The importance of laboratory workflows
A laboratory workflow outlines procedural rules for tasks across every phase of testing, from pre-analytical through to reporting.
Leaders in the laboratory face the intricate task of managing turnaround times, while also ensuring work at every phase meets required quality standards and regulatory requirements.
Laboratory workflows help leaders by outlining processes that reduce complexity and promote quality. They are often modelled after standard operating procedures (SOPs) and support regulatory compliance.
In this article, we explore:
- How laboratory workflows can overcome clinical challenges
- Steps to improve a workflow
- How to overcome a lack of time to enforce lab workflow improvements
Challenges in clinical laboratory management
Clinical laboratories are playing an increasingly critical role in the quality of patient care, and now provide over 80% of the healthcare data used by physicians in their practice.
While the demand for diagnostics has surged across the course of COVID-19, laboratories have faced technician shortages on top of surmounting financial pressures. Meanwhile, breakthrough research in areas like oncology, immunology and genetics continue to open up new business opportunities, provided laboratories can meet the regulatory requirements and quality standards.
In today’s environment, successfully balancing competing operational and financial priorities requires both resource flexibility to adapt to changing business goals, as well as a strong workflow arrangement to ensure unnecessary complexities are avoided, and that regulations are met.
How do scientific services support workflow management?
Unlike CRO’s an onsite scientific services business offers laboratories the opportunity to supplement their workforce with professionals that integrate and work alongside teams. Doing so enables the insourced professionals to identify and flag opportunities to reduce complexity across routine processes, and enhance workflow management.
Scientific services offer laboratories a range of benefits, including scalability. As a flexible arrangement, professionals can be brought onboard temporarily to meet a new workflow plan for a strategic project, without affecting headcount. Alternatively, scientific services can provide long-term teams that continuously support and bolster the wider team.
What are the benefits of workflow optimisation? We’ve listed them below:
- Improved space allocation
- Increased adaptability
- Reduced turnaround time
- Improved laboratory throughput
- Maximised potential of laboratory staff and resources
- Reinforced adherence to quality standards and regulatory compliance
3 steps to laboratory workflow management
1. Prioritise the right workflow
It’s important to ensure that you strategically choose which workflow to optimise.
Start by listing the processes that have the most value for lab output, and the most impact on staff. This might be a common set of procedures that has a big impact on customers, or a specific work area that researchers have found challenging.
Once you’ve created a list of the most critical workflows to optimise, communicate it with your wider team and get their input on which workflow would improve and optimise productivity the most.
2. Identify current workflow challenges and obstacles
Reducing complexity is at the centre of workflow optimisation.
This stage is about understanding where your key obstacles are before you bring in any resources to overcome the issue.
One way to identify these key obstacles is by monitoring changes in turnaround time to understand where delays are happening the most across the testing process.
3. Assess capacity to implement optimisation
Laboratory capacity to realise a new workflow will often rely on renegotiated resources, or redeployment of personnel to more critical areas.
Resource planning can help contextualise your workflow, and help managers understand how they can realistically realise their plan.
Strategically re-allocating personnel, and supplementing resources where necessary, can help improve productivity and reduce operating costs, helping you strike that critical balance between financial and operational pressures.
Looking for a scientific services partner?
Synergy work with laboratories across the world, equipping laboratories with expert talent that catalyse laboratory success, from within.
At Synergy, we help laboratories embrace adaptability with flexible teams who we source, manage and develop ourselves.
Interested in hearing more?
You can talk to our friendly team about your resourcing requirements at: firstname.lastname@example.org