Operating a clinical laboratory is no small feat.
Every test result depends on a multitude of factors, from the smallest details to the overarching systems and mandates. Daily, ongoing operations (reagent storage temperature, operating temperature, humidity, vibration, lighting, expiration dates) take considerable time to manage in every lab. At the same time, tracking overarching requirements (Quality Assurance programs, Quality Control results, Policies and Procedures, Competency Assessments and more) absorb a different type and level of focus.
Even with these varied and complex responsibilities, the nation’s laboratories process 35 millions tests daily, keeping a foundational component of our healthcare system strong and functional.
Inside the labs, managing these details and the circumstances under which we perform testing, can be an arduous task. Consider for a moment the humble ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate). In addition to the details listed above, I suspect that any clinical laboratory scientist could add more. Move your attention to something substantially more complex, such as an automated analyzer, the list only grows.
Such an environment is ripe for failure.
Laboratories need tools to help manage this information, and they are not unique. All technical fields rely on one approach or another to manage overwhelming detail. As Atul Gawande states in the introduction to his book The Checklist Manifesto,
“Here, then, is our situation at the start of the twenty-first century: We have accumulated stupendous know-how. We have put it in the hands of some of the most highly trained, highly skilled, and hardworking people in our society. And, with it, they have indeed accomplished extraordinary things. Nonetheless, that know-how is often unmanageable...the volume and complexity of what we know has exceeded our individual ability to deliver its benefits correctly, safely, or reliably...that means we need a different strategy for overcoming failure…..and there is such a strategy – it is a checklist” 2
Laboratories have, of course, used and managed checklists for decades.
Whether it’s a paper logbook, a spreadsheet, or a response to a question in the LIS, the recording of certain data is central to daily laboratory operations. While these approaches suffice, they do not provide a standardized, cohesive, seamless solution that brings efficiency and peace of mind to management. Managing multiple testing and service locations on a campus or within an IDN demands a better solution.
In the Spring of 2021, StaffReady commissioned a survey of laboratories across the country on the topic of presenting inspection documentation electronically. The survey found that most organizations – over 86% – operated in a mixed environment of paper records, spreadsheets, and some sort of dedicated electronic system to manage information that might be presented during an inspection. Surprisingly, 30% indicated that paper records were their only source for this information. You can access a summary the results of the survey here.
The chief concern of the respondents in the survey was that their data was not centralized. Managers had to go to different sources to get records during an inspection. The same is true for daily management. “Drilling down” on a paper record involves substantial time and effort. Contacting the supervisor who can find the record – whatever floor they are on or building they are in – having them find the binder, locate the sheet of paper (if it hasn’t become lost), and manually scan for an entry is quite a process. Roll-up reporting across locations? Prepare to become frustrated.
At StaffReady, our goal is to bring new efficiencies to your organization through our software. Our latest module, Checklist, is offered to address the challenges labs often encounter when trying to digitize the pockets of paper records they still maintain.
Checklist is a customizable application that can be used to create and manage any checklist in the laboratory, from temperature records to individual reagent checks to any daily, weekly, or monthly activity. Checklists can roll out one time, or on a regular basis. They can be assigned to specific teams at specific locations. Checklist is adaptable to your area of focus, be it Quality Assurance, Operations, Risk Management, Safety, or something else.
Since 2006, StaffReady has been commited to creating 21st century tools specifically for lab operations. Checklist is the company’s latest solution to meet the real-time needs of our nation’s laboratories. A robust, user-friendly solution built just for labs. Welcome to Checklist!
Interested in learning more about Checklist? Get in touch with us today and set up a time to see how Checklist can simplify repetitive laboratory tasks.
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