A new solution that uses trained artificial intelligence (AI) models to project future volume trends and provide actionable recommendations for optimizing laboratory staffing levels was launched by hc1 Insights, a company that helps labs identify real-time insights and risk signals in complex laboratory data. 

The hc1 Workforce Optimization predicts demand for lab services department-by-department across the organization, enabling lab leaders to proactively identify potential shortages or overages, adjust staffing assignments accordingly, and monitor the business impact of changes over time, the company says. Optimizing staffing levels in this way will minimize sendout and short-term staffing costs, decrease staff turnover and burnout caused by understaffing, and reduce turnaround time to improve patient outcomes. 

In partnership with American Oncology Network (AON), a rapidly growing network of community-based oncology practices across the country, the new solution was developed and tested throughout 2023. The collaboration with AON helped accelerate the project, providing evidence-based expertise and actionable recommendations to the hc1 development team while enabling AON to have the earliest opportunity to utilize the solution to resolve staffing shortages before they happen. 

“It has become increasingly difficult to pinpoint and predict workforce behaviors and practices that actually drive revenue, increase productivity and decrease waste,” says AON Vice President/General Manager of Laboratory Services Curtiss McNair, Jr., MBA, MT. “Whether we are talking about automated processes or good old-fashioned sneaker power, data and the information we get from it has become, per the popular phrase, the ‘oil of the 21 st century’. In the laboratory, we have been waiting for a data-driven solution and tool for lab leaders and executives that connects timekeeping and lab testing data, in order to optimize staffing and productivity. hc1’s Workforce Optimization solution does just that. As we bring more tests and services to the core lab, and add new clinics to the network, I need an effective data-driven tool to optimize staffing plans across all sections of the core lab, including accessioning and logistics. In our laboratory at American Oncology Network, I want to streamline our staffing model with recommendations and suggestions utilizing ML predictive analytics; further enhancing our vision of running a data-driven laboratory that delivers downstream efficiencies to our providers and ultimately improves patient outcomes.”

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HRSA) has projected an increase in demand for medical and clinical laboratory technologists and technicians of 22% by 2025. This increased need coupled with reported understaffing in 73% of labs, places a continuing burden on lab professionals to do more with less. This is resulting in increased burnout, higher turnover rates, rising sendout and short-term staffing costs and missed turnaround times, according to hc1.

Further reading: Michigan Medicine Signs Agreement with hc1 Insights For Performance Analytics

“At hc1 Insights, our objective is to empower lab professionals with the tools they need to make confident, proactive decisions,” says Michael Braverman, president of hc1 Insights. “Thanks to our collaboration with AON and their commitment to provide valuable insight, our AI-powered WFO solution is now poised to solve a crucial operational problem for lab leaders: accurately predicting demand for lab services across their organization and dynamically recommending how they should deploy scarce resources to drive accurate, high-quality results to the caregivers and patients who depend on them.”