Executives from a hospital within a large Washington-Baltimore health network were concerned with inefficiencies in the hospital’s clinical laboratories. Find how how Tefen helped, in this Case Study
The future holds an expansion of this hospital’s facilities, which will result in a potential relocation of the lab.
Furthermore, the healthcare system will soon be introducing new Lab Information Management System and new testing equipment across its medical centers. Performance levels falling below expectations, coupled with the upcoming changes, ultimately drove the need to review the lab’s current operations to implement efficient processes and practices before moving to the new facility. The project was structured in two segments: diagnostic and implementation. During the diagnostic, the Tefen team identified 34 improvement levers totaling $1.3M to $1.6M in savings.
Improvements included alignment of staffing to demand (by time of day and day of week), elimination of non-value-added activities, consolidation of outpatient phlebotomy stations, introduction of zoning coverage for inpatient phlebotomists, and reduction of hemolyses rate for samples taken in the emergency department.
During the 14-week implementation, upon identifying additional opportunities, the total potential savings was adjusted up to $1.9M, while an annual (recurring) amount of $681,000 had already been realized by the end of the implementation period. The balance of savings was incorporated into the following year’s budgetary cycle.
The hospital and corporate administration acknowledged the benefit of using Lean methodologies in its facilities to increase efficiencies, improve service levels, and enhance quality of care. The lab experienced challenges in several areas, including:
Tefen’s team performed its diagnostic in eight weeks, followed by 14 weeks of implementation. Data was collected and analyzed, processes were mapped and observed, staff and customers were interviewed, and brainstorming sessions were held.
As a result, the following improvements were applied:
For example, chemistry technicians routinely aliquoted blood samples prior to placing them in the analyzer, assuming that quantity in the vial was not sufficient (QNS). A study proved that over 98% of the samples had sufficient blood volume and that the aliquoting processes was non-value-added. The process has hence been discontinued.
In another example, the hematology equipment was capable of auto-verifying results based on pre-defined ranges, although manual verification by supervisor prevailed. The Auto-V was introduced for applicable tests, resulting in a reduction of overall turnaround time using fewer resources.
Lastly, use of barcode readers was enforced, eliminating manual logging of samples into the information system. Moreover,
Tefen ultimately identified over $1.9 million in recurring savings, $681,000 of which were already realized during the implementation period.
The balance savings was incorporated into the following year’s budgetary cycle. Beyond the financial benefits, the project lead to improvements in patient and staff satisfaction and in quality enhancements such as reduced turnaround time for lab tests and a reduction in rejected blood samples (hemolysis) from 14% to 2%.