Futuristic lab at National Cancer Institute in Haryana can test 60,000 samples 24x7
The centralised lab at the National Cancer Institute in Jhajjar has a capacity to test 60,000 samples a day and run 24x7.Updated: Mar 05, 2019 12:46 IST
With its fully robotic automation track, stand-alone instrumentation, integrated workflow, and chrome and white interiors, the Robotic Core Laboratory at National Cancer Institute (NCI) at Haryana’s Jhajjar looks more like the deck of the Starship Enterprise than a clinical laboratory at a cancer hospital.
The centralised lab has a capacity to test 60,000 samples a day and run 24x7. It has an expanded menu of tests, including genetic screening for mutations and molecular diagnostic for personalised medicine, which does away with the need to send samples to peripheral labs.
The advantage is twofold. “It allows us to run a large number of patient samples to deal with the huge patient load and run the lab 24x7 rather than just during the daytime. Patients can get the tests done anytime of the day and night. Standardised testing protocols, workflow management and automated calibration reduces manual errors and has a shorter, consistent and predictable turnaround time, which means most diagnostics results are available within two hours of sample collection,” said Dr G K Rath, head, NCI.
The automation also lowers manpower requirement and frees up technicians to work in shifts around the clock.
Pneumatic chutes are used to propel containers with ampoules containing samples for testing between stations through networks of tubes using compressed air. “The Core Lab is station 101 and 102, so people just need to punch in station number and the ampule reaches us from different departments in 30 seconds. One of the chutes has an auto-unloader, so I don’t even have to physically take out the ampoule from the chute,” said Jasbir Bhardwaj, a lab technician who has asked for a transfer to NCI Jhajjar from AIIMS New Delhi to learn how stuff works in futuristic labs.
The samples are barcoded at source by the nurse who collects them and the diagnostic results are directly uploaded on lab informatics system, which can be accessed by clinicians across the hospitals. “There is no need to send reports. It’s super simplified and completely paperless,” said Dr Rath.
“The lab focuses on processes, digitisation and intelligent software that make diagnostics faster, simpler and more accurate, lowering the need for collecting multiple samples from patients,” said Dr Rath. “It saves 48,000 man hours of work per year, which can be up to 80% less effort than what is required in a traditional lab of a 700-plus bed hospital.”
The lab technicians on the shift are not threatened by the automation. “The machine runs 24x7 but we have to be here to run quality-control checks and validate samples. We don’t have to waste time on sample transport, capping, sorting, sending reports and making registry entries,” said Dinesh Kumar, another lab technician.