The impact of COVID-19 crisis on the testing process of the Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) Laboratories in state of Qatar
AuthorAwwad, Sara Tuma
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Introduction The global healthcare systems have been significantly impacted by the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. It was a public health emergency that affects many health care services, including primary health care and caused an extraordinary shift in the demands for patient care and clinical laboratory testing. Methods This is a cross-sectional retrospective study, data were collected from Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) Clinical Information System (CIS-Cerner), over the period of January 2019-December 2021. Data collection of the laboratory departments in the PHCC health centers were processed from six Health Centers, chosen randomly from different regions (Northern, Central and Western regions of Qatar). Two health centers, one converted to COVID-19 center and the other maintained ordinary operation health center were chosen from each region. COVID-19-impacted cases were treated at the COVID-19 HC, while the usual work was maintained at the ordinary operated HC. Results A total of 404,316 laboratory tests were analyzed from six PHCC centers; including 36.8% tests from Northern region, 38.3% from Central region, and 24.9% from Western region. Of those, 386,477 were Routine tests and 12,777 Short Turnaround (STAT) tests. A total of 5062 tests were excluded from the analysis due to missing data. We found a significant difference between the ordinary operated health centers (Leabaib, Al Thumama and Al Waab) and COVID-19 health centers (Umm Slal, Rawdat Alkhail and Muaither) with a statistically significant reduction in Turnaround time (TAT) for STAT Complete Blood Count (CBC) tests from 69.7% to 30.3% in the year 2020 (p<0.001). The results also showed that for Comprehensive Metabolic Panel (CMP) STAT tests there was a significant difference in the year 2021 with more test reported within TAT observed at the ordinary operated health centers (83.4%) in comparison to converted to COVID-19 health centers (16.6%, p<0.001). For routine tests, significantly higher percentage of test performed within TAT at Leabaib, Al Thumama and Al Waab health centers (63%) compared to Umm Slal, Rawdat Alkhail and Muaither health centers (converted to COVID-19 health centers) (37%, p<0.001). Conclusion In conclusion, the COVID-19 pandemic had a clear and substantial impact on the laboratory testing process at PHCC Qatar, affecting various aspects of capacity, efficiency, adaptation to new protocols and staff availability, all likely contributed to changes in the efficiency and accessibility of laboratory testing services during this time.