errors.

His presentation will include an overview of the “plan-do-check-act,” or PDCA, cycle, which provides a few simple methods to ensure that the right metric—not just any metric—is implemented, Strathmann told CLN Stat. PDCA will also be used to emphasize the need for continuous quality improvement. “Several examples of quality metrics will be provided, and a discussion about what makes them good, bad, or benign will be the focus,” he indicated.

In Strathmann’s view, a lab’s best starting point in evaluating quality metrics is to determine how often a quality metric is reviewed and what actions have been taken, based on past review. “The idea is to trim the fat and keep only what is required or necessary to truly assess quality. Also, it is important and practical to determine if the outcomes observed offset the efforts needed to generate the metric,” he says.

Once a quality metric is deemed important, labs must ensure that the data are correct and applied analyses are appropriate.

“Lastly, it is important that the quality metric is reviewed by everyone involved and that a plan is put in place each time the metric is reviewed for needed actions. Follow-through and accountability are critical to making the improvement process continuous,” he emphasized.

Talking about laboratory quality is always time well spent, Strathmann believes. Keeping that in mind, he outlined several key points labs should take away from his webinar:

  1. All laboratories struggle with defining good quality metrics. “Seeing examples of how colleagues have assessed and implemented successful quality metrics is of outstanding value,” he said.
  2. A “one-size-fits-all” quality plan does not exist. This is why it is invaluable to learn how other laboratories have designed individualized metrics.
  3. Quality improvement is a continuous cycle. “Although the destination can be a moving target, the ultimate goal remains the same no matter how large or small a given laboratory might be,” Strathmann explained.

Register online to attend this upcoming webinar, offered free of charge.