Webinar Transcript: What to Know About Recent Drug Testing Delays
Below is a full transcription of our popular webinar on Drug & Alcohol Testing recordkeeping requirements and tips called “Recordkeeping Secrets for Your Drug & Alcohol Testing Program.”
Hello, and welcome to Foley’s webinar related to the recent drug testing industry delays. Thank you for joining today.
We will be giving all the participants a few minutes to log in to the webinar today. So, if you are early, please just bear with us while we give everyone a little bit of time to get situated, and then we will get the program started.
So again, welcome everybody to the webinar today. We are just pausing to allow all our viewers to join the webinar. So, we will give everyone about 30 more seconds to get themselves situated and logged in, and then we will get started with the presentation. So, thank you again for joining, just sit tight for another few seconds while we allow everyone to get in.
Okay, we are going to get started now. It looks like we have everyone logged in. So again, thank you for joining today. Today’s topic is “What You Need to Know About the Recent Drug Testing Delays That are Impacting the Drug Testing Industry,” and perhaps, specifically, the transportation segment. So, we are going to talk about what you need to know, why some of these delays are occurring, and most importantly, what steps you can take to potentially improve your odds of having your drug testing program run smoothly despite some of the current headwinds that companies are facing in this space.
So, first, let me introduce myself. My name is Scott Mogensen. I am the Director of Compliance Operations here at Foley. It’s always a pleasure to get a chance to speak to our customers and other industry partners. So, if you are a Foley customer, or if you’re just joining to get a little insight on what’s going on in the drug testing space, thank you for spending a little bit of time with us today.
We will try to answer questions on the topic during the actual content but should there be anything that comes to mind for you that you’d like to get answered, the chat will be open on the presentation, so feel free to drop a question into the chat. We may or may not have time to get through some of what is put in there today, but certainly, if there’s something that we don’t get to, we do check all the questions that are in there and can follow up with anyone after the program. So again, thank you for joining, and let’s jump in.
Cause of the Delays
So, first off, we want to just kind of talk about what we are seeing in the drug testing industry because one of the things that we have been seeing from our customers, as well as broadly across the entire economy, is that the current climate for drug testing is causing a number of delays related to both turnaround time and impacting a company’s ability to bring people in for testing and get timely results. So, we want to talk about what those delays are, why they are happening, and what companies can do to address them.
The New Custody & Control Form
So, to start with, many of you on this webinar today probably operate DOT drug testing programs, and specifically for your programs, one of the major changes that have occurred over the last 12 months has been the change and the update of the DOT custody and control form. This would be the five-part carbon copy drug testing form, which is used if you conduct testing the old-fashioned way on paper. And even if you are using electronic CCFs, the actual format of that form has also changed.
Back in August 2020, the new revised version of that form was approved for use and the date was set at August 30, 2021, to adopt the usage of that new form. So, essentially, everyone had about one year to prepare. After August 30, 2021, new DOT drug tests should be conducted using the new form.
What was different about that form, and what changed, is that the actual format of the form was updated to allow for a couple of new points. One was that oral fluid testing was added as an option, and that’s important because oral fluid testing for federal drug tests, which are not DOT, so I want to be very clear about that point. Federal drug tests outside of DOT federal drug tests can now use oral fluid as an alternative specimen to urine, so the update to the form was to accommodate that. Now, at some point in the future, oral fluid may become an option for DOT drug testing, but today, that’s not the case, and all DOT tests must still be urine specimens, but the form will have that oral fluid option on it.
The second point that was changed on the form was that the driver identification field now also includes a callout to allow for the use of the CDL number and state of issuance to be used as an identifier. Because if you specifically are running a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration program, you also are now probably subject to DOT Clearinghouse regulations, which will require the use of a CDL number and state of issuance as your identifier on that form. And that’s because tying the records of the drug tests to the Clearinghouse is done through that CDL number. So, those are the two form changes that went into effect for oral fluid testing and are related to the Clearinghouse. And certainly, that change has some downstream impacts.
Still Using the Old Form?
