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Laboratory Improvements, the Operational Excellence way

LaboratoryIt goes without saying that, accurate clinical practices and laboratory testing services for proper output has to be standardized. It is necessary to be ensured about the quality testing as it is the base for any detailed treatment. The clinical laboratory accounts for the majority of health services in India. Though the advances in technology have kept improving in the present decade, but the delivery of those services still seems to be a debatable issue. The current developments and innovations will definitely improve the future of laboratories, but to make that transpire in future proper deployment of tools is quintessential.

Laboratory practices, the medical specialty that deals with testing of specimens from patients and consulting with physicians who order the tests, has undergone major transformations during the last decade and preliminary step for all major treatments.

Most challenging problem faced by the laboratories in terms of testing of specimens is timely organization and allocation of resources required to deliver apt results. A properly designed inventory management tool can help in eliminating the concerned issues.

The services offered by clinical laboratories are transforming to get automated by each passing day. However, there are times when the laboratory is stuffed with samples during the time of peak loads. There are times when there are more samples to be tested in the morning shifts, but the capacity increases during other shifts during off peak hours. Enhanced efficiency, and as a consequence improved cost and quality, can be recognized through increased ‘operational excellence’ via various concepts like quick change over and load leveling tools like heijunka.

Though laboratory services occupy a small part of hospitals budget but they have a major influence in the critical decisions of the hospital. It helps in providing solutions through different tests which can avoid unnecessary hospital stay and also adds to the revenue of hospital. To ensure whether the criteria of safety and qualities have been fulfilled, NABL guidelines can definitely help. It stresses on continuous improvement and its implementation under the guideline# 4 which lays a strong emphasis on proper process improvement and management through various tools like process parameter monitoring, internal audits, quality of technical records etc.

Almost every patient accesses the laboratory, so proper streamlining of diagnostic tools and protocols is required for the smooth functioning and to avoid cluttering. Guideline# 5 of NABL focuses on physical workplace management and proper information flow for optimal process flow and clutter free work environment, leading to better availability and quality for diagnostic tests.

Emphasis should be given towards reducing the process wastes (inefficiencies or Muda), quality enhancement via elimination of variability (Mura) and augmenting the usage of available material and machinery via error-proofing to reduce the chances of any accidental errors, mix ups, etc.

All of the above requires a close association and culture building amongst the laboratory staff and clinical staff. The core lies in highlighting the needs and working towards patient-oriented healthcare.

Written by: Faber Jalay Pandya

Faber Jalay Pandya is Director and one of the founding partners of Faber Infinite Consulting (www.faberinfinite.com), with operations in Asia Pacific, Africa & Middle East. He holds a masters degree in Marketing Management with his 1st degree being in Engineering.

This article was originally published on Economic Times – ETHealthworld.com as part of Operational Excellence in Healthcare Industry series. Original link available – here

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