Laboratory quality and efficiency best practices for optimal performance

Optimizing lab operations for lab success

The success of any laboratory depends on the quality of the work that is produced, the minimization of error, and the excellence and productivity in the lab. This article explores three key strategies to help lab personnel implement standard operating procedures and improve quality measures within their facilities.

The importance of quality in healthcare

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the necessity for lab quality and safety improvement initiatives permeates care. Quality healthcare is defined as the degree to which health services for individuals and populations increase the likelihood of desired health outcomes and are consistent with current professional knowledge. This same perspective applies to laboratories and laboratory quality overall given the need for specificity, timeliness, safety, and precise results when it comes to the patients at hand.1

Article highlights:

  • Laboratory management teams are continuously looking for ways to meet quality management standards through laboratory efficiency and quality assurance measures including quality management systems (QMS), training, and resource management.
  • While being consistent with quality best practices, lab leaders must pay close attention to productivity in order to reach maximum lab efficiency.
  •  By having regular audits in place, lab leaders can optimize their labs on a continuous basis to maintain best practices and compliant lab equipment for successful outcomes.
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1. Laboratory Quality Management System (QMS)

The World Health Organization (WHO) develops training materials, guidance documents and practical tools for laboratories to help lab leaders assess the functionality and efficiency of their laboratory quality management system (QMS).2

A QMS is a set of processes and procedures that are designed to ensure the accuracy and validity of laboratory results. The QMS should include processes for calibrating and validating laboratory instruments, methods of quality control, and protocols for corrective action when quality problems arise. The QMS should also include policies and procedures for maintaining and protecting laboratory equipment, personnel, and data. 

Establishing an effective QMS is the first step to upholding laboratory quality assurance. Lab management must continuously look at these process maps to continue to improve productivity, reduce costs and increase profit margins, or even have quality as their value proposition.

2. Training

In addition to the administrative requirements of having an effective QMS, lab leaders must ensure that the laboratory personnel are properly trained and qualified to perform their responsibilities. Training should focus on educating personnel on the importance of quality assurance and the importance of following established quality procedures. From there, it is essential for lab members to put in place routine evaluations. These evaluations should include key performance metrics measuring that measure performance of duties based on established industry standards and protocols. whether they are performing their duties in a manner that meets established standards set by lab leaders.

This will inform further training and make it easier for lab leaders to not only manage performance in the lab but also maintain lab processes at a high level of quality.

3. Resource Management 

Effective management of resources is essential in the area of quality assurance. The successful laboratory needs to have an adequate supply of lab equipment and access to the latest technology on a regular basis for the best and most accurate outcomes while working to reduce errors and ensure regulatory compliance. Additionally, lab leaders must ensure that the laboratory has the necessary personnel and resources in order so that they can respond quickly to any quality issues that may arise.

Where there is quality, there is productivity.

Lab leaders know that quality and productivity are two of the most important factors in running a successful laboratory. Lab leaders who understand how quality and productivity are interrelated and how they can be improved, have a better ability to create and maintain a well-performing successful laboratory. 

In terms of quality, a laboratory must meet certain standards of accuracy, precision, and consistency to achieve and be successful. Where productivity is concerned, In terms of productivity, it is important for a lab to be able to produce results in an efficient and timely manner. 

Increasing lab efficiency means having quality assurance measures that ensure the lab meets these standards, that the results produced are reliable and consistent, and that the lab has effective processes, systems, and tools to ensure the production of quick and accurate results. 

A key factor in discovering ways for labs to increase productivity is conducting regular audits to improve lab efficiency and making sure the lab is running at its optimal capacity. This will eliminate wasted time and allow the lab to adapt quickly and function with minimal interruption in the day-to-day operations.

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  1. National Library of Medicine/National Center for Biotechnology Information. [Chapter 44 Tools and Strategies for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety] Article available at
  2. World Health Organization. (2023). Article available at [Accessed February 2023]