5 Ways to Better Utilize Existing Pathology Laboratory Space


Over the past 20 years there has been a substantial shift in pathology methodologies, from manual operation and test methods to automation and robotics. This results in limited space with pathologies expected to grow within an existing and confined space. The team at Modulab have collated 5 areas for consideration in response to the recurring issue of inefficiency and limitation of space in pre-existing pathology laboratories in Canada.

1. Make a lineal map of the process of each pathology division

Look at each area of the pathology separately and draw a lineal process from start to finish. Document details such as: How many staff and workstations do we need in this space? What are the lineal metres required in each space? What instrumentation and equipment is needed in each process? How much space is required for each piece of equipment? What services are needed in each part of the process? Do we need a sink in is this area? Is any venting or specialist requirements required for this space?

Depending on the size of your pathology laboratory, you may group lineal processes together which could be grouped in areas such as:

  • Reception
  • Core Laboratory such as “ChemBio”
  • Haematology
  • Microbiology
  • Histology
  • Immunology and Serology
  • Coagulation
  • Morphology
  • Urinalysis

2. Involve your laboratory staff in smaller group meetings

Large meetings can be tedious and ineffective. More timid personalities tend to be overridden by bolder personalities resulting in few options and less creativity in the brainstorming process.

It is a good idea to break a bigger lab into smaller groups such as Histology, Reception, Core Lab and Haematology and map out the lineal process of each area. Ask questions in these meetings like: Where is the sample coming from? Who does it come from? Where does it go to next? What is required in each part of the process? Where does the waste go?

Collaborate and listen to your staff; this creates great culture as well as effective outcomes in their own specialized spaces.

3. Create a scale mud map or plan view drawing of your space

It is a great idea to have a scale mud map/plan view of the space that requires refurbishment. This can be a simple hand drawn outline or a drafted scale plan view. It’s a good idea to have a scale plan if possible as it allows you to view the lab in its correct proportion to the benching. Print off a few blanks and sketch your lineal maps from Step 1 into different areas to see how the spaces accompany each other.

4. Drastic waste elimination walkthrough for general waste and old archives

Walk through your laboratory with your team and look at all the waste elimination opportunities. Ask questions such as: How long since we have used this? Do we still require this? Are these slide/blood archives beyond their use by date? Can we go paperless and scan onto centralised online folders?  Can we supersede this old methodology with automation to assist with space and downtime?

Encourage your team to be drastic in this process as decluttering your lab is a great start to a positive transition of an efficient laboratory.

One way to strive towards a goal of perfection is by remaining constantly aware of waste so it can be potentially eliminated. Eight sources of waste that detract from the value a customer receives from a business process have been identified by the acronym WOODMITS*. Educating employees about these eight sources of waste and conducting team-based reviews of business processes to look for and correct them can yield substantial benefits.

*WOODMITS: Waiting Time, Over Processing, Over Production, Defects, Motion, Inventory Transport, and Space.
 Waste Elimination in the Laboratory using the Acronym “WOODMITS” – Lean Management Techniques for more information.

5. Modulab Design Services

As a value add, Modulab consultants can assist with every part of the process from face-to-face onsite group meeting discussions, consulting services, drafting and design services, and estimation and costing provisions at no additional cost to clients.

Contact us at Modulab – 1 877 822 1455!

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