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Automating an entire diagnostic laboratory is complex, time-consuming, and disruptive and carries the risk that, once implemented, the project may result in suboptimal return on investment. But when a project is planned, engineered, installed, and supported with sufficient expertise, it doesn’t have to be daunting. Siemens Healthineers turns tough projects into smooth processes.

Nearly a generation ago, Siemens Healthineers brought core competencies in engineering, Lean manufacturing, and project management cultivated in large-scale energy and industrial projects to innovative diagnostic laboratories on the frontier of healthcare. Today, we have completed more than 1600* total laboratory automation projects in over 50 countries. We use a performance-proven process of delivering medical automation systems to improve laboratory management. Each phase of the process is carefully designed, and Siemens Healthineers is with you every step of the way.

Laboratory Automation - Process definition, and validation

Phase I: Process definition, and validation

  • Workflow analysis
  • Goal setting
  • Concept definition
  • Proof of concept using simulation tools and proof sources
  • Lean process analysis

We start with an understanding of your current process: what works well, what areas you would like to improve, what constraints exist, etc. Rather than simply mechanizing the existing process for marginal improvement, our goal is to help you create new and better relationships between people, technology, and processes to significantly increase productivity, reduce costs, and smooth operations.

The Healthcare Consulting Solutions (HCS) expert assigned to your project is part of a team that conducts more than 900 workflow consultations each year. He or she brings a holistic viewpoint to the project that extends beyond the diagnostic systems and track to consider how samples are collected, how tubes are transported to and from the lab, what happens when samples arrive, how errors occur and can be avoided, how reports are sent out, etc. Together, you will determine key performance indicators, map out and test an ideal process against simulation tools based on current and anticipated workloads, and set up a plan for monitoring performance and measuring success. By the end of this phase, you will have a clear and compelling vision that is easy to communicate and appeals to your board, internal and external customers, and employees.

The vision of the new, or next-generation, automated lab is exciting, but the project cannot proceed until a comprehensive implementation plan—and a project leader with sufficient time and decision-making authority—are in place. Siemens will help you establish realistic timelines, resource requirements, and milestones. We will also help you identify how team members inside the process, as well as facilitators and vendors outside the project, may be impacted by proposed schedules.

Siemens’ expertise in project management is not limited to total laboratory automation solutions. Our systemic approach to professional project management is employed by some 15,000 Siemens project managers working every day on large-scale energy and industrial projects worldwide. Our goal is to continually improve our processes. Our commitment to managing projects in an excellent, innovative, and responsible way guides us in doing so.

Download: Consider five powerful principles for automation success589kB

Laboratory Automation - Installation & process

Phase II: Installation and process stabilization

  • Change management
  • Menu balance
  • Load balance

During the installation of a new track, it’s easy to get lost in the hardware. As new diagnostic systems, pre- and post-analytical modules, and data-management systems are being delivered, assembled, tested, etc., it is critical to perform load and menu balancing to establish productivity benchmarks that will be used during optimization and ongoing health checks. However, it is also crucial to slow down and carefully address an important, yet intangible, factor that impacts success: effective change management. Whether this is your first automation project or an expansion, you are not only integrating chemistry, immunoassay, hematology, and hemostasis testing—you are uniting people.

Change management looks deeply at the work culture: the beliefs, values, and assumptions that influence how quickly and easily the organization adapts to the changes in workflow. For example, although new procedures for loading samples may have been identified during planning, unspoken perceptions such as fear of job loss, lack of skills, comfort zones, negative history of change, etc., can impede the adoption of these new activities. Without a carefully managed approach, newly automated laboratory operations may be subject to confusion, anxiety, frustration, false starts, and only gradual change. Successful transitions incorporate vision, skills, incentives, tools, and a formal action plan.

For Siemens, delivering a laboratory automation solution includes supporting transition management. With more than 1400* projects to our credit, we can offer techniques to help a project leader create a sense of urgency, form power coalitions, communicate a vision, empower others to act, and establish the short-term wins, celebrations, and recognition that contribute to success.

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Video: Time-lapse view of 3-day track installation

Laboratory Automation - Post-implementation process optimization

Phase III: Post-implementation process optimization

  • Lean process analysis
  • Workflow review
  • Analytic monitoring
  • Initial health check

During implementation, the focus is on ensuring that the track, pre-and post-analytical modules, diagnostic systems, and IT tools are in place and functioning correctly. In contrast, the goal of this phase of the project is to understand how the process as a whole is working. The health check analysis examines the human-machine interaction from the time a sample enters the laboratory until the result is generated and the tube is disposed. This optimization is recommended within 3 months of the official “go-live” date.

To help create a snapshot of the laboratory’s performance, 2–3 days’ worth of log and middleware files are analyzed in four distinct categories: production, utilization, turnaround time (TAT) analysis, and errors. After data collection and analysis, a 1-day, on-site observation allows integration of the collected data with what is actually happening in the laboratory. If performance is below target, an action plan is devised. It may call for technical refinements, additional training, or even a rapid-improvement event to dissect and rebuild the current process to remove non-value-added steps. The new process is then implemented, measured, and refined as necessary and the health check repeated to ensure that improvements are realized.

 

Read the complete article: Automation and Optimization: The Importance of the Health Check.195kB

Laboratory Automation - On-going support

Phase IV: Ongoing support from your business partner

  • Health checks and consulting for ongoing optimization
  • Education on trends, best practices, disease-state management
  • Systems service and IT support—online, on-site, and over the phone

With Siemens as your business partner, customer care isn’t limited to ongoing annual health checks and consulting services designed to improve system utilization. Siemens Customer Care draws on a wealth of experience and knowledge to provide a variety of innovative services you need to optimize performance, get more from your investment, and improve patient care—and ultimately deliver sustainable healthcare.

Making sure you stay up and running takes more than simply replacing parts. Our System Services proactively ensure that your systems are always technically up to date and optimized for enhanced uptime. Personalized training unlocks your staff’s potential to improve efficiency and keep your organization at the forefront of clinical diagnostics. Professional IT services are designed to maintain system productivity, performance, and security. Siemens Remote Service (SRS) provides a secure data link for monitoring that enables fast error identification, remote repair, application support, and preventive maintenance to track down problems before they have a major impact on your operation. Collaboration services are designed to support you—anytime and anywhere—concerning questions about usage. And our comprehensive online LifeNet portal provides an overview of all service-related activities, documents, and reports—enabling you to communicate, follow, monitor, plan, interact, and shop.

We stay close to you, so you can stay closer to your business.

*Source: Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics shipment and orders reports, July 2017.

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