In 2004, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) implemented equivalent quality control (EQC) as an alternative form of quality control (QC) for labs, allowing them to reduce the testing frequency of external controls upon successful completion of a standardized study. Due to ongoing challenges and potential errors with the EQC process, CMS announced the adoption of a new alternative QC policy, known as the individualized quality control plan (IQCP). The educational and transition period to the new system began January 1, 2014, with a deadline for full implementation of January 1, 2016.
The IQCP E-Optimizer software solution from COLA Resources Inc (CRI) is designed to enable laboratories to consider potential sources of errors and craft a customized QC plan to overcome any challenges. At an AACC session Tuesday, July 29, CRI president Rose Mary Casados discussed the organization’s new tool and educational strategy.
Unlike EQC, which possesses a narrow scope and addresses rigid, limited regulations, IQCP is designed to be customizable and flexible, accommodating all stages of laboratory analysis. The system is specifically designed to highlight the pre- and post-analytic phases, areas in which the majority of laboratory errors occur but which have historically received less attention than the analytic phase.
IQCP E-Optimizer is a subscription-based tool that uses 77 questions concerning the test system, personnel, reagents, specimens, and environment to categorize a lab’s risk level as either low (0-40), medium (41 – 80), or high (81+). A customized report, available in either Excel or PDF format, helps clarify existing processes and recommends specific risk mitigation steps based on answers received. The software also automatically presents data as a fishbone diagram and risk assessment table.
CRI will be showcasing E-Optimizer at their booth (#1054) during the AACC conference. In addition, the association will conduct a series of live workshops across the country to demonstrate the software:
- October 2014 – Orlando, Fla
- February 2015 – Memphis, Tenn
- March 2015 – Arlington, Va
- July 2015 – Atlanta, Ga
- October 2015 – Las Vegas, Nev
Interested parties can also reach out to CRI staff with questions via the CRI website.