Our concept of a total automation system under development in clinical laboratory is presented.
Until now, several clinical laboratories have been automated to some extent using conveyers and factory robots with a great effort because a substantial benefit is expected by such automation. But the spread of them seems to be prevented by some factors.
Our system is based on a completely different concept from them and includes several new ideas summarized as seven `total`s as listed below.
(1) total investigation
Its purpose includes not only to measure damage of suffering organs but also to investigate the cause of diseases. It covers not only tests of clinical chemistry, hematology or immunology, but also stat tests, microbiology and genetic examinations. It can examine blood, urine, CSF, sputa and any other body fluid as a test specimen.
(2) total automation
Specimens are entered in this system following the information indicating tests to be performed, control specimens, reagents, clean water and electric power. Clean data are derived with remaining specimens, heat and wastes. Therefore, its automated function covers not only analysis, but also separation of sera from blood specimens, transference of specimens, maintenance of instruments, supply of reagents, collection and storage of remaining specimens, and collection and process of wastes. Moreover, it includes functions required for a real-time quality control, but validation of output data is considered to be done by some specialists.
(3) total safety
It has full safeguard for operators against mechanical, chemical and biological hazards. And it can process wastes to prevent environmental pollution.
(4) total flexibility
To maintain its usefulness for a long time, any function of the system can be modified according to changes of requirement of the clinical laboratory, evolution of technology and evolution of medicine.
(5) total standardization
To maintain its compatibility among sites, standardization of sampling cups, interface between the equipment for transference and analyzers, interface between computers and analyzers, etc. is planned.
(6) total estimation
To judge if its cost is reasonable, not only its total benefit but also its total cost are estimated.
(7) total open-door
To gather and integrate as many excellent technologies growing at many companies as possible, our plan is fully opened for participation and made limitations least at the start point.
This system is planned to be installed in the new building of our hospital which is presently under construction and will be completed 4 years after.