How to start a laboratory business
Some labs are started to test out a new technology. Other people start labs in order to meet an unmet need in a particular area. Whatever the reason, it’s always important to follow the right steps in starting your LIMS Systems before you begin your actual work of testing, analyzing, and collecting data. The following are a few steps to help you get your lab up and running:
- Decide which tests your lab will offer. It might be tempting to offer every type of test in your field of expertise. However, remember that with each test comes different staffing, equipment, and technology needs. Be sure to focus on the tests that will be the most in demand and send out other small volume tests to smaller, specialized labs at first.
- Hire a laboratory director. What credentials or education your director will need depends on the type of work he or she will be overseeing. For a smaller laboratory, you may consider starting off with a part-time lab director, which can result in big savings for your lab.
- Find a good location. Make sure that the building offers everything needed for laboratory procedures including a good HVAC system, proper plumbing, hard flooring, and ventilation.
- Get accredited. Many lab owners prefer to work with a non-profit like COLA rather than a federal accrediting agency like CLIA because they have a lot more advance notice of inspections and more up-front guidance on proper procedures.
- File the application: Filing the CMS 116 can take anywhere from one to six months. Be ready to pay fees for filing and processing the application.
- Buy your instruments. Call several different laboratory equipment vendors and get quotes from each of them. You can try to ask for a lower price or see if the vendor might throw in some extra service bonus, such as lower interest rates on a loan, longer lease terms, or an extra year of service. Timing is also key. Sales reps need to meet their quotas at the end of each quarter or year, and are much more amenable to bargaining around those times.
- Pick out which LIMS systems your lab will use. Most LIMS systems are cloud-based, so make sure you have good IT security to protect all your customers’ sensitive data.
- Decide how you will handle billing. If you outsource billing, you can often get their help with getting set up on different insurance panels. This can save you time and hassle in the long run. Some labs prefer to have all billing and coding done in house. The choice is up to you.
- Hire the right staff members. When you first start your lab, you might want to start with people who can fill several roles until you can hire more people to specialize.