Improve Cash Flow and Reduce Labor Costs with Laboratory Automation and Document Management

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Courtesy of Poplar Solutions, LLC

Benchmarking 

At Labcore, a division of Poplar Solutions, LLC, performance management begins with benchmarking key laboratory activities that contribute to cost, quality, end-user acceptance, and other important variables.  Benchmarking allows lab staff to quantify and demonstrate the improvements to laboratory operations. 

 There are a number of metrics that are captured in this initial phase centered around automation of time consuming paper processes such as data package management and creation, automation of capture and retrieving data and correlated documents, staff acceptance of old paper processes and new computerized process.  The illustration below cites a small sample from an actual Labcore implementation:

 

KPI

Pre- LabCORE

Post - LabCORE

Key Drivers

 

Automated Data Package Creation and Management

 

3 IT Staff/ 4 Data Package Assemblers and 2 Department Staff – Many hours

Reduced hours needed to assemble data packages by 50% allowing reallocation and reduction of labor costs

*Automated data /document capture and workflow with report dashboard

 

Automation of data and document capture

 

Each Lab tech spent at least 3.5 hours per week

Automated process = 0 hours = 10-15% time savings weekly

* Streamlined automated capture from lab instruments

 

Retrieving Data and Correlated Documents

 

35 hour process per incident

  Reduced process to 2 hours per incident (Significant gain in productivity)

* All data and correlated docs stored in searchable central repository

Ease of Use/ Employee Acceptance

N/A

1-2 hours training for computer savvy lab technicians to max of 2 days for less savvy

* System very easy to learn and intuitive to the users

 

 In this example, the laboratory performance improvements were impressive.  The payback in terms of cost savings and other less tangible, yet equally important, benefits are as follows:

 

1)      Automated Data Package Creation and Management:

Average number of data packages monthly = 10

10 data packages x 25 hours = 250 hours

250 hours x $75/hour = $18,750 per month

 

2)      Retrieving Data and Correlated Documents:

Average number of monthly incidents = 10. 

10 incidents x 35 hours = 350 hours. 

350 hours x $75/hour = $26,500 per month.

 

3)      Automation of data and document capture:

3.5 hours/week x 14 technicians = 49 hours per week. 

49 hours x 4 weeks x 75/hour = $14,700 per month.

 

4)      Ease of use/Employee Acceptance: 

Cost of Evaluation + Cost of Software Licenses + Training + Reduced Employee Morale = Significant Cost on Multiple Fronts

Total Monthly Savings on these Factors Alone is $59,950

 

Increase Lab Profitability by Cutting Costs

One of the more immediate ways in which Labcore helps cut costs is by reducing the volumes of paper documentation generated in the laboratory and back office. Laboratories produce a tremendous volume of paper. This is no where more evident than in the creation of data or litigation packages that have 100’s or even 1,000’s of pages and the subsequent storage of these complex deliverables. If a laboratory is producing these complex reports, paper and paper storage costs alone can be quite high ($10,000’s annually). Reducing the consumption of paper and other office supplies using Labcore not only saves money but also helps the environment and frees up work space in the laboratory.

Labcore significantly reduces repetitive, redundant and time wasting tasks such as searching for documents or data, filling out forms, compiling reports, and assembling customer deliverables.  These activities consume a surprising amount of staff time that could be focused on science and other revenue-generating activities. Consider these statistics from a recent study by accounting firm Cooper’s and Lybrand:

 •         70% of “white-collar” worker time is spent processing paper documents

•         15% of all paper documents are misfiled or misplaced

•         30% of documents used daily contain obsolete information

•         40% of worker’s time is spent searching for misfiled, misplaced, or lost documents

 

Or these statistics from an extensive study by IDC Research, a premier global provider of market research:

•         Knowledge workers spend more than 27 hours a week searching, gathering and analyzing information.

•         Employees spend 3.5 hours per week searching for information that is never found and 3 hours per week recreating content

•         Automating repetitive steps and eliminating tasks that waste time will increase worker productivity and save millions of $.

 

Integrate with Instruments, LIMS, and other laboratory systems, Reduce Paper

The integration of laboratory systems is a major undertaking for most laboratories.  The benefits; however, can be significant as serious bottlenecks and inefficiencies develop when data, images, and related information aren’t easily aggregated and made accessible in a secure, centralized repository.  Labcore provides integration with instruments, laboratory information management systems, and other key applications with an open application programming interface (API).  Integration to systems can be configured and automated within workflows – affording even greater efficiencies.  Importantly, Labcore integrates with other systems in a manner that affords compliance with FDA 21 CFR Part 11 and other regulatory and quality standards such as ISO 17025. The integration of these systems makes it possible to eliminate paper and reduce errors as data and documents can be captured at their original source and managed in Labcore throughout their lifecycle.

 

Streamline and Automate Laboratory Workflows and Business Processes

Streamlining workflows and business processes result in reductions in redundant manual labor, consumption of office supplies, inefficient procedures, and technician training times, to name just a few.  It also ensures that shortcuts aren’t taken and that an audit trail exists for processes where strict adherence to protocol and transparency are required.  A surprising number of laboratories still document important workflows and procedures on paper and filed away in cabinets.  Even worse, procedures often exist in the minds of the scientists and technicians that perform the work.  This presents real problems when labs are audited by customers, government agencies, and internal quality control groups.  In addition, staff periodically moves on to new positions or employers so this institutional knowledge can be lost.  Being able to organize complex projects and allow managers to quickly know the status of a project through notifications and a dashboard view and allowing team members to collaborate in an easy to use centralized work place is becoming more important as well. Numerous studies have indicated that properly implemented laboratory document managements systems like Labcore can result in significant operational efficiencies and improved productivity.

 

Improved Customer Service and Response Times

Labcore enables labs to improve customer service through a variety of capabilities that improve the quality and speed of customer deliverables.  First it allows quick access to customer information.  Whether it is a project report, sample data, or billing information, Labcore allows you to retrieve information such as Work Orders, Chain of Custody, Certificate of Analysis, Invoices or raw data, methods and Standard Operating Procedures quickly so that turn-around times to customer requests significantly improve.  The traditional method of storing paper documents in filing cabinets where they can get lost or damaged and take time to retrieve becomes a thing of the past.  It also allows you to offer customers greater transparency into your laboratory’s processes, compliance, and audit rules.  The issue of transparency is growing in importance as a factor that customers take into account when evaluating vendors.

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