Couriers are not often thought of as a vital component of the medical field. The services couriers provide are crucial in delivering time-sensitive laboratory specimens, pharmaceuticals, paperwork, and supplies to reference laboratories, hospitals, pharmacies, and other medical facilities. Courier services are no longer just a random car or van coming to pick up and deliver a specimen. These services have evolved and become more focused on training and technology over the past few years, with the goal of improving service levels. There are a few new and exciting trends developing within the courier industry that will create even more efficiency and effectiveness in 2020.
Medical Courier Management Software
Technology is the most significant change in the courier industry, as it is in most businesses. GPS tracking is one of the critical and evolving trends within the industry. Medical facilities can track, in real time, exactly where their specimens are and when they will arrive. GPS tracking allows the courier to take the most efficient route to the destination, improving delivery time and decreasing fuel costs. Utilizing these types of tools help reduce costs, eliminate missing specimens, track deliverability success, and provide peace of mind for laboratories, but more importantly, for patients. Courier management systems are an exciting and efficient way for labs to manage and maintain control of multiple functions pertaining to specimen delivery process, and the use of mobile devices in the fleet have created even more opportunities for leveraging courier technology.
Path-Tec’s SpectraLogix system allows for courier scheduling, specimen tracking, route optimization, communication features, mobile convenience, and report generation. This technology assists labs in improving overall client satisfaction, reducing costs associated with transporting specimens, and creating greater overall operating efficiency.
Medical Drone Technology
Drone technology is another area evolving within the courier industry. Although drones have not yet been widely used within the medical courier realm, they are becoming more common within the package and food delivery industry. It is uncertain if drones would be a viable delivery option for patient sensitive information, but there are certainly other practical areas in which they may be utilized. Some possibilities for drone technology within the health care field include delivery of medical supplies, food, or water to remote or storm ravaged areas, delivery of supplies to Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) out in the field, or taking an automated external defibrillator (AED) to a heart attack victim. In instances such as a virus breakout, drone could be utilized to retrieve patient specimens without having to risk additional personnel to the infected regions.
Increased Medical Courier Training
Training of medical couriers is more in depth than one might suspect. The individuals transporting specimens have HIPPA, specimen handling and integrity, exposure control, spill and leak protocol, compliance, and DOT training. Keeping couriers up to date on the latest processes and procedures improves services and efficiency for both the medical facilities, as well as the courier service. Lack of training on how to properly transport specimens can be extremely detrimental to the integrity of a specimen, and medical courier and logistics companies have added a new focus in this area of healthcare logistics.
RFID Temperature Tracking
Oftentimes, when a courier service transfers a specimen to a laboratory, keeping the temperature within the appropriate range for optimal testing may be a concern. This does not have to be the case any longer. There are now controls available that have the ability to track the temperature range of the specimen being transferred throughout the courier route, from the time it leaves the customer site to arrival at the lab in which it will be tested. An RFID tag is attached to the specimen, at which time, a temperature range may be programmed into the tag. Should the specimen go above or below the set range, the specimen will be flagged. This allows for technicians to determine immediately, upon arrival, the specimen integrity, reducing time that may be wasted by analyzing specimens that are no longer fit for testing. While this is often time used for specimens being shipped through carriers, it is also an added tool that couriers can use to increase specimen integrity and quality control. This same technology can be used to streamline inventory management using RFID lot labels on specimen collection kits and and marketing materials.
Laboratories utilizing courier services can only benefit from taking advantage of the training and technology trends emerging and evolving within the industry. Specialized training, GPS, drones, and software management systems will assist labs in creating more efficient operations, increase client relations and satisfaction, and decrease costs.