Earlier this year we posted a summary of Chetan Sukla’s article on 10 steps for a lean clinical laboratory layout. Now, 4 months later, we wanted to add an update to the article & encourage more thought on lean laboratory development.
Joelle Weaver, MAOM, HTL (ASCP) QIHC, commented on our previous article, adding insight on effectively engaging in the planning process to mitigate obstacles & avoidable costs:
“I would add (from my recent and on going experience) with lab-building as a particular project…
You must do your homework on the offerings and menu. You cannot afford to make decisions about processes and instruments unless you know what your end product is to be. You must also account in your project time line the cost of time, and also man hours. If you fail to have adequate people and support for those people, any defined and well- planned goals beyond small scale lab redesign is set up to face great obstacles and costly delays.”
As Joelle points out, staffing & end goals are essential for lean laboratory design. Often, even having a plan and accounting for staffing is ignored. Hopefully, if you are reading this article your concern for lean practices & cost containment has at least put these issues on your radar.
From lean manufacturing principles to lean laboratory principles, the game has changed.
Many Lean Laboratory designers and firms are used to working with manufacturing facilities in streamlining efficiency benchmarks. BSM, Lean professionals, put together the following list of why Labs are not the same as manufacturing:
- Typically more workload and mix volatility. i.e the mix and volume of samples varies significantly day to day and week to week.
- There is often a complex mix of routine and non routine testing, other tasks and project work.
“Although the basic concepts and techniques of lean laboratory are straightforward, adapting them to a particular lab situation and integrating them into a defined process that uses resources well (and is simple to manage) is quite a challenge.” – BSM
The need for specialized expertise in the design space to overcome challenges in Lean Laboratory Development is why Medical Equipment Source offers our expertise and professionalism in the Lab Space & Equipment Workflow to plan for profitable outcomes in each project we facilitate.
Original February Article:
10 Steps for a Lean Clinical Laboratory Layout
Chetan Shukla wrote an excellent article last year on efficiency in setting up a clinical laboratory. I think the article is helpful, and we should use it as a reminder when we look ahead to design projects for 2014.
Here is our summary of the article using excerpts by Chetan S. Shukla in his article:
“The design and layout of a clinical laboratory impacts the operational efficiency, flexibility and costs of a healthcare organization throughout its operational life. The type and mix of patients, medical specialties, technologies and physician preferences are just some of the factors that impact the types and volumes of diagnostic tests that make laboratories unique.
Most hospital-based clinical laboratories consist of the broad areas of clinical testing, blood bank, anatomical pathology and microbiology. Moreover, new diagnostic technologies, such as increased automation, molecular diagnostics, genetics and digital pathology, are poised to fundamentally change the diagnostic landscape.
The resulting impact on laboratory space can be substantial. Some of these technologies, such as digital pathology, could lead to a reduction in space requirements depending on how it is applied, while others, such as molecular diagnostics, will probably demand more space with more complex utility requirements such as negative air pressure.
Many laboratories also are leading the adoption of process improvement techniques such as Six Sigma and lean, which also affect design and operation.
Thus, clinical laboratory facilities need to be flexible to adopt and accommodate rapid advances in automation and integration. They also need to promote efficiency to meet around-the-clock and highly time-sensitive quality demands.”
Step 1. Project development. The first step is to develop and document the project vision, mission, goals and deliverables.
Step 2. Team development. A strong project manager with the required authority, responsibility, resources, knowledge, people skills and integrity must lead the project.
Step 3. Due diligence. The phrase “not enough time to do it right, but enough time to do it again and again” illustrates the importance of this step.
Step 4. Analysis and program development. This is the time to analyze the laboratory data collected in the previous step into information that can drive future design.
Step 5. Process and schematic design. If process optimization is a goal, development of the optimized future processes should be concurrent with selecting location and adjacencies and undertaking schematic space design.
Step 6. Communication. Communication with all impacted stakeholders is essential to getting their support for the optimized process and design.
Step 7. Process experimentation and detailed design development. An idea that looks phenomenal on paper may totally bomb in the real laboratory.
Step 8. Bidding and cost estimation. Getting cost estimates from contractors always leads to further design changes.
Step 9. Permitting and regulatory approval. In the wake of the economic downturn, government and industry regulatory agencies have generally been taking longer to approve drawings. Laboratories, with their complex chemical, safety and environmental requirements, may end up getting a higher degree of scrutiny.
Step 10. Design modifications and construction. Keeping engineering changes to a minimum at this stage of the project requires diligence and attention to detail during steps five through seven.
Conclusion. Location, design, flexibility and operational efficiency of a laboratory can mean the difference between life and death. The design of this crucial and complex element must occur through a collaborative team approach.
Chetan S. Shukla is senior consultant for ValuMetrix® services at Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics Inc., a Johnson & Johnson Company. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. ValuMetrix is a registered trademark of Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics Inc.
Shukla proposed very good metrics, is there anything that was left out? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
One important metric we have noticed is the price that is paid for not planning upfront in the ways Shukla suggests. That is partially why we staff lab professionals to help navigate the lab equipment arena. Let us know about your upcoming projects.
Until Next Week,