Opinion: Outside Accreditation and Quality Consultants

Sometimes, you may not have adequate resources for a project so you will consider hiring an outside consultant.  During my career, I have used several outside consultants for projects ranging from installing a new general laboratory computer system to assisting in getting international accreditations.

For a complex accreditation process such as AABB, I have used such consultants to audit operations in the donor center including processing and testing, hospital blood banks, and stem cell laboratory.  They are high-level technical specialists with highest blood bank qualifications (e.g. SBB(ASCP) or equivalent) and have considerable experience in practice of blood banking and quality systems.  They have been AABB Assessors so they can give you a dry-run accreditation assessment.

Depending on the project, you may need one or a group of consultants.  I have worked with both individual consultants and groups.  A group can complete the tasks quicker but this is not always necessary.  Organizations such as AABB have many different consultants with different types of expertise so you can select the most appropriate individuals to form a team for your needs.

These specialists can audit your operations and propose a model and if you want, actually help you to implement the processes.  They can help you with the accreditation formalities, especially if you do not have any staff with experience in the process.  It all depends how much you can spend.

In the Middle East, to bring in such consultants may mean expensive air fares, hotels, meals, plus the actual costs of doing the consulting.  This is a major investment for your organization but it is well worth it to expedite the process.  There are local consultants available as well and using them may greatly help with the expenses.

Although it is expensive upfront, it can be cheaper in the long run by establishing the appropriate framework in the first place.  You can engage the consultants to actually do much of the work themselves, but it is better for them to offer a train the trainer experience, i.e. engage your own technical staff to learn new skills and then have them cross-train the rest of the staff. 

Based on the findings, your local staff can implement the changes.  You can then consider rehiring the consultants to verify that the work has been done properly.

I have used both individual consultants and groups through AABB Consulting.  My staff and I have learned much from such interactions, and I highly recommend their use when local expertise is not available.