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Inside the Lab Technology and innovation

Transformation Through Automation

sponsored by Abbott

In the dynamic landscape of contemporary healthcare, technology is reshaping traditional practices. A striking testament to this transformation is the remarkable journey undertaken by the Hospital Universitario y Politécnico La Fe in Valencia, Spain. Through the strategic adoption of cutting-edge automation systems, the institution has not only optimized its operational efficiency but has also established itself as a pioneer in the realm of laboratory medicine.

During the transition to a new facility, La Fe had two bold objectives: i) to minimize manual interventions across various phases of laboratory processes – from preanalytical to analytical and post-analytical – and ii) to create a streamlined pathway for managing STAT (short turnaround time) samples. All efforts were geared towards ensuring swift and accurate diagnostic outcomes – an inarguably crucial factor in delivering effective patient care.

One important part of achieving its aim was the creation of a versatile system that could seamlessly process samples and data, while adhering to established indicators that are central to effective laboratory management. Notably, La Fe’s samples originate from a diverse range of sources, including a broad spectrum of patients – from pediatric to adult – as well as inpatient units, primary care centers, and allied healthcare facilities spanning the region.

Impressively, the hospital’s innovative approach goes beyond procedural optimization. By incorporating two dedicated “towers,” our track design allows the test tubes running on the cars on the track to be elevated – therefore creating space for pathways and corridors under this elevated track area. The hospital was able to overcome architectural barriers and not only improve sample transport but also create a dedicated personnel corridor – exemplifying the hospital’s commitment to efficient workflow management.

Abbott’s Alinity systems played a pivotal role in La Fe’s transformation. In fact, the hospital is currently equipped with four triple Alinity systems – three of which house dual biochemistry modules and one immunoassay module; the fourth houses 2 immunoassay modules and one biochemistry module. The integration of these systems has helped reimagine laboratory operations, seamlessly organizing centrifugation, decapping, aliquoting, and sample archiving with an unparalleled level of precision. Indeed, one major achievement is the estimated 40 percent reduction in aliquoting, which has helped further optimize resource utilization and streamline workflows.

The hospital also relies on AbbottLink – a performance evaluation tool that informs the expansion of its instrument portfolio, guided by predetermined parameters. AbbottLink is a system that creates seamless connectivity between Abbott instruments and allows for synergy between laboratory software, data files, and applications – all the while offering real-time troubleshooting and system monitoring of the lab.

Another essential ingredient in this success story is the meticulous sample traceability mechanism, which offers a comprehensive view of sample movement – enhancing transparency and accountability across the laboratory ecosystem. Of particular note is the inherent flexibility built into the track system, which allows for future equipment expansion and evolving diagnostic demands.

Beyond operational efficiency, the integration of automation has also resulted in increased safety enhancements and error mitigation. Reduced human intervention curtails the risk of human error, thus fostering a safer environment for laboratory professionals, as well as their patients. The shift in approach has also had an impact on the workspace itself; by eliminating compressors, the track system effectively mitigates noise and heat generation, creating a more congenial and efficient working environment for laboratory personnel.

In the contemporary realm of healthcare, where technology is increasingly becoming a major driving force, Hospital Universitario y Politécnico La Fe emerges as an example of perfectly executed innovation. By harnessing the transformative potential of automation, La Fe has not only redefined what laboratory medicine can be, but has also set a new standard of precision, efficiency, and patient-centric care.

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