Next Generation of Lab Automation

July 20, 2012
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Aptio at Work

Big news from the Siemens booth this morning at the AACC conference. The diagnostics giant announced its “Aptio” platform, which it calls the next generation of lab automation. 

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Aptio at Work

Big news from the Siemens booth this morning at the AACC conference. The diagnostics giant announced its “Aptio” platform, which it calls the next generation of lab automation. 

The Aptio itself looks like a tiny freeway system complete with u-turns and intersections along which capped test tubes travel. Modular, the system allows connectivity with testing capabilities from centrifuge to an array of Siemen’s portfolio of automation-ready analyzers. An automated intake bin saves operators from setting test tubes into racks; the machine twists and turns the tubes until the bar code is readable and sets them onto the track. The bar code tells the machine which tests to run; lab personnel can track tubes individually as they are processed, and can prioritize rush cases to go to the head of the line. Once all tests are completed, the tubes can be sent to the refrigerator unit where they are stored for a specified period of time. What’s really cool about this is the fact that, should the doctor order additional tests on a sample that is stored in the fridge, it can be pulled automatically and sent back on the track for the specified test, without ever touching human hands. 

“What this type of automation does is saves trained personnel from performing menial and repetitive tasks when their skills could be better used for patient benefit,” said Maureen Kirby. “This system can be personalized, so staff can set the levels that are within acceptable ranges and those that require retesting. Original values are automatically compared to retest scores when the tests are complete.” The system also re-caps tubes with aluminum foil in a neat seal when testing is completed and before tubes are stored.

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Dr. William Bartlett

At the press event announcing the introduction of Aptio, Dr. William Bartlett of NHS Tayside UK spoke about his experience with the equipment. His system is one of the first of its kind in operation. With Siemen’s help, he was able to reconfigure existing space to fit the complete Aptio system with all its modules. He sees this automation as a way to better utilize his staff rather than downsizing. “We expect that the implementation of this new platform will allow us to provide a state-of-the-art service that aligns the lab function with Tayside’s overall goals for organizational sustainability and improved patient outcomes,” he said. Tayside includes several hospitals, primary care groups and clinics in Northern Scotland.

Marketing for the Aptio is just beginning in the US. “Our goal is to eliminate waste, testing variation, and ultimately, patient harm,” said Dave Hickey of Siemens. “This equipment is very patient-centric, focused on getting the best results in the shortest possible time.”

The Aptio system includes IT, customer service, patient ID check, lab data manager program, and productivity report capabilities. More on this with my next post.