Image source: Beckman Coulter
The clinical laboratory has gone through trial by fire in 2020, where total testing was 245% of baseline volumes, with ~55% being SARS-CoV-2 molecular tests.1 Despite vaccines, many industry players suggest SARS-CoV-2 testing volumes won’t be impacted in the near term, and the demand for Covid-19-related testing will continue through 2021 and potentially into 2022.2 This means that testing-volume pressure on labs is going to continue.
Labs of all sizes are facing the same challenges: shortage of laboratory technologists and technicians3, historic financial pressures on hospitals and health systems4, and physically and mentally exhausted laboratory professionals5 – a pre-pandemic problem that has since been exacerbated. However, the TLA solutions that cater to labs processing high-sample volumes are out of reach for smaller volume labs due to space requirements and infrastructure constraints. “When we look at automation for our labs it's a balancing act between system throughput capacity, test menu and footprint of the system. At the Harrogate District Hospital site, we knew that a large automated system will be too large and excessive and a standalone system doesn't give us the streamlined workflow we want. What we needed was a compact automation system that reduced the number of steps, requiring minimum human intervention and generated a valid result at first pass so that our lab professionals are not moving samples around but performing the valuable scientific tasks they are trained for," said Afruj Ruf, managing director at Integrated Pathology Solutions LLP, Airedale NHS Foundation Trust. "From its compact footprint and minimizing manual work by 80%, to intelligent routing that makes sure our acute patients get their results faster than routine ones, the DxA 5000 Fit was just the right fit for us."
In a survey, lab directors and managers were asked to identify the key challenges hospital labs are facing. The results found that staffing (26%) and turnaround time (23%) were identified as top priorities.6 Automation plays a key role in helping to address many of these issues while enabling precious resources to focus on high-value, clinical tasks – this has proven particularly true during the Covid-19 pandemic.7
“For large laboratories, TLA is a reality today. However, for medium-volume labs like ours that process fewer than 4,000 tests per day, comprehensive workflow-automation solutions haven’t been an option,” said Susan Enciso, System Supervisor of Chemistry, Excela Health. “Beckman Coulter’s DxA 5000 Fit solution is the right fit for us. It has a flexible design which is important in a lab like ours where space is a precious commodity; and reduces our manual process steps by up to 80%, helping us meet today’s unprecedented need for Covid-19 and routine tests.”
With the DxA 5000 Fit, mid-sized labs can enjoy the same benefits as larger-volume labs:
- Comprehensive workflow automation to reduce up to 80% of manual steps through pre-analytical, analytical and post-analytical automation8, conserving precious human resources to do higher-value clinical work
- Intelligent routing with dynamically calculated route planning for rapid and consistent TAT, with STATs always prioritized to deliver results faster
- Flexible design that can be adapted to meet a mid-volume lab’s space and infrastructure constraints
“We chose the DxA 5000 Fit because it offers us end-to-end automation and will automate a lot of the pre- and post-analytical routine work our skilled technologists spend their time doing,” said Dr Hervé Vermeulen, lab director at Centre Hospitalier de Calais. “We look forward to lower, more consistent TATs and significant efficiency gains from the industry’s most comprehensive pre-analytical sample-quality assessment combined with automated pre-analytical sample processing and connected chemistry and immunoassay analysers.”
“At Beckman Coulter, we believe that medium-size labs should be able to leverage the benefits of automation to address their challenges. Just because your lab is not processing a higher number of samples, doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the benefits of intelligent laboratory automation and settle for a marginally automated workcell-plus solution,” said Dr Peter Soltani, senior vice president & general manager, haematology, urinalysis & workflow information technology solutions at Beckman Coulter. “This is why we have launched DxA 5000 Fit, the first compact workflow automation solution that’s the right fit for mid-volume labs because automation should be for all labs.”
2 Bonislawski, A. "How Will Labs Use Expanded Molecular Testing Capacities Post-COVID-19?" 360 Dx. December 20, 2020. [Accessed: January 28, 2021]
6 National Health System Crisis Readiness Report 2020 Edition. Accumen. August 27, 2020. [Accessed October 6, 2020]
7 Gramz, J. "The benefits of lab automation to facilitate testing for SARS-CoV-2." November 19, 2020. [Accessed: March 1, 2021]
8 Based on Beckman Coulter analysis of typical clinical diagnostics laboratory workflow steps. Step counts may vary.
Source: Beckman Coulter