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Gastroenterology Laboratory Reduces TAT 42% by Eliminating 25% of Touch Points

A growing gastroenterology group is looking to double the number of clinics within its network by the end of 2019. To meet their goal, they will need to change their current processes to maintain their high standards of quality without negatively impacting their turn-around-time.

The Leica Biosystems Process and Solutions Optimization team partnered with this customer to optimize their processes to enable them to incorporate anticipated volume growth. The first step involved observing and mapping their current processes. By mapping their current processes and including time measures, it became apparent that the staff was experiencing large wait times in two areas – receiving patient samples at the lab and tissue processing. Patient samples were delivered to a lock box by 8:00 PM each night and would sit until 7:00 AM the following morning before being received (an 11- hour wait time). Although grossed cassettes were ready for tissue processing by 6:00 PM each night, they would be placed in a delayed overnight run to start at 2:00 AM (an 8-hour wait time).

Due to the growing volume, the lab was planning to hire additional staff. The Leica Biosystems Process and Solutions Optimization team worked with lab management to extend the current staffing schedule. By extending the hours that the lab is staffed each day, the two identified wait times could be addressed. By moving the time of day that patient samples are received, accessioned, and grossed, the lab reduced turn-around-time (TAT) by 42%. Another benefit of extending staffing into off hours is equipment could be shared, reducing the need for additional capital expenditure.

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Fig 1: 42% reduction in turnaround time

Another issue that was identified through the process map was the number of touch points within the accessioning through gross dictation processes. The current processes require 4 separate distinct touch points that include 16 process steps. The changes result in only 2 separate and distinct touch points and a 25% reduction to 12 process steps.

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Fig 2: 25% reduction in process steps

Through these two changes, this facility will be in a great position to handle the increased workload, at the same time realizing a reduction in TAT and ultimately benefiting its patients.

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Fig 3. Shows the current process. The red steps will be removed by changing from the current batch process to a single-piece process. The orange steps will be changed from manual to automated processes since they will be accessioning one patient at a time.

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