Total Laboratory Automation (TLA)
Total Laboratory Automation (TLA) is an automation system for the performance of highly repetitive tasks in the Laboratory. It replaces human operators in the preparation and transport of specimens, with robotic devices. Laboratory automation consolidates the control of multiple different analytical instruments to a smaller number of operators. This way the automation reduces the costs in laboratory testing.
Benefits of Laboratory automation
Benefits of Laboratory automation include reduction of human errors in specimen handling. It also improves the overall process control, and offers faster turn-around-times (TAT) from specimen collection to test result reporting. Additionally, most clinical laboratories in order to face the falling reimbursements for medical services, face a decision about implementing Total Laboratory Automation (TLA) or portions of it, to reduce operating costs.
Many clinical labs worldwide are converting to total laboratory automation. There are strong evidence that automation not only heightens profitability but also improves quality, timeliness, and lab flexibility. After that, a grate percentage of hematology and clinical chemistry analyse their tests completely automatically.
Total Laboratory Automation empowers labs to:
- Meet changing needs with agility
- Streamline operational efficiency
- Advance workflow capabilities
- Improve productivity at justified cost.
Laboratory testing and automation
Laboratory testing is an instrument-centric, high-volume clinical engine inside the healthcare laboratories. Instruments have grown both in size and scale. Additionally, lines of automation for laboratory samples bring fast and accurate routing of specimens to specific points in the laboratory work flow. Therefore, automation solutions are beginning to extend their footprints into other areas of the laboratory such as microbiology and molecular diagnostics.
Pre- and post-analytic portions of the laboratory work flow comprise all of the necessary laboratory steps. Steps include the accepting of clinical specimens into the laboratory, processing, preparation for testing, testing, up to the final disposition. Similarly the typical pre-analytic work flow involves some specimen identification, accessioning and labeling and routing to the correct laboratory section. As the specimen nears the instrument for testing, other processing steps like centrifugation, de-capping, and aliquoting can happen in an automated fashion to prepare the sample for testing. After testing, the specimen can be re-capped and sent off for long-term storage. These typical steps in those work flows surrounding the test are shown below:
The pre-analytic phase alone is about 60% of the time and effort in the total specimen work flow. The estimates of the contribution of pre-analytic error to total laboratory error range from 30% to 86%. Instrument Automation and LIS usage in the laboratory, using conveyor belts and programmable robots created the first automated laboratory. Therefore it opened the door for the expansion of automation outside the confines of the instrument to reach the pre-analytic and the post-analytic work flow.
Present of laboratory automation
The Laboratory Information Systems (LIS systems) today are end-to-end platforms that govern the entire business process and work flow of the laboratory. Furthermore these IT systems are now mission-critical to the operation of a laboratory and must work in concert with instruments and automation.
The pre and post-analytic automation solutions are present in one of two varieties: open and closed. Of the two, closed automation is the more common. This type of automation solutions are those that instrument manufacturers provide and typically connect only to instruments from that vendor. Unless a single vendor has instruments in multiple parts of the lab, closed automation solutions exist as islands of automation around their specific parts of the lab.
Open automation solutions
Solutions of Automation exist independently from the instruments in the laboratory. These solutions are built by independent companies and interface to the instruments and the LIS to automate the pre- and post-analytic work flows. Moreover, open automation lines are able to interface to any instrument, regardless of the vendor. Furthermore the independence from a specific vendor allows open automation systems to transport specimens across various parts of the lab. Above all this provides a single automation solution for the entire laboratory.
In conclusion, the current climate for reimbursements for laboratory testing has only increased the importance of automation, with further reductions. That push laboratories to optimize laboratory throughput and quality, to keep up with the increasing demands. The Laboratory Information System ‘MediLab LIS’ is an advanced information System that includes all the necessary tools to help lab personnel to increase the automation level of the Lab. It also includes proper reporting to support the minimazation of TAT advancing the total laboratory’s performance.
Automation solution is a ‘must have’ for any clinical laboratory.