Diane Janowiak, MT (ASCP), is senior director of client solutions at hc1. She is responsible for ensuring the health care organizations that rely on hc1 solutions achieve their goals by providing insights into market analysis, product positioning, and solution development. Her 27+ years working in the reference and acute care laboratory settings have made her a go-to thought leader on driving quality and efficiency in all areas of health care, all while grounding her success in low-cost, high-quality care.
In a February 2020 study by the American Society for Clinical Pathology (ASCP), an astonishing 85.3 percent of laboratory professionals reported experiencing burnout. Some factors noted by survey participants included understaffing and a heavy workload and pressure to complete all testing.
One way to help alleviate some of that stress is to optimize internal efficiencies and organization-wide infrastructure to help ease the strain on clinical lab staff who play such an essential role in the quality of patient care.
A key starting point is effectively managing the data flowing into the laboratory. According to a 2021 industry survey, 77 percent of labs are now using analytics.1 It’s one thing to put a process and a program in place, but if you don’t leverage the analytics within the system to support the workflow and seek ways to eliminate paper forms and duplicate versions of documentation, then your team is likely to face stress-inducing challenges.
Automate clinical decision support and notification
With the digital evolution revolutionizing the sector, existing IT departments can become overtaxed as they are already carrying a heavy workload to support the current infrastructure and tasks at hand. We have to seek alternative ways to solve problems and put functionality into the hands of end users in clinical laboratories. One way to do that is by using technological advances to our advantage.
A lab analytics and operations management solution that can tap into real-time laboratory data can help reduce burnout. Having the ability to rapidly identify key information helps prioritize and balance the patient support team’s workload to ensure they take action on the most important tasks within the allotted time. This prioritization also helps reduce monotonous tasks that can negatively impact mental health, cause added stress, and lead to burnout.
Find faster ways to look for trends and report the results
As workloads have increased, so too has the shortage of medical personnel. A recent survey revealed that this shortage has greatly impacted labs’ operational efficiency in the past year.2
To compensate for understaffed personnel, clinical laboratories should seek ways to reallocate time and align staff based on insights related to testing volumes. Tapping into historical data to determine patterns of demand on different days and at various times enables health care leaders to staff accordingly and meet demand without requiring technicians to do the work of two people.
Putting the pieces of the puzzle together
Data doesn’t lie. Labs generate large volumes of structured valuable data that can lead health care practitioners to more objective decisions. Gaining a deeper understanding of workload trends can help alleviate the day-to-day challenges and pain points of clinical laboratory leaders—who are dealing with increased demands and the exodus of workers as the result of the pandemic.
Burnout not only impacts employee productivity, but can also be a blight to your bottom line. Creating efficient systems and a central place for teams to communicate and collaborate helps foster a healthier workplace and supports the dedicated clinical professionals who are so vital to our health care system so they can continue to thrive.
- Nadeau K. Lab administrators prioritize accurate and timely financial and operational performance. Medical Laboratory Observer State of the Industry Survey. January 21, 2021. https://www.mlo-online.com/information-technology/analytics/article/21206709/lab-administrators-prioritize-accurate-and-timely-financial-and-operational-performance
- Castanho G. MLO’s 2022 Annual Salary Survey of laboratory professionals. February 23, 2022. https://www.mlo-online.com/management/careers/article/21257623/mlos-2022-annual-salary-survey-of-laboratory-professionals