High Throughput Using Workflow in Today’s Histology Laboratory

High Throughput Using Workflow in Today’s Histology Laboratory

High Throughput Using Workflow in Today’s Histology Laboratory

Posted on the 27th of Jul 2018 by Westlab

The transition to automation in today’s histology laboratory can assist with high throughput, however, there is a lower cost and simpler way that can assist with automation called workflow. Workflow is just as important, especially in larger pathology operations were multiple laboratory staff, pathologist, and histologist are working in the same laboratory space. Large amounts of capital can be absorbed upgrading to better methods of automation and robotics, but this transition can often happen over the years as capital becomes available to purchase equipment. This often results in equipment being placed in the most available spaces for convenience and overlooking the huge potential in ROI (Return on Investment) in a good workflow.

How do I document and assess workflow?

One of the best ways to assess workflow is to step back from your laboratory with your team and document a process map without thinking about the space you have available. Break up your laboratory in to process areas such as:

  • Sample Processing Bench
  • Sample preparation workstation
  • Formalin down-draft vented station
  • Processing Instrument
  • Embedding Instrument
  • Microtome and Cryo Stations
  • Laboratory Oven Station
  • Staining Workstation
  • Cover slipping Workstation
  • Cryostat Workstation
  • Sample Archiving System

Look at the lineal metres, resource, and equipment required for each area and document this as part of your workflow process. Consider the number of staff and remap your layout.

When looking at increasing throughput, it is important to eliminate as many crossover points as possible. If you draw a plan view sketch of your laboratory in its existing state, then draw lines from point to point in order of process, this will immediately show you the crossover point in the process highlighting immediate inefficiencies.

Managing archives effectively

Have a program to dispose of archives that are beyond their required keep date. If you have a high volume of samples for archiving, have a rotation system where the most recent archives are kept on-site and old archives are sent to a 3rd party to a secure and controlled onsite or offsite premises. Managing archives effectively can declutter your existing space so it can be utilised for higher ROI requirements.

Continuous improvement in histology

It is a great idea to have a continuous improvement program to assist with small and regular workflow improvements. A culture of continuous improvement is not only creative and healthy for staff efficiencies, but it also ensures that the process is challenged periodically as methodologies and sample volumes increase or decrease. Consider a Kaizen board as this encourages all staff members from administration staff to scientists to put ideas forward (small and large) for the team to evaluate while ensuring individuals do their research prior to presentation.

What is the next step?

Consider outsourcing these processes to a LEAN laboratory and workflow specialist team like Modulab Systems. Often an outside-in look can dig up some glaring inefficiencies that can be sorted quickly and easily. Allowing a 3rd party to handle this process can also assist with the coordination and collaboration of laboratory staff and scientists. Complimentary and entry-level assessments are available right up to paid and comprehensive assessments that include drafting and costing for space upgrades.  Click here for more information >>>>

2018-07-27 06:04:00
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