What Can a Workflow Consultant Do for Your LabAnalyzing Your Operations

Learning objective:
Learn how a workflow consultant can help your lab to be more efficient and productive, when to engage their services, and how to choose the right one.

Ever-changing regulatory requirements, reimbursement rate reduction, budget restrictions, competitive pressures, lab consolidation, and skilled staff shortages have transformed how diagnostic labs are being organized, financed, and operated. Achieving better business outcomes has become as critical as achieving positive clinical outcomes, so lab managers are now expected to significantly boost revenue, productivity, and efficiency—goals usually associated with the boardroom, not the lab.

To get more out of their operations, lab managers are considering many options, ranging in scope from re-engineering their existing workflow or upgrading instruments and IT to implementing or expanding automation or consolidating labs. If you are evaluating similar projects, how do you determine the best solution for your lab?

A workflow consultant is a productivity expert trained to methodically analyze a lab’s operations, assess its needs, and recommend the best solution to reach its clinical and business objectives. While lab managers have exceptional clinical and operational knowledge, a consultant’s specialized expertise enables him or her to quickly identify productivity and efficiency issues and determine appropriate resolutions that may not be readily evident to laboratory staff.

“Many customers are astounded by our recommendations addressing so many issues they did not see themselves. Our objectivity and experience working with hundreds of labs give us perspective that is hard for even the most skilled managers to see in their own environment,” says Susan Yost, automation manager, Siemens Healthcare Consulting Solutions.

Why Improve Efficiency and Productivity?
The American Medical Association and the American Society for Clinical Pathology have both reported that more than 70% of all medical decisions in a hospital depend on results from laboratory tests, so an efficient lab means better patient care.

Furthermore, the diagnostics industry faces two important concerns related to laboratory staffing. With labor representing the largest portion of evertightening budgets, and with a median age of 56 for laboratory technicians, according to the U.S. Department of Statistics, it may become increasingly difficult to find skilled staff to replace workers retiring within the next 5 to 10 years. By improving efficiency and productivity now, labs will be better prepared to run effectively in the future, even with a reduced headcount.

But improving workflow means much more than processing samples faster and with fewer people. It can also produce better and more consistent results, reduce operating costs, increase throughput, and ease strain on staff—all of which boost the business measurements that senior management are most concerned with, such as reimbursement, profit, and productivity.

What Can Workflow Optimization Do?

For the healthcare institution

  • Save money by reducing operating costs
  • Improve reputation by increasing performance and quality
  • Increase revenue from higher volumes and increased reimbursement

For the lab

  • Produce higher quality results for better patient care
  • Deliver results faster for increased physician satisfaction
  • Produce more-consistent and higher-quality results with fewer errors

For technologists

  • Reduce laborious tasks to improve job satisfaction
  • Free time to focus on improving patient outcomes
  • Increase opportunity to work on higher-skill responsibilities, specialty testing, and outreach

Lab Performance Directly Affects Profit

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