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Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

Hosted by Robert Michel
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Third-generation total laboratory automation (TLA) solutions now used by Japanese clinical labs

Your Dark Daily editor is writing this e-briefing from the 7th Cherry Blossom Symposium in Japan, where it is already Saturday—one day ahead of you readers in North America! The second day of this International Conference of Clinical Laboratory Automation and Robotics is now unfolding.

Yesterday’s opening sessions were chock-full of innovation, insights, and new developments in clinical laboratory automation and robotics. Representing 12 nations, a sizeable crowd of 260 pathologists, clinical biochemists, laboratory scientists, and in vitro diagnostics (IVD) vendors is in attendance.

Cherry Blossom Symposium
The scope and scale of medical laboratory automation was obvious from the 17 speakers who made presentations yesterday. In many of these clinical pathology laboratories, total laboratory automation (TLA) is a given. A number of presenters discussed the design and function of their clinical lab’s third generation of total laboratory automation. One common theme is the use of automated solutions to further integrate operational flow, starting at pre-analytical and flowing specimens into the analytical stage and then post-analytical steps.

For example, at BML, Inc., in Tokyo, Japan, internally-developed automated systems—as third-generation solutions, are used in pre-analytical for specimen preparation; in routine chemistry; in routine hematology; and in microbiology. Toshikazu Yamaguchi, Associate Director, Special Analysis Department at BML, showed how transport robots are used in chemistry and hematology to move specimens to and from banks of analyzers.

BML’s goal is to use automation to reduce human error and minimize human contact with specimens. Yamaguchi characterized the use of moving robots as the world’s first “autonomous total laboratory automation installation. By the way, across all of Japan, BML serves 200,000 patients per day, with almost half of those specimens flowing into its central laboratory in the Tokyo suburbs. This facility is among the world’s very largest clinical laboratories.

Integration was also the automation story at the National University of Singapore Hospital, where a major effort has been made to automate the delivery of critical results to physicians, backed up with a tightly-documented record. Sunil Sethi, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Pathology at National University Hospital, described how the laboratory information system (LIS) is interfaced with other clinical systems at the hospital to permit automated delivery of critical results to clinicians via a message to their cellular telephones or similar wireless devices. Several metrics were shared to demonstrate how improvement in consistently delivering critical results to the right physician via cell phone has benefited patients.

The Cherry Blossom Symposium is conducted every other year and is hosted by a different department of pathology at a university medical school in Japan or Korea. It is the Department of Laboratory Medicine at Hamamatsu University School of Medicine which is hosting this year’s conference. The team has organized a near-flawless event. For 2012, the 8th Cherry Blossom Symposium/International Conference of Clinical Laboratory Automation and Robotics will take place in April in Seoul, Korea.

Some of the automation innovations shared in sessions here are stunning in ambition and performance. Look for detailed briefings about these developments in future editions of Dark Daily and The Dark Report.

Your Dark Daily Editor,

Robert L. Michel (reach me at

Related Information:

Experts in Clinical Pathology Laboratory Automation to Gather in Yokohama

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