Lab Competency Assessment for Medical Office Staff
CMS personnel requirements, which include not only qualifying education, training and experience, but on-going competency assessments as well, are limited to the defined technical positions within the laboratory. As a result, we tend to think of front office personnel, including those who may also perform phlebotomy, or order lab supplies, as "other than" laboratory people; however, they play significant roles in the operation and success of the lab. This is especially true for the pre-analytic phase of patient testing, as office staff are often involved in getting important patient information, ensuring that specimens are sent to the requested reference labs, and performing data entry on the office computer system. In a Physician Office Lab, this multi-tasking may also extend to post-analytic activities such as receiving specimens collected off-site as well as receiving and filing of reference lab reports.
It is just as important to have all front office personnel, including receptionists, medical assistants, secretaries, phlebotomists, couriers, and even the office manager, properly trained for anything they do that affects any aspect of the laboratory operation. This training should be documented.
This need extends beyond training to competency assessment. Think about the effect on laboratory quality to have competency assured for all those whose activities directly affect the laboratory operation. One possibility is to consider incorporation of competency assessments of laboratory-related activity into staff evaluations. It is also important to remember that this is often the staff that interacts directly with patients providing pre-test preparation information.
An added bonus is that this increased level of interaction provides pathways for building trust and a sense of community between the front office and the laboratory. How far has your laboratory gone toward this quality building strategy?
Think of this as your "global initiative".