There is an increasing demand for diagnosis and health checkups from patients today. This is due to the rising global health concerns we observe every year. The pathology sector is therefore working hard to grow efficiently and be better for their end customers; patients. However, they often fail to fulfill customers’ needs to the fullest due to the traditional approach used in the practice of clinical laboratory science.
Most clinical lab operations are unable to cater a better experience to their customers. The reasons can be a handful of resources, inadequate staff, and so on. On the other hand, the uncontrolled expense rate, higher turnaround time, and inaccurate service delivery impact their revenue. In a nutshell, heavy revenue loss due to major lab management challenges hampers business growth.
The prerequisites for smooth lab management involve identifying and resolving major roadblocks. Enhanced business outcomes and convenient user experience are equally essential. CrelioHealth interviewed a few industry leaders across the world to understand this closely. These esteemed leaders witnessed major similar bottlenecks in lab operations worldwide.
Listed below are the most common problems encountered in laboratories and their solutions:
Challenge 1: Managing Lab Information The Traditional Way
In healthcare, handling patient information the traditional way is the biggest challenge. These include managing a lot of information related to patient’s medical records, and patient reports and keeping them well-organized.
When we use paper or excel sheets to record patient information, it consumes more time and effort and it creates problems when working in clinical laboratories. Searching for any piece of information from these records becomes tedious and redundant for staff. Manual entries are subject to errors that hamper overall accuracy & patient experience.
In addition, identifying monthly volume from a partner or collection center in an unordered stack is yet another mundane task. It makes data handling more prone to errors which further results in more turnaround time. In such cases, maintaining proper communication between team members becomes key.
Solution: Switching to lab automation enables you to record & store all laboratory information in a digital format delivering streamlined and end-to-end management throughout operations.
In the past decade, many innovative software companies have emerged that specifically provide lab automation software. They can streamline all your data and can also provide real-time analytics based on that.
Few of these software solutions are cloud-based and can be installed in minutes. With new mobile-friendly lab automation systems and apps, you can have all the right data available at your fingertips.
Challenge 2: Longer Turnaround Time (TAT)
Controlling the turnaround time has been a constant lab challenge regardless of their size. Pathology centers that are widely dependent on third-party processing units, take longer than usual to deliver lab test results to their customers. It increases overall waiting time for patients. Moreover, labs do not know how exactly they can track samples and measure the TAT.
Solution: The installation of the Lab Information Management System (LIMS) is probably the best way to improve turnaround time. These LIMS systems facilitate long-term tracking and monitoring of pre-analytical, analytical, and post-analytical turnaround times of every test performed. It also allows faster delivery of digital test reports to patients through SMS, emails, or mobile apps. By deploying these solutions you can solve most of your laboratory challenges, save logistics time and ensure a seamless patient experience.
Challenge 3: Accounting End-of-Day Balances
With all financial records available over paper or unorganized excel sheets, staff must produce accurate day closing reports. For a multi-centered lab, generating a daily collection report takes more time and additional costs. It is also subjected to human errors, resulting in increased lab inventory leakages and more untraced business losses.
Solution: Buying lab management software that offers precise day-to-day finance management over multiple lab centers is quite feasible. It offers accurate information about the EOD balances, accounts for all types of financial inflows, and gives an update about any financial upgrades implemented across all centers with just a tap. The data based resource allocation prevents leakages and helps in better finance management
In addition to the common problems in clinical laboratory management or lab administration, a few other laboratory challenges are occurring due to poor lab management. After discussing with many industry experts, lab managers, and healthcare professionals, we have enlisted them for you.
Challenge 4: Managing Daily Stock
Handling everyday stock and keeping control over it is quite troublesome. Failing to have precision over usage, wastage, and expired stock reflects a constant revenue gap that is even harder to trace. Tracking hazardous material, and understanding operational gaps is important to ensure good flow in the process.
Solution: Set up an inventory management software that allows effective stock handling and helps in monitoring their current status. Along with reducing a massive amount of staff efforts, this stock management software also comes with a feature that keeps you notified about your upcoming lab inventory purchase date. This aptly addresses plugging leakages that were unmanageable earlier.
Challenge 5: Effectively Handling Samples
Sample tracking and handling are one of the most crucial processes of lab operations. The larger the volume of samples processed daily, the larger the struggle to manage them. Not to mention the trouble to identify and handle such volumes that are received or sent from a third-party customer. The process has a huge impact on the quality of services and results in delays in patients’ medical reports. Thus, the clinical laboratory manager must have the access to right data for quality assurance.
Solution: Barcode samples right when they are being collected to enable effective outsourcing and handling. Interface all analyzers with your lab software to auto-derive results for patients and offer them a better quality of diagnostic services. It’s easier said than done. Hence, deploying comprehensive inventory management software with a barcode scanner is advisable to tackle lab management challenges swiftly.
Challenge 6: Data Confidentiality and Sharing
Having insufficient staff to manage all operations lead to inconsistent sharing & management of confidential information amongst pathology units. A lab technician approving patient results due to the absence of a signing doctor is a very common example that can trouble lab safety. Most of the time the workforce is unskilled and can make errors. In such cases, neglecting critical patient medical reports and sensitive data about patients’ health can highly affect a lab’s reputation.
Solution: Offer permission-based access control with a cloud-based LIMS system to each employee with a secure password that corresponds to their specific roles and responsibilities. Generate and manage medical records online. All your confidential data and files are protected, well-maintained, and shared with precision, ensuring validated results for all stakeholders. Cloud-based LIMS not only keep the data secure but also enable admins to track accession details.
Read More: Securing Your Healthcare Data – A Must Today
Challenge 7: Billing, Settlements, and Invoices
To generate monthly bills, settlements, and invoices for B2B clients, a lab must be up-to-date with all financial data flow throughout its business. To achieve that it is essential to store accurate data every day. However, inaccuracy in finance handling and documentation hugely affects the important process and hampers business relationships with important clients.
Solution: Employing a cloud-based LIMS that can provide separate logins for B2B clients is a very adept solution. It offers easy tracking of every sample in processing and their respective reports with a single dashboard. As a result, you stay updated with all the payment details including dues, inconsistencies, and invoices. With such lab software, you can settle credits in bulk and at your convenience.
Challenge 8: Poor Accessibility
As a lab owner, it is important to stay connected with your lab and know about its operational whereabouts. However, to track operations and access records on a timely basis, you require a physical or on-premise presence which is a tough ask if you have a multi-centered laboratory. It is one of the challenges faced in laboratories that can be tackled effectively without much effort.
Solution: Adopt an interface that provides remote accessibility anywhere anytime. This allows you to have better connectivity over the ongoing operations at every center. Such a tracking tool can help you identify the performance and operability of individual areas within your organization. Visibility can reduce many problems in the laboratory, isn’t it?
Challenge 9: Securing Data
Maintenance issues, system upgrade problems, power cuts, and lack of sincerity at work, end up being the prime cause of data loss. With such issues, keeping the security of useful information like patients’ records, bills, invoices, and other essential documents remains a bigger concern.
Solution: To get security and all-time backup over your entire laboratory and business data, using a cloud storage platform is nothing but a timeless solution. With the cloud, you can have not only a safeguarded warehouse for information storage but also an easy source to access and draw useful records from anywhere.
There are many Laboratory Information Management Software (LIMS) available today with a cloud-based facility. In this LIMS you can get all the above solution-based features that will help you overcome common laboratory problems. In addition, it also offers significant benefits to your business.
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