Today, laboratory automation is a key issue for hospitals around the world. But where does a laboratory automation system start and where does it end? Does the system start at the check-in desk or when the samples are put on the preanalytical line?
We believe it all starts with the patient!
The primary objective of automation of laboratories is to optimize the processes by which hospitals analyze blood samples. It enables hospitals to capitalize on technologies in the laboratory equipment that enable new and improved processes.
Automated laboratory systems increase the productivity of sample testing and hence significantly reduces the process cycle times of the lab. Essentially this yields a higher degree of both efficiency and effectiveness in the lab. The positive results from traditional lab automation are realized from when the blood sample reaches the lab and to the results assisting the doctor to make a diagnosis.
As response times are lessened in the laboratory there are still several hands involved in getting the samples to the lab. By combining the installation of a Tempus600 system with an automated laboratory, even more benefits, savings and better turnaround times are realized.
New technology makes predictability a new factor in sending blood samples directly to the laboratory as a single tube transport, arriving safely seconds after they are taken.
The sample tubes are sent immediately after being drawn without requiring any further packing. As soon as a sample tube is loaded, the system is ready for the next.
The result of predictable and faster transportation time for blood samples is vital for hospital budgets: Increased efficiency in patient discharge enables a shorter length of stay through an increasing share of outpatient treatment
Installation of the Tempus600 system will significantly decrease the blood sample transportation time and hence increase all the positive variables and aims of an automated lab. The operating cost is reduced, the risks of error due to human intervention decreases, and it yields the ability to provide higher quality data. Further, a positive chain reaction begins not only in the lab but from when the phlebotomist draws the blood through to the doctor notifying the patient.
After the blood sample is drawn it must be transported to the laboratory. This could be a journey of a few meters or perhaps 500 meters. The distance is not important if you have a reliable and dedicated transport system like Tempus600. Simply place the sample in the inlet of the Tempus600 sending station and the sample is on its way to the laboratory. The procedure only takes 5 - 10 minutes. When the sample lands in the laboratory 15-60 seconds later the preanalytical phase start up immediately. In total 11 minutes is used and it is all tracked in the Laboratory Information System.
Afterwards, the laboratory work starts up - decapping, aliquoting, centrifuge, analyze, storage etc. This can vary between 15-60 minutes. Finally, the doctor receives the result by e-mail and the patient can be treated immediately.
The laboratory automation starts with the patient and ends with the patient and, the Total Turnaround Time for the blood samples is average 45 – 60 minutes.
Get a better TAT
An efficient way to reduce turnaround time is to transport and analyze blood samples by the FIFO principle (First In, First Out). This can be done by implementing a one-piece flow of blood samples from the ward to the lab instead of bundling the samples before sending them.
When the laboratory receives the blood samples in an even flow you avoid peak times and queuing of samples. Optimal use of the analysis equipment can also be achieved. Sometimes it is even possible to spare an analyzer in the laboratory.
Compared to one-piece flow, working in batches can increase processing time. Here is an example.
The batch, let’s say 5 samples are coming out of the tube (PTS). First, you need to unpack them and then you must walk from the PTS receiver to the analyzing equipment. In an ordinary hospital, the walking distance between the PTS receiver and the analyzing equipment is 10 meters. The laboratory receives approximately 2500 samples daily, this means walking 5 km with the samples each day. The average walking speed is 5 km pr. hour. This is 1 hour of walking per day per person.
The sample travels 7-10 meters per second from an area close to the point of drawing the blood directly to the lab or even into the automated system. Increasing the efficiency of both the lab and hospital, providing quick response times and ensuring that unnecessary resources are not lost on “staff-in-transit”. It means that valuable and competent staff resources are used where they matter the most.
The capacity of each Tempus600 installation is several samples per minute, which in turn assures an even flow of samples reaching the lab; as opposed to the arrival of massive batches of samples. A spillover effect of this could be that the initial investment in laboratory equipment could be lesser due to less sample queuing.
Tempus600 solution connects the ward directly to the lab. Thus, all the samples arrive in the lab within a minute, every time, without any priority and change of hands. Removing bundles of blood samples and instead of handling the samples by the FIFO principle, allows hospitals to benefit from the efficiency of the analysis equipment and reduce the processing time of blood samples. This leads to the fastest and best treatment of patients which again leads to savings in bedtime!