Alverno Laboratories

Cultivating a Culture of Continuous Improvement

Estimated Reading Time: 7 Minutes

Executive Summary  

Alverno Laboratories wanted to increase focus on their mission to deliver quality results by eliminating waste and gaining process efficiency. Working with the Beckman Coulter Performance Partnership program, they implemented Lean processes, and even created their own Danaher-style Alverno Business System (ABS), which led to significant improvements in targeted areas of the business. They incorporated 26 hospital laboratories into the use of daily management and problem-solving processes (PSP) to help drive excellence at all organizational levels.


Alverno Laboratories is an award-winning community-based laboratory. The laboratory delivers 45 million tests a year to 26 hospital laboratories within a 250-mile-radius service area in Illinois and Indiana. The laboratory also has ISO 15189 accreditation.


As an organization with more than 1,600 associates who oversee 6,000 patient beds and 45,000 square feet of laboratory space, Alverno needed to solve 3 problems—inconsistency in communication, a lack of standardized procedures, and an unclear problem-solving structure—to help manage cost and increase efficiency.


Alverno Laboratories instituted its own continuous improvement system styled after the Danaher Business System (DBS), the Alverno Business System. With this system in place Alverno Laboratories:

  • Achieved 97% on-target delivery of results
  • Reduced operational costs by 20%, an estimated annual savings of up to $1.2 million
  • Eliminated 40,320 wasted steps per week by staff
Patient satisfaction resulting from improvements to change management at Alverno Labs.

Case Study Cultivating a Culture of Continuous Improvement

Alverno Laboratories won the ADVANCE Laboratory of the Year Award and launched the Alverno Business System over a four-year engagement with the Beckman Coulter Performance Partnership program. Learn how they embraced change management to improve patient satisfaction and shorten turnaround times through Lean processes.



As an award-winning organization operating with a team of 1,600 associates, rapid growth and network consolidation led Alverno Laboratories to promote standardization to increase overall efficiency, manage cost and ensure consistent results.

Introducing change
To track progress and ensure long-term change, Alverno Laboratories implemented daily management practices and problem-solving strategies. Further, it supported long-term change by establishing Lean champions and creating training programs to promote standardization and employee engagement.

Daily management of key performance indicators (KPIs) provided a team-based visual approach to ensure process discipline and improve critical metrics. The KPIs focused on customer expectations and helped promote action which led to results. Conducting daily huddles allowed the team to discuss issues before they escalated.

PDCA Cycle: A Problem-solving Process

Alverno implemented the PDCA Cycle, a problem-solving process, which supported Lean process improvement
Figure 1. Alverno Laboratories’ PDCA Cycle demonstrates Lean process improvement from 2014–2018.

Achieving patient satisfaction

Through the implementation of ABS and Lean processes, Alverno Laboratories significantly improved targeted areas of the business.

The implementation of these systems helped address several of their problems:

  1. Inconsistency in communication
  2. Lack of standardized procedures
  3. Unclear problem-solving structure. 

As a result, over a four-year period, turnaround times were significantly shortened, and the workload burden reduced, which led to lower costs in key areas (see Figure 2):

  • Faster turnaround times
    • 117,000 additional tests met TAT time metrics
    • 97% of results met their targets
  • Reduced costs
    • 20% savings in operational costs through equipment standardization and use of ABS 
    • Potentially $1.2 million saved annually due to improvements in blood culture sample integrity
  • Increased efficiency and staff satisfaction
    • 20 miles of unnecessary walking per week was eliminated because of multiple draw reduction and blood bank redesign
    • 11.2 hours were saved through standardization of specimen management in the molecular department

Alverno Laboratories Significantly Improves Targeted Areas of Business

  Alverno chart showing reduced turnaround times, cost, increased efficiency and staff satisfaction
Figure 2. With Lean processes and the Danaher Business System foundation, Alverno Laboratories benefited from faster turnaround times, reduced costs, creased efficiency and staff satisfaction. 

Center of Excellence for Improving Patient Satisfaction

DBS helped Alverno Laboratories cultivate a culture of continuous improvement and bridge the gap with a problem-solving process. The implementation of the Alverno Business System and Lean processes helped the organization see significant improvements and meet its quality and efficiency goals, as well as improve overall patient satisfaction.

How Beckman Coulter Can Help Your Laboratory

Our partners gain exposure to Performance Partnership methodologies and DBS tools. Adopt an industry-leading culture of continuous improvement today. Discover the Danaher Business System.

Equipment standardization and use of Lean processes through Alverno Business Systems have helped us realize a 20% savings in operating costs.
Sam Terese
President and Chief Executive Officer
Alverno Laboratories

Continue the Conversation

What role could Lean order processing play in improving patient safety in your hospital? Could streamlining order processing and improving patient flow reduce wait times? Let our Performance Partnership consultants create a program of continuous improvement targeted to the needs of your healthcare system. Contact us for more information.

Bringing Lean Order Processing to Your Lab

If you'd like to learn more ways to improve laboratory Lean processes, check out additional case studies to find out what our customers have to say.

Danaher and its service marks are owned by Danaher Corporation and used with permission.

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