Vietnam, with over 95 million people, is home to more than 1,000 public hospitals and 170 private laboratories. But none of them were accredited by the College of American Pathologists (CAP) until Medical Laboratory and Technology Company (MEDLATEC) – a large healthcare group with one hospital, two clinics, and a laboratory in Hanoi – became the first in the nation to accomplish that goal.
Relentless Pursuit of Quality and Continuous Improvement
Since joining MEDLATEC in 2012, Laboratory Director Trinh Thi Que, PhD, has played a key role in guiding the organization along its path of becoming a leading provider of clinical testing in Vietnam. In 2016, she and her team were responsible for helping the organization earn ISO 15189 accreditation and establishing a quality management system, but they didn’t want to stop there. Dr. Que and her team were interested in elevating the standards for laboratory quality even further by pursuing the CAP Laboratory Accreditation Program.
By achieving this milestone, MEDLATEC would have access to the tools and resources it needed to perform at the highest global standard for quality, helping to improve the satisfaction, experience, and trust of its nearly four million patients. In combination with CAP’s worldwide reputation for excellence, MEDLATEC would be able to deliver better patient outcomes, instill greater confidence in test results, and keep pace with leading laboratories around the world. One of the other key reasons why this growing organization decided to pursue CAP accreditation was to expand the reach of its services, providing much needed care and support to both local and international customers.
According to Laboratory Deputy Director Pham Van Ngai, MSC, having the full support and encouragement from MEDLATEC’s CEO and Board of Directors also motivated the staff to pursue this major goal. The leadership team understood the value that CAP accreditation could bring not only to the laboratory, but to the entire organization.
Global Network of Peers Offer Guidance and Support
The road to accreditation was not easy for MEDLATEC, especially with both a language barrier and a global pandemic, but these challenges did not dissuade the team. Instead, they turned their attention towards translating and modifying documents to meet the requirements of CAP checklists. They also used the global CAP network to consult with accredited facilities like Parkway Laboratory in Singapore. In addition, they asked the CAP team to share their experiences and insights, so they could better understand some of the requirements.
During the whole process, we received thorough and intensive guidance from the experts of the CAP. Although our communication through email would be delayed due to time zone differences, the CAP team was always very friendly yet conscientious—all of which helped us finish the task promptly.
Mr. Pham Van Ngai, MSC, MEDLATEC Laboratory Deputy Director
CAP Accreditation Checklists Drive Standardization
The CAP accreditation checklists offered tremendous value for MEDLATEC, giving the team a clearer roadmap to achieving accreditation. They were also essential in helping them meet day-to-day challenges, improving their processes, and boosting their operational efficiencies. The checklists gave the team a broader view of running a high-quality laboratory while also providing detailed information to support the organization’s specific disciplines like biochemistry, cytogenetics, and anatomical pathology. And with the checklists, the team had access to global best practices and recent advances in laboratory medicine, technology, and regulatory compliance at the tips of their fingers.
Even though ISO 15189 and the CAP laboratory accreditation program share some similarities, Mr. Ngai discovered that the CAP accreditation checklists provided more in-depth questions specifically focused on laboratory medicine and pathology, which helped the team unearth problems they had never considered before. The checklists were also essential for building out the organization’s document system and empowering the staff perform at their highest level, helping them improve the quality of their work while reducing errors and risks. Equally important, Mr. Ngai used the checklists to ensure that staff were thoroughly prepared for the CAP inspection.
I feel very proud of my laboratory as well as confident in the quality of services that we are providing to customers.
Ms. Nguyen Thi Kim Len, MMed, Deputy General Director of MED Group and Director of MEDLATEC Hospital
Accreditation Unlocks New Opportunities
Since achieving CAP accreditation, Deputy General Director of MED Group and Director of MEDLATEC Hospital Ms. Nguyen Thi Kim Len, MMed, has seen an improvement in the organization’s reputation. Having more reliable results has improved the perception of the laboratory and staff, making patients feel more secure when using their services. Mr. Ngai also noted that clinical departments like genetics and pathology have more confidence in the results and are proud to use laboratory’s services. This has led to double the volume of referrals and testing.
Being globally recognized by the CAP also sets MEDLATEC apart from the other laboratories in the region, allowing the organization to further differentiate its business from the competition. One clear example is in the high volume of international customers who now look to MEDLATEC as their top choice for COVID-19 testing, especially for travel and immigration needs.
As it looks to the future, MEDLATEC is aiming to grow its customer base to seven million people. By driving innovation, applying new technologies, and achieving CAP accreditation, the organization is well on its way to achieving this ambitious goal.
Another benefit of meeting CAP’s international quality standards is that MEDLATEC now has more opportunities to exchange ideas and expertise with laboratories across the world. Having access to this global network helps the organization stay up-to-date on the latest advancements in laboratory medicine.
Moreover, MEDLATEC has been able to participate in proficiency testing/external quality assessment (PT/EQA) programs that it could not access before. Through these activities, they have proactively discovered shortcomings and improved their testing procedures, so the laboratory consistently operates at the highest standards of quality.
Gaining New Skills Prepares Laboratory for Tomorrow
Throughout the accreditation process, MEDLATEC’s team gained valuable skills and insights that are helping them deliver trusted test results today and preparing them for the challenges of tomorrow. For example, with the aid of the CAP checklists they now have a better understanding of regulatory compliance and the importance of quality assurance. Along the way, they also discovered that teamwork and ongoing trainings were critical in helping the organization drive continuous improvement, meet deadlines, and pass the inspection. Finally, they learned that their system operates at its best only when all staff members understand the documentation methods and procedures in the laboratory.
For other laboratories seeking CAP accreditation, Dr. Que acknowledges that they will see an improvement not only in testing quality, but also in the experience and knowledge of their staff. Plus, having a guaranteed high-quality laboratory may help convince those that are skeptical about pursuing accreditation. In addition to the international recognition for COVID-19 testing, their organization has seen major hospitals propose contracts with MEDLATEC for their laboratory services, and they have gained significant trust from already-established partners.
Going forward, the team plans on monitoring and measuring changes, so they can continue to deliver the highest quality care to patients and keep the laboratory running efficiently.
It’s clear that other clinical departments have more faith in our testing and feel more confident with patients because they are able to access the services that have been certified by the CAP.
Dr. Trinh Thi Que, PhD, MEDLATEC Laboratory Director