Using Lean Tools to Identify Inefficiencies in IHC Processing
The Leica Biosystems Process and Solutions Optimization team partnered with a medical university to examine how to optimize their IHC lab. Laboratory leadership is interested in gaining efficiencies in the immunohistochemistry and special stain lab as volumes increase. The Process and Solutions Optimization team identified some ways to help this laboratory recognize and overcome areas where inefficiencies have hindered their ability to increase capacity.
As Figure 1 shows, there are myriad steps found in the special stain/ IHC lab. The divergent work paths reflect the number of independent processes performed by, generally, two technicians. Many of the processes are manual and involve slide sorting, hand writing, and recopying information on paper. For a run of 149 total slides, 42 minutes was spent organizing information to prepare the run.
As seen in Figure 2, by eliminating the hand-writing, paper, and relabeling, the complexity of processing the slides is greatly reduced.
- By reducing handwriting and paper, along with utilizing a single platform IHC system, the hands-on tech time was reduced by 40% with current processes (from 52 minutes to 31 minutes).
- By eliminating additional waste steps such as double (or triple) labeling, the hands-on tech time was further reduced another 21 minutes bringing the total hands-on time to 10 minutes, an 81% reduction in hands-on tech time.
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