So, one of the major ones is the requirement for an MFR or a memorandum for the record. So essentially, this is a new form that would be required to be submitted with a drug test if an old copy of a CCF was used after August. So essentially, since the deadline date for the new form use has gone into effect, that basically means if you’re still using old CCF forms, an additional document, this MFR, needs to be submitted to the laboratory, or they won’t test the specimen. They cannot actually process that test without that new form. And certainly, the administrative effort for both collectors and laboratories to kind of manage this additional step in the process is becoming a significant source of delays. So, if you run a DOT drug testing program and your specimens are going through the laboratory, whether you’re using the new form or not, that lab and the collection sites could be weighed down by others in the industry who are still using old forms and basically putting an additional burden on the labs and the collectors. So certainly, getting everyone in the industry to adopt the usage of the new form is a big step, which will help improve the overall industry performance.
Supply & Demand Issues
Obviously, that is one big change that we just talked about. But beyond the DOT CCF, there are other issues that are also notable, which are going on in the industry on a national scale. As we probably have all seen in the news, there has been a combination of effects related to COVID which are causing downstream impacts in drug testing, and specifically, turnaround time. Some of those issues are things like staffing, which is currently a struggle for many industries. Certainly not just the drug testing industry, but we see staffing issues prevalent in many industries, and that has impacted the ability of labs and collection sites to keep up with volume.
Additionally, there is actually a global paper shortage right now, which is making issues worse in terms of supplies that are needed for drug test processing and CCFs themselves. So, the actual supplies and raw materials as well as shipping delays related to COVID are causing supply and demand issues, which are impacting overall performance. So again, this is a national issue. It’s not specific to any one clinic network, laboratory network, or provider in the industry. It’s just something that’s happening globally, so we want to raise awareness and explain a little bit of what we’re seeing across the country that is impacting employers.
Old vs. New Form
One of the things that we want to call out in terms of circling back on the CCF form is how to identify the old form versus the new form. And we have an image here on the screen that has highlighted the two new fields that you would see that would distinguish the new form from the prior version of the DOT CCF. So, specifically in Step One, the step is now updated so that you’ll see a callout for the CDL state and number. So again, this is to accommodate the DOT’s FMCSA Clearinghouse where that CDL number is really the key piece of data to tie together any violations in the Clearinghouse.
And then in Step 2, you’ll see that there is a section to be completed by the collector where the specimen that’s being used, urine or oral fluid, would be checked off. And in the case of the new form, you’ll see oral fluid there as an option, whereas previously on the old version of the form, you would not see anything there for checking off oral fluid. So, if you do see that referenced, that’s how you can know it’s the new form that you’re looking at, and that’s the proper form that you should be using for DOT tests going forward.
Expecting & Avoiding Delays: Short-Term Delays
So, we’ve covered a little bit of what you can expect in terms of what is happening in the industry. Let’s dive a little bit more into what we can do about avoiding delays now that we know a little bit what to expect. So, in the short term, one of the things that we do want to call out again is that the turnaround times that are being seen by customers and employers throughout the country are more of a global issue affecting the industry right now. So, it’s unrelated to any specific clinics, labs, or partners. It’s something that we’re all going through and we’re in the same boat related to the pandemic and its effects, combined with some of the changes to the form in DOT specific cases. And collectively, we can make the situation better by ensuring that we all switched to the new forms and have supplies of those new forms for DOT drug testing on hand, so everyone involved in the drug testing process can move beyond the need to work through the memorandum for the recording process. The more we all adopt electronic and new CCFs, the more that benefits all of us. So, that is certainly a short-term item that hopefully will be increasingly happening as we move forward.
How You Can Help
One of the things that you want to make sure everyone is aware of is having your forms on hand and making sure that you have the new information in Step 1 and Step 2 to confirm that you have the new CCFs. If you have old copies, you probably want to discard those, assuming that you have new ones to conduct your testing with. And then, electronic CCF forms are even better as an option than the new forms. We’ll get into that in a minute, but that is really the best way to ensure that you are both staying current and putting yourself in the best position to make sure that your testing turnaround time is as low as it possibly can be.
What is an Electronic CCF?
I don’t want to gloss over the possibility that we may have people on the session today that may still be using paper for most of their testing and are not familiar with electronic CCFs. But specifically, an eCCF (electronic CCF) is an electronic version of that five-part carbon copy custody and control form that is allowed for drug testing use, both for DOT drug tests and non-federal drug testing as well.
