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Home » Fighting the Flu » The Crucial Role of Commercial Labs

A global pandemic has highlighted the importance of an efficient, high-quality lab as part of everyone’s health.

With millions of new cases of COVID-19 being reported each week, it’s clear the “third wave” of the pandemic is well underway, putting commercial health labs under increasing strain. As cases rise, there’s a growing shortage crisis in testing — one that is causing labs to ration other tests due to a shortage of testing materials.

Nate Wilbourne, founder and CEO of Precision Genetics, a leading healthcare technology company and high-complexity molecular lab states, “Hospitals aren’t equipped to handle global demand, so they partner with commercial labs, but most labs lack technology infrastructure.”

Efficiency is key

When talking about testing shortages, we’re talking supply chain. Commercial labs and hospitals source their materials from the same vendors, so shortages are felt nationally. Precision Genetics’ nimbleness and flexibility allowed them to leverage technology that streamlined quality, efficiency, and the supply chain.

That efficiency allowed Precision to quickly ramp testing volumes when the pandemic hit, averaging less than 24 hours from test to result.

It’s also benefited their partners. “Precision genetics has been a wonderful partner providing us with additional operational capacity,” says Thomas Crawford, Ph.D., system chief operating officer at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). “The pandemic has been like building an airplane as we’re learning to fly it. We relied pretty heavily on our external partners to help meet the demand for services for testing.”

Technological edge

Wilbourne notes that while efficient supply chains are crucial, so is the technology behind a lab’s testing. “What differentiated us was our ability to automate the process. It’s one thing to run a test, it’s another thing to have a technology platform that can streamline the process. Precision is a technology company. We employ an entire technical team of software developers, engineers, and integration specialists that manage workflows.”

That technological edge has also led to innovation. As we head into flu season with the pandemic still in full swing, Precision recently announced a combination test for both COVID-19 and Influenza A/B —vital because the two diseases share many symptoms. They’ve also validated testing that involves saliva collection instead of nasal swabbing, which is non-invasive. Precision offers a personalized approach to delivering care in the United States. In addition to COVID-19, flu, and respiratory detection, they offer pharmacogenomic testing services for mental health, employer groups, and anesthesiology in surgical suites, that focuses on mapping genes to drugs and decreasing the risks of adverse drug reactions.

Wilbourne is proud of that innovation during a global crisis. “Every week is different — every day is different,” he says. “Our company size allows us to quickly adapt. As evolving technologies present themselves from a laboratory and technology perspective, we are able to validate tests quickly, at the highest level of quality, and then deploy it on behalf of our customers.”

Crawford notes that partnering with a reference lab like Precision Genetics is about more than processing tests. “When you partner with a reference lab, it becomes an extension of your brand,” he says. “If we’re telling people that we’re going to turn around results within X hours, you want to make sure that you’re able to partner with a reference lab that can consistently meet those performance metrics without issue.”

“People need to be informed so they can take control of their own health, whether it be COVID or any other disease,” Wilbourne says. “It’s important for people to understand what they’re being tested for, verify the reliability of the science, and then make their decision. For us, it’s about using technology to drive better outcomes. Being integrated into the medical record and embedding genotype-guided decision support tools, we give providers a new standard of care. That’s our company focus.”For more information on how your organization can benefit from our quick and reliable testing capabilities, please visit Precision Genetics at, send inquiries to [email protected], or call our team at (877) 843-6544 (ext. 4).

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