3 Tips to Improve Courier Service on Serology Shipments
Prior to a transplant taking place, a series of tests have to be completed to ensure that the transplanted organ will be compatible with the recipient. Serology (blood) tests, HLA and cross matching materials are all used to make this determination.
In my point of view, serology shipments should be treated with the exact same degree of urgency that we do when transporting the organs themselves. This is because, the transplant cannot take place until the tests are performed. To give an example, in the case of a “donor after cardiac death” or DCD, the organs in the donor are kept functioning until the tests are successfully completed. You can imagine, this is a difficult time for the donor’s family. The courier's role in getting these tests to the respective lab is crucial in keeping this period of time as short as possible.
It should be noted that even with a timely delivery (e.g. meeting the specified ETA), timely pickups are equally important. The representative from the OPO (organ procurement organization) is often “on-call” for twenty hours or more and I have seen time and time again where a delay at pickup even with an accurate delivery per our ETA, creates issues that funnel down to our primary contact. With all this in mind, here are three tips to help improve courier service on all your serology shipments.
1. Call or Click Before the Test is Complete
All couriers need time to dispatch and send drivers to pick-up your serology shipments. One way to speed things up is to contact your courier before the test is complete. Most couriers can arrive in 30-60 minutes upon request, depending your location. Because shipments have to be tendered to the airlines at least 60 minutes before flight departure, you need all the time you can to make the earliest flight. Figure out what your average time is to extract and process the specimen, and talk to your courier to figure out what their average dispatch repsonse is to your location. Once you have this information, you can plan accordingly on how far ahead you want to call ahead, without any costly wait times associated with an early arrival of the driver.
2. Know Your Options for Late Night Cargo Flights
Another option to the commercial passenger airlines are cargo flights. You need to talk to your NFO (next flight out) provider to determine if they indeed have access to these flights and if they have a pick-up and delivery scenario that works with you and your testing labs city. If there are flights available, its a great back-up to have. So if you have an NAT (Nucleic Acid Testing) sample that needs to go out and there aren't any flight options, these carriers are still flying. With late take offs and early AM arrivals, this can be a great work around for many OPOs, tissue banks, and eye banks. These flight schedules are also great if you have regulary scheduled serology work, this allows you to consolidate as many NAT samples together as possible and still get an early AM delivery.
3. Consolidate on Delivery, When You Can
The organ & tissue community is under pressure to save money in this economy, just like everyone else. One way to trim the fat off your transportation spend for lab specimens is to ask your courier about consolidation. When you have mutiple samples all going into the same delivering lab city, you should be able to negotiate with your courier on a "sweep rate". The sweep rate would only hit you with one delivery charge for drive miles incurred after picking multiple specimens at the same airport on one run. This isn't applicable to everyone, but if you have multiple specimens going at different times or inbound to the lab from different locations this can be very effective. You want to check your lab about when the optimal times your specimens need to arrive to avoid any delay in turn-around-time of the results. So it may make sense to hold a few specimens together at the airport for one run, as long there is not too much time differential that it affect the lab's ability to process your specimen faster.
I've given you a few tips on how to improve the service and turn-around on your serology shipments, as well as how to save a few bucks when it makes sense. I hope you have found this useful in your very important mission of donating life.