June 15, 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced labs to transform digitally and leverage the latest technologies to improve their operations. Evolving technologies help them replace slow and error-prone manual processes with scalable and automated digital workflows. Many labs spend money on digital transformation but do not get a good return. It raises a concern about what is missing.
Implementing new technologies for business improvement is not enough. There is a need to quantify the benefits that come with digital transformation. A lab should have clearly defined metrics to track the progress of its digitization initiatives.
Digital transformation has become one of the top priorities for labs. The lab staff, lab processes, and evolving technologies work coherently to transform a lab digitally. With significant investments in digital transformation, labs need to measure the success of their digital transformation initiatives. The success of a lab is measured based on qualitative assessment. It is essential to have a clear picture of the objectives and outcomes of digital transformation in a lab. For this, labs have a set of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that help measure progress based on incremental improvement.
A lab can successfully measure its digital transformation by selecting the right KPIs. KPIs help measure progress toward an intended result and enable labs to make decisions based on reliable metrics. KPIs help you understand what to measure for tracking the progress of the business. Tracking performance through KPIs is a good practice for growing labs. KPIs track inventory, instruments, data, and results in a lab to measure performance.
All labs should have a fair idea of the dos and don'ts that impact their business and operational efficiency. Lab managers and staff should be aware of the conditions that drive effective operations in a lab. Lab staff should ensure the quality of the data and deliverables as they directly impact the downstream processes of the lab. Hence, you can ensure the efficiency of your lab by determining the following three KPIs:
The most important assets of a lab are time, staff, and money. Business-related KPIs provide insights into these assets and pave the way for improvement. These KPIs help labs track revenue monthly, quarterly, or yearly. They also help labs know the generated revenue per sample analysis. Business-related KPIs help labs measure their expenses on consumables, staff, and overheads. They also help labs track their turnaround time.
Some examples of business-related KPIs include average revenue, the number of full-time and contractual employees, allocated budget, service response times, resolution times, and asset productivity.
Lab condition KPIs measure a lab's performance on processes, inventory, and environment. These KPIs examine quality control measures, equipment status, storage room temperatures, environmental conditions such as humidity, and turnaround time of results. Lab condition KPIs help labs identify poor-performing components and facilitate timely corrections.
Examples include quality control, asset repositioning, instrument uptime, average monthly use of lab inventory items, sample storage space available in refrigerators or freezers, and lab environmental monitoring.
The test results and data generated by a lab help customers in data-driven decision-making. Labs should implement quality assurance and quality control measures to make their data and deliverables reliable for customers. You can calculate the average precision and accuracy of results through repetitive measurements and use that as a KPI.
For example, reproducibility of test results, which includes analyzing results with varying instruments and lab conditions.
A lab needs to be both effective and efficient. Labs should optimize their performance to maintain a balance of quality and quantity.
Following are the metrics to optimize the performance of your lab:
Labs collect a bulk of KPI data to track the performance of their daily operations. Labs store this data on platforms such as a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS). A LIMS system can integrate records from sensors and logging systems, thus avoiding manual data entry. A LIMS should be able to define, log, measure, and track KPI data internally or from connected sensors. A LIMS enables you to track KPIs regularly, thus optimizing performance. A LIMS system also provides real-time information about lab equipment, service repairs, and response time. Hence, digitizing your lab using a LIMS system helps you track your KPIs effortlessly and provides metrics to optimize your lab's performance.
Labs should track KPIs routinely to spot process flaws and potentially unoptimized performance. Robust software solutions, such as a LIMS, combined with the right KPIs drive the success of digital transformation in a lab. Labs should deploy a LIMS system to track critical KPIs that govern digital transformation of labs.