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First-of-its-Kind Automated Laboratory Speeds Results for Regional Health

May 24, 2017 03:59PM ● By The Hood Magazine

The core laboratory at Rapid City Regional Hospital has begun using a new state-of-the-art automated laboratory, the first of its kind in South Dakota. Hospital officials expect the new system from Beckman Coulter Diagnostics to hasten the delivery of critical test results to providers while decreasing the potential for error.

“Seventy percent of medical decisions are based on lab results,” says Regional Health Laboratory Senior Director Michelle Barthel. “Instrumentation, automation, and clinical IT solutions offered by Beckman Coulter were a perfect fit to meet our test volumes and clinical needs.”

Routing specimens through four analyzers, the system will automate the preparation and transportation of approximately 200,000 specimens of blood and bodily fluids collected annually from within the Regional Health network, independent nursing homes, hospitals, and clinics across the region. By standardizing processes throughout the organization, the system promotes continuity of care for patients regardless of where they are seen within Regional Health’s network of 5,000 physicians and caregivers.

The system frees laboratory professionals to spend more time on analyses. It will also assist in the proper prioritization of tests and, in most cases, electronically post the results directly to patient records. As many as 50 assays may be in process at any time, with test results posting as fast as every seven seconds.
The typical amount of time it takes to process priority samples is around 35 minutes. Laboratory leaders expect the new system to reduce median processing times at the stroke and heart attack treatment center to between 25 and 30 minutes, while virtually eliminating longer outliers.
Patients, meanwhile, can look forward to needing fewer blood draws. Most samples undergo more than one test, and it's not uncommon for additional tests to be added later. The new automation line will immediately process tests that have been added by providers.
“The best health system in America requires the best laboratory services, and that’s the thought process that went into the design of our facilities, both at the core and the satellite labs,” says Barthel.

The system was put in place and laboratory operations were up and running in just six weeks, in contrast to the average six-month installation period.