Testing Demand Further Outpaces Lab Capacity
Demand for COVID-19 molecular diagnostic testing continues to soar, further extending turnaround times for test results, stated Quest Diagnostics, one of the largest labs in the USA.
‘Despite our rapid scaling up of capacity, soaring demand for COVID-19 molecular diagnostic tests across the USA is slowing the time in which we can provide test results,’ said Quest in a press statement published on July 13, 2020.
‘We attribute this demand primarily to the continuing spread of COVID-19 infections across the nation, but particularly in the South, Southwest, and West regions of the country.’
‘We now have the capacity to perform up to 125,000 molecular diagnostic tests a day, roughly double our capacity 8 weeks ago.’
By the end of July 2020, ‘we expect to have the capacity to perform 150,000 molecular diagnostic tests a day.’
Despite that dramatic increase, the demand for testing is increasing even faster.
As a result, our average turnaround time for reporting test results is slightly more than 1 day for our priority 1 patients.
However, our average turnaround time for all other populations is 7 or more days.
Specific drivers of demand include pre-operative patients undergoing procedures in hospitals and surgery centers; high-risk populations, such as those receiving care in federally qualified healthcare centers, nursing homes, and correctional facilities; and individuals seeking testing from community drive/walk through events with government agencies and corporations.
At Quest Diagnostics, we are doing everything we can to bring more COVID-19 molecular diagnostic testing to patients at this critical time.
However, we are limited in how quickly we can add capacity. For instance, global supply constraints continue to be an issue.
While our suppliers of test platforms and reagents continue to be responsive to our need to add capacity, they are limited amid surging demand in the United States and globally.
To address these challenges we are seeking to add new technology platforms, among other options.
We are also considering additional partners for our lab referral program, through which we forward specimens we receive to other laboratories with open capacity.
Yet, we want patients and healthcare providers to know that we will not be in a position to reduce our turnaround times as long as cases of COVID-19 continue to increase dramatically across much of the USA.
This is not just a Quest issue.
The surge in COVID-19 cases affects the laboratory industry as a whole.
We realize this situation is complex and not easily fixed. Fortunately, each of us has the power to take steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
We are also asking healthcare providers to abide by the prioritization plan we have established and to limit the number of specimens they forward for patients who are low risk.
Finally, we want to recognize the remarkable contributions of our Quest Diagnostics colleagues, who have been central to our nation’s pandemic response.
They are among the heroes of healthcare, and we are grateful for their willingness to go above and beyond to serve patients during these challenging times.
Notes: Turnaround time for molecular diagnostic and antibody testing includes the time to transport a specimen to a Quest Diagnostics laboratory after collecting it at a patient service center or provider site to reporting results. Turnaround time can fluctuate with demand and vary by region.
Priority 1 patients include hospital patients, pre-operative patients in acute care settings, and symptomatic healthcare workers. We rely on the healthcare provider to indicate the level of priority of each patient specimen referred to us for testing.
Quest Diagnostics annually serves one in three adult Americans and half the physicians and hospitals in the United States, and our 47,000 employees understand that, in the right hands and with the right context, our diagnostic insights can inspire actions that transform lives.
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