North Memorial Moves to Advanced Automation Solution

Minnesota’s North Memorial Health Care (NMHC) has been improving services and growing its reference testing through a kind of “judo” strategy—winning through intelligence, not brawn. For the power and agility to pursue this plan, NMHC relies on a total lab automation solution that combines Aptio® Automation and the CentraLink® Data Management System with analytical systems and best-practice workflows, all from Siemens Healthineers.

“Being a small, independent healthcare system—the smallest in Minnesota—we have to upset the big guy by using leverage,” says Adam Grau, NMHC manager for business development and sales. “The Siemens solution gives us that leverage.”

“The key to a successful outcome in such a complex undertaking is planning and communication,” says Nancy King, NMHC chemistry lab supervisor.

Siemens helped NMHC stay on target, beginning with a workflow analysis by Siemens Healthcare consultants to optimize track design, menu balance, and load balance. Months before the first piece of equipment was delivered, the first of many pre-implementation meetings introduced the Siemens team, set expectations, answered questions, and provided a timeline.

Siemens project managed the installation to ensure everything was in place to support smooth implementation and trained North Memorial staff on the new system. Now, post implementation, Siemens supports ongoing workflow optimization with regular health checks. Online and live training, as well as always-ready technical services and support, keep the technology running smoothly and the staff up to date.

At NMHC, Aptio Automation unifies connectivity to chemistry and immunoassay systems; having analyzers on both sides of the track makes the footprint compact. Diagnostic analyzers on NMHC’s automation track include one ADVIA Centaur® XP Immunoassay System and two Dimension Vista®1500 Intelligent Lab Systems featuring auto-calibration, auto maintenance, automated quality control, and built-in nephelometry.

To streamline workflows, the laboratory deployed Aptio Automation modules for tube input/output, centrifugation, decapping, sealing, desealing, and refrigerated storage and retrieval. Aptio Automation provides point-in-space aspiration directly from the primary sample on the track to speed processing, streamline workflows, and reduce the need to remove the samples from the track for aspiration, impacting turnaround times (TAT).

CentraLink system centralizes data management
The CentraLink Data Management System integrates data from the automation track, connected analyzers, and NMHC’s lab information system (LIS) to intelligently and consistently automate workflow and result management, improving efficiency and quality.

  1. Basic metabolic panel (BMP) TAT dropped 19%, from 32 to 26 minutes.
  2. Troponin TAT is down 17%, from 35 to 29 minutes.
  3. NMHC meets its 40-minute TAT window for troponins 97% of the time.
  4. Test volume grew 12% in the reference laboratory in the year after Aptio Automation was deployed, and overall lab test volume grew approximately 30%.
  5. NMHC accommodated staffing attrition while also redirecting technologists to deal with more-complex problems or difficult specimens.
  6. Patients and physicians alike report higher satisfaction with the laboratory, which in turn supports expansion goals.

“The benefits of Aptio Automation center around reproducibility and reliability,” says Adam Grau.“The Siemens platform allows us to grow the outreach business, because the laboratory can promise something and deliver time after time after time. And the beauty is, with the processes now streamlined and automated, we have excess capacity built in to provide services flawlessly and seamlessly.”

*The outcomes obtained by the Siemens Healthineers customer described here were realized in the customer's unique setting. Since there is no typical laboratory, and many variables exist, there can be no guarantee that others will achieve the same results.

Watch Video

To learn more about North Memorial’s lab automation implementation, watch the North Memorial video.

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To help prepare you for lab automation, download the Laboratory Automation Checklist, which provides eight areas of focus for automating your lab.

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