Building A Supply Chain that Can Withstand Any (Lab) Test

Abstract

What are the keys to staying ahead of the game in the field of clinical lab testing? Partnership, visibility, technology and, most importantly, service.

That’s the mantra of SilverStaff Clinical Laboratories, Inc., a small, full-scale laboratory headquartered in Franklin, TN, that’s been in business for just under three years. Now serving 30 states, SilverStaff has been growing since its founding, as testing plays an increasingly crucial role in diagnostics and providing high-quality medical care. This growth trend will only increase as the aging population expands in the U.S. and as new, specialized tests are developed for a variety of health conditions and diseases.

During expansion, the SilverStaff team experienced growing pains, with one of the largest pain point areas being logistics. Specifically, SilverStaff was facing challenges related to supply chain visibility, speed and labeling, all of which are crucial in lab testing.

To overcome these challenges, the company sought a partner who would be able to grow with it while increasing visibility and maintaining its commitment to service. UPS and SilverStaff have compiled the following lessons learned for supply chain success for a fast-growing business.

Collaboration and Partnership are Essential to Success

SilverStaff and UPS work together to quickly and efficiently solve issues as they arise, allowing the companies not only to recognize more efficiencies but also to develop innovative solutions to challenges. One example of this is an in-depth clinic mapping system that was developed for a new client added to the SilverStaff system. When SilverStaff recently added this network of clinics that didn’t require temperature control settings, they were able to notify those clinics in advance of what level of UPS service they should select based on the test being sent, timing required and location of the clinic. This method streamlined orders and eliminated confusion and couldn’t have been achieved without partnership and communication between SilverStaff and the UPS team.

End-to-end Visibility is a Game Changer for Clinical Labs

In the healthcare industry more than most others, having real-time visibility about a shipment’s location, temperature and safety is non-negotiable. Oftentimes, labs are receiving a variety of tests from offices all around the country on different timelines. As SilverStaff grew, it was becoming increasingly difficult to manage these details of the tests coming in. The previous solution SilverStaff was using was unable to deliver real-time tracking information, a crucial element for time-sensitive lab tests. Not knowing was not only extremely challenging for SilverStaff but also put its specimens, and by extension, patients’ results, in jeopardy.

Working together, SilverStaff and UPS developed a number of solutions to ensure there was full visibility at every step of the company’s supply chain. The team created co-branded packaging specifically for SilverStaff, so that both UPS drivers and medical offices would immediately recognize the package, ensuring time-sensitive shipments are handled quickly and with the utmost care. SilverStaff also began using pre-printed labels, allowing offices and SilverStaff employees to immediately have a tracking number that showed them where a package was and when they could expect it would arrive. Using UPS Quantum View Manage, all parties see and manage shipments, via an online tool.

Staying at the Forefront of a Rapidly Evolving Industry

Not only is it important to embrace technology to stay competitive in any field, but it is also vital that all stakeholders are educated on new technology and trends. At SilverStaff, the team now uses electronic labeling, monitoring and tracking for all lab shipments. SilverStaff is embracing technology internally by including specific training on electronics tracking and UPS shipping with all new clinics brought on-board and recently introducing the Genomix University. Through this forum, SilverStaff will enlist experts across genetic testing to educate providers and patients about the ever-evolving landscape of genetic testing.

Open to technology “testing” themselves, SilverStaff also worked with UPS to pilot one of its own new technologies, a cloud-based shipping interface for physicians’ practices that can be customized to each practice’s unique needs, bringing them to the forefront of efficient technology to best serve their customers.

Communication and Customer Care

In the clinical testing industry, there are often surprises and urgent requests from clinics for tests that are used to diagnose and treat a large gamut of illnesses. Precision and attention to detail are key in the testing, transportation and service phases. With a previous solution, clinic pick-up requests were being missed and SilverStaff was receiving requests so late in the day that they couldn’t be met, losing precious time for clinics and patients.

UPS and SilverStaff worked together to provide service to clinics across the country. In addition to making shipping more efficient with a pre-printed UPS label, SilverStaff also added an early-morning pop-up reminder to its clinics, so that they would be alerted to order testing and transportation services needed for the day. As clinics’ needs changed, UPS worked with SilverStaff to ensure needs were met and expectations exceeded, ranging from adding additional driver pick-ups to shifting schedules to accommodate pick-ups as needed to installing a UPS drop-box in a clinic parking lot.

Moving forward SilverStaff, which recently launched genetic DNA testing, is working to stay ahead of the curve to add new lab tests and serve more markets with the help of UPS.

By Jimmy Kendrick and Steve Cody, SilverStaff Clinical Laboratories, Inc. and UPS.

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