Managing your critical pathology assets: Ep 9, HealthcareTalks

Topics: Pathology Storage Management


What are the risks of a lab storing their critical pathology assets off-site?

KR: Iron Mountain has been preserving pathology assets – slides and blocks – for decades. Fairly recently, our clients began asking us to perform special services for them. It made us ask ourselves a lot of questions – What’s going on? And why would our clients be waking up to all of these issues.

We spent a fair amount of time talking with our clients, listening to them and going to their facilities. And here’s what we really learned.

No. 1, we learned that slides and blocks are sensitive to environmental conditions, and particularly sensitive to heat. As I like to say around our shop, wax melts and glass breaks if it’s not cared for properly. So it was the whole long-term protection and preservation aspect. And most hospital systems do not have that kind of optimal environment for slides and blocks. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. They usually allocate the least valuable space for those kinds of things.

So one benefit that they receive right off the bat is to preserve these assets and these specimens for years and even decades.

The second thing that I think hospitals are really looking for is better protection during handling. It should be very obvious that slides are made of glass, and they’re very breakable, and to the extent that you can protect them, and insulate them against breakage, the better. So if you can put together the right procedures, and handling with the right protection, you can more easily protect those kinds of specimens.

Thirdly, what I think we’re seeing is this whole issue of circulation control access integrity. Slides and blocks – particularly slides – have a mind of their own sometimes. They sort of wander off within labs and sometimes they’re hard to find. So putting in some sort of tracking system, some sort of integrity system where you have forever control over those assets, is really important. So if you can put a tracking system behind it, an inventory system, an index, have information management control or asset control, you have much more control over your environment.

So we see a need for preservation, we need protection during handling, and information management, information integrity – having a database control. Those are the things that are driving hospital systems to wake up and revisit their procedures. Because when they look at them in the cold light and day, they realize that a lot of their slides and blocks have not been handled – by themselves – the way they really should be. Paraffin blocks have been subjected to heat, and perhaps lost some of their integrity, some of their slides may not be intact, and they really want to make sure that these assets are protected over time.

So those are the types of things that organizations we see are looking for, and the way we’ve tried to tailor our services around their needs.