QualTex Laboratories wins top poster award at national conference for the first time
For many attending the recent AABB Annual Meeting in Boston, one word stuck out on a poster presentation from the Quality Assurance team in QualTex Laboratories.
“The title of our abstract jumps out – ‘turnaround’ is a huge deal in our industry,” said Robert Medina, who worked with Emmanuel Casasola and Douglas Armstrong on the study that led to the poster. “That’s one of the indicators that we look at daily. Seeing something different caught people’s attention.”
The poster, which summarized how QualTex Quality Assurance was able to dramatically reduce blood and plasma testing turnaround times, was named the best in its category at the annual convention for the blood collection and testing industry.
Casasola and Armstrong are the Directors for QA in San Antonio and Atlanta, respectively. Medina is a Manager in Quality & Compliance in San Antonio. Scott Jones, Vice President of Scientific Affairs for BioBridge Global, presented the poster – one of 490 in its category.
“From so many applicants, we didn’t know what to expect,” Casasola said. “So when I saw the email from Scott that the poster won top prize in its category, my jaw dropped. This came as a huge surprise to us.”
As far as anyone can remember, it was the first time a poster from QualTex Laboratories won the top prize in a national or international conference. And the study’s authors said it was the “holy grail” of dramatically improved turnaround times that made it appealing. Their approach – embedding quality checks throughout the testing process instead of waiting until all tests were completed – was the key, they said.
“Having been in the testing environment for years, everyone talks about how to get a result that much quicker,” Casasola said. “People look at the testing technology but I don’t think anybody looked at the end process and did it our way.”
Their study, “The Effect of In-Process Quality Control Checks Within the Laboratory on Overall Turnaround Time,” aimed to reduce the time it takes to process a sample. Quality Control staff went platform-by-platform to evaluate the critical checkpoints to monitor and what wasn’t already monitored by the system. They also eliminated unnecessary steps.
Quality Control staff from QualTex Laboratories at San Antonio.
Left to right: Megan Pavek, Mario Rivas, Felicia Sanchez, Armando Guerrero Jr., Sunday Lawat, Christa Urbiola and Christopher Gomez.
Not pictured: Brenda Brock, Carol Garza, Luis Barreto, Melinda Slason, Michael Aldana, Robert Medina, Elvira Bayani, Adela Garza, Jacob Palmer, Mark Warfield, Ayziz Garcia, Barbie Noll, Crystal Orona, Estrella Luna and Laura Salinas.
Quality Control staff from QualTex Laboratories at Atlanta.
Top picture, left to right: Darrell Moody, Doug Armstrong, Ronald Curry and Keith Hayes.
Bottom picture, left to right: Lauren Strickland, Marco Morris and Jasil Thomas.
The study began in October 2017 and the results were fully implemented in June.
“We talked about this concept a few years back but never got it off the ground,” said Medina, who has been with the organization for 16 years. “New technological systems we implemented like the automated track in Atlanta are great, but this in-process check is totally revolutionary. It’s defining the whole meaning behind quality control and release of result.”
Winning the award validated to the quality control team that QualTex Laboratories is moving in the right direction.
“The QualTex staff always recognized that this is new and a big change for us,” Casasola said. “I remind the quality control team that one of our core values is pioneer, and this in-process review is the embodiment of that core value since it’s something that’s completely new in our industry. They should feel proud about that.”
The importance of the study and the award at AABB has been recognized by executives in the organization.
“The poster and this prize highlight the importance of continuous improvement in any organization, and the impact process changes can have to minimize risk of defects, delays and other nonconformities,” said Adrienne Mendoza, Vice President of Global Quality and Compliance.
Ward Carter, COO of QualTex Laboratories, was adamant that the track was a great leap forward for the organization, but he said nothing was as vital as the implementation of in-process review.
“No matter how automated our laboratory becomes in the future, it’s our people that make a laboratory like QualTex perform at peak efficiency along with world class quality,” he said.
QualTex Laboratories abstract poster: “The Effect of In-Process Quality Control Checks Within the Laboratory on Overall Turnaround Time.”
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