HORIBA Medical aiding Pennines’ haematology efficiency drive towards LEAN processes

22 February 2011

As a large Trust looking after a population of in excess of 800,000 and in line with Government ‘Healthy Futures’ and ‘Pathology Modernisation’ initiatives, Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust has centralised a number of its services in recent years. As part of this process, the Trust has modified its Pathology services by consolidating all GP work for the four PCTs that it encompasses into new laboratories at the Royal Oldham Hospital, leaving three Essential Service Laboratories (ESL) with rapid turnaround hospital requests. Consequently, the Trust required a haematology analyser supplier flexible enough to be able to offer LEAN solutions to fit the varying and shifting workload demands across four hospital sites. HORIBA Medical has met these exacting needs, supplying appropriate analyser requirements for each site and ensuring their optimal workflow performance to realise subsequent efficiency gains.

Now with over 2000 blood count requests a day, Oldham has experienced a significant increase in workload following the centralisation of the GP work in August 2010. Consequently, processes have been adapted to ensure efficiencies in workflow, even during peak afternoon periods when GP work arrives via courier from over 150 practices. Specimen reception has adopted a LEAN approach to sample processing utilising the TQuest GP Order Comms system with samples arriving at the laboratory pre-requested and bar-coded. The haematology laboratory has also embraced LEAN, using four high throughput ABX Pentra DX 120 haematology analysers and two Slide Preparation Systems (ABX SPS Evolution) from HORIBA Medical to drive process efficiency.

 “By working closely with the HORIBA Medical team, we have been able to efficiently adapt to our increasing workload at Oldham in particular by ensuring our four high throughput analysers are always running optimally, with ‘turnaround time’ performance indicators running at 98%,” explained Michael Heaton, Haematology Laboratory Manager for Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust. “The new HORIBA Medical ABX Pentra ML software (V8.0) has also enabled us to adopt a highly responsive approach to abnormal and urgent results required from A&E and our new centralised clinical haematology unit. Tabs now clearly identify such results early and also allow the useful addition of patient and sample comments as required, which is key under high workflow conditions, enabling us to proactively prioritise them and add value to clinical pathways.”

 Monthly haematology update meetings, analyser optimisation and workflow analyses undertaken by HORIBA Medical have all served to ascertain and ensure the most efficient means of operating the Trust’s analysers. “I feel that the modular LEAN approach that we have adopted using HORIBA Medical technology and the team’s expert assistance has not only increased our flexibility on a daily basis with peaks and troughs in workflow, but also enables us to be ready for future changes to working patterns. I am not convinced that using full automation and track would give us this ongoing flexibility,” added Michael Heaton.

With the NHS having to make efficiency savings in the region of £20bn over the next few years, process efficiency must be a key contributor to this. “Effective use of staff time and optimal use of analysers rapidly delivering high quality results to ensure effective and efficient care pathways is all critical to our mission to remain the preferred provider of pathology to the North East sector of Greater Manchester,” confirmed Michael Heaton. “HORIBA Medical is central to this mission, as we can only achieve this with good equipment and laboratories. Their engineers and support teams are excellent and I look forward to working closely with them as they introduce future technical advances in their analytical systems.