So, specifically, it’s a replacement for the old legacy paper process that dominated drug testing for several decades. What happens is orders are placed, and forms are filled out electronically in advance of the donor arriving at the collection site, or in some cases, when the donor arrives at the election site. From the point the specimen is collected, electronic distribution of those forms is sent to all the relevant parties really eliminating the need for the transfer of paper. So, it’s a much more streamlined process where data flows around instead of paper copies being faxed or emailed, and it just makes for a much more streamlined process.
So, I guess one question that we certainly want to ask for all our participants on the call today is, how many of you are already adopting electronic chain of custody processes? And maybe if you could, if you have adopted electronic CCFs, kudos to you, and drop a line in the chat to describe a little bit about how you’re ordering today. And perhaps, if you haven’t adopted electronic chain of custody forms and you’re still using paper, we’d like to hear from you too. And if you could, just drop a line in the chat and let us know what you’re doing today in terms of sending your people down for drug tests and if you’re still having most of your testing conducted on paper. We want to get a sense of our participants today and what your process is just so we can understand how many of you have moved electronically and how many of you are still using the try and true method of using the paper CCF. So, if you could, I see some of you already commenting, but drop a line in the chat and just let us know what you’re doing, and we’d appreciate it.
The Benefits of eCCFs
So, when it comes to moving electronically, we highly endorse that there are benefits that we’ve seen our customers recognize, and those would be things like increased accuracy. So certainly, legibility is always a challenge when it comes to the paper copies of the form. They lose legibility based on both the handwriting of the person filling out the form, but also as you go down in the lower copies of the carbon copy form, the writing might get fainter or the forms themselves might be emailed, scanned, or faxed around and lose legibility that way. Beyond that, a lot of the eCCF platforms have built-in validation rules to ensure the collector is not going to make a mistake or skip a section that they need to fill out. So, the accuracy of the eCCF process really reduces collection errors or legibility issues, so that’s a huge benefit. Beyond that, lost or damaged forms really aren’t something that you have to worry about with the eCCF process. Once the collection is completed at the collection site, that form is electronically captured and can be reproduced and redistributed to any of the parties that need it whether it is the laboratory, MRO, employer, or donor. You’re not beholden to whether that paper is lost or in a file or damaged; once it’s electronic, it’s available for everyone.
And that kind of speaks to the security aspect. And then most importantly, probably to the topic we’re talking about today is the fact that the form is distributed immediately to everyone that needs it, so it really is the best way to improve your turnaround time. So, when we’re talking about some of the challenges that are affecting the industry in relation to turnaround time, the number one thing you can do to control the speed at which your drug tests are returned is trying to use electronic CCFs as much as possible. That has been shown to improve turnaround time by as much as 25% and can really optimize the process to make sure that, while you can’t control how fast the laboratory can test the specimen, once it arrives at the lab to be tested, you certainly can remove any unnecessary delays from the process related to paper or administrative steps like filling out the form properly. So, that really is a huge benefit, and a takeaway we hope we can drive home during today’s session is the use of those forms really has no downside and only has a benefit. We highly recommend that you do go with that process if you’re not using it today, but certainly, the old process can still be used if there’s a reason and necessity for it, but we highly recommend that you go electronic if possible.
Why You’ll Still Need Paper (For Now)
So now there are still some reasons why you may want to keep a supply of paper CCFs on hand. Certainly, as I just said, electronic CCFs are the way to go for the majority of your testing needs, but there may be some circumstances where a small supply of paper is a great benefit to you. And one of those reasons is that not all the clinics in the country have fully embraced the electronic process yet. Most of the major clinic networks around the country have gone electronic and can support the electronic process. Chances are most of you on this session are using a clinic that has adopted an electronic process, but there are still clinics throughout the country that are either in the process of training staff or embracing the technology.
