Since our independence over 4 decades ago, Bangladesh has rapidly emerged as a middle-income country and consequently the purchasing power of consumers has increased. It’s time now to ensure the basic human rights of people – and one of them is healthcare. Pathology test results play a vital role in healthcare. There are numerous diagnostic centers that have been established in the country which use the latest lab equipment and doctors depend on these results to treat patients.
A few years ago, a close relative of mine fell severely ill. After consultation with several doctors, he had his blood work and other pathology tests done at a reputed facility. Although the results could not reach any proper conclusion, his health deteriorated further. After a week, he got the same tests done at another facility, and this time the results were different – he was diagnosed with stage 1 cancer. He eventually went on to get proper treatment and is now a cancer survivor. But not all such stories in the healthcare system in Bangladesh lead to a happy ending like my relative’s. There is an overwhelming quantity of misdiagnoses in the country, a majority of which lead to horrific endings.
Given this predicament, the biggest questions facing us are – with such sophisticated lab equipment, why are test results still not dependable? Why are there discrepancies in the results of the same lab tests at different diagnostic centers? The one palpable answer is that there is a huge lack of standard quality lab practice in these facilities, and hence they are not being able to ensure reliable reports.
I have been working in medical diagnostic laboratories for the last 17 years, including establishments such as icddr,b and Thyrocare. I am lucky to have been able to work in accredited labs which helped me to gather in depth knowledge and experience. I met Ms. Sylvana Sinha, the Founder and CEO of Praava Health, about 15 months ago and learned about the new standard of healthcare that she was striving to bring to Bangladesh. She mentioned to me that Praava’s lab would be internationally accredited and that further intrigued me. What I was most taken by was her commitment to provide quality and accurate test results to ensure patients do not have to suffer through emotional turmoil. Eventually in May 2016, I embarked on a new journey with Praava Health, serving as the Lab Director. It is my aim to establish an exemplary lab in Praava Health that will bring about a change in people’s mindset regarding lab results in Bangladesh. The only way to do that is to ensure proper quality.
Quality assurance is a broad spectrum of plans, policies and procedures that together provide an administrative structure for a laboratory′s effort to achieve quality goals. The term quality control (QC) is often used to represent those techniques and procedures that monitor performance characteristics.
A quality assurance program involves virtually everything and everybody in the clinical laboratory. An error in any step during the acquisition, processing, analysis and the reporting of a laboratory test result can invalidate the quality of the analysis and cause the laboratory to fall short of its quality goals. There are several essential elements of a quality assurance program which include the following:
Dedication: Dedication to lab quality service is an absolute must. Quality needs to be a major consideration in all management decisions because a single decision could jeopardize other plans and practices for attaining quality goals.
Facilities and resources: Laboratories must have adequate space, equipment, materials, supplies, staff and supervisory personnel and budgetary resources. These are the basic skeleton upon which quality services can be developed and maintained.
Technical competence: High competence of personnel is essential to obtain high quality services. The educational background and experience of all personnel are important, as is the capability for providing in service training to develop and maintain skills and knowledge.
Quality assurance procedure: Control of preanalytical variables such as test request, patient preparation, identification, specimen acquisition and transport, specimen processing and distribution, preparation of work lists and logs, and maintenance of records need to be ensured, while analytical variables such as analytical methodology, standardization and calibration procedures, documentation of analytical protocols and procedures, and the monitoring of critical equipment and materials, must also be maintained. Monitoring with the use of statistical methods and control charts plays a very important role as well.
So how is Praava going to incorporate quality assurance? Praava’s core vision is to provide commitment to the patients that their lab test results will be accurate and reliable. This can be achieved through internal and external quality assessment schemes and by following international accreditation lab protocols. We are also recruiting lab personnel with extensive experience and sound technical knowledge in their line of work. They will go through local and international training to further hone their skills. Competent workforce, coupled with a state-of-the-art accredited lab, will help us achieve the highest quality test results.
For the overall development of improving the healthcare sector certain steps need to be taken – government initiative to strictly regulate quality and proper planning and awareness of the professionals. Praava aims to be the trusted brand in healthcare in Bangladesh and we take steps toward achieving that every day. It is my belief that Praava Health will be able to bring about that change for the people of our country, and I am thrilled to be a part of this journey!