With increased testing demands during the current COVID-19 pandemic, many labs are running overtime to be able to process COVID-19 tests.
In addition to the preexisting labor shortages in many labs, the higher testing demand has also led to reagent shortages, as most labs were not prepared to deal with the sudden increase in testing. This puts more stress and pressure on lab employees, which can quickly lead to burnout.
But there are several strategies you can use to improve your COVID-19 testing workflow and save costs while also safeguarding your employees' energy and time.
Do you know what to consider when choosing a workflow to use for SARS-CoV-2 detection?
There are many COVID-19 testing options available these days. When making your decision, you must consider assay specificity and sensitivity, throughput and labor requirements, data analysis, and especially, reagent availability.
Shortages of nucleic acid isolation reagents along with RT-PCR assays and the equipment to automate them will slow down testing in your lab. Using a single source workflow has the main advantages that you will always know the availability of all your reagents, instead of sourcing them from several different companies, and it will also streamline your ordering process.
The specificity and sensitivity of your SARS-CoV-2 test are equally important. The specificity is the ability of the test to detect a negative case and while the specificity of commercially available real-time RT-PCR SARS-CoV-2 tests are similar, the sensitivity of these tests is not.
The sensitivity is the ability of the test to detect a positive case of COVID-19 and all tests are not equal. To learn more, download this free infographic.
Solutions to increase testing throughput while decreasing labor demands
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 176 million COVID-19 tests have been performed in the U.S. since the beginning of the pandemic. The rapid influx of tests has meant many labs are running 24 hours a day seven days a week, with the increased demand often leading to employee burnout.
But there are several solutions to improve the work-life balance of stressed, overworked employees. These include adopting smart, scalable lab automation to maximize your testing efficiency, pooling SARS-CoV-2 samples to increase testing throughput while decreasing cost, and eliminating supply chain interruptions that put pressure on your laboratory staff to find and obtain testing supplies.
To learn more about how you can optimize your COVID-19 testing workflow to the benefit of your employees, download this free infographic.