Scientists in a laboratory working on viral testing methods

As we have discussed in our series, there are many reasons to use a reference lab for your molecular diagnostic PCR testing.  To reiterate a few…

  • Reagents, primers, and equipment are expensive
  • Panels must be validated
  • Physicians expect large pathogen panel tests (not everyone has the same capabilities for testing the same pathogens).
  • Fluctuation in volume/market unpredictability

Instead of readdressing all the pros and cons from the series we are going to tell you the three main reasons labs decide to send out or reference out their molecular diagnostic PCR testing:

  1. You’re a lab that does other types of testing and only wants to provide molecular diagnostic PCR testing because your clients/ providers are asking for it.
  2. You want to continue to offer molecular diagnostic PCR testing, but your volume is too low or unpredictable.
  3. You don’t have the capabilities to currently process samples.

In all of these scenarios, there is one piece of compliance that I alluded to in the first post of our series, which is the 70/30 rule: Labs must internally process at least 70% of their samples and can send out 30% of their samples to be processed by a reference lab.

It’s important to note this is for all tests the lab is processing, not just the molecular diagnostic PCR testing. For example, if 70% of a lab’s tests are blood and urine that they are internally processing, the lab could send out all of its molecular diagnostic PCR testing (30%) to a reference lab.

For example, “reference laboratory testing comprises a major component of hospital clinical laboratory services. Although send-out tests represent a small percentage of the total test volume, these services account for the majority of the hospital laboratory test menu,” according to a study published by the National Library of Medicine.

Not all reference labs are the same, so it’s important to do your due diligence before partnering with a reference lab. In addition to making sure they deliver fast and accurate results, you will also want to explore if they have contracts and volume minimums.

We will dive into how to choose your reference lab in future posts. I hope you enjoyed this series.

At NCF Diagnostics & DNA Technologies, we make molecular diagnostic PCR testing accurate, fast, and convenient. We know there is a person on the other side of each sample we are testing, and we treat each sample as if it was for one of our loved ones. That’s why we offer large panels in every infection category — to give the providers the results that enable them to better serve their patients

White labeling services are available upon your request because we want you to keep the relationship with your clients/providers.

After all, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that “70% of today’s medical decisions depend on laboratory test results, showing the important role of clinical laboratories in today’s healthcare system.”

Are you ready to make NCF Diagnostics & DNA Technologies your trusted reference lab? If so, contact our team today by calling (352) 375-5553 or emailing