Medical courier services play an integral role across the healthcare industry. This expanding, $54.8 billion industry quickly responds to meet the specialized demands of today’s pathology clinics, with no signs of slowing down.  

A recent Market Analysis Report suggests that the popularity of medical couriers is impacted by an emphasis to improve the healthcare system by streamlining the growing need for quick transportation of samples and specimens for testing while reducing the cost of logistics. 

“As a dermatologist, I ultimately answer to my patient for the biopsy procedure as well as the pathology result,” explains April Larson, MD, VP of client experience and Advisory Board at PathologyWatch. “My work at PathologyWatch has taught me the importance of appropriate specimen labeling, handling, and chain of custody. It’s important to ask questions and make sure your courier has clear guidelines around the handling of medical specimens.”

As the desire for a quick turnaround time on lab work increases, you need a courier service you can count on. 

“A quality medical courier service is knowledgeable in the laws and customs of every product they transport. They’ll be able to handle the legal matters for you, giving you more time to focus on your business,” say experts at Mobile One Courier. “A medical courier service should also have the necessary equipment to keep your medical equipment, prescriptions, and specimens safe. Whether that involves a refrigerated car or just careful watching, they ensure that every package arrives undamaged.”

Factors like experience, property protection, and tracking tools are essential. If you are moving toward a medical courier service, here are four questions to ask.

1. Are they insured?

As the saying goes, always expect the unexpected. In unforeseen weather conditions or significant delays, even an accident, it’s important that your precious cargo is protected. Be sure to clarify whether or not the collateral and the driver are both insured.

2. Do they have experience handling specimens or other sensitive materials?

Medical couriers should be experienced with the intricacies of medical equipment and biological samples and understand the special conditions required for successful delivery. 

“Many specialty medications and medical tests must be maintained within a specific temperature range during shipment,” explains Benjamin Meskin, owner of Meslee Insurance Services, Inc. “To keep those items at the manufactured recommended temperature, they require special handling and storage during transport from shipper to recipient.” 

Be sure to ask how many years of experience the courier company has in healthcare. Studies show that 34 percent of medical couriers only work in the industry for one to two years before moving onto something else. In addition, inquire if the courier company requires that drivers complete specific training to ensure they understand the unique conditions for transporting specimens.

3. How do they track deliveries? 

An internal study from the University of Minnesota Medical Center laboratory found their facility could not account for about six to seven specimens per week, totaling around 30 specimens per month. That rate of error isn’t acceptable if you want to run a successful pathology practice. 

Every patient sample matters. This isn’t just a specimen—it’s your patient’s peace of mind. You need to work with a courier who shares that commitment to safeguarding your packages. Most courier services offer a real-time GPS tracking system to monitor their deliveries. This feature lets you check real-time locations to ensure your packages are moving in the right direction and will arrive when you expect them to.

4. Are the delivery drivers HIPAA compliant? 

Courier services are essential to patient care, but they are not part of the health care sector. However, courier companies still need to adhere to HIPAA standards. This is under the omnibus rule mandating compliance to the HIPAA privacy rule by business associates or entities engaged by individuals and businesses in the healthcare industry that help them complete industry-related activities and functions.

Larger courier companies are quick to advertise their HIPAA compliance, but if you prefer to use a local service, be sure to ask about it. 

Your practice relies on trusting doctor-patient relationships. Working with a medical courier service that supports a quick turnaround time on test results is essential to building and maintaining those relationships. You will find a great long-term partnership that provides quick results by asking about a courier’s specialized experience, tracking tools, and other support services.