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Clinical Labs: Meeting changing demands

The equipment and operations in medical labs must continually change to keep up with developments in the medical arena. Many years ago, tests were performed in relatively small batches, most often manually, with relatively simple instruments. Today, large volumes of specimens are processed on highly specialized, fully automatic analyzers; high throughput is a requirement. The quantity and types of tests being performed increase constantly while the number of qualified lab personnel continues to decrease. At the same time, there is a steady reduction in the payment for diagnostic services with a constant demand for higher quality. These pressures have caused many labs to merge, creating larger entities where specialization has led to greater efficiencies.


Automation and TLA
Specimens are tested today on high-efficiency, highly automated analyzers. The large IVD manufacturers constantly invest vast sums to develop faster and more powerful instruments. There are even complete systems, track systems, that automate everything from the pre-analytical phase to the post-analytical, including hematology, clinical chemistry, and all more areas. Such systems are called TLA, or Total Lab Automation.

 

Track systems are extremely expensive and often inflexible. Systems from a single vendor are called closed systems because they only accept analyzers from that vendor. They can be difficult to re-align as your lab grows and commit the lab to working with that single vendor until the system is fully amortized. New TLA’s are offered by smaller, independent manufacturers. They are called open systems because they work with analyzers from all suppliers. This offers a clinical lab flexibility and lower cost, not necessarily during the initial installation but over the life of the track. Lower costs and higher efficiencies lead to faster ROI, and the possibility to replace older technologies as more modern devices become available.


Laboratory efficiency beyond TLA
As a general rule, the Pareto Principle applies to clinical labs too (80:20 rule – 80% of results come from 20% of the effort). This is critical when considering automation. Using too much automation can raise the individual test costs disproportionately and efficiency, defined as cost per test, increases.

 

ASP Lab Automation offers efficiency beyond automation. Our products, coupled with our understanding of clinical lab operations, can achieve the greatest cost efficiencies. Your lab is not only ready for the challenges it faces today, but has the flexibility it needs to meet the rising demands of tomorrow.


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