As of November 1st 2020 the CDC had reported over 148 million COVID-19 tests have been performed in the US this year. The increased testing demands brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have been causing supply chain shortages for months now. While supply chain shortages have been getting a lot of press lately, they are not the only shortages affecting COVID-19 testing workflow.
Prior to the pandemic, labor shortages were already recognized as an issue for many labs. To process these 148 million COVID-19 tests many labs are running 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Labs were not prepared to deal with this sudden onslaught of testing, leading to rapid burnout amongst laboratory employees.
What can labs do to reduce burnout?
A number of solutions are available to increase testing throughput while decreasing labor demands.
Adopting Smart, Scalable Lab Automation
The first of these solutions is scalable and modular automation. SARS-CoV-2 laboratory automation workstations can help improve the work-life balance of stressed, overworked employees, which in turn can help increase employee retention and offset the shrinking workforce.
Increase Multiplexing by Pooling Samples
Pooling of SARS-CoV-2 samples can dramatically increase testing throughput while decreasing cost. Because it allows for more people to be tested using fewer testing resources, sample pooling can reduce the stress on laboratory employees
Eliminating Supply Chain Interruptions
Supply chain interruptions have been delaying, decreasing, and even preventing a lab’s ability to perform testing. These interruptions increase the stress on laboratory staff who spend much time trying to obtain the necessary testing supplies. A consistent and trustworthy supply chain is needed to eliminate the uncertainty many labs have bee experiencing during this pandemic.
Simplify Sample Collection
Test workflows which allow for alternative sample types such as anterior nasal swabs can also reduce stress by reducing the complexity of testing and shifting the burden of sample collection from laboratory personal to supervised patients.
Adding a Full-Service Lab Inside Your Lab
Setting up a new lab or augmenting an existing one can be a daunting task in the current environment. To simplify this process, complete testing facilities including employees, equipment, reagents, and consumables can be set up in your already established CLIA facility. A full-service turnkey testing option can increase a lab’s testing throughput up to 100,000 tests/day.