The concept of “continuous improvement” can be a tricky one for many lab managers and lead researchers. While a regular review of workplace processes is always a good idea, sometimes it can seem as if all your time is being spent in review processes of one type or another, instead of research.
On the other hand, the research lab is a dynamic and constantly changing environment, and sometimes we don’t pay enough attention to the impact one lab design change can have on other existing processes and protocols.
This is why it’s a good idea to regularly review your lab—everything from staffing levels to the suitability of your dedicated lab furniture—in order to make sure it is operating at peak efficiency. The case study below illustrates how taking the time for such assessments can benefit a lab’s ongoing effectiveness.
Lab Design Case Study: Holy Spirit Health System
The growing Holy Spirit Health System in Pennsylvania thought it had an issue with insufficient staffing levels. This was exacerbated by the fact that skilled lab professionals were difficult to find, which left Holy Spirit short-handed. Workflow problems were surfacing, along with issues in turnaround times, training, and competency. Fortunately, they decided to address the efficiency issues first, using the popular LEAN program to help assess the situation and come up with optimal solutions.
What they found was surprising. By addressing inefficiencies in lab design, maximizing resources, and utilizing automation, they were able to address the workflow issues and improve turnaround times without the need to hire any additional staff. While leadership had assumed there were inefficiencies in the system, they’d been too close to the day-to-day operations to be able to see the lab design shortcomings for themselves.
By simply redesigning the lab to address workflow issues and bringing in one additional machine to automate a common process, Holy Spirit’s hospital labs improved time from order to collection and decreased the rate of repeat blood draws, which improved customer satisfaction.
Is Your Lab Ready for Change?
The Holy Spirit Hospital labs are not alone in seeking to improve efficiency. Many research labs around the country are embracing redesigns in an effort to get the most out of existing resources without increasing costs. Some are even fortunate enough to be planning a new lab design from scratch.
Regardless of where you are in the process, it’s critical to evaluate every aspect of your lab. Not just staffing, but also each piece of equipment you use and the dedicated lab furniture supporting it. Using the right furniture will improve efficiency by making access easier, reducing noise, and protecting equipment, as well as eliminating the mistakes that frustrate staff and decrease customer satisfaction.
So if you’re ready to do more with less, practice some of that continuous improvement by taking a good look at your lab and its processes. Whether you can do that yourself or wish to call in some professionals to assist you, the results will be worth the time and effort. A fresh viewpoint from consultants who have seen other lab design scenarios can be helpful in understanding how your workflow is getting bottled up and your turnaround times are stalling.
To learn more about what to consider when assessing dedicated lab furniture in your continuous improvement review, contact us today.