Maximizine Room & Workflow Efficiency Through SMART Storage Solutions

by | Jul 1, 2019 | LabStore Highlights | 0 comments

Herbert Skip Brown, M. Div. HT(ASCP)
Lab Storage Systems, Inc.

One of the most precious commodities in multi-functional labs today is space. From the grossing stations, to the processing/embedding rooms, to the microtomy workstations, and even just general counterspace for staining, labeling, paperwork, etc.; maximizing limited space is a constant challenge. In too many hospital labs, the rooms in use were never designed to be conducive to efficient flow of patient case-flow. Instead, multiple tasks, procedures, and ancillary items used are constricted into small space areas compromising quality, accuracy, and efficiency; or, casework jumps from one side of the lab to another as the case transitions from one stage of flow to the next. The risk of mixing up labels, slides, blocks, etc. rises exponentially. Unfortunately, most labs are left with working with what they have, in spite of the high risk involved. Optimizing the utilization of space requires a collaboration with the working technologist and management to successfully and safely accommodate everything that must be done in the insufficient space given.

S-M-A-R-T technology was born out of a need in information technology to check and monitor hard-drives in computer and software systems. This term has become applied to a number of different industries to represent streamlined and efficient products and solutions that reduce the risk of errors and enhance quality results.

One industry that this technology was vitally needed was healthcare, particularly in the testing laboratories.Through SMART design we now have a mechanism for addressing insufficient space and resources. In the Histopathology lab, storage space for blocks and slides is an endless need; as both have a storage volume that increasingly grows from day to day. Some labs have sought to address this with either remote or off-site storage. For extremely older archived cases this may not be a problem, but for more accessibility to casework that is archived but not ancient, mega-storage options consolidate space and are more cost effective than off-site storage. The High-Density Storage Cabinet (above) is one of the best options where we see SMART technology used. This type of block/slide storage comes in three storage capacity options. The largest size (60”) holds close to 200 times the volume of traditional single units in the industry with a total capacity of 264,000 slides, and 75,600 blocks; maximizing space into one single storage unit instead of multiple individual units that would require over 40% more storage area. Designating one room for storage, a lab could minimize the space needed while still having more blocks and slides immediately accessible to the pathologist.

With respect to countertop spaces, working areas designed with SMART concepts could be employed for ancillary slide staining for quick procedures such as Iron stains, or when only a few slides need staining and you prefer to use a quick manual method as opposed to automation. This image (A) shows a slide staining set up (black) that can easily be set up and broken down in minutes. In the far-right edge of this image (A) you see blue/red slide boxes for controls slides taking up valuable counter space.

The image to the right (B) shows a SMART design concept where a Slide Box Rack System is used; centralizing control boxes into one unit, increasing slide control capacity, and freeing up counter space. This could be placed on a shelf above the staining area or some other area, but not on the working counter.

With respect to a microtomy workstation where the technologist’s space around their microtome is extremely limited. Mini Sharps containers (C) designed for individual small work areas can be used to accommodate the continual discarding of used blades. This unit has the dimensions of being only 7 inches tall and 3.5 inches in width and depth. SMART concepts were also employed to maximize space where an ice tray unit (Histo-Cool) is used to keep blocks cold during microtomy, and store utensils needed during microtomy such as tweezers, brushes, labeling pens, etc. (D).

With respect to countertop spaces, working areas designed with SMART concepts could be employed for ancillary slide staining for quick procedures such as Iron stains, or when only a few slides need staining and you prefer to use a quick manual method as opposed to automation. This image (A) shows a slide staining set up (black) that can easily be set up and broken down in minutes. In the far-right edge of this image (A) you see blue/red slide boxes for controls slides taking up valuable counter space.

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