Using Evidence-Based Layout Design to Enhance Workflow in the Clinical Laboratory

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Using Evidence-Based Layout Design to Enhance Workflow in the Clinical Laboratory

Introduction Incorporating evidenced based research and design can effectively transform productivity, workflow efficiency, and promote a better work environment as it relates to clinical laboratories. This includes an overall enhanced healthcare ambiance not only for staff members but the patients themselves.

In order to systematically align the process and identify steps needed to achieve this, a phased approach is utilized and implemented. Listed below is an outlined roadmap which will guide the sequence of events necessary to achieve optimal results.

PHASE I – Using quantitative and qualitative analysis alongside simulation modeling and time motion technology will better help determine and map out ideal numbers of stations per clinical department i.e: phlebotomy, pathology, biomedical chemistry. The physical layout of the existing clinical lab, the volume and type of specimens received, delivery times, and staffing levels are just some of the elements that are assessed. Redesigning work stations to accommodate and allow CPOE / EHR functions can alleviate disruption, help continuity, streamline workflow, reduce turnaround time, and generate a higher productivity level.

PHASE II – The planning and redesigning of clinical spaces will promote ergonomic concepts and efficiency leading to overall improvements. Some of those improvements will include: Enlarged room sizes to accommodate more than 2 patients comfortably. Enhanced privacy via rearrangement of patient furnishings and orientation to prevent direct line of sight. Staff members (as needed) are given individual computers and printers to allow for CPOE functions. Introduction of computer-controlled pneumatic tube system, conveyor belt system, or other features which can eliminate the need to hand carry specimen to the lab thus reducing turnaround time by eliminating the extra step of walking back and forth. Improving lab safety by significantly reducing unnecessary movement.

PHASE III – The application of Lean/Sigma principles along with evidenced based design and space planning according to these guidelines help formulate a methodology leading to a strategy of how a lab environment can improve its process. Key elements to keep in mind during process improvements deal with: automation, specific lab based sample volumes, staffing,and observation''

Conclusion In conclusion, a newly redesigned clinical lab layout will be instrumental in adding value and creating an atmosphere within a lab setting that can improve processes to reduce waste and improve efficiency, improve service to physicians and patients while simultaneously increasing quality of results and reducing errors.

Submitted by: Saaema Alavi, AIA, EDAC