In the clinical laboratory, the term “Quality” refers to the standard of one lab’s results compared to others. Generally, every lab or test system can be made more efficient, and labs seeking a good standard of quality will need to engage in ongoing process evaluation and improvement.
Good quality is like a reputation; it takes a long time to build, but it can be ruined in an instant.
New technologies are bringing transformation to most industries, especially healthcare. With our health systems going through changes caused by stricter compliance requirements and demands for running at peak performance, the weak links of the system are being identified and eradicated.
The lab environment is no different. We live in a time when increasing the efficiency of any operation is the primary goal of creating innovative solutions. These solutions in turn help labs optimize their processes and evolve. However, ensuring quality and Operational Excellence in labs is no easy task, and it should be approached with patience and meticulousness.
Here’s how a lab can achieve Operational Excellence and ensure quality:
Inaccuracy in any part of the sample testing process can be a massive problem for labs. Since lab work is done in stages, every stage depends on how accurate the one preceding it is. One of the primary goals of any lab should be to cut down on errors during testing, considering the impact they have on the entire process.
It is also essential for labs to define and implement testing sequences that ensure lab tasks are all completed in the same manner and at the same time in order. It helps make them more reliable and predictable, which are all attributes that go hand-in-hand with accuracy.
Efficiency is such a broad issue that any area of the lab could have small (or huge) efficiency problems. To weed these issues out, you need to be aware of how all processes are being carried out and then evaluate how successful they are. Some of the usual inefficiency-related problems are wasted motion, overproduction, transportation, waiting, defects, inventory, and overprocessing.
Fixing these issues requires careful analysis, as well as developing an automated approach that addresses the most common inefficiency problems and neutralizes them. An automated workflow solution can be useful as it helps organizations by clearly showing where the hold-ups in the process are.
While accuracy and efficiency are essential, speed is the one aspect of achieving Operational Excellence that seals the deal. By developing a streamlined process that ensures logistics are reliable and that specimens are accurately labeled, it’s possible to speed up the process. It helps clinicians begin patient care and treatment faster.
As you level the load and drive flow, you ensure that samples that arrive are tested as quickly as possible. Once you manage to consistently keep work flowing through the lab by leveling workload, and reducing throughput time doing so, you’ll manage to improve the speed of the entire process.
Achieving Operational Excellence by improving the efficiency, speed, and accuracy of lab processes has the added benefit of also making them compliant and creating a better-quality assurance system. The ultimate goal of a lab when it comes to ensuring quality, as well as Operational Excellence, is to eliminate errors and create a reliable process. It is naturally in line with FDA expectations and best practices of the industry. Using QMS solutions with workflow automation and the ability to work in different modules helps quality assurance and brings it up to OE standards.
With Intellect QMS solutions, your lab can operate at the highest level of speed, efficiency, and accuracy. It ensures you’ll be able to both reach Operational Excellence and maximize quality assurance standards with careful implementation of industry best practices through QMS.
Implementing a QMS in the laboratory is essential to providing quality test results and patient care and is a requirement for passing and maintaining laboratory accreditation in the U.S. under CLIA regulations.