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  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom


    With the StreamLab Robot system working in the background, Eileen Murphy, supervisor of Laboratory Services monitors a work station in the blood lab Wednesday, February 9, 2011, at St. Joseph Hospital.




  • Courtesy photo

    St. Joseph Hospital says it’s the first health care facility in the state to introduce a new robotics system that automates the task of preparing blood samples for analysis. The Siemens StreamLAB Analytical Workcell, as it’s called, also transports the samples to the appropriate system for analysis.
  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom


    A robot balances blood draws in trays and places them inside a centrifuge before moving them on to other analyzers in a new robotic system in the blood lab Wednesday, February 9, 2011, at St. Joseph Hospital.




  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom


    Central Processing Technician Lisa Hufft places blood viles into a tray in the blood lab Wednesday, February 9, 2011, at St. Joseph Hospital. The hospitals new StreamLab Robot will take the blood samples down a conveyor to various machines that do the individual blood tests, as well as identifying, capping and opening the tubes for testing.




  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom


    An overview of the StreamLab Robot in the blood lab Wednesday, February 9, 2011, at St. Joseph Hospital.




  • Staff photo by Bob Hammerstrom


    A close-up of the StreamLab Robot shows the blood samples capped. The next step puts a seal over the cap, before moving a blood draw to analyzers that perform tests. The blood sample is them returned to the tray after processing.




Sunday, February 13, 2011

St. Joseph Hospital has new system to handle blood samples quickly

St. Joseph has robotic system to handle blood samples quickly

NASHUA – The maddening experience of a traditional hospital waiting room has just become a bit easier.

St. Joseph Hospital says it’s the first health care facility in the state to introduce a new robotic system that automates the task of preparing blood samples for analysis. The Siemens StreamLAB Analytical Workcell, as it’s called, also transports the samples to the appropriate system for analysis.

“Physicians get results immediately because of the electronic system,” said Eileen Murphy, chemistry supervisor for St. Joseph Laboratory Services. “We can now do earlier diagnosis, which results in less time in the ER because we can get our results quicker.”

St. Joseph does more than 1 million lab draws a year, so the new system will allow the hospital to deliver timely and consistent lab services.

According to laboratory staff, this automation system reduces errors and results in shorter, more predictable turnaround times.

Murphy and Doug Sargent, operations outreach manager for the hospital’s Laboratory Services, said the technology doesn’t equate to a smaller work force, but simply a redirection in staffing.

“Clearly, this system is more effective because we have built a lot of fail-safes into the program …,” Sargent said. “When there is an abnormality, that’s when a technician steps in.”

Sargent named two reasons why this technology is indispensable.

“Right now, in this day and time, one thing that is driving this is that the overall health care industry is striving to reduce costs,” he said. “… That is pretty much worldwide. So, there’s pressure on hospitals and other health care systems to reduce costs, and this is one way of doing it.”

Another factor is that the health care industry is facing a critical shortage of trained and certified medical laboratory scientists.

“There are more retiring than are coming into the work force,” Sargent said. “And to give an example, in our laboratory, there are about 100 different individuals, and our average age is getting pretty close to 50 right now. So, this is another way to automate and reduce the number of people to produce quality work, so, as people retire and we lose people through attrition, we don’t have to replace quite as many.”

Sargent added, “Down the road, a big driver of automation is going to be whatever the government decides to do. Right now, it’s Obama’s health care plan. If this stays intact, or at least in part, we’re going to see in the next several years a lot more individuals eligible for health care, and so our numbers in terms of work orders are going to increase.”

Murphy and Sargent said a device such as StreamLAB is simply another way for technology to help.

“Automated systems in laboratories are not brand new,” Sargent said.

“That’s true – they’ve been around for several years,” Murphy added. “But the key to remember is that even with a streamline system, you still need scientists to establish a quality control.”