We have found quite the contrary to be true. Our customers have reported that the opposite happens. By its very nature, automation mechanizes many of the low-skill, non-value-added tasks, such as tube decapping, aliquotting, sorting and individual tube loading, locating and retrieving patient samples, capping and storing tubes for future testing, disposing of expired samples, manually checking reagent levels, and so on. Automating these tasks gives everyone more time to perform more-valuable activities.
Consider the impact of employing autoverification rules to release results: Laboratory staff needs only to consider the typically small number of results that have been held for manual review. This removes a great deal of pressure created by the sheer volume of results and encourages more thoughtful and considered decisions for the results that actually require attention. When the flagged results are accompanied by information about why the sample was held for review (outside acceptable range, QC rule exception, delta check, or an instrument or sample flag), staff can make an informed decision to release or retest, thereby avoiding unnecessary testing and the associated low-value tasks standing in the way of addressing the clinical issues that matter most.
For senior staff, this extra time can offer the opportunity to explore new testing protocols and further the patient-care mission of the lab. For all staff, free time can be used for enhanced training and development work to “up-skill” personnel. When released from the crushing volume of work, even nontechnical personnel can focus on further enhancing processes in ways that increase turnaround times to speed diagnosis and improve patient outcomes.
---Jeff A., Head of HCS Northwest Europe, ~9 years at Siemens