Sourcing the right products is only part of the equation when it comes to optimizing your lab’s sample collection efficiency.
Collection is the first step of the molecular diagnostics workflow, and some would say the most crucial.
Having inefficient or ineffective processes will put an entire workflow in jeopardy. With labs experiencing drastic increases in sample collection as a result of COVID-19, streamlining these processes is more important than ever.
Optimization will begin with selecting the right tools. Common sample collection errors and workflow gaps can be remediated through proper product sourcing.
Many of your “staple” sample collection products, including bandages, biohazard bags, and syringes, are cut-and-dry decisions that won’t vary much from lab to lab. However, when it comes to swabs, collection tubes, and transport media – you’ll have more options to choose from depending on the nature of specific workflow.
Choosing the Proper Swabs for Your Workflow
Identifying the types of for collection is determinate on the nature of the test, the biological specimen as well as the test methodology.
If your lab is currently focusing heavily on COVID-19 testing (which many are), RT-PCR testing remains the gold standard in terms of sensitivity and specificity. Supera iClean Nasopharyngeal Swabs are one great example of an effective swab option.
While Nasopharyngeal swabs are still the preferred method of collection for many medical professionals, nasal and oral collection, when performed accurately, are also widely used.
There are additional factors to consider: Many patients do not like the invasive nature of the nasopharyngeal collection device and the technical expertise from the collector. Some COVID-19 assays will produce effective results when oropharyngeal and/or nasal swabs are used. OP and Nasal swabs also offer greater tip variety (foam, spun polyester, and spun rayon) which make specimen retention less of an issue.
Labs performing antigen testing will find nasopharyngeal swabs ineffective but do receive the added option of saliva testing. It’s important to note that antigen tests are generally reserved only for symptomatic patients.
Of course, COVID-19 isn’t the only test your lab will ever provide. Other infection types, for example, may call for different swab needs. Our molecular diagnostics experts are standing by to assist you with a custom workflow solution tailored to your unique situation.
What Type of Tubes and Transport Media are Right for Your Lab’s Needs?
Sample collection tubes are traditionally 5mL or 10mL in volume. These sizes take up less space and offer consistency in storage.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has created an extreme demand for 5mL and 10mL varieties. Suppliers often cannot maintain stock. Diagnostic samples are being contained in a much wider variety of tube volumes so that labs can operate uninterrupted.
Additional factors your lab may need to consider include: graduations, capping options, automation capabilities, material, sterility and transport media needs. Choose from a wide variety of options on the Thomas Scientific website.
The subject of transport media brings up a new set of questions, the first being: do you want to purchase it separately, or pre-packaged in tubes? The answer will likely come down to the resources at your lab’s disposal and will require a weighing of available manual labor against financial expense.
The type of transport media is also an important consideration. Molecular transport media (MTM) products, for example, will rapidly inactivate viruses and other pathogens to provide a safer & more efficient workflow. PrimeStore from Longhorn Vaccines and Diagnostics is a leading MTM product that comes in both bulk and pre-tubed options.
Standard viral transport media, or VTM, is perhaps the most widely available transport media option. VTM (like the ones listed below, some of which come with swabs) is used to collect, transport, and maintain the genetic integrity of clinical specimens containing viruses.
The Missing Element: Custom Kit Creation
The reality is that the products you choose represent only a few pieces of the overall sample collection puzzle.
Here’s what your top competitors won’t tell you: if you want to make a true lasting difference in your lab’s bottom line efficiency, you need a customized kit solution.
The human labor-intensive nature of collection (coupled with the massive test quantities many labs are now performing) can make it difficult to cut down on costs and errors through proper product sourcing alone. Difficult – but not impossible.
At Thomas Scientific, we pride ourselves in an ability to take an all-encompassing view of your workflow operations and create a tailored solution that boosts your bottom line. We can help in virtually any way you can imagine – whether it’s through pre-packaging, branding, streamlined logistics, or any other efficiency gap you might be experiencing. Because chances are, there are areas that can be improved upon within your sample collection processes, and we are here to help.
Here are just a few examples of the many real-life wins we’ve delivered for customers:
- A government laboratory was having a big problem with leaky sample collection tubes. We aliquoted their transport media into IATA-certified tubes, then went the extra mile by creating full custom kits with sourced swabs, bags, and branded labels.
- A large Northeast US medical center had their own transport media on-site, but nothing else – and needed to perform lots of tests in a hurry. They shipped us their media, bought components from us, and we sent back individually bagged kits.
- A California university system lab was spending too much of their skilled labor resources on the simple task of mixing two solutions together. We stepped in and created custom pre-mixed vials – so they could get back to performing high-level science.
Get your free sample collection discovery session today.
Thomas Scientific diagnostics experts are standing by to provide free discovery sessions for your lab. Here’s what you’ll receive:
- A 1-on-1 call with one of our qualified diagnostics workflow expertsA full evaluation of your lab’s current processes and needs
- A complete audit of your lab's supply chain risk profile
- A customized sample collection solution for your workflow
- Continued support from your workflow expert after the discovery session
- News, offers, and new product announcements to your inbox
Click here to fill out our form and get the process started!