Developments in IVD automation and instrumentation have been influenced by trends emerging in lab medicine.
A number of trends in laboratory medicine directly affect the evolution of the clinical chemistry lab. All of these trends are connected to reducing costs and trying to get work done with fewer lab personnel, since lab technologists are becoming a rare resource and there is pressure to maintain quick results turnaround.
The first effect of these trends is automating the preanalytical sample preparation steps of registering the samples in the laboratory information system, centrifuging the blood tubes, and preparing them to be sampled. The second effect is the consolidation of high-volume immunoassays onto a single workstation with clinical chemistries.
Another trend is emerging as the post-genome era unfolds. Increasing numbers of specimens will arrive in the laboratory for molecular tests. Laboratory automation will need to evolve to maintain closed-tube sampling for DNA analysis because of the increased possibility of cross-contamination. It is expected that all automated lab instruments will offer cap piercing.
Moreover, the intense consolidation among IVD manufacturers, commoditization of most chemistry offerings, and increasing price pressures have pushed the cost per test of routine chemistries to low levels. The average 1-2% annual growth in this segment derives from new tests in the area of lipid analysis, proteins, hormones and enzymes related to research in diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other acute and chronic conditions.
Taking into account such trends, this supplement will discuss some of the latest technology developments in automation and instrumentation.
Authors Thierry Bernard and Jean-Louis Tissier of bioMérieux Inc. (Marcy l'Etoile, France) discuss the developments and challenges in creating a fully automated microbiology lab. Their article, “The Coming of Age of Microbiology Laboratory Automation,” examines how full automation for microbiology is no longer a distant possibility, but rather is being implemented in labs around the world.
Author Gary Helstern of Diba Industries Inc. (Danbury, CT) explores a new technology that was developed for fluid-connection fittings used in clinical analyzers. His article, “Optimizing the Performance of Precision Fluid Connections in Analyzers,” looks at how this technology ensures that fittings are properly tightened and thus supports an optimum level of fluid-handling system performance.
Author Niels Wartenberg of Microscan Systems (Renton, WA) discusses how bar code identification plays a pivotal part in ensuring patient safety and enabling laboratory automation. His article, “Customizing Interface Software to Prevent Unnecessary Bar Code Read Failures,” serves as a guide for engineers as they determine what parameters provide value to the user and which ones do not.