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Al Mokhtabar Labs—Egypt’s First CAP-Accredited Laboratory: Putting Quality and Patients First Brings Exponential Growth

CAP Accreditation: The Quality Framework Behind Al Mokhtabar’s Growth

Growing a business from one location to many is never easy, but when the business is as exacting as Egypt’s medical laboratory testing company Al Mokhtabar, the feat is even more impressive. Among the biggest challenges the company faces as it has grown is standardizing and replicating everything that make a business successful—including training, services, quality controls, and operations.

Dr. Marwa Mowafy joined Al Mokhtabar in 2007 just prior to the company pursuing CAP accreditation. Today, she is responsible for all CAP accreditation activities. “We are now the largest private medical laboratory testing company in the Middle East, providing diagnostic laboratory services, pathological and clinical tests for medical communities across Egypt, with 226 locations and a portfolio of more than 1,400 clinical tests.”

Being the only CAP-accredited medical laboratory in Egypt gives Al Mokhtabar a unique reputation and competitive advantage; physicians and patients know that the accuracy of laboratory results is guaranteed. It has also helped Al Mokhtabar attract the best people to their team.

“CAP accreditation is essential because of the focus on continuous education, continuous improvement and emphasis on providing the highest quality of lab services. There is much pride here. Everyone at Al Mokhtabar is committed to quality and to striving to exceed customers’ expectations.”

Standardization of processes, largely driven by key performance indicators (KPIs) derived from CAP’s checklists and other quality management systems have allowed Al Mokhtabar to deploy an scalable business model that enables capital-efficient growth. Supported by the operational backbone of the central lab in Cairo, Al Mokhtabar can easily initialize a broad range of tests at each of its locations and ensure fast, accurate results, and positive patient experiences throughout Egypt.

Checklists Enable Performance at World-class Level

Looking back at the decision to pursue CAP accreditation, Dr. Marwa says simply that “CAP standards are the golden standards for patient safety” as it provides guidance and oversight on the most recent techniques and equipment. CAP inspectors are also the best in the world, certified pathologists, doctoral scientists, medical technologists, and other experts who help laboratories learn and apply advanced standards and ultimately earn accreditation.

She appreciates the annual checklist updates that reflect changes in international standards for clinical pathology, which in turn ensures Al Mokhtabar consistently performs at a world-class level. Ongoing monitoring by the CAP accreditation committee keeps Al Mokhtabar’s team alert and intentional about following all standards.

“The reputation of CAP accreditation is very good, and people understand what it takes to earn it,” Dr. Marwa says. “CAP’s core principles ensure that accredited laboratories meet the needs of patients, physicians and other healthcare practitioners. That is unique among accreditation programs.”

Being accredited allows us to provide patient-centered care: fast, accurate results, confidentiality and convenience, and an overall positive experience. It has also provided the structure to grow and maintain consistent processes and quality.

Dr. Marwa Mowafy
Regional Accreditation and Certification Director, Integrated Diagnostics Holdings (IDH)

A Direct Impact on Patients

Many Egyptians travel abroad to seek medical treatment and accurate diagnosis, a practice Al Mokhtabar has worked hard to reverse. Again, CAP accreditation has played a significant role in increasing patient confidence and trust. “For Egypt to acquire optimal health, a better life quality for our people and to keep them in-country for care, we need the presence of high-quality healthcare services that are effectively coordinated within an efficient public healthcare delivery system,” Dr. Marwa says. “Al Mokhtabar is committed to the national vision of an efficient and safe healthcare system for all.”

Abiding by international standards such as those set forth by CAP has enabled Al Mokhtabar to apply a unified system across its branches for patient safety and service. This includes improving communications with patients on their results and correctly identifying patients and their samples to ensure the accuracy of each test.

Continuous Improvement Opens New Doors and Expands Business

CAP accreditation has opened many doors for Al Mokhtabar. The accuracy of its tests and reliability of services have made it the preferred medical testing laboratory in Egypt with a growing reputation across the Middle East. Its reputation also led to Al Mokhtabar becoming the only Egyptian lab chosen by PureHealth, a Dubai-based integrated healthcare solutions provider, to provide pre-flight PCR COVID-19 tests to travelers as part of a mandatory program in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Only travelers with a negative test could enter, and only accredited testing laboratories following international quality standards were allowed to conduct the PCR COVID-19 tests.

