Health ITTotal Laboratory Automation: The Pros & Cons

Every day, technological advancements improve the way we live and work. Technological advancements have, in one way or another, impacted industries around the world. This includes the clinical laboratory industry.

In this article, we are going to outline the pros and cons of total laboratory automation within the clinical laboratory industry.

What Is Total Laboratory Automation?

Total laboratory automation (TLA) is a technological breakthrough that includes integrating an advanced system into a laboratory setting to streamline the laboratory process. Clinical laboratories are a crucial element within the healthcare industry.

Microbiology labs, for example, are responsible for identifying microorganisms and creating treatments to effectively fight, control and prevent infections and other illnesses. They played a significant role in the fight against COVID-19.

Clinical laboratories, including Microbiology labs, already use rigid systems and streamlined processes to ensure that lab testing is safe, fast and effective.

However, with total laboratory automation, clinical labs can automate processes and tasks from sample handling and preparation to analysis and data reporting. It can also improve accuracy, quality, efficiency and safety within laboratory settings.

What Are The Benefits Of Total Laboratory Automation?

It may come as no surprise that total laboratory automation has a wide range of benefits and is already being rolled out in some laboratory settings. The key benefits include:

  • Time efficiency – Automating repetitive tasks, such as sample handling, can significantly increase the speed of key processes within a lab.
  • Improve accuracy – TLA reduces the likelihood of human error and improves accuracy, which is key in an environment where precision is so important. Studies show that the implementation of total laboratory automation can cut the number of lost specimens by up to 50%!
  • Reduce costs – Mistakes in a laboratory setting can be costly. With total laboratory automation, mistakes are significantly reduced… as are costs! Also, total laboratory automation will reduce the number of employees required in the lab, meaning money will be saved on wages in the long run.
  • Increased productivity – In a clinical laboratory setting where time is of the essence, having consistently high levels of productivity is important to meet deadlines. With total laboratory automation, clinical labs can process a high number of samples in a relatively short period, meaning the lab can meet increased demand without compromising the quality of results.
  • Room for scalability – Total laboratory automation systems can be integrated within laboratories of all sizes, meaning smaller labs can introduce TLA and scale the system as the laboratory expands.

What Are The Drawbacks Of Total Laboratory Automation?

As with most technological advancements, total laboratory automation has some drawbacks and may not be suitable for all clinical laboratories. The key drawbacks to consider include:

  • Loss of employees and skillset – Although TLA streamlines a clinical laboratory setting, having a smaller team is not always a good thing. With total laboratory automation, some laboratory employees will no longer be needed, which leads to laboratories losing vital team members. Unfortunately, this also means that there will be fewer experts trained in specific laboratory technologies.
  • High initial cost – Total laboratory automation will save money in the long term. But initially, it is incredibly expensive to obtain and install the technological systems needed to automate a laboratory. The cost usually includes automation equipment, software, and infrastructure changes. In addition, further resources and funding must be reserved for maintenance of the automation system, including equipment maintenance, software updates, and troubleshooting.
  • Initial disruption to the laboratory – Integrating a TLA system is a complex and time-consuming task that requires significant planning to ensure that the system is customised to the needs of the laboratory needs. Once installed, the TLA system then needs validating and testing, which further increases the time and disruption to the everyday laboratory processes.

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Digital Health Buzz!

Digital Health Buzz!

Digital Health Buzz! aims to be the destination of choice when it comes to what’s happening in the digital health world. We are not about news and views, but informative articles and thoughts to apply in your business.

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