Amid a growing national health crisis, US medical laboratories have seen a significant spike in demand for quality research, testing, and diagnostics. Though lab experts have ramped up operations to meet healthcare providers’ requests, keeping up with high expectations and an influx of tasks without compromising quality proves challenging. Serving as a vital component to public health and safety, lab managers have implemented solutions to bridge the gap. Continue reading to find out how.
COVID-19 Health and Safety Procedures
Laboratory staff works closely with the coronavirus. Should someone in the lab get sick, it can quickly spread throughout the facilities slowing down productivity. As such, laboratories have to prioritize the health and safety of their employees. Beyond reviewing, familiarizing, and complying with regulations provided by the CDC, OSHA, federal, state, and local governments, medical labs have taken extreme measures to develop substantial COVID-19 health and safety procedures.
Changes have included limiting building capacity, spacing workstations at least six feet apart, conducting regular health screenings, temperature checks, and testing, and mandating employees to stay home when feeling sick. They have also assigned someone to oversee all COVID-19 concerns, provided adequate PPE, and trained staff to handle materials and sanitize common areas to prevent outbreaks.
Medical laboratories have gone entirely digital. By investing in technological resources, they have reduced paper and energy consumption while also limiting hand-to-hand contact between employees, healthcare providers, and patients. Collaboration tools like medical lab software allow staff to record, manage, and store clinical data. Accounting and invoicing applications have made it easy for labs to generate electronic bills and manage budgets. Such digital platforms have helped laboratories to save money, increase productivity, and streamline workflow processes.
Outdated lab equipment reduces workplace efficiency. For this reason, many establishments have invested more capital in upgrading equipment. New devices on the market work to conserve energy and perform multiple tasks that save time. From general lab supplies and equipment to analytical instruments, leasing or purchasing advanced devices has reduced employee workload and technical errors while providing high-quality results.
Fine Tuning Processes
The most efficient labs are those that regularly evaluate workflows and make necessary changes. Assessing and timing processes, consulting with managers and staff, identifying obstacles, and investing in technology, equipment, and supplies has provided many medical laboratory benefits. The right adjustments help save time, reduce human and technical error, boost employee morale, and protect lab occupants.
Hiring More Employees
Existing lab workers have taken on larger workloads and longer hours to meet the demand amid the pandemic. While this may provide temporary relief, overworking employees can lead to increased errors, slowed productivity, and low workplace morale. Remedying this problem meant searching for qualified talent to join the team. Having more skilled and talented employees on the payroll has also allowed laboratories to extend their hours and expand services to accommodate healthcare facilities nationwide.
Outsourcing and Remote Teams
Another way lab managers have lightened the load for staff, and enhanced efficiency is by outsourcing administrative tasks and developing remote teams. Outsourcing tasks ranging from phone calls and scheduling to laboratory research and client outreach allows lab professionals to focus on core tasks more efficiently. On the other hand, remote laboratory teams help free up space to accommodate capacity regulations and safeguard experts at a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus.
Sharing Lab Space
As most labs work with tight budgets, finding ways to increase capital is vital. Acquiring new equipment, hiring more employees, paying for outsourced services, and adapting technology all costs money. While there are several ways to reduce laboratory costs, a popular trend has been to share lab space with other medical professionals. By subletting lab space, the additional funds increase cash flow making it easier to implement the strategies discussed above.
More than six months after the coronavirus was declared a national pandemic, the United States struggles to protect its citizens. While lockdowns, sheltering in place, social distancing, and health and safety mandates for businesses have helped slow the spread, recent reports suggest it’s not enough. Medical laboratory workers are needed to increase testing and ultimately discover a treatment or cure for this vicious and sometimes deadly virus. As such, laboratories must continue to develop strategies to maintain efficiency without sacrificing quality or employee safety. The above-discussed solutions have helped clinical facilities, large and small, keep up with the pace.