Rose Mary
Rose Mary Casados, BSMT, ASCP

Regulatory developments such as IQCP are part of the curriculum


COLA Inc, Columbia, Md, is an independent, nonprofit laboratory CLIA-accreditation organization, accrediting more than 7,000 clinical diagnostic labs. In July 2013, COLA is launching a new subsidiary, CRI® (COLA Resources Inc), which is focused on educating lab professionals on regulatory developments. CLP sat down with Rose Mary Casados, BSMT, ASCP, president of CRI, and discussed its purpose and plans.

CLP: What is CRI, and what is its relationship to COLA Inc?
Rose Mary Casados: Between the changing health care environment, the depth of regulatory demands placed upon laboratories, and the demand for continuing education, COLA recognized the value and impact continuing education has on driving quality laboratory medicine. COLA formed CRI, which will be in a position to independently focus on the educational needs of this ever-changing environment. Educational and consultative services historically conducted by COLA Inc will now be provided by CRI, with the goal of instructing and training health care professionals to improve their skills and, ultimately, to perform higher-quality services for the communities they serve. In support of this mission, there are two initiatives for CRI: provide an educational platform to assist health care professionals, and assist health care professionals in establishing Continuous Quality standards through consultative services.

CLP: What role will CRI play in the delivery of quality lab medicine?
Casados: With the passing of the Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and subsequent development of the two health care models, Affordable Care Organizations (ACOs) and Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH), CRI recognizes the key role diagnostic laboratories play in providing accurate and timely results in order to ensure quality patient care. Data shows that laboratory diagnostics is one of the key components, influencing as much as 60% to 70% of health care decisions. Evidence indicates that primary care physician shortages are becoming a reality. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, America will face a shortage of more than 90,000 doctors in 10 years and there will be 45,000 too few primary care physicians by 2020. Further studies indicate that physicians are far from being the only health care providers in high demand. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the US nursing shortage is projected to grow to 260,000 registered nurses by 2025. Laboratory testing is being performed by personnel other than laboratory professionals. With these alarming statistics, CRI, through its educational platform, is in a position to offer continued education to all levels of health care professionals who play a key role in the delivery of quality patient care.

CLP: With continuing education available through many educational providers, what sets CRI apart?
Casados: One key health care initiative driving requirements for continued education is the PCMH model, a team-based model of care led by a personal physician who provides continuous, coordinated care throughout a patient’s lifetime to maximize health outcomes. At its heart is the concept that primary care is a comprehensive process, one that engages primary care providers, the patient, the patient’s family, and other health care providers.
       Responding to the rise of PCMHs and the significant role they play in laboratory medicine, COLA Inc is preparing to launch an initiative to clarify and define the lab’s proper role. This initiative is COLA’s Patient Centered Laboratory Excellence (PCLE) Program, with three basic objectives: achieve a continuous quality culture in labs, help labs integrate into the PCMH/ACO model, and help labs make better informed, needs-appropriate resource decisions. CRI will be in a position to deliver continuing education to all levels of health care providers, through various delivery methods that will support health care models.
Educational offerings are tailored to the needs of laboratory directors, laboratory personnel, phlebotomists, and nurses. Educational delivery methods include online courses, symposia, and the LIVE Webinar Series program, all accessible through one provider. CRI’s course content will help guide increased competency levels, improved cost efficiencies, and ultimately, quality patient care.

CLP: What new educational products will CRI offer to help labs better understand and comply with regulatory changes?
Casados: In the years since the final CLIA regulations were published, defined parameters for laboratories performing external quality control (QC) have been widely debated. As a result, the Individualized Quality Control Program (IQCP) has emerged. IQCP is a comprehensive approach to QC that addresses regulators and a majority of the laboratory community. IQCP enables labs to customize their QC according to their unique laboratory operations. To assist customers to better understand IQCP, CRI is developing and launching a new IQCP educational program. The program is geared to assist customers in answering questions such as, “What is IQCP?,” “How does IQCP impact daily laboratory operations?,” and “How can IQCP be implemented within their laboratory, ensuring regulatory compliance?” The all-inclusive program is designed to offer flexibility and ease of use, available through various configurations online or via hard copy.

CLP: As a provider of continuing education, do you anticipate the role of CRI to include support of industry or diagnostic manufactures as they too look to educate their customer base?
Casados: One of CRI’s key initiatives this year is to support diagnostic manufacturers in delivering education to their current and future customers. The LIVE Webinar Series program is tailored to specific needs of diagnostic markets. CRI will develop and deliver a series of webinars containing subject matter that’s content-specific to industry leaders. This program will afford them a cost-effective way to deliver educational material to their markets through CRI. For example, a webinar series can be centered on a waived-diagnostic methodology. This would help bridge the needs of industry manufactures and laboratory health care professionals to drive continuous quality patient care.

CLP: With many new advances in technology, the continuing education market has undergone change. How will CRI products and services reflect the changing market?
Casados: Continuing education and lifelong learning is going through a major transition in response to the new economy, and the demands and interests of learners that comes with this new economy. As with other businesses and industries, technology continues to be one of the big drivers of change in continuing education. Technology—software, social networking, and the use of new devices—has taken over as a marketing force, becoming an internal factor in determining the productivity and profitability of continuing education programs. Many industry boards, accreditation agencies, and associations have established mandatory continuing professional education requirements for licensing and certification. The goal for employers is to utilize continuing education as a tool for ensuring a highly skilled and knowledgeable workforce. Individuals use continuing education for upward career mobility, job enhancement, and personal enrichment.
       The format for continuing education learning is driven by content and learning goals. The trend is to provide a wider disbursement of subject content while ensuring the following: reduced time spent on learning and increased retention, on-demand availability, self-paced learning, and the ability to learn anywhere in the world.
       Educators must find ways to deliver low-cost continuing education with computer courses and teleconferences—with the Internet as a major delivery system—because it’s inexpensive, easily updated, and accessible. However, surveys have shown some individuals requiring continuing education credits do prefer human contact. CRI’s educational platform addresses all areas of continuing education by providing online course offerings, LIVE Webinars, and the annual Clinical Laboratory Symposium. Participation in these learning-portal programs offers health care professionals access to certification, licensing, accreditation, professional growth, and, ultimately, the competency to deliver quality patient care.

CLP: What are some examples of CRI’s educational offerings and how can people access them?
Casados: Through and, CRI will deliver educational courses through the online education portal, symposia, and LIVE Webinar series, for physicians, laboratory personnel, and allied health professionals. This platform will offer accessibility to extensive educational tools and provide access to convenient laboratory training, assisting in meeting certification and licensing requirements. Lessons are designed to take less than 1 hour. CRI’s education portal provides flexibility by offering individual courses that can be purchased separately or as a packaged program.

CLP: What are some of the services offered by CRI’s Consultative Offerings?
Casados: CRI’s consultative services are geared toward educating participants to adopt and maintain higher-quality safeguards and standards to improve the accuracy of clinical test results, thereby improving patient care and laboratory medicine procedures. The Continuous Quality Program, through the Continuous Quality Advisors, will provide assistance to health care professionals to achieve continuous quality standards and quality patient care. CRI will deliver tailored educational tools and consultative services to participating health care professionals, physician offices, and laboratories, with the goal of specifically applying quality-based measures to the laboratory practices of those participants. The program is designed to improve accuracy of test results, reduce duplicate testing, and allow for greater efficiencies and convenience for health care providers and patients. The portfolio includes a series of educational videos offering overviews and educational information on pertinent content. Examples are available at and

Kurt Woock is associate editor for CLP.