Laboratory professionals are always looking for new lab improvement ideas – process changes that go a long way to improve outcomes in the lab. Well, there is good news. There’s a host of small- or large-scale initiatives that can be undertaken to keep the costs low while ensuring high productivity. Some of them are listed below.
1. Outsourcing Laboratory Services
In today’s day and age, full of innovation and new technologies, the pace at which obsolescence sets in has increased manifold. On the other hand, rapidly rising competition means high quality and efficiency are imperative.
To keep ahead in this race requires considerable capital investment in the latest technology and professionally qualified workforce. Therefore, the most recent trend seen in the healthcare industry is to leave it to the experts providing outsourcing hospital and clinical laboratory services. Major players in the laboratory business are taking control of hospital laboratories and are able to produce higher productivity levels due to many factors such as specialized management, owned warehouses and supply chain management, use of integrated IT platforms, exclusive arrangements with equipment suppliers, ability to source the right skill-set, etc. These specialized laboratories are also able to provide much larger test menus at a much lower cost.
2. Choice of Equipment & its Upkeep
Another effective initiative for laboratory performance improvement is to ensure optimum use of laboratory equipment.
The choice of equipment must be made keeping in mind the testing types and volumes. It may even be worthy to consult an expert before selecting equipment, as this decision can considerably impact the break-even and profitability of the business.
However, the most important aspect of laboratory devices is quality. Laboratories are entirely dependent on the quality of their equipment, as higher quality equipment will have the ability to produce the most accurate results whilst equipment of low quality will deter the credibility of testing and eventually, that of the laboratory.
In order to maximize equipment durability and competence with regards to accuracy and efficiency within testing, laboratory equipment must always go through the scheduled maintenance recommended by the manufacturer, as a failure in doing so may result in the inaccuracy of the tests and sample depletion.
3. Employee Expectations
Productive and efficient labs have staff that is provided with the necessary resources and facilities that enable them to achieve that efficacy. This includes being provided with the correct supplies, workload, and information that define the purpose of the laboratory.
Longer working hours potentially result in lower productivity and will, therefore, impact research and result credibility. It is always essential for employers to keep in mind that the staff can achieve desirable results with working hours that are deemed acceptable and will result in a safer environment due to less stress or weariness.
Moreover, employers who are attentive to the staff’s insights and recommendations are highly likely to improve the emotional wellbeing of the staff, which results in more productive and thriving results.
4. Developing and Maintaining an Inventory System of Purchased Supplies
Different laboratories adopt different stock management systems that suit the facility. The development of stock management systems is heavily dependent on what equipment is in use at the lab and on the nature of the consumables required.
Items with expiration date need to be carefully monitored throughout stock so as to avoid situations with excess or lack of stock. Efficient stock management systems help users define ‘Minimum’ and ‘Maximum’ levels for each stock keeping unit (SKU).
The creation and maintenance of an efficient inventory/stock system will result in cost-saving and the maintenance of employee productivity.
5. Lab Spacing and Size
Although this topic may not appear to suggest high importance, it is essential the spacing and size of the workspace are considered. Deciding the workspace and size is of high importance as it concerns the safety of the staff. Parting facilities and equipment helps avoid risks due to a combination of equipment that can prove dangerous such as electrical machinery and liquids.
Apart from this, it allows staff to work more efficiently by providing an easier separation between tasks and enables staff and workflow to easily travel throughout the laboratory.
Materials and equipment including waste products, equipment occupying large spaces, glasses, liquids, tubes, electronics should all be adequately separated to ensure the safety of the staff and guarantee easy travel throughout the facility. Such space re-organization increases the efficiency and productivity of the staff as they are then able to manage the workflow much easier.