Background: Providing professional development opportunities to staff working in clinical laboratories undergoing quality improvement programs can be challenged by limited funding, particularly in resource-limited countries such as Cambodia. Using innovative approaches such as video conferencing can connect mentors with practitioners regardless of location. This study describes and evaluates the methods, outputs, and outcomes of a quality improvement program implemented in 12 public hospital laboratories in Cambodia between January 2018 and April 2019. The program used mixed intervention methods including both in-person and remote-access training and mentorship.
Methods: Training outputs were quantified from the activity reports of program trainers and mentors. Program outcomes were measured by pre- and postimplementation audits of laboratory quality management system conformity to international standards. Variations in improved outcomes were assessed in relation to the time spent by laboratory personnel in video conference training and mentoring activity. An additional cross-sectional comparison described the difference in final audit scores between participating and nonparticipating laboratories.
Results: Laboratories significantly improved their audit scores over the project period, showing significant improvement in all sections of the ISO 15189 standard. Pre- and postaudit score differences and laboratory personnel participation time in remote mentoring activities showed a strong monotonic relationship. Average input per laboratory was 6,027±2,454 minutes of participation in video conference activities with mentors. Audit scores of participating laboratories were significantly higher than those of laboratories with no quality improvement program.
Conclusion: Laboratories improved significantly in ISO 15189 conformity following structured laboratory quality management systems training supported by remote and on-site mentoring. The correlation of laboratory participation in video conference activities highlights the utility of remote video conferencing technology to strengthen laboratories in resource-limited settings and to build communities of practice to address quality improvement issues in health care. These findings are particularly relevant in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
© Donovan et al.