Blog > Healthcare
Blog > Healthcare
14 December 2022 | 5 min read
The laboratories usually have two logistics flows to supply their technical platforms with blood, urine or stool samples.
Here we are talking about private nurses who drop off their samples at pharmacies, medical homes or directly at their practices and which are then delivered by couriers to the laboratories or technical platforms. For this flow, these are nurses who work temporarily and specifically for the laboratory.
The organisation of the routes of workers taking samples must integrate several constraints and requires, due to its complexity, specific tools.
There are several technical factors that impact on the logistics and organisation of home sampling routes. For example, for some analyses, a maximum time between blood test and centrifugation is required to ensure that the blood sample collected is stable. Furthermore, when collecting the urine sample, the bottle must be kept at 2-8 °C. In addition, the transport time is limited and material resources, including coolers, are required.
To carry out sampling, Private Practices usually hire both salaried and private nurses. The diversity of resources requires thinking and is often the subject of discussion in order to retain these private health professionals. Does it make more sense to hire one’s own resources first and then use external resources, or the other way around? In all cases, this has an impact on the management of the schedule and the routes.
Either by phone or directly via a website, the appointment booking must allow to quickly ensure:
The online tools are becoming more and more popular, as they make it easier to make appointments at any time.
Due to the technical constraints and organisational requirements associated with resources and patients, it is preferable to use a tool for the planning, optimisation and traceability. The planning software should be connected to the online booking site. The optimisation system must take into account all the constraints. In addition, the use of a mobile application, available to health professionals, must ensure the traceability of the activity.
It is exactly to meet these needs that route optimisation software such as AntsRoute has been developed. Today, the AntsRoute platform is used by several health companies to organise home sampling activities. The tool is able to exchange information with sample collection management software.
Unlike home collections, the routes for these collections are often fixed. Of course, some changes are possible, for exemple when the collection is made after a phone call or during the weekend, but the routes are regular. The objective is to avoid disrupting the couriers and their partners at the pick-up locations.
In addition, in order to respect the constraints of sample preservation, generally from 2 to 6 hours depending on the centrifugation operations, the flows between the sampling locations and the technical platforms are grouped during the day.
The setting up of collection routes requires prior analysis. In addition, follow-up is then necessary in order to handle the unforeseen events encountered by the couriers.
As mentioned earlier, the logistics of sample collection must meet the time required between the sampling and the preparation for analysis. Furthermore, the time windows of visits are constrained by the opening hours of the collection sites and the drop-off times of the private nurses.
The commercial and competitive challenges between Private Practices are significant. For example, the promise of results, i.e. the time between sampling and the analysis report, is a selling point with an impact on logistics, particularly on the frequency of visits. This promise should be considered according to the volume of samples collected.
The frequency of the visits must also be analysed in order to avoid potential congestion of the technical platform and to meet the constraints of the workforce. The flow of samples delivered to the technical platform can cause slowdowns or complicated management for the Biologists. The planning of routes must take into account the time constraints. For example, 25% of daily samples must arrive before 10:30 a.m.; 50% before 2:00 p.m…
The logistics of sampling were sometimes neglected. Many Biologists have understood its importance and now have Logistics Coordinator working in their laboratories.
The logistics can be managed in-house or outsourced. Due to the costs of transportation, the trend is to hire couriers within the organisation. These jobs are not restricted to transport, but also include the preparation and management of sample kits.
The challenge of planning the routes is therefore to prepare a coherent and balanced schedule that will attract workers for this job.
The optimisation of sample collection routes is complex, particularly when there are several technical facilities and sample collection sites requiring the implementation of inter-site transport.
The optimisation objectives are multiple:
There are many constraints, with the need to respect :
The traceability and availability management of couriers is an operational issue. How can we ensure that a courier can take over the route of an absent colleague? How can we ensure that the emergencies are managed? There are mobile applications such as AntsRoute that can be used to meet these challenges.
For example, the group of laboratories SYNLAB uses the AntsRoute tool to ensure the traceability and respond to requests for the tracking of anomalies on the sites of sampling collection. “In the event of an incident during the route, with AntsRoute, we can trace everything, with photos if necessary. In the comments, the courier indicates the reason for any delay and lists the different samples collected in the dedicated mobile application,” explains Nathalie Michon, Logistics Manager at Synlab Nouvelle-Aquitaine.
To optimise your sample collection routes for free for 7 days, simply fill in our online form!