CAP Accreditation Is Essential

When asked why CAP accreditation is essential, Dr. Marwa says it allows Al Mokhtabar to maintain its leadership position in laboratory medicine, a position that demands an ongoing commitment of time and financial resources. The investment is well worth it. “Continuous improvement opens doors to new ways to serve our patients, whether the improvement is service oriented or process oriented. With CAP accreditation, we have improved our KPIs, developed a comprehensive test menu, and expanded the breadth of our analytical instrumentation. It has also stimulated innovation, research and participation in clinical trials.”

She adds, “We are the lab of choice of physicians to provide care for their patients. They appreciate rapid, accurate diagnostics, with reliable and actionable test results. Patients acquire optimal health and a better quality of life by the presence of high-quality healthcare services.”

Interview with CEO Dr. El Sherbini: “Business comes because of the quality”

Dr. Hend El Sherbini grew up in Egypt in a family of doctors. After getting her medical degree in pathology at Cairo University, she went to the United States where she earned a PhD and a Master’s in Public Health and was a researcher at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Her love for Egypt brought her home, and in 2004, she joined Al Mokhtabar, which her mother, Dr. Moamena Kamel, founded with a single location in Cairo in 1979. Eager to elevate quality and grow the business, Dr. Hend made a bold decision to pursue CAP accreditation in 2007, something no other lab company in Egypt has achieved to this day.

Our KPIs are based on the CAP checklists and this has been very valuable as we bring on new locations. CAP accreditation standardizes our quality and keeps everything in check.

Dr. Hend El Sherbini
Chief Executive Officer, Integrated Diagnostics Holdings (IDH)
Director of Al Mokhtabar Laboratories
Professor of Clinical Pathology, Cairo University

What was Al Mokhtabar like in the early days?

My mother, who is a pathologist, has always been keen on quality. In 1998, she earned ISO 9001 accreditation at Al Mokhtabar. However, what she really wanted was accreditation specific to clinical labs, which ISO did not offer at the time. In 2007, I was introduced to the College of American Pathologists (CAP) and its accreditation process while working as a referral laboratory for the American Embassy in Cairo. That same year, I made the decision to pursue CAP accreditation at Al Mokhtabar. Accreditation is not required in Egypt but we were motivated by our patients and the desire to bring them ‘best in class’ quality. We ordered the CAP checklists and got to work.

What was the reaction from employees?

People do not like change. When we started the accreditation process, doctors told me, “You cannot do that.” There was skepticism that we could earn accreditation. It was very difficult at first as we didn’t know the requirements. Fortunately, we got help from our CAP counterparts in the United States and Europe. The process was a learning experience for everyone. Working on it together gave our employees a sense of ownership. Doing something different than any other lab in Egypt filled people with a sense of pride.

When did you first earn CAP Accreditation?

2010 was the first year. We have earned CAP accreditation for ten straight years. This achievement has given Al Mokhtabar confidence in ourselves, our test results, and the knowledge our patients enjoy the same quality of lab testing as they would get in the United States and Europe.

How has CAP accreditation impacted Al Mokhtabar’s business?

There is a saying, “Business comes because of quality.” This is so true. CAP accreditation is a competitive advantage for Al Mokhtabar. We are known for our high quality and accurate results. This attracts more patients, creates more demand for outpatient tests and drives revenue. We have also made a conscientious effort to educate patients on the value of CAP accreditation; on our website, we promote 10 years of accreditation. We always mention the quality of our lab and tests.

In terms of growth, Al Mokhtabar now has more than 218 branches collecting samples from all areas of Egypt, seven regional labs for processing routine tests and one central “mega” laboratory in Cairo. Our KPIs are based on the CAP checklist and this has been valuable as we bring on new locations. CAP accreditation standardizes our quality and keeps everything in check.

Lastly, if it were not for CAP accreditation, Al Mokhtabar would not be working with Pure Health and providing PCR testing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the only CAP accredited lab in Egypt, what would you say to the other clinical laboratories?

I would encourage them to seek CAP accreditation. You will elevate the standard of healthcare and quality provided to your patients. Yes, it is a significant commitment and requires investment, but it will help your people in terms of training, confidence, and ability to deliver the best care. We owe that to Egypt.

More about Al Mokhtabar Labs

  • Year Founded (1 Laboratory): 1979
  • Central Mega Lab, Cairo: 1
  • Regional Labs: 7
  • Branch Labs: 218
  • Clinical Tests Offered: 1,400+
  • Samples per Day: 100,000

2020 Performance

  • Patient Volume: 3.6 million
  • Tests Performed: 13.9 million
  • Revenue: * $1.2 billion

* Egyptian pounds