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Vertical integration for quality control

When we started this laboratory, like anyone in our province or in the country who decides to start a health care enterprise, we adapted to the market by finding a variety of products of very different qualities, very inconsistent and adapted for other conditions. Clear examples were formalin for biopsy tissues and fixative solutions for cell preparations (so-called "pap smears").

This, in turn, made it difficult for us to produce preparations of a consistent or uniform quality. At that time, my concept of "quality control" was very vague and my biggest criticism is that it was a standardization of processes, rather than a clear way to raise the quality itself. I did not understand then, and it was only after an article on statistical quality control in cervical and vaginal cytology, that quality measurement is one thing and corporate strategies to arrive at a uniform, desirable product is another.

In vertical integration, the mother company creates several daughter companies that it controls and which in turn provide it with all the raw material to allow it to produce a product or service, creating a kind of monopoly, because the daughters only work for the mother and these companies do not provide materials to other competitors of their mother. This would be possible, I don't know if ethical or practical, if we were a large chain of laboratories, but we use the concept aimed at maintaining a standardization of processes and obtaining a product that is, within a standard deviation, uniform.

The type of vertical integration was "backwards", as I explained in the example above. There are no other companies except this one, but we started to produce our own formalin and cellular fixative based on the experiences in the field that we acquired throughout the years of operation. The doctors and clinics that use our services were pleased, because we took away the expense of having to purchase them and that expense was borne by us. This allowed us to use the containers that we consider appropriate, the amount of formalin that we consider necessary for the average of the samples, as well as the type of formalin that allows the best fixation and then the performance of special tests on the processed tissues.

In the same way, when we began to see the cytologies, we began to notice that many cases could not really be examined satisfactorily because a variety of water-based fixatives were used that did not really fulfill their function and we assumed at the time that it was due to dilution of the product in the hands of its users, not because the product was defective. We did some research and after a phase of experimentation and development, we were able to formulate an alcohol-based preparation that allowed us to produce uniform preparations for our environmental conditions and personal preferences.

This control over the variables that affected the final product, increasing the standardization of the preparations. This capacity presented a competitive, cost-effective advantage.

integration, uniformity, vertical, quality control

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