​​​​APHL's Laboratory System Improvement Program (L-SIP) Update provides information on improving the performance of public health laboratory systems. Please share this update with your system partners and send us information on new experiences, activities or resources related to system improvement.

Fall 2018, L-SIP Update

Congratulations to New L-SIP Participant!

The Vermont Department of Health Laboratory (VDHL) hosted the Vermont L-SIP assessment (Laboratory System Improvement Program) on September 17th in Colchester, Vermont. Over 30 Vermont laboratory system partners attended the event, including representatives from hospital laboratories, private environmental laboratories, first responders such as the National Guard Civil Support Team and several state agencies (e.g. Agriculture and Agency of Natural Resources).

The group discussions identified some common issues facing the Public Health Laboratory System such as communication, staffing, and public perception of what services are provided and how the various system partners work together. An example of a suggested activity to improve communication processes between partners is establishing comprehensive listservs to ensure information, such as departmental Health Alert notices, always reaches the correct recipient. Another area of concern was the ability to recruit and retain staff especially considering the rural nature of the state. Approaches included creating aggressive employee career ladders to accelerate the time an employee reaches a higher earning potential.

Similar to other state and local laboratories that have completed the L-SIP assessment, one of the most valuable outcomes was raising awareness for the participants of the valuable role they play in the Vermont Public Health Laboratory System, which is a critical first step in strengthening and improving it.

Look for future APHL publications and teleconferences showcasing their post-assessment activities and projects!

Post-L-SIP Assessment Quality Improvement Activity from South Dakota Meeting

Tim Southern, PhD, D(ABMM)
Director, South Dakota Public Health Laboratory

With a score of 33 (Moderate Activity), South Dakota's lowest scoring Essential Service (ES) during our last L-SIP was ES#10 “Research for insights and innovative solutions to health problems.” Just this year we partnered with physicians and scientists in two states to participate in the next steps of the study described in a November 2017 article in the Rapid City Journal.

The South Dakota Public Health Laboratory (SDPHL) will provide clinical isolates (E. coli, Shigella, Salmonella, etc. – including “resistant” isolates) to scientists at South Dakota School of Mines in an effort to investigate the possible role of South Dakota waterways in disease transmission and outbreaks.

SDPHL doesn't have a research mandate and our federal fund sources (ELC, PHEP, etc) specifically state that those funds cannot be used for research. This was one of the few things we felt we could do to support research activities while being good stewards of our federal funding.

For more information about these activities, contact Tim Southern at Tim.Southern@state.sd.us.

Current L-SIP Map

The colored city and states on the map represent the 37 states, five local public health laboratory systems that have convened an L-SIP assessment, as well as the six public health laboratory systems which completed an L-SIP reassessment. For more information on L-SIP and the assessment planning process, please contact Tina Su at bertina.su@aphl.org.

LSIP_Map_090718.png ​​

L-SIP Recruitment

Laboratories are invited to attend informational calls to learn more about L-SIP. A​ttendees will learn about the benefits of conducting an L-SIP assessment or reassessment, what to expect from the assessment day, and what support APHL can provide. For example, APHL can provide up to $4,000 to help offset the costs of convening an assessment, as well as provide a facilitator on the assessment day.

Public health laboratories that conducted an assessment in 2007–2012 are strongly encouraged to conduct a reassessment to assess the impact of previous changes and to document where gaps might still exist in the laboratory system. 

To register, please contact Tina Su at bertina.su@aphl.org.

Quality Improvement Forum Update

Recordings of the past QIF calls can be found in audio files that are available on the APHL Quality Improvement Forum website. Click on the title to expand your selection and display the links to the presentation and audio file.

In August 2018, Dana Woell presented on the workflow analysis of the New Jersey Public Health Mycobacteriology Laboratory with the specific goal of improving laboratory turnaround times. Megan Davis presented the process mapping activity that was conducted to improve laboratory processing in Tuberculosis contact investigations at the South Carolina Public Health Laboratory. Topics will include a summary of the logistics of creating and implementing these activities, accomplishments, sharing of lessons learned and plans for the future at both laboratories.

In September 2018, Amanda Bruesch, the Laboratory Improvement Manager at the Idaho Bureau of Laboratories, presented on their post-L-SIP quality improvement activities, including their approach to compiling all of the feedback from the L-SIP assessment, communication of the data to stakeholders, and activities that are now taking place to address the L-SIP outcomes.

If you would like to share with others a presentation on a quality improvement activity occurring in your laboratory or would like to join the group either as a participant on the calls, contact Tina Su at bertina.su@aphl.org to be added to the distribution list. Announcements are also listed in the APHL eUpdate.

Quality Assurance Listserv

APHL transitioned the listservs to an online community platform. The Quality Assurance listserv has made this move already and is now called the Quality Assurance Community. To join the Community and ask your peers quality-related questions and to view and/or respond to the queries, please contact Tina Su at bertina.su@aphl.org.