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Medical firm introduces mobile laboratories

BUSINESS
By | April 23rd 2011

By ISAIAH LUCHELI

For many people, lack of highly specialised laboratory services in public health facilities has been a major challenge in the quest for proper healthcare.

This challenges has created a culture where patients purchase drugs across the counter from chemists without undergoing medical tests to establish the nature of their illness.

This is however set to change with the launch of Pathologist Lancet Kenya, a programme that will revolutionise the treatment of ailments, medical laboratory services, consultative and referral services.

Lancet Kenya, which is a member of the Lancet Group of laboratories founded in South Africa over 50 years ago, has come up with innovative methods of reaching out to millions of people seeking lab services countrywide.

LAB: A technician at Lancet Kenya performs tests on samples delivered through the mobile lab unit. People seeking specialised lab tests can now have their specimen tested and the results delivered to them. [PICTURE: TABITHA OTWUORI/STANDARD]

People seeking specialized lab tests can now have their specimen tested and the results delivered to them as they relax in the comfort of their houses or offices.

This has been made possible as the organisation works closely with courier service providers who collect specimens from various individuals and take them to the labs before relaying back the findings.

According to Lancet Managing Director Dr Yakub Kalebi, the organisation has also introduced motorcycles services for the collection of specimens from individuals and clinics in the city in addition to DHL and G4S.

"Collection is done by dedicated Lancet Kenya couriers. This is cost and time saving for the patient as they do not have to commute to give the samples for testing," explains Kalebi.

Upcountry patients also benefit from the services as their samples are delivered through the G4S and DHL.

"G4S is our link to the rest of the country. Samples from all over the country are transported by G4S to the main lab at no cost to the sender provided they are packed and preserved properly.

Electronic results

We also receive samples from as far as Dabaab, Uganda, Somalia and Sudan through DHL," adds Kalebi.

The MD explains that the clients can call the couriers at anytime of the day outside the scheduled period to collect additional specimen.

He adds that the organization had qualified staff and all test results are delivered to the client electronically and as hard copy.

"The electronic results will be instant and automatically delivered via email or Internet based Path Portal viewer. All results are delivered within the time frame required by clients," explains Kalebi.

To ensure that the results are delivered within the required time the organization’s staff work for 24 hours in shifts. The couriers are also equipped with cooler boxes and ice packs to preserve specimen on transit.

"Pathology is more than lab examination of specimens. A good pathology lab incorporates making diagnoses, monitoring therapy, advising on appropriate management, providing clinical care, predicting trends and sharing knowledge," points out the medic.

Lancet has a test menu of over 5,000 tests from routine testing to highly specialised tests that include Molecular Biology/PCR, Histology and Cytology, Flow cytometry, Hematology, Microbiology, Chemical Pathology, Toxicology, Wellness Check, Specimen collection and Result Delivery.

The medic explains that a trained and qualified personnel is always available to take blood samples on site or Pap smears either on a scheduled time or on the request of patient.

Lancet’s General Manager of Operations Suleiman Hussein says that the couriers are trained to handle clients and specimen with utmost professionalism.

"Specimens are collected at designated times and from designated points through special arrangements can be made for collection," adds Hussein.

To ensure confidentiality on all tests, Suleiman explains electronic results are encrypted and password protected. "Hard copies of results are delivered in a sealed envelopes marked confidential and addressed to the requesting clinician or client," he says.

Hussein explains that Lancet offers the most competitive rates for quality diagnostic testing in the market, which is accessible across the country and the region.

Technically sound

As part of our corporate social responsibility (csr), Suleiman says Lancet had special prices for all patients from low-income sectors and also covers patients from government and missionary hospitals.

"This is to ensure that all Kenyans, irrespective of social standards can access quality medical diagnostics across the country," he says.

He adds that as part of the organisation’s csr, Lancet also offer medical camps that screen for conditions that can be managed if detected early like Hepatitis, HTN, diabetes.

"While outsourcing laboratory services is designed to help improve cost and efficiency for healthcare facilities, access to more effective and technically sound diagnostic support can help save lives," notes Hussein.

He adds that the organization had modern instrumentation and analysers and all tests are done under strict quality systems supervised and monitored by pathologists locally and in South Africa who are connected through SEACOM fibre-optic cable to servers and machines in the Nairobi facility.

"All samples are identified and processed using bar codes. Specimen identification with barcodes drive the respective tests in our laboratory information system the sample tubes and paper documentation to minimize errors by reducing human interface," says Suleiman.

Francis Kaiga who is a beneficiary of the programme explains that Lancet had opened a new front in medical care in the country.

"I delivered my specimen through G4S and my doctor had my results in a record three hours. This is big break through in the quest for medical care," added Kaiga.

The Director of Medical Service (DMS) Dr Francis Kimani noted that purchasing drugs across the counter was a matter of serious concern.

"The drugs that can be sold across the counter include pain killers and anti acids. The rest should be sold with a doctors prescription and pharmacists doing otherwise are violating the law," Kimani explained.

He says the Government had been holding routine crackdown on chemists selling drugs without a doctor’s prescription.

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