Five Ways Busy Laboratory Staff are Improving Laboratory Efficiency to Focus on What Matters Most

In an era of decreased staffing and increased testing, laboratorians are learning new ways to improve efficiency and productivity to drive quality patient outcomes.
Five Ways Busy Laboratory Staff are Improving Laboratory Efficiency to Focus on What Matters Most

In the years since the pandemic, laboratories have been busier than ever. Laboratory staff are being pushed to new limits as they face testing surges, supply shortages and staffing issues.1–5 Simultaneously, they are challenged to deliver accurate and timely results in the face of restrictive budgets and limited technical human resources.1,6

Amid these high-pressure conditions and challenges, labs around the world have learned how to improve laboratory efficiency. Here are five ways efficient laboratories are making the most of their laboratory staffs’ valuable time—and how you can, too.

  1. Efficient Laboratories Automate Everything That Doesn’t Require a Human
    When human resources are limited, consider which tasks really require your time and which can be automated. Leverage pre- and post-analytical tools to reduce the time your team spends on mundane tasks and help prevent errors early in the process. Multiple studies recommend total laboratory automation  to help improve turnaround time (TAT), outlier rates, predictability and staff safety.7–9
    Tip: Consider your total cost of ownership when evaluating the ROI of total lab automation. Evidence has shown that the systems generally pay for themselves within just a few years.8 Automation could become even more important to help your laboratory staff meet rising test volumes.9

  2. Efficient Laboratories Invest in Their People with Training
    Your laboratory team is your most valuable asset. Invest in their success by ensuring they get the training they need on equipment and processes and in time management. The time it takes up front is well worth a high-performing, efficient laboratory.10 When your team knows your policies and protocols inside and out, they’ll know what to do if something goes wrong—and how to fix it.11,12
    Tip: Your technology investments should be sources of training support, not just training requirements. Look for instrument-guided workflows that partner with users of all skill levels, instructing them clearly on what to do, and when. Your vendors can also help with specialized training, whether on site or remote.

  3. Efficient Laboratories Make Maintenance Work for Them
    When test volumes are high, it can feel hard to prioritize maintenance—but it’s critically important to help ensure accurate test results. When maintenance is timely and predictable, it can change from a costly interruption into a powerful asset. Plan ahead for preventive maintenance and be prepared for unexpected issues with strategic technology investments and responsive, reliable vendors. Your workflow—and your budget—will thank you.
    Tip: Ask your equipment providers about daily, weekly and monthly maintenance requirements up front and find the right cadence for your lab. With an organized maintenance schedule as part of an efficient laboratory workflow, you can keep your operations running smoothly and reduce unwelcome surprises.10

  4. Efficient Laboratories Work with Fewer Vendors
    Vendor management involves a delicate balance between finding the products you need and minimizing the number of vendors it takes to get there. When feasible, having a single partner to provide and support multiple instruments can bring many efficiencies. Built-in integrations between instruments, volume-based pricing and other types of harmonization (e.g., shared resources like reagent packs or consumables) can help labs enable real-time insights to optimize workloads, create time and sustain growth.
    Tip: Look to the future. You may only need a new analyzer today, but if you’re considering total laboratory automation down the road, factor that into today’s buying decision. From simplified integrations to better pricing models, your advance planning could pay off in more ways than one.

  5. Efficient Laboratories Choose Intelligent Instruments
    Your overburdened laboratory staff can’t do it all. Look to your lab instruments to take tedious work off their plates. When your technology investments can handle tasks quickly and accurately, your staff can pursue their passions and focus on what matters most.
    Tip: Look for instruments that help detect common errors, reduce maintenance requirements and guide your workflows with easy-to-follow instructions.

Create Time to Focus on What Matters Most
In the face of growing demands and limited resources, today’s laboratories are rising to the occasion (and then some). By focusing on these five areas, you can continue to improve laboratory efficiency today—and prepare for whatever new challenges tomorrow may bring.

See how the DxI 9000 Access Immunoassay Analyzer is helping laboratories create time for what matters most.


1. Crawford J, Dolan T, Irons D, Kremitske D. Scary situation - lab leaders on staffing and covid. CAP Today. Published online October 2021.

2. XIFIN Lab Volume Index | XIFIN. Accessed October 31, 2022.

3. Bonislawski A. The Clinical Lab in 2020: the impact of Covid-19 This Year & Beyond. December 29, 2020. Accessed October 30, 2022.

4. Woolston C. “Does anyone have any of these?”: Lab-supply shortages strike amid global pandemic. Nature. Published online March 9, 2021. doi:10.1038/d41586-021-00613-y

5. Pocius DM. Medical and Non-medical Laboratories in UK and Europe Hit by Rising Costs and Supply Shortages Due to High Demand for Testing Services. Dark Daily. April 6, 2022. Accessed October 28, 2022.

6. Nicholls M. Addressing the critical lack of skilled lab workers. Healthcare in Europe. February 20, 2020. Accessed October 31, 2022.

7. Stotler BA, Kratz A. Determination of turnaround time in the clinical laboratory: “accessioning-to-result” time does not always accurately reflect laboratory performance. Am J Clin Pathol. 2012;138(5):724-729. doi:10.1309/AJCPYHBT9OQRM8DX

8. Hawkins RC. Laboratory turnaround time. Clin Biochem Rev. 2007;28(4):179-194.

9. Kim K, Lee S-G, Kim TH, Lee SG. Economic evaluation of total laboratory automation in the clinical laboratory of a tertiary care hospital. Ann Lab Med. 2022;42(1):89-95. doi:10.3343/alm.2022.42.1.89

10.Kridelbaugh D. How to Manage Laboratory Time and Tasks More Efficiently | Lab Manager. Lab Manager. Published online January 31, 2018.

11. Radleys. 6 simple ways to save time in the lab. Accessed November 7, 2022.

12. Rabkin Dx. Blog | Four Time Management Tips to Apply to Your Work in the Lab. Accessed November 7, 2022.

Jessica Tubman
Jessica Tubman
Jessica Tubman is Director of Immunoassay Product Management at Beckman Coulter. She is a Medical Technologist by training and spent seven years in clinical laboratories while earning a Master in Public Health in Environmental Toxicology. She has been in the industry for over 25 years and has spent the last 17 years bringing customer needs into new product definition, development and commercialization.

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