Focus on Accreditation for Enhanced Diagnostics

N Venkateswaran

N Venkateswaran, CEO, National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL), in his keynote address at the second edition of Elets Diagnostics Leadership Summit, spoke at length about the efforts put in by NABL to provide accreditation to medical testing laboratories during the pandemic.

Talking from the perspective of an accreditation body, N Venkateswaran, CEO, NABL stated how during the time of pandemic, NABL could step in to help and adapt to digitalization and conduct a number of remote assessments. He expressed his gratitude to all the NABL officers, accreditation committee members, and support from the accredited labs that came up and improved their scope of accreditation to offer quality service to the public, which was a commendable move during tough times.

He shared some initiatives like the usage of a QR code on test reports, that was started by NABL to curb fraudulent reports and how plans are being made to move ahead with blockchain concept so that the test reports or calibration certificates can be uploaded there, adding authenticity and curbing fraudulent activities.

He stated that NABL was looking towards exploring point-of-care testing and how best possible support can be provided to the laboratories to enable them to function more effectively and provide better customer service. N Venkateswaran averred that the diagnostic sector is slated to have a good run moving forward as it has proved its resilience in the face of difficult circumstances. He lauded the efforts of many chain labs that came forward and rose to the challenge and delivered at the opportune time.

He also informed about the NABL initiative “NABL Medical Entry Level Testing {M(EL)T} Labs Program” initiated for sensitizing medical testing laboratories performing basic testing and adopting quality practices. This will ensure access to quality health care for majority of citizens especially those residing in villages, small towns etc. The program is based on satisfactory Proficiency Testing (PT) performance in a PT program. He added that if a laboratory has already participated in a PT program and is successful in that, then recognition is granted to them. The program caters to a defined scope and not for specialized tests.

He also shared the work being undertaken for the modification of document NABL 112 “Specific Criteria for Accreditation of Medical Laboratories” to align it with the international document ISO 15189 which is currently undergoing revision. This will allow global acceptance of the efforts put by Indian accredited labs. He referred to the recent issues faced by travellers abroad where NABL intervened to discuss with authorities to find the gaps and issues. He also talked about the problems arising due to some unscrupulous labs entering into the system who were not properly regulated or had facilities available only during audit time. He shared how such activities are creating huge problems and the entire diagnostic sector is getting the blame. He spoke about increasing the surveillance mechanism, unannounced audits being conducted, and improving upon the turnaround time for accreditation.

He also spoke about the ease of doing accreditation tasks and complete digitalization of accreditation processes at NABL with assessments being undertaken through the app where lab locations are being captured to ensure their location and existence. “Right from a sample collection till sample disposal, we are ensuring the accredited laboratories are meeting the regulatory requirements as well as ISO 15189 requirements and are able to deliver things better,” stated Mr. Venkateswaran.

He also talked about getting regular feedback from stakeholders to improve upon their accreditation process and overall system. He shared that all the efforts were being undertaken to provide better services, help the diagnostic sector to improve, and assure the lab community of continual support from NABL.

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