• by Emil Salazar
  • August 5 2016

At AACC 2016, Lab Testing Set to Move Forward Through Test and Workflow Automation

At AACC 2016, Lab Testing Set to Move Forward Through Test and Workflow Automation

Proceedings at AACC’s Annual Meeting were notably charged in one way: the proliferation of coffee stands at vendor booths across the expo floor. Vendor demonstrations at the AACC testing center matched pace as several IVD vendors put their automated testing solutions front and center for speedy sample management and reduced turnaround times. While media attention gravitated to Theranos’ Monday presentation, attendees at Philadelphia were preoccupied with addressing the present challenges of laboratory medicine. Instead of disruptive and advanced technologies, leading IVD companies showcased solutions for the optimization of lab clients’ established operations through test and workflow automation at the AACC testing center. 

While the technological trajectory of IVD market arcs further upward with next-generation sequencing (NGS) and mass spectrometry, current investment priorities for U.S. labs figure to predominate in the automation of core lab workflow and instruments at other lab workstations. Siemens used the AACC Annual Meeting to unveil its Atellica Solution for automated core lab testing. The highly flexible immunoassay-clinical chemistry system includes a bi-directional magnetic sample conveyance system for improved speed and is compatible with Aptio automation for core lab integration with other lab workstations. Atellica throughput can be scaled with up to 10 components and accommodates more than 30 sample container types. Other test and workflow automation solutions at AACC testing center booths were noted by Kalorama Information:

  • Thermo Fisher Scientific’s  line of Phadia immunoanalyzers for automated autoimmune and allergy testing were showcased with floor models of the scalable Phadia 250 and high-throughput 2500. The Phadia 100 was not displayed at AACC 2016 due to the ongoing industry trend towards centralized autoimmune testing.
  • Abbott Diagnostics unveiled its Alinity line of “harmonized sytems” across the core lab (clinical chemistry and immunoassays), hematology, point-of-care (POC) diagnostics, blood screening, and molecular diagnostics. The Alinity line of instruments will be supported by Abbott’s suite of AlinIQ professional services for labs as well as common informatics software across instruments for efficient, unified testing workflows.
  • Becton, Dickinson & Co. (BD) showcased its compact Kiestra Work Cell Automation (WCA) suitable for space-constrained hospital microbiology labs and other automated microbiology configurations for specimen processing, plate incubation, and plate imaging.
  • Roche Diagnostics organized its booth around several flagship automated analyzers, including the cobas 8100. The new cobas 8100 automated workflow solution is the result of 35 years of partnership between Roche and Hitachi High Technologies. Combined with Roche’s sample archiving solutions, cobas 8100 achieves new standards in flexibility and connectivity, simplifying and speeding up routines for analysis, archiving and on-demand retrieval of blood samples.

Automated core lab systems were also prominent at the booths of other IVD leaders. Clinical labs in the United States are expected to increase their investment in test and workflow automation in order to keep costs below market reimbursement rates and absorb higher testing volumes as a result of rising U.S. healthcare utilization. Benchmark Medicare payments for lab tests will see reductions as a consequence of the Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA) beginning in 2018. Labs will need to meet or exceed the cost efficiencies of their larger peers in order to remain profitable and cost-competitive.