In the past 40 years, laboratory automation has transformed laboratories. Starting from rudimentary technology in the 80s, it has now been applied to clinical laboratories worldwide. It enables laboratories to perform more tests, more types of tests, with fewer staff and lower per test costs. It has also changed the way laboratories work, especially in the clinical field. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of laboratory automation equipment and how they influence laboratory operations.
Laboratory automation has expanded to perform a large test menu in a group of small platforms. Combined with sorting and aliquoting systems, a large test menu can be done with limited personnel, eliminating a lot of manual labor. Not mentioned is the platform's flexibility allowing testing in a limited space, reducing water and power costs and equipment costs, which means capital expenses can be depreciated over more tests.
Eliminating the need for human handling of specimens means specimens can be prepared faster for testing. This means biochemical tests can be done faster, and techniques from molecular diagnostics, liquid chromatography, and even microbiology and tissue cultures can be performed without intervention. This means testing can be done faster than if it was done manually, resulting in faster turnaround time for test results. Adopting lab automation equipment ensures that medical professionals and scientists can complete laboratory testing with increased efficiency and accuracy, ultimately improving both patient care and laboratory productivity.
Laboratory information systems have been used to track patient results and trends. Laboratory automation equipment can work with LIS systems to allow more complex test ordering, suggesting appropriate tests based on results. Combined with health information systems, this information can provide information for treatment decisions and guide more effective treatment based on how past treatments led to specific prognoses based on laboratory results.
Laboratory automation equipment is customizable to meet specific laboratory needs. The number and type of available modules mean different testing technologies can be added and removed as technology advances. This enables laboratories to evolve along with their patient populations and technological advances, meaning services provided will be more relevant to the patient population. This also limits the risk of being outdated, proving the overall capital cost justification. By leveraging the flexibility and customization of automated laboratory systems, laboratories can enhance their efficiency, improve the accuracy of testing, and deliver better patient care.
Reduced manual labor means laboratory professionals have more free time to communicate with their healthcare colleagues on how laboratory testing is performed. They can guide them on tests that help effectively answer clinical questions and avoid potentially unnecessary tests. They can also help explain the scientific principles behind the tests, enabling healthcare providers to better understand the patient in front of them and adjust treatment accordingly.