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Creating an open line of communication and a supportive environment will help laboratory staff feel safe to share ideas.
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3 Ways to Reduce Variability and Improve Performance in Clinical Labs

Preparing your lab to handle the unexpected will drastically impact how your lab recovers from an issue

Photo portrait of Sherree Schraeder, MLS (ASCP)
Sherree Schraeder, MLS (ASCP)

Sherree Schraeder, MLS (ASCP), market sales director, Medline.

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Published:Nov 22, 2023
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Photo portrait of Sherree Schraeder, MLS (ASCP),
Sherree Schraeder, MLS (ASCP), market sales director, Medline.

Today's Clinical Lab recently asked Sherree Schraeder, MLS (ASCP), market sales director, Medline, to share three top tips for reducing variability and improving performance:

1. Build a culture of trust, communication, and collaboration 

Inevitably, something will eventually go awry in your clinical laboratory. Preparing your lab to handle the unexpected will drastically impact how your lab recovers from an issue. Discuss problems when they arise without fear of repercussion and have open dialogue with those involved. Creating an open line of communication and a supportive environment will help laboratory staff feel safe to share ideas—which is key to working through and overcoming complex challenges. This will create an environment where people are comfortable asking and answering questions.

2. Ensure staff regularly complete updated training and education

Ensuring your staff is up to date on all their education and continually being trained on the lab’s standard operating procedures is vital for reducing variability and improving performance. Many health systems require their staff to regularly take competency tests where they are quizzed on process and procedure. This is a great way to be sure your staff is up to date on training, as well as an opportunity to review the procedure.

3. Work closely with a trusted supplier

Your suppliers have insight on the market—which products are in high demand and which vendors are not delivering product on time. Your lab can use this information to ensure your facility is proactively purchasing products to keep inventory on hand. If your lab personnel are used to working with one type of product and have to transition to a new one based on backorders, this change can increase the risk of error. Working with your supplier can also open up opportunities to create custom solutions for your lab. For example, creating a custom kit that provides all the required products for a test in one step-by-step kit. Creating custom solutions will also reduce variability because each kit has the same steps and will produce the same outcome.