Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Can Your Laboratory Afford Not to Automate?

In today’s healthcare environment, laboratories must increase productivity and faced substantially reduced operating budgets. We are often pushed to meet our physicians’ demands for timely report that only a staff twice the current size could comfortably handle. For many, laboratory automation will be the key to Achieving this goal, to reduce many of the labour-intensive tasks involving sample preparation and analysis, and dramatically improved the quality and consistency of test results.

Medical errors can originate in the laboratories if patient samples are mislabeled, if results are inaccurate or if information does not reach physicians before they need to make crucial treatment decisions. Laboratories worldwide are now installing functional automation systems and information technology applications to increase capacities, eliminate sources of errors, standardize and speed the processes to help us rid many of the problems in the manual methods. Complete automation of the testing process is the goal of the next generation total laboratory automation. This automation is targeted to include the steps of specimen processing, transport, and loading into instrument systems, as well as the automatic release and distribution of test results. These systems also consolidate tests that were traditionally performed by different sections of a laboratory, providing high-volume broad-menu work stations. With automation, laboratories progressed from labour intensive processes to streamlined efficient processes that produce more results with greater reliability.

Through our technology may be automated and speed complex operations, but in reality, it is not as simple nor eliminated errors. We may only have replaced them with new errors. It then become our responsibilities to ensure the software and instrumentation we buy is going to work correctly and when required, to manually check the test process against what is happening with the software.