So, there is still the possibility that you may be using a clinic, or you may find yourself in a situation where you need to use a clinic that you don’t typically use which is not fully electronic yet. Having a paper CCF supply is a good thing in those situations because it’ll allow you to handle that situation and be able to use a clinic when you need to get a test done. Similarly, even if you are regularly using an electronic process and eCCFs for most of your testing, having a backup supply of paper CCFs either in your principal office in place of business or if you have drivers or operators that are on the road or at a remote site can come handy. For example, in the event that there may be a post-accident situation or a need to get a test done remotely when it’s outside of business hours where the clinic isn’t open or you need to have an onsite collector come and get a test done in an urgency situation. So, situations like that are cases where having a backup paper supply is a great benefit and provides a low-tech backup to the electronic process.
Working With DOT Drug Testing Partner
So, now that we’ve talked through what you can do to kind of put your best foot forward in terms of ensuring that you’re doing the things that will help your drug testing, turnaround time be optimal, another point we want to touch on is the benefit of partnering with an industry provider or third-party administrator that is able to really help take your program to the next level. And that’s something that can help on a couple of levels.
Keeps You Up to Date
First and foremost, keeping you up-to-date and really being proactive in terms of upcoming changes like the ones we’ve been talking about. So certainly, between the changes we’ve seen with the custody and control forms and the FMCSA Clearinghouse, federal drug testing customers have seen and felt numerous changes in the past few years, and that’s likely to continue over the next couple of years as there will be more changes related to how we implement drug testing programs. It’s certainly a significant issue impacting safety around the industry and the country as a whole related to drug abuse. So, we can expect to see more change in the industry, and using a trusted partner that keeps an eye on the future and ensures you have that information that you need when you need it and even before you need it as situations are evolving, really helps you be in a position to handle the upcoming curve balls with minimal disruption to your process. So, an example of this would be speaking to all our customers, at least here at Foley, when we saw that changes were happening with the DOT CCF in 2020. We began the process of any in motion, proactive updates of all chain of custody forms.
So well in advance of August’s implementation date, any new CCF supplies that were delivered to our customers after March of 2021 had the updated forms. And then later towards around June, we proactively resupplied anyone who had not yet received new supplies of chain with custody forms. Just to ensure that all customers that were engaged in active testing had the new forms on hand, so we didn’t have to be part of a bottleneck of anyone who was a last-minute employer trying to get new copies of the form right around the implementation date. That’s just one small example of how a partner can help see a change coming and try to get as much proactivity and early action started as possible, so you know you’re able to continue your operations informed and prepared for any upcoming changes.
Access to a Digital Solution
A second area that can be helpful for employee partnering with a real trusted industry provider is, if you have a partner out there that you’re looking at, one of the things you want to make sure you really dig into is whether that partner has a true digital, automated compliance solution? Are they able to provide you with a platform that can allow you to really do all the key tasks in executing your program through an online platform that eliminates and minimizes the use of paper or any type of unnecessary administrative step? So, what that would really look like is, first, situational awareness of what needs to be done. Is that platform able to tell you when tests need to be performed, alert you to anyone that needs to have pre-employment tests performed, or you might be missing and don’t have a result yet back for someone when you have random tests to do. Are you able to be notified and informed of any of the post-hire or situational requirements that go into running a drug-testing program?
You really want the platform to do the heavy lifting of telling you what you need to know, and when results are completed, so you can either clear drivers or put them on the road or put people to work based on what’s going on and taking the burden off you to track down information and rather the platform presents it to you. Secondly, and specifically, what we’re talking about here today in turnaround time, you want that platform to really take advantage of today’s technology with electronic CCFs and make sure the process is a full, closed-loop electronic CCF process so that you can place an order when you have an employee that has to take a drug test, get that order into the system so that you just basically log into your computer, tablet, or smartphone. You’ll place that order and the person that needs to take the test (be it the candidate or employee) is notified. They go in. They get that test done. And it’s all done electronically without the use of paper, and the notifications, updates, and statuses related to where that test just flows truly digitally.
And then as part of that, you want that platform to give you as many options as possible around locating clinics where that type of process can be done digitally; either the local clinic that you always use, or if your employee happens to be away from their typical location and they’re out on the road, or in an unfamiliar place, the platform should be able to provide you options wherever they happen to be, so they can get their testing done, and there’s no disruption with that flow.
