Part 1: Instrument Platform Selection
A long standing approach to instrument acquisition is to purchase mirror image platforms to ensure that analyzers are always available for testing particularly during downtime. Manufacturers have improved analyzer up-time with more reliable systems, reduced scheduled preventive maintenance, and dial-in diagnostics for real time problem solving. Service reps are far better prepared when on-site. Some labs opt to purchase a primary analyzer with a smaller, less expensive back-up. This is especially true in healthcare systems where a “sister” facility may be in proximity to serve as the back-up.
Part 2: Spare capacity – How much?
Instrument manufacturers are notorious for over-selling platforms creating excessive spare capacity, especially in a laboratory system environment where standardization is a key concept. Some laboratorians mistake standardization as identical, rather than selecting from a family of analyzers. The important point is to acquire the right-size analyzer that matches test menu and volume. Keeping within a family of analyzers helps to ensure that reference ranges are consistent across the continuum of care allowing for tracking and trending of laboratory data for both individual patients and population studies.
Part 3: When to Automate?
Automation can be an important tool to enhanced productivity and the best use of personnel. But is there an ROI? We found that these three processes must be in place to achieve a positive return.
- Lab receives instrument-ready barcoded specimens that show date/time/initials of collector
- Front-end processor can “receive” specimens in the lab
- Results auto-verification is in place