New automated laboratory testing system speeds up results and improves quality

April 03, 2018

HERSHEY, Pa. — When you go shopping for testing equipment responsible for churning out 5,000 or more specimens per day — some of which have life-changing or therapy-altering implications — you have to make sure you really get what you pay for. That’s why a team of more than a dozen people took its time selecting the Roche cobas 8000 Chemistry Analyzer and 8100 Pre-analytical System, an automated laboratory testing system so complex that you half expect it to whip up a cappuccino with extra froth for you while it processes patient samples on its conveyor belt-style “track.”

“We were looking for a way to consolidate several different analyzers into one system, connected by a very robust automation line,” says Terri Neibauer, senior technical specialist at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center’s Automated Testing Laboratory. “We knew that the right system could help reduce the burden of manual sample tracking, expand our offerings for tests and improve our turnaround time, accuracy and quality.”

The team already has assurance they made the right choice.

“The initial perks of the Roche system were practical. It takes the place of numerous analyzers we had all over the lab, each one serviced by a different company with its own procedures,” says Thomas Stipe, manager of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Administration at the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. Starting in 2015, Stipe and his laboratory team members made trips to several other hospital systems to see the system and its competitors in action.

“The cobas system processes samples faster and more accurately, so it opens many future opportunities for capacity, quality assurance and research,” says Stipe. “Selecting it was the best way to make the possibilities we wanted available to us all at once.”

The new system — which, when added to renovation expenses, totaled over $6 million — has resulted in significant improvements in laboratory function. For example, simply reducing “flagged” samples from 20 percent down to 10 percent means technicians have 500 fewer samples they need to manually review and interpret each day.

“All in all, the new system will enable laboratory specialists to spend more time analyzing results that really need their expert interpretation,” Stipe says. “It also opens up time for essential quality improvement projects and better communication with clinicians.”

And that’s not all. The new automated system has direct implications for patient care — the team’s primary consideration in upgrading the lab’s equipment.

Learn more about the system, and how it will improve patient care, in this Penn State Medicine article.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 04, 2018