Digital Files = Increased Security
Beyond that, a real good electronic-enabled partner should allow you to store all your records in a digital format. So, that means you don’t need to keep a filing cabinet full of paperwork, but rather, your documents are scanned and protected, electronically and available from wherever you happen to have an internet connection. So, you’re protected against the possibility of physical damage or fire or flood, but also you have ready access to those documents 24/7, so if you need to have a custody and control form, if you need to be able to get to your files, there’s no chance of them being lost or inaccessible. Or if you have a situation like we’ve seen with many companies here in the pandemic where perhaps offices are closed, or people don’t have access to a physical file store where documents were in a filing cabinet, then you still have complete access to that wherever you happen to be. So, going digital is a huge benefit.
Ensure You’re Audit Ready
And then that only gets further dialed up. When you look at what’s been happening with some of the changes in enforcement that have been happening over the past couple of years specifically to the FMCSA, there’s been a real rise in offsite audits. So specifically, when audits are being conducted, you may not necessarily have an auditor coming to your facility to review your documents, but rather, you’ll need to supply those documents and the proof that you’re running a compliant program by sending over digital copies of those documents. So, if your filing solution is already digital and you already have things organized in an electronic manner, then that becomes very easy to be able to provide an automated system to just respond to whatever type of recordkeeping requests that you have to be able to prove you’re doing things right.
And then there’s the dreaded task of gathering everything out of a collection of filing cabinets, scanning it all, trying to organize it, and being under the gun to get that all submitted electronically. A good partner can help you make that process extremely easy and let you know what needs to go and likely have workflows to allow you to get that done and sent over. So, that’s a real benefit and something we expect to see more as the enforcement aspect becomes electronic and digital as well.
So certainly, those are some of the benefits of partnering. We would highly recommend you take a look at any type of benefit that you can get from partnering together with a trusted industry source. But in closing, we want to circle back to what we’ve been seeing and hearing from transportation companies, prospects, and customers nationwide. And that is, over the past several months, there have been wide-ranging delays impacting drug testing that is not specific to any one company, clinic, laboratory; it’s really industry-wide and international even. We probably have all seen news articles about transportation delays, supply chain delays, and hiring delays. This is really no different. It’s all part of the larger issue affecting the industry. So certainly, there have been recent changes affecting forms that also have exacerbated that. And the are some things we can do to help prevent those delays like using eCCFS or ensuring and checking your CCFs to ensure that you’re using the newer forms.
And as more and more parties in the industry make those moves and update their processes, we should start to see some of those delays come back towards what we would normally expect in terms of turnaround time. Speaking as of today, we’re starting to see that move happen. It’s going to take a little bit of time to get back to normal, and some of the broader industry changes are still going to be working their way through it as the pandemic continues. If you are a Foley customer, just know that we are doing everything in our power here to help you get your results in a timely manner. Thank you for your patience while we work through this with all the parties that we interface with to try to provide you with the best service that we possibly can.
If you’re not a Foley customer, certainly you can try to take to heart some of the things we’ve said in this session and opportunities you can look at to try to improve your process and put your best foot forward in terms of improving your turnaround time. But as we work through this and as the industry works through this, we should start to see some of the CCF challenges fade away and hopefully some of the supply chain issues will resolve themselves, so we will make our way through it.
Have Questions? (860) 815-0764
So, with that, I’ll just say that I have seen questions popping into the chat as we’ve gone through today’s session. Hopefully, we’ve been able to weave in some of the things I’ve seen you asking about. If we haven’t, just know that number one, there is a phone number here that you can certainly call, and we will be happy to talk to you at any point in time about any subject we’ve discussed today or that has come up along the way. Additionally, if you’ve dropped a question in the chat, we’ll try to circle back with you after today’s session and try to get your questions answered.
On behalf of myself and everyone at Foley, we just want to reiterate our thanks for spending a little bit of your day with us today. Hopefully, you’ve found today’s session informative and helps in ensuring that we’re doing everything we can to get drug testing turnaround time moving in the right direction. So, thanks again. We’ll be circling back on those questions and hope everyone has a great rest of your day, and we’ll talk to you all again soon. Thank you very much, everyone. Bye.