Over the last few years, the medical industry has experienced a challenging time. Amid the global pandemic of Covid-19, labs worldwide have had to pull double shifts to cope with the ever-increasing volume of output while maintaining quality and standards in the results generated.
Optimising lab efficiency has, therefore, become a priority. Focusing on lab efficiency is essential to review, assess, and upgrade lab equipment and processes, manage resources, upskilling the workforce, and achieve optimal performance without compromising the quality of output.
The BioFire® FilmArray® System is one such platform that can enhance lab efficiency. This advanced technology takes a syndromic approach to diagnosing infectious diseases and features a broad spectrum of possible pathogens in a single rapid test. The ground-breaking method increases the chances of getting the correct answer in a clinically consistent period.
The system can also benefit hospitals that need to run in-house comprehensive molecular tests instead of running and dispatching individual tests to external or third-party labs.
The equipment comes with its entire set of instruments and consumable pouches. It has proven to be an excellent investment in the long run, given the accuracy of the results generated, the output speed and the comprehensive target menu of the BioFire® FilmArray® Panels.
In this article, we look at why maximising lab efficiency is essential and share five steps to achieve this.
Digitise your labs
Modern times need modern measures. With the world going digital, it’s time you digitise your lab too. Documentation and filing in the paper lead to cluttered workspaces. Besides, the age-old methods of documenting, filing, and sharing information daily are tedious, require human resources and are no longer suitable for tech-savvy customers. Switch to digital processes for recording, storing, and sharing information. Digital transformation will help your lab to
- improve productivity,
- gain easy access to information,
- index and organise your data,
- increase collaborations within the staff or the with other parties, and lastly,
- reduce carbon footprint.
Automate processes where necessary.
Automation is the need of the hour to keep up with the constantly rising demand for lab services, and given the lack of qualified lab professionals, technicians, and scientists. Lab efficiency can improve considerably by utilising automated technology wherever possible. Data entry, specimen preparation, results reporting, and other pre-analytic and post-analytic procedures can be streamlined by investing in the right automation technology. Additionally, automating time-consuming processes will allow technicians and researchers to focus on more crucial tasks.
For instance, BioFire® FilmArray® System can automate several functions for infectious disease testing. Lab professionals can automatically analyse a sample by running a BioFire® FilmArray® Panel in just 2 minutes without precise pipetting or measuring. The results generated are well-formatted and are simple to read and understand. In addition, each multiplex PCR BioFire® FilmArray® Panel screens for a broad spectrum of pathogens in a single rapid test. This syndromic testing method increases the likelihood of diagnosing a pathogen for the first time with just one test, significantly reducing the necessity for reflex testing to cover all probable pathogenic causes.
Invest in good quality equipment and maintain it regularly.
Time is of the essence when it comes to lab testing. If the older lab equipment is slowing down your output due to technical issues, you must look at investing in newer technologies.
Outdated technology can hinder productivity in several ways. Slower machines can immensely delay the process of testing and disrupt delivery cycles. Older equipment is likely to break down in the middle of diagnosis, bringing the vital and time-bound diagnosis to a halt, which can negatively impact production, hamper experiments, and ultimately waste time and money. Furthermore, defective equipment might lead to squandered samples, which could be expensive and difficult to replace.
Investing in high-quality lab equipment will boost lab efficiency. Upgrading to newer technology can provide better quality results, produce higher output, and maintain the accuracy of medical services while reducing the waste of time, energy and money.
But this investment can be a huge expense if the new equipment is not maintained regularly. It is equally important to calibrate the equipment regularly to sustain the improved efficiency of your lab using modern equipment. Taking care of your equipment by cleaning and performing regular checks helps identify and resolve technical issues before they get more significant and challenging to solve. Periodic maintenance also proves helpful in running the equipment efficiently with assured accuracy in the long run. Ensure that adequate after-sales technical support is received from the manufacturer to prevent technical snags when buying expensive and high-quality lab equipment.
BioFire’s world-class support team is dedicated to promptly resolving issues and is available around the clock, 365 days a year. In addition to Technical Support staff, Field Application Specialists are part of BioFire’s support team and provide training and verification assistance during the first installation.
Organise your Workspace and evaluate your processes.
The overall productivity of the lab is reflected in the organisation of the workspace. Regardless of the size, well-organised labs are efficient in utilising their time and resources and have processes that operate smoothly while ensuring maximum safety in the delivery of their services. Planning is imperative when considering the layout of the lab. Careful organisation of the different areas and their functions will prevent chaos and data mismanagement.
Some basic things to consider when planning your workspace:
- appropriating larger spaces for large equipment,
- labelling where necessary to avoid wasting time looking for tools and supplies, and
- decluttering the workspace, especially when organising smaller equipment, utensils, and supplies.
It is equally important to manage the safety of your staff when organising your lab spaces. Your technicians should be able to access and operate the equipment with ease while ensuring that the apparatus is not in the way, blocking or cluttering the designated space.
Lab efficiency also requires constant evaluation of the existing processes and systems. Taking stock of how the current practices are performing helps identify any inefficiencies or shortcomings of the systems in place and where they occur. Start with drawing up a flowchart of your lab processes. Once you have created the outline, assess each process in detail. Gather information from your staff to bring changes to an existing system once you have identified the problem areas. Refine or redefine your processes by discarding redundant steps or lengthy procedures as needed to improve your lab unit’s overall productivity and efficiency.
Manage your personnel well.
The foundation of any lab depends heavily on the efficiency, well-being, and management of its human resource. Efficient human resource departments ensure that the lab staff is qualified and regularly upskilled to operate the newer technology. Well trained technicians will be able to handle the crucial data, testing tools and supplies responsibly without causing waste of material, time, and energy. HR personnel also need to create processes to impart training to technicians to bring consistency at the functional and operational levels. The staff must acquire adequate savoir-faire skills to operate high-quality and expensive equipment to avoid damage or malfunction due to mishandling. The manufacturers of BioFire® FilmArray® System support labs by providing technical material like standard operating procedure CLSI templates and Quick Guides and product support papers so that labs can maximise the benefit of their BioFire® FilmArray® System and attain optimal lab efficiency.
If you’re looking to upgrade your laboratory’s equipment, Helvetica Health Care offers many possibilities. At HHC, we aim to improve and manage the quality of life by supplying front-line and innovative health care and testing technologies and products through fruitful partnerships with our customers.
Research products and diagnostics are our forte, and we focus on molecular controls and calibrators for nucleic acid testing. We also offer a wide range of advanced Quality Controls and Verification Panels across various molecular testing platforms and assays. Our panels are available in different formats (single or multiple analytes).
Using these controls continuously and based on product configuration, fill volumes, and analyte concentration, we help monitor testing performance, provide greater confidence in the quality, and assure the reliability of laboratory operations.
Visit the Helvetica Health Care Website to learn more about how we can help you increase the overall efficiency of your lab.