Useful Planning Tips for Medical Labs: How to Prepare Now for 2024
December 4, 2023
As a lab manager with a hectic daily schedule, planning can be a difficult challenge. There are only a few times in each calendar year when you can afford to take a deep breath, assess where things are, and implement needed improvements and guidelines for the good of the lab. Fortunately, between the holidays and heading into the new year, now is one of those times.
To assist with this endeavor, we’ve compiled a checklist of items to help you and your colleagues prepare for the new year and beyond.
Technology Upgrades and Maintenance: Now is a great time to assess and evaluate laboratory software systems. For instance, if it’s been a while since the last laboratory information system software update, your lab is likely missing out on important medical LIS technology that could help with lab workflow efficiency, testing accuracy, and data management. If it’s been several months since the last software upgrade, contact your LIS company to learn about new features and functionality that may be available.
It’s also quite possible that you and others in the C-suite have experienced growing frustration with your current LIS software solution over the last calendar year and are ready to explore other LIS vendors and learn what they can offer. If that’s the case, the time to act is now because contracting and then implementing new laboratory information systems typically takes several months. If a change has reached consensus within your ranks thanks to pain points that are directly affecting the health of the business, now is the time to engage with LIS vendors and evaluate options.
As for other laboratory equipment like analyzers, now is the perfect time to create a 2024 maintenance schedule. For lab equipment to remain reliable, routine checks are necessary, as are calibrations to compare measurement values, and regular servicing to prevent errors, meet compliance standards, and extend the lifespan of the instruments.
Patient and Client-Centric Approach: Relationships are important in all forms of business, including the medical laboratory industry. With the new year fast approaching, now’s the perfect time to communicate with your lab’s clients and patients to get a better understanding of how your lab is viewed through their eyes.
Client and patient retention is very important, so setting aside time to engage them for their feedback on the services your lab provides will not only provide valuable insights but also lead to continuous improvement.
Quality Control Measures: Accuracy, reliability, and consistency are the hallmarks of all successful medical labs. To ensure the maintenance of high standards going into 2024 now is a great time to review your lab’s quality control processes and update protocols if any gaps are identified.
Workflow Optimization: Just how efficient is the lab’s workflow? Are there areas that need improvement but the necessary actions have yet to be taken? Now’s the time to methodically review lab workflow, identify the barriers preventing optimum efficiency and reduced turnaround times, and implement improvements.
Training and Education: Ongoing training keeps lab personnel updated on the latest technologies and methodologies and contributes to employee satisfaction and staff retention. Investing in continuing education in 2024 will ensure staff proficiency and adaptability, two important attributes that will help your lab maintain its standards of quality and patient safety.
Regulatory Compliance: How familiar are you and your colleagues with the changing regulatory standards? Now’s the time to take a step back and assess the lab’s level of compliance to ensure that it’s meeting all requirements and operating legally and ethically.
Supply Chain Management: A well-managed supply chain prevents unwanted lab workflow interruptions. If you’ve run into supply chain issues in 2023, now is the time to consider diversifying with other suppliers to prevent the same thing from happening in the new year.
Cybersecurity Measures: A security breach of highly sensitive patient data will severely damage the lab’s reputation. This simply cannot happen. To protect the lab, take advantage over the next couple of weeks to review the lab’s cybersecurity protocols and conduct a thorough risk assessment.
Emergency Preparedness: Any disruption within your lab is a direct threat to the business. To prevent this from happening and ensure continuity of services no matter what, now’s the time to review the lab’s action plan for emergencies and schedule emergency rehearsals. That way all lab personnel will be prepared properly to handle any unforeseen event.
Oh, and one last suggestion. Take a moment to reflect on what you and your colleagues accomplished in 2023. Medical labs continue to be the unsung heroes of healthcare, performing a wide array of diagnostic tests that directly impact all of us. Your commitment to the profession hasn’t gone unnoticed and we thank you for the vital role you play in improving patient outcomes.