What is laboratory management and organization?

Written by Ian Jay B. Francisco

The clinical laboratory is a melting pot of diverse people. As the head of the lab, how will you guide your personnel despite the setbacks? Organizing your resources and staffing will help you deliver quality medical services.

Test results have to be accurate and reliable. Approximately 70% of medical-related decisions rely on these results. Moreover, labs in the United States perform 7-10 billion tests every year.

Any occurrence of inaccurate results leads to significant consequences. Your erroneous test results may increase your patient’s expenses. Unnecessary procedures and complications because of wrong medication are some of these consequences.

The successful delivery of service relies on managerial practices. The workplace environment depends on how you supervise and direct workflow. Communication must also exist within the institution.

Laboratory management aims to provide adequate health services. It involves the integration and coordination of various organizational resources like human resources.

It aims to lead the laboratory staff to carry out their tasks within limited time and supplies. It includes supervising daily operations and training new personnel. It also involves refilling consumables and keeping records of activities.

There are four different types of management:

Planning. A manager can plan to see the lab’s trajectory.

Organizing. As a manager, you select who works on which project and technique. You also supervise the timetables and budgets for various projects. Thus, you must stay up to date with research.

Leading. A manager’s ability to lead is crucial. You determine the lab’s environment and pace. Good leadership may motivate members to be more productive and creative.

Controlling. Being a manager involves assessing the progress of members and projects. You must have the ability to address issues as they arise.

In an alternative sense, lab organization encompasses the physical establishment and operation. The areas may overlap when the facility is small. People that strive to achieve a common goal comprise organizations. These societal units need management to achieve their respective goals.

Generally, a laboratory is like a vehicle. It needs someone to maneuver the institution towards success. It should have a strategy with clear objectives and methods for achieving them. There should be a manager who instructs and ensures the quality of all activities.

What is the importance of laboratory management?

Why is laboratory management critical? How does it influence your laboratory’s trajectory? Lab management may improve service efficiency.

Diagnoses generally depend on laboratory results. The laboratory-diagnostic management process maintains quality while lowering costs. Thus, a lab needs management to function.

The lab must use the most appropriate test methods and equipment for patient care. Management is the process of organizing human and physical resources into functional units. As head, you must achieve your goals while keeping your staff’s morale high.

You have to take note that you have to follow international standards. To ensure the best operation, you need to install quality management systems. Your laboratory accreditation will also help you show competence.

You need to analyze data about your operations and identify ways to improve them. Heads review and audit to track the operation of a laboratory. Yet, not all laboratories have the resources to create these tools.

Cooperation with your healthcare customers is an essential aspect of laboratory operation. This collaboration requires better management to cater to customer feedback. Laboratories check potential nonconformities in their operations and, if necessary, take corrective action.

Competency is the foundation of a high-quality laboratory operation. You should train and educate your employees. Greater emphasis on training planning and effectiveness should be the priority of heads.

Yet, a training plan might not cover all employees. There is still a need for better validation planning, even if you use validated methods.

Laboratories provide all necessary information to healthcare units to guide patients. But one major issue is that patients do not follow these instructions. The need for more collaboration to combat miscommunication is evident.

Healthcare units expect a lot from labs. Such expectations include expert consultation and state-of-the- art examination methods. You can always help your personnel provide quality medical service.

What are the principles of laboratory management?

A curriculum in clinical lab management represents the essence of management. What are its core principles? Lab management involves leadership, behavior, environment, planning, structure, values, communication, and innovation.

Leadership. It’s important to distinguish between management and leadership. Leadership implies influence by example and motivation. It stands alone as a fundamental principle.

Management implies direction by authority and control. It means guidance by power and control, and it is an element of the code of structure.

You can learn and hone the necessary characteristics, skills, and responsibilities for leading. In other words, you do not need to be a “natural leader.” There must also be a distinction between situational (reactive) and anticipative (proactive) leadership.

Behavior. The behavioral principle combines the psychological makeup of individuals and organizations. Considering Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, understanding organizational behavior begins with individual psychology. It is because the organization and its members have similar conditions to succeed.

Environment. It refers to the complex environment in which an organization operates. Understanding paradigm, change, and chaos theory is vital in understanding the external environment. It also needs knowledge on the impact of socio-demographic, political, and economic issues.

You can address the said issues and institutional issues in the internal environment. On a smaller scale, you can focus on new technology and testing methods. Advances in information technology and practice parameters are also environmental changes.

Planning. According to this principle, any firm must enter into some contract with its clients. If “planning is management” is true, then it is a fundamental element.

Unfortunately, long-term planning generally takes a back seat to immediate patient care. In the hectic world of the lab, you must develop a goal and vision based on the demands of your clients.

The secret to successful planning is translating the negotiation process into a process. You need to turn ideal strategies, goals, and objectives into reality.

Structure. Understanding types of organizational configuration and their development is part of this principle. Structure components, intra-organizational and inter-organizational functional relationships exist in the lab. Modes of authority and control, and decision-making define this principle.

Values. This principle covers organizational social beliefs and ethical systems. Everyone must understand human rights, professional ethics, patient rights, and employee rights. It would help if you can give special attention to testing and its impact on the patient.

