Optimizing Lab Workflow
February 5, 2024
Working in a clinical lab or within a pathology practice, where precise data collection and effective lab workflow management are necessary to function properly, can be complicated thanks to the simple fact that multiple employees have several daily lab processes. One way to streamline everyone’s activities is by incorporating a daily lab workflow cycle as part of comprehensive pathology lab management.
What is a Lab Workflow Management?
The easiest way to think of lab workflow management is as a checklist or flowchart of procedures that accounts for every technician in the room and every task going through the laboratory to observe to maintain order. The lab workflow management process typically also includes LIS laboratory information system technology (LIS abbreviation medical) that aligns with standard operating procedures (SOPs) and helps improve overall workflow efficiency.
The Best Laboratory Information Systems and Lab Workflow
What is laboratory management and what role does the lab information system play in its successful implementation?
The best laboratory information system software (also known as LIS software) makes it easier for the laboratory to manage all patient information, including personal data, lab test results, and other essential clinical examination data that need sorting and storing. To streamline this lab workflow management process, a formal tool like LIS software (also known as a LIS system) is installed to reduce unwanted errors that often result from tedious manual recording and processing of patient and specimen data.
Laboratory information system software (also known as pathology lab software) helps labs oversee clinical workflow (clinical laboratory management) by supporting sample tracking, laboratory testing workflow, workflow process improvement, and lab workflow optimization among its many other important operational tasks. Using an efficient, all-encompassing lab workflow software platform that is compatible with the needs of the clinical laboratory helps automate core processes and monitor lab samples and test results, which in the end, helps lab personnel and LIS staffing by putting together fast and accurate clinical results while also heightening patient safety.
Lab Workflow Managment and the Digital Pathology Workflow
Having an effective lab workflow management process also makes it easier to work on virtual microscopy. Digital pathology facilitates the acquisition, management, and interpretation of pathology information in a non-traditional way, through the use of digitized slides viewed on a monitor rather than the use of glass slides viewed under a microscope. Digital pathology workflow helps pathologists follow patterns and tag any outliers, and its images can easily be transported from one clinical setting to another, improving lab efficiency and diagnosis turnaround time.
As the sanctity of a clinical examination is in the repetition and continuous logging of records, having an effective lab workflow management system in place assures that each lab team member knows the processes they are responsible for and can collectively work together to properly test the sample and identify and report on the result of the testing procedure.
Lab Workflow Management and Laboratory Information System Companies
Lab workflow management can be a challenge, as organizations need to be guided by Standard Operating Procedures and the Health Information Privacy Protection Act (HIPAA). This legislation ensures security for the public within three areas of data storage: technical security, administration, and the physical storage of protected information. Clinical healthcare facilities (pathology labs, clinics, hospital systems, etc.) have a responsibility to adhere to all three. Having a manageable, searchable, and auditable LIS system supported by an innovative LIS company is crucial to maintaining this security.
One way clinical labs, and all medical laboratories really, can streamline processes is by planning for solutions with LIS software vendors. Ways to troubleshoot common hiccups or abnormalities should be included in the LIS system, so all lab personnel have access to answers without having to waste time or risk the samples. These unexpected problems also need to be documented in the LIS system. The clinical laboratory workflow selected by the lab should be a honed system that helps pathologists, laboratory technicians/specialists, and subsequently, their sick patients, get accurate results faster.
How to Improve Clinical Laboratory Management
Here are some tips to help improve clinical laboratory management in the lab, and most of these would be much more achievable with the best LIS workflow system backed by the best laboratory information system LIS lab vendors. They are as follows:
Identify any bottlenecks - Does a procedure constantly bottleneck at the same point? Is the pattern notable but unverifiable because of a lack of recorded data? Figure out where and why this is a challenge for your lab and address the problem.
Do tasks simultaneously - A standout example of this is the speed at which the world was given a proven COVID-19 vaccine. This is because processes that didn’t have to wait for one another were completed in parallel. Do whatever the lab can do alone or in concert with other parts of the clinic at the same time to cut down on procedural time.
Develop a continuous flow process - Instead of batching or waiting until a group of tests is ready to be handled, develop a continuous flow process. This can help patients obtain answers faster and encourage employees to diversify their workday.
Why Use Lab Workflow Management Software?
Lab workflow management software such as laboratory information systems is a branch that needs to be addressed in overall lab management. Extended lab management also includes laboratory billing (also known as lab revenue cycle management) and digital pathology solutions, evaluation and workflow improvement, employee continuing education, and laboratory updates in compliance oversight. Overall lab workflow management also incorporates supplies, schedules, record keeping, and documentation, as well as reporting of lab status and other activities. Process control is an essential part of clinical laboratory management, and this is where effective lab workflow management solutions come in.
The role of a reliable lab information system (diagnostic lab software) working on a common database ensures that all components of lab management are supervised and running smoothly. Elements like automation and multi-department operational guidelines are essential to improve the laboratory workflow process and data and sample management procedures.
Laboratory workflow examples of struggles with their chosen pathology lab management software tool involve lack of technical support, incomplete features, non-workable interfaces, missing or untracked patient and sample records, difficulty accessing the database, and so on. Rising to the occasion to assist your medical laboratory’s needs, an agile, comprehensive, and future-ready LIS software solution will help alleviate these lab management challenges and help build the business by removing barriers that will allow it to scale up.
Final Word on Optimizing Lab Workflow Management
It’s highly important to increase efficiency and ease of use in the laboratory workflow. Lab workflow management must take into account SOPs, current lab practices, and quality control. With so many moving parts, incorporating an effective lab workflow management system controlled by a modern lab information system can greatly improve a lab’s management speed and capacity. It can also aid in research, making it far easier to aggregate data and lessen the difficulty of finding archived information.
A successful LIS system integrated into the laboratory workflow can maximize productivity and produce positive impacts on your laboratory services. Whether by expanding your test offerings or by increasing the volume of patients being tested, improving the accuracy and efficiency of the lab workflow process is an important aspect that helps medical laboratories adapt, grow, and thrive.