Let’s Get Clinical: Proficiency Testing in Conversation
For 40 years, LGC has been leading the direction of proficiency testing (PT), bringing technical expertise and influence to drive the future of quality assurance. The LGC AXIO Clinical Laboratory Scheme has been expanded to include a full range of clinical programmes for laboratories around the world performing analysis of patient samples.
To find out more about the LGC AXIO Clinical Laboratory Scheme (CLS), we spoke to Anne Gore, Technical Manager for Clinical Proficiency Testing, and Brian Brookman, Chief Scientific Officer at LGC – Proficiency Testing.
A graduate of Ferris State University, Anne Gore holds an MBA in Healthcare Management from Davenport University, a degree she obtained whilst working as a Microbiology Supervisor at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, Michigan.
Inquisitive from birth, one of Anne’s earliest childhood memories is gazing down the lens of a microscope her grandfather had given her. “I grew up in a rural area with a very large pond in the back,” she says. “I remember spending many summer days collecting water samples and investigating the tiny organisms that were swimming about.”
Brian Brookman has over 40 years’ experience in analytical science, having joined LGC back in 1977. For the past twenty-five years, he has been involved in analytical quality assurance, with a particular focus on reference materials and PT.
“LGC has the most comprehensive portfolio of PT schemes on the market, and the broadest reach of any PT provider globally,” says Brian. “We pride ourselves on our reputation for a customer service-driven PT business, providing flexible participation, fast turnaround of performance reports, and a global service provided through local customer support and customised schemes.”
New Horizons for Clinical PT
With decades of experience under his belt, Brian understands more than most the significant impact a PT scheme can have upon a laboratory’s reputation and accreditation, and remains a passionate PT evangelist.
“The use of proficiency testing, or external quality assessment (EQA) as it is often referred to in the clinical sector, has long been recognised as a key quality assurance tool to ensure the validity of measurement results guiding critical medical decision-making,” says Brian. “Laboratories need to maintain and improve the analytical quality of their tests, detect equipment failures, review staff training, initiate corrective actions, and compare analytical methods. Proficiency testing is the key to unlocking all of these tasks!”
Brian and Anne both played an instrumental role in the expansion of the LGC AXIO Clinical Laboratory Scheme in collaboration with the American Proficiency Institute (API), introducing over 130 new clinical programmes to the portfolio. LGC AXIO now offers a full range of ISO/IEC 17043 accredited programmes to meet the growing demand for world-class clinical proficiency testing schemes.
The new CLS expansion includes programmes for:
- Therapeutic drug monitoring
- Anti-hypertensive drug screening
Given Anne’s years of experience in laboratories, she is a passionate advocate of the role LGC plays in supporting its partners to do good science. “I know from experience that clinical issues tend to be quite urgent for laboratories! So my goal is always to assist them as quickly as possible,” she says.
“I’m proud to say that we at LGC ensure our customer service and access to technical assistance is world-class. Assisting our clinical customers and establishing a personal connection with them is one of my favourite aspects of my job. I like to ensure they have a positive experience.”
Anne was particularly involved with the launch of a number of new Virtual Microscopy PT programmes for haematology and microbiology. These unique programmes allow for competency and performance tracking of laboratory workers when it comes to qualitative and quantitative visual analysis of microscopic slide samples.
“There’s really nothing else like it on the market,” says Anne, who drew upon her years of experience to help develop and launch the virtual microscopy programmes. “Analysts are constantly required to perform visual analysis of microscopic slides, and this programme can give laboratories the assurance they need that their staff are up to the task.”
“There’s really nothing else like it on the market.”
All LGC AXIO Clinical Laboratory Scheme programmes are accessed and handled via PORTAL, the LGC AXIO dedicated EQA software suite. Simply put, PORTAL is your laboratory’s gateway to improving its performance. “PORTAL is an extremely versatile tool,” Anne explains. “It can assist with competency tracking for the individual performing the test. It offers interactive reports and is very user-friendly, with 24/7 access.”
PORTAL gives you full control of your data 24 hours a day.
Brian wholeheartedly agrees. As one of LGC’s longest-serving experts, he’s witnessed first-hand the radical transformation PORTAL has brought to the industry. “PORTAL is at the heart of the PT services provided by LGC,” he says. “It’s an extremely flexible platform which enables participants to receive a range of different types of reports. The range of reports and interactive tools it provides means everyone can access the information on trends in performance they need, from the analysts to the laboratory manager to the quality manager, and all those responsible for global quality in large multisite/multinational organisations.”
In the midst of the global pandemic, with the world’s attention on the clinical sector like never before, LGC AXIO is already witnessing a surge in demand for clinical proficiency testing schemes around the world, and Anne and Brian are looking forward to a busy year.
“When you take API’s decades of experience in the clinical space, and combine it with the LGC AXIO PT offering, global reach, and distribution power, the new Clinical Laboratory Scheme offers a complete solution for clinical labs,” says Anne. “It’s a very exciting time to be working in clinical proficiency testing!”
LGC AXIO CLS provides External Quality Assessment options for the BioFire® FilmArray®, with a comprehensive offering of new analytes, including the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The AXIO CLS scheme includes Molecular Multiplex programs designed for laboratories using the BioFire® FilmArray® to perform syndromic testing on blood, gastrointestinal, CSF, and upper and lower respiratory clinical specimens.
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