Communication. It is an organizational matrix that allows data and information to flow. This matrix can contain all forms of distribution, exchange, and learning in the lab. You can see it in computers, electronic and printing devices, and one-on-one communication.

Innovation. It is a management principle for the laboratory dealing with the present and future. It involves changing the way you do things.

It entails the ability to experiment with new approaches, methods, or devices. Innovation will help if you solve existing issues and create new opportunities. It could entail tweaking an existing paradigm or switching to a new one.

The effective interaction of all eight principles will result in high-quality laboratory services. It would be best if you met the interests of all parties involved.

What are the duties of a lab manager?

Being the head of a clinical laboratory is no easy feat. What are your responsibilities as a manager?

Managerial supervision, policy development, and overseeing administrative matters are your duties.

Clinical lab managers are in charge of supervising clinical laboratory scientists and technicians. You are also responsible for devising standard-compliant safety procedures. You also manage budgetary and administrative obligations.

Managers must also oversee the functionality of laboratory equipment. You need to train clinical laboratory staff on how to use the equipment. You must report the lab conditions to a supervisor. Your daily responsibilities are as follows:

You are in charge of managing the laboratory’s day-to-day operations. Keeping in touch with medical directors who supervise you is also your duty. You also need to coordinate the testing processes of many scientists.

The manager needs to check the verification procedures for precision and accuracy. All laboratory equipment must follow safety regulations; you must ensure that. Training and supervision of scientists and workers are part of your job description.

A lab manager identifies and resolves technical issues. You also need to analyze the demands of laboratory settings. Assuring the accuracy and security of patient data is also your job.

It would be best to make sure that your institution implements new techniques. The staffing is also your responsibility. You need to attend workshops to keep your professional knowledge updated. Finally, it would help if you do testing when you are short-staffed.

How do you become a lab manager?

Becoming a manager takes time, skill, and perseverance. How do you become one? You should take a suitable course and get some practical experience if you wish to be a lab manager.

You must have the willingness to understand the science of laboratory medicine. You also may learn management skills. A practitioner like you needs management abilities to enhance your career in leadership.

In the United States, entry-level clinical laboratory technologists need a bachelor’s degree. Some companies may demand managers to have graduate degrees in healthcare administration. You may compensate that one for a science-related graduate degree.

Many management roles need at least five years of experience. Clinical lab managers need to be well- versed in scientific and communication skills.

It would be helpful if you support your staff. You must have a good relationship with accreditation auditors and healthcare leaders. Strict attention to detail is crucial due to the nature of your work.

A manager’s tasks need scientific education, laboratory science expertise, and management skills. It is because your job involves managing sensitive patient information and biological samples.

How do you organize a lab?

Considering all these, how then will you organize your clinical lab? Will you be someone complacent and careless? Keeping things in check is one way of keeping the lab organized.

Before devising a strategy, gather the resources and personnel you’ll need. You need an organizational structure to ensure the implementation of the plan.

Focus your attention on directing your resources to meet your aim and objectives. Once the plan is in motion, it becomes evident that you need to update it always.

The first dimension of the organizational process is the formal organization. These are the job assignments, workgroups, and administrative lines of authority. The second is the social groups and friendships that exist in the organization.

Competent managers use organizations’ official and informal structures and methods. These help them do their goals.

As a lab manager, you must organize a clinical laboratory. It would help if you did this so that staff may collaborate. And when there is collaboration, you can meet institutional objectives.

Lab organization can take several shapes. Time, personnel, and physical space must be in order. A day is inadequate to finish all the tasks you want to complete, so know when to say no.

Lab meetings are an excellent method to keep people on track with their objectives. Meetings with the entire group keep members up to date on what’s going on in the lab. They can also help brainstorm and solve problems.

Top labs have regular meetings, both official and informal. One-on-one sessions are also beneficial for both members and the manager. It is because they allow for a more in-depth discussion of difficulties.

Yet, if lab meetings are not well-organized, they might become a waste of time. A meeting agenda can help you drop the need for repeated sessions to address a single issue. You can also use minutes to track research progress.

References

Clark, G. (1995, November 1). Eight principles of Laboratory Management. OUP Academic. https://academic.oup.com/labmed/article-abstract/26/11/713/2659293?redirectedFrom=PDF.

Conductscience (2019). Fundamentals of lab management. Conduct Science. https://conductscience.com/fundamentals-of-lab-management/.

Drummond, R. (n.d.). Clinical lab manager degrees, certifications & daily duties. mhaonline. https://www.mhaonline.com/faq/what-is-a-clinical-lab- manager#:~:text=Clinical%20lab%20managers%20are%20chiefly,overseeing%20budgetary%20and%20administrati ve%20responsibilities.

von Eiff, W., & Meyer, N. (2007). Laboratory management: The importance of quality and efficiency in patient care. HealthManagement. https://healthmanagement.org/c/hospital/issuearticle/laboratory-management-the- importance-of-quality-and-efficiency-in-patient-care.

Yadav, T. (2015). Laboratory management: The nature of management in the clinical laboratory. SlideShare.

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