Automation Dramatically Boosts Hospitals Testing Capability

Automation paybacks can be as dramatic in a lab setting as on the manufacturing floor. Consider the impact of artificial intelligence, voice recognition, robots, and specially designed computers at Beth Israel Medical Center, New York. The center's lab is now able to operate nonstop, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and annual capacity has increased from 3.2 million tests to 25 million tests. In addition to that eightfold increase, the error rate has been reduced to virtually zero compared to human rate, which experts agree cannot be lowered beyond about 3%. In addition, samples can now be turned around in about 20 minutes as opposed to hours. Ultra-stat requests have a 90-second turnaround time. The enhanced productivity also enables the $5 million lab to offer testing services to other hospitals, thus reducing the payback time--originally estimated at three years--considerably and creating a new revenue stream. The lab, believed to be the largest of its kind in the world, was given the Power Prescription award by the Electric Power Research Institute.

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