The biggest room in the laboratory is room for improvement. Improvement you say? Does that mean we cannot “do what we have always done to get what we always got?” Does this mean that we must consider lab design and space planning? Actually, it does not.
It means that in order to begin a culture of continuous improvement, you must streamline the massive amounts of data found in the laboratory into accessible, accurate, and actionable intelligence that identifies key performance metrics which in turn prioritize the biggest opportunities for impact.
The foundation of this fundamental form of process improvement is known as benchmarking which is a powerful tool to improve cost and productivity, along with quality, utilization, and growth of outreach, in the most scalable and sustainable entity in a health system—the lab. It is designed to identify not only how your laboratory is performing but how it compares to the performance of your peers. This comparison is only accurate when based on an array of operating characteristics specific to the lab including test complexity and volume.
In the hospital segment, and specifically in the clinical laboratory, more esoteric testing and expensive technology and equipment has driven health system executives to find more “room” to create a culture of continuous improvement.
Often we are asked, “What is the biggest challenge that prevents implementation of a dynamic benchmarking process?” The answer: change. “People hate change” is often the response when a strategic initiative like benchmarking is discussed. Today’s health care climate is largely impacted by “churn and change,” and there is no indication that will ever cease to exist. It has been proven that people actually love change when they are fully engaged in the process. Benchmarking offers the opportunity to analyze strengths and identify opportunities. As a team, laboratory professionals realize the outcome of their efforts through regular reporting of key metrics where process improvement is continuous.
At Chi, we have been offering benchmarking services for more than a decade. Since January 2015, we have offered this service as a web-based solution with resounding results. To support our belief in the power of benchmarking, we have offered two webinars: Part I ‒“Benchmarking: Knowledge is Power” and Part II ‒ Benchmarking: The Customer Perspective. Part I focused on informing laboratory professionals on how to utilize the power of benchmarking to measure performance and drive change that drops money to the bottom line. Part II was in dialogue format with a customer who not only does benchmarking but took it to a more granular level through Chi Sectionals™. If you want to make the best better, consider viewing the webinar recordings.
So, are you ready to gather three simple data sets to being making room for improvement in your laboratory? Contact me now and I will help you realize the power of benchmarking and help you get started today!
Julie A. Stein
Chi IQ® Product Manager