Covering long distances presents a challenge for NordLab

Published 26.06.2013

Covering long distances presents a challenge for NordLab

NordLab, the geographically largest clinical laboratory in Finland, was established at the beginning of 2013 by uniting the regional laboratories of northern and northeastern Finland.

According to Rauno Luttinen, Managing Director of NordLab, the need to establish NordLab – officially the Laboratory Centre of The Business-based Joint Municipal Authority of Northern Finland (NordLab) – rose from the weakening financial situation of municipalities and the upcoming boom in pensions.

– By joining forces, the laboratory center aims for cost-effectiveness and availability of competent employees. Another benefit for patients is that they can freely select the sampling laboratory of their choice.

NordLab has set ambitious targets for operations: by the end of 2015, operating costs should be 8% lower than in 2010. Savings will be achieved through joint acquisitions and centralized analytics – in the future, not all laboratories will carry out all types of analyses.

– Naturally, there are certain samples that need to be analyzed on the spot to get results without delays. No laboratories will be shut down, but their exact tasks have not been specified yet, Luttinen says.

Logistics is of key importance

Long distances in the north are a challenge for the laboratory center. Regional laboratories are approximately 200 kilometers (some 125 miles) apart and the distance between customers from the southernmost municipality of Perho and the northernmost municipality of Utsjoki can be 1,000 kilometers (about 620 miles).

– Efficient and cost-effective logistics is a key priority. We need to analyze our current activities and look for development areas, Luttinen says.

When laboratories join a common organization, their working methods will need to be unified as well. At the moment, only one of the regional laboratories, the regional laboratory of Oulu, is accredited. There are plans to obtain accreditation for the other laboratories, which will require changes in working methods.

Employees of the regional laboratories were transferred to NordLab and not re-hired and their attitudes towards NordLab are positive, says Luttinen.

– Our employees are looking forward to the opportunities that this change will bring.

Working cooperation

The laboratories in Oulu, Kokkola and Oulainen use Mylab’s systems.

According to Luttinen, Mylab is a great cooperation partner for laboratories.

– Cooperation has been very smooth and possible issues have been dealt with promptly, Luttinen says.

Alternatives for future information system solutions are being considered. NordLab can choose between a common laboratory information system that will be used throughout the laboratory center or different regional systems that communicate seamlessly with each other.

NordLab is the laboratory center of northern and northeastern Finland.  NordLab employs approximately 600 people and carries out 8.5 million tests each year.

Author: Virpi Ekholm, Photo: Teija Soini

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