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Mayo Clinic implements lean practices in laboratories

Mayo Clinic implements lean practices in laboratories
Mayo Clinic implements lean practices in laboratories

The Mayo Clinic's Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology (DLMP) has been using lean practices for years, but recently extended the methods to include administrative work flow in addition to using it to improve the flow of specimens within the laboratory.

The clinic stated that it has seen interesting results since implementing the lean process. One project, designed to improve office processes within the DLMP, involved inserting process improvement protocols to the Clinical Laboratory Science (CLS) admissions process. Systems engineer manager Fazi Amirahmadi demonstrated how the process worked through a poster, which earned a national award at Lab Quality Confab.

Although applying lean techniques to any clinical laboratory setting to improve office processes is not typically performed, so far, the benefits from doing so have been worth the atypical implementation, the clinic said. After the CLS applied the process improvement protocols, the organization was able to shorten the entire admissions process, from the time the student first applies to when they are accepted.

"This improved turnaround time for the admissions process directly benefits both students and our academic program," explained Amirahmadi. "First, students prefer a speedier acceptance decision because it reduces uncertainty in their planning. Second, faster acceptance decisions enable Mayo Clinic to compete more effectively for the top candidates for these positions."

The lean processes created major benefits for the Mayo Clinic's DLMP, which is one of the busiest in the country. The facility employs 160 physicians and scientists that process more than 20 million tests every year.  A total of 3,200 employees perform these tests in more than 60 unique medical laboratories at the facility.

"Lean and Six Sigma techniques are not used much for work processes in the office or for graduate school admissions," Amirahmadi added. "But when we applied our Lean improvement methods to our rolling admissions process, the results were eye-opening for everyone. "

Developing better laboratory processes can also help comply with strict standards established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which ensure the quality and integrity of test data derived from laboratory assessments.

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