Laboratory Integration Unit
The mission of the Laboratory Integration Unit is to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of state and local public health laboratory testing services for better public health surveillance and health protection nationally.
The nation’s public health laboratories perform critically needed services to protect Americans’ health and support patient diagnosis and treatment. Yet, they face serious challenges that stem from new health threats, complex new testing methods, information technology advances, and other factors. CDC is committed to helping ensure that the public health laboratory system maintains continuous, 24/7 ability to address today’s health threats and those of the future.
Toward that goal, the Laboratory Integration Unit’s strategies are to:
- promote coordinated CDC support for an integrated, national public health laboratory system, and
- lead CDC’s Laboratory Efficiencies Initiative (LEI) partnership with public health laboratory leaders to ensure the long-term sustainability of the national public health laboratory system.
The Laboratory Efficiencies Initiative
CDC and the Association of Public Health Laboratories inaugurated the LEI in 2011. The LEI is helping public health laboratories across the country adopt new approaches and tools to build a strong platform for current and future testing services. Over 100 public health laboratory directors and senior staff are contributing to the LEI.
Specific, high-efficiency practices public health laboratories are exploring through the LEI include, among others:
- Sharing of testing services across states
- Improved data consolidation and access
- Enhanced models of testing service organization
- Development and application of informatics solutions
- Laboratory workforce development
- Workflow efficiency assessments, and
- Procurement cost-savings.
LEI Tools and Resources
A high LEI priority is to develop new tools and resources that public health laboratory leaders and their colleagues can use to improve laboratories’ effectiveness and sustainability. A number of tools and resources have been developed since the LEI’s inception:
- The “Public Health Laboratory System Database” (2014—beta version) that public health laboratory professionals can use to vastly improve access to, and management of, information about test services, equipment, and other operational components. The database also will become the basis for a comprehensive national directory of public health laboratory testing services (2015—planned).
- The “Policy Guide for Public Health Laboratory Test Service Sharing” that laboratory directors and their colleagues can use to explore legal and other policy questions related to sharing test services among states’ laboratories. The “Policy Guide for Public Health Laboratory Test Service Sharing” (2014)
- “Consensus Competencies for Public Health Laboratory Professionals” (2015—planned), a first-ever, comprehensive basis for workforce competency assessment that public health laboratory professionals can use to address multiple workforce needs and develop a variety of resources, including competency-based training. Access an overview of the competencies project at http://www.aphl.org/MRC/Documents/LEI_2013Jan_PHL-Competencies-Project-Overview.pdf
- The “Informatics Self-Assessment Tool for Public Health Laboratories (2013), a resource to assist laboratories in assessing current informatics capabilities and addressing gaps through standards-based best practices. http://www.aphl.org/aphlprograms/lss/Laboratory-Efficiencies-Initiative/Pages/Informatics.aspx
- “Public Health Laboratory Systems: At the Crossroads”, fifteen articles on challenges and opportunities for public health laboratories. Public Health Reports, Vol. 128 Supplement 2, Sept.-Oct. 2013
- “A Practical Guide to Assessing and Planning Implementation of Public Health Laboratory Service Changes” (2012), a tool for laboratory directors who are considering new approaches to testing services, based on five case examples.
- LEAN training to help public health laboratories analyze workflow techniques to eliminate inefficiencies from laboratory procedures and the laboratory workspace.
LEI Stakeholder Meetings
Since mid-2011, APHL and CDC have convened a series of focused meetings of stakeholders and subject matter experts to discuss, plan, and develop LEI goals, strategies, and products:
- Focus groups on high-efficiency management practices and on practical metrics for determining the return on investment in public health laboratories.
- Test Service Data Meetings (December 2011, April 2012, and August 2013): to develop recommendations and activities to improve the collection, management, and access to data on existing test service capability in state and local public health laboratories. Access the 2011 and 2012 meeting summaries at
- Standardization Meeting (April 2012): to launch the development of a test platform standardization strategy so that assays can be developed, deployed, and used by public health laboratories in a manner that maximizes the financial and personnel resources available. Access the meeting summary at http://www.aphl.org/MRC/Documents/LEI_2012April11_Standardization-Platforms-Summary-Report.pdf.
- Informatics Meetings (December 2011 and May 2012): to initiate a project to assess public health laboratories' informatics capabilities and address barriers to efficiency. Access the meeting summaries at
- Director’s Forums (April 2012): to gain public health laboratory leaders’ input on LEI goals and strategies. Access a summary of the forums at http://www.aphl.org/MRC/Documents/LEI_2012April17_PHL-Directors-Forum.pdf.
- Partners’ Forums (December 2012 and December 2013): to engage public health practice partners in shaping the LEI to align with and support their priorities. Access the forum summaries at
- Policy Meeting (August 2012): to identify potential legal and policy barriers to improved public health laboratory effectiveness and sustainability and to explore potential solutions to such barriers. Access the meeting summary at http://www.aphl.org/MRC/Documents/LEI_2012Aug17_Legal-Policy-WorkGroup-Meeting-Summary.pdf.
- Procurement Forum (January 2012): to discuss the implementation of new business approaches in public health laboratories to make equipment, services, and supplies more affordable. Access the forum summary at http://www.aphl.org/MRC/Documents/LEI_2012March_NCPHLL-Procurement-Meeting-Summary.pdf.
- Workforce Strategic Planning Meeting (May 2013): to design a public health laboratory workforce strategic plan. Access the meeting executive summary at
The LEI webpage at www.aphl.org/lei
- Page last reviewed: May 19, 2014
- Page last updated: July 18, 2014
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