Blog Post

Infusion center insights: The where and when of infusion center lab testing

By Ashley Riley

March 16, 2016

    The infusion center doesn’t operate in a vacuum—it relies on support from multiple ancillary services, particularly the lab. To learn more about the timing and location of lab services, we collected data from over 250 infusion centers.

    Most pre-chemo blood draws completed day of infusion appointment

    The majority of infusion centers have patients complete their pre-chemotherapy blood draws the day of their infusion appointment (75%), rather than the day before the appointment (25%). Programs with dedicated oncology labs were more likely to perform day of blood draws (85%) than those without dedicated oncology labs (65%). Nearly 90% of blood draws for infusion patients are performed in the infusion center.

    Interestingly, infusion centers that perform blood draws the day before treatment had higher median volumes—including annual number of unique cancer patients and total annual infusions—than those that perform blood draws on the same day as chemotherapy. These data suggest that separating the pre-chemo blood draws from the chemotherapy appointment may increase efficiency and patient throughput in the infusion center.

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    Blood draws the day before chemo associated with shorter patient wait times

    Unsurprisingly, infusion centers that perform lab testing the day before chemotherapy reported shorter average patient wait times compared to organizations that perform testing on the same day as chemotherapy (median 30 mins vs. 45 mins). However, those centers also reported longer average lab processing times than blood draws done on the same day as chemotherapy (median 45 mins vs. 30 mins), which makes sense given that the lab does not have the same urgency when tests are run the day before a patient’s appointment.

    Facilities split on having dedicated oncology lab

    Facilities were almost equally split between having (48%) and not having (52%) a dedicated oncology lab. As expected, facilities with a dedicated oncology lab had higher median volumes than those without.

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    Dedicated oncology lab associated with quicker turnaround times

    The benefits of having a dedicated oncology lab were made clear when we asked about turnaround times. Facilities with a dedicated oncology lab had both shorter median lab processing times and patient wait times from the moment patients checked in until their infusion started compared to facilities without a dedicated oncology lab.image

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