In many histology laboratories, manually intensive and error prone manual tasks intersect with semi-automated processes. Bottle necks are created at intermittent points between these semi-automated steps. Efforts at standardizing processes have helped in streamlining many manual steps. However, the use of standardization alone has failed to eliminate other troublesome bottlenecks and has not satisfactorily reduced variation, defects, and errors. Productivity and quality systems such as Lean and Six Sigma in combination with increased use of automation has emerged as a system and process approach that is better able to address the converging demands of economy, efficiency, staff shortages and errors than working with standardization methods alone.
The following page provides some examples of how using these approaches, along with well-chosen automation and technology, have allowed improvement in many key areas for these histology laboratories.