gloved hands holds single sample tube over tray of clinical samples inventory

Enhancing Lab Efficiency: Strategies for Clinical Sample Inventory Management

Efficiency is a key factor in the successful management of clinical sample inventories in growing research and healthcare facilities. With careful management strategies, your lab can ensure sample repositories are well-organized, secure, and compliant with regulatory requirements. 


Contents: Assess Your Lab | Maintain Flexibility | Standardize Data | Freezer Organization | How Sample Management Systems Can Help


These approaches to clinical sample tracking allow you to optimize your lab’s efficiency while ensuring data integrity and regulatory compliance.


Assess Lab Efficiency

It’s essential to understand your current lab efficiency when considering the management of clinical sample inventory. Many labs know there is room for improvement, but identifying the best way forward during unprecedented research or capacity can be difficult.

To get started, look for the issues that slow your lab down. Once you’ve mapped out the small tasks, take a step back and consider the overall themes of inefficiency in the lab. Getting the bigger picture will help you avoid playing Whac-A-Mole with sample inventory issues. Ask questions like:

  • Is data transfer between machines and programs a big issue for your clinical trials?
  • Is wasted time tracking down specific samples a function of messy freezers?
  • Is your lab avoiding dealing with hard-to-use sample tracking software?

Once you’ve identified larger themes of inefficiency in your lab sample management, you will have a better understanding of what solutions will actually improve your lab situation.


Flexibility in Laboratory Management

The dynamic nature of clinical research requires labs and research facilities to remain agile and flexible while looking to standardize collection and storage practices. Having a system that is prepared to handle changes like new species of sample collection, larger scale of volume or testing, compliance demands the lab hadn’t required yet, or new storage types is key to scaling the success of your research.

Key strategies for maintaining flexibility in the lab environment include:

  • Developing adaptable standard operating procedures (SOPs).
  • Regularly evaluating processes, resources, and staffing.
  • Fostering a culture of continuous improvement to keep the team engaged.
  • Using sample management systems that support flexible workflows.


Data Requirements and Standardization

Effective data management is a critical aspect of managing clinical sample inventories, involving capturing comprehensive information about each sample. Streamlining and standardizing data requirements can simplify the data collection process, making it more efficient and reducing the risk of errors. Consistency in data management practices allows researchers to focus on their core scientific work rather than administrative tasks.

Data management strategies for standardization include:

  • Capturing relevant sample information at all stages of the sample’s lifecycle, for every sample.
  • Combining similar data and labeling for efficient data entry.
  • Creating templates for easy and straightforward data capture.
  • Using software and tools, like barcoding and freezer management software.


Freezer Management and Organization

Efficient freezer management is vital for maintaining the integrity and accessibility of clinical samples. Organized and audit-ready freezers keep assays and sample storage running smoothly, preventing workers from wasting time and freezing their fingers looking for samples that are misplaced.

Methods for maintaining freezer organization include:

  • Enforcing consistent naming conventions for shelves, racks, and boxes.
  • Maintaining guidelines for how and where samples should be stored.
  • Ensuring every freezer user receives the same training on organization guidelines.
  • Adopting a system that gives everyone the ability to identify sample locations and conditions efficiently.


How Sample Management Systems Can Help

Efficient clinical sample inventory management is vital for research institutions. It streamlines and automates sample tracking, data recording, and overall inventory management. Such systems not only save time but also enhance data integrity and compliance with regulatory standards. As your lab continues to grow and collect more samples, it’s essential to expect and plan for scalability with sample and data management.

Key features to look for in these systems include:

  • Full history and chain of custody tracking for each sample.
  • Customizable metadata to relevant information capture.
  • Support for barcoding and unique human-readable sample IDs.
  • Templated task-based workflows for SOP management.
  • Integration with freezer management and assay data capture.

Whether you’re currently struggling with lab efficiency or want to prepare for future growth, implementing these tips can significantly improve your clinical sample management. And if you’re ready for a solution, LabKey’s Sample Manager is designed to support long-term needs, with features that evolve with your lab’s growth. If you’re interested in learning more, consider scheduling a demo to see the system in action and discuss your specific needs.


Learn more about Clinical Lab Sample Management

Clinical Sample Management & Compliance in the Lab

Learn more

Clinical Sample Tracking for Labs and Researchers

Learn more

Clinical Sample Management – 4 Essential Questions for Better Tracking & Compliance in the Lab

Learn more