Achieving Automation in Serology: A New Frontier in Best Practices for Clinical Laboratories



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Media Contact: Ron Martin


AUSTIN, Texas (July 24, 2013) – Some areas of the clinical laboratory adapt naturally to automated methods, while other areas prove difficult to automate. Microbiology, specifically serology, has proven to be a difficult area of clinical diagnostics to fully automate. Due to the nature of the work, some degree of manual procedures is likely to continue indefinitely. However, because it is one of the most labor-intensive areas in the laboratories, automation offers a way to reduce FTEs while reducing turnaround time and cutting down on laboratory errors through sample consolidation.

A potential solution is through the emerging field of micro-automation, in which serology platforms are combined with sophisticated automation systems. Serology traditionally utilizes an ELISA-based micro-titer plate (MTP) manual or semi-automated laboratory benchtop system. However, the expansion of infection disease testing portfolios on mainframe and dedicated immunoassay analyzers has led to the opportunity for consolidation.

Laboratorians at the Medical Center Alkmaar (MCA) in the Netherlands have evaluated a variety of automated immunoanalyzers, including the VersaCell® System, which combines the Siemens Centaur® XP and IMMULITE® 2000 Xpi, and the Dynex DSX, and the Biomerieux Vidas, looking for systems that can be modified and adapted to automate serological testing. Dr. Ferdinand Vlaspolder, MD, PHD, Head of the Medical Microbiology Laboratory at the Medical Center Alkmaar, says, “While there are other automated and semi-automated platforms, they do not have the same breadth of menu as the VersaCell combo, and do not offer the same level of sample handling and results integration.”

Vlaspolder and his team found that this system enhanced efficient sample handling, prioritized and managed samples, and enabled continuous loading and unloading of specimens from a single location. It also provided consolidated reports on all the analyzers and samples in the system while reporting results directly to the laboratory information system (LIS).

“With significant growth in the serology ID area meeting head-on with a need for increased efficiency and lower costs, serology is a clinical laboratory specialty ripe for automation,” says Robert L. Michel, Editor-In-Chief of The Dark Report. “Laboratories modifying and adapting existing automated systems in creative and intelligent ways are helping institutions remain competitive in an increasingly tough laboratory environment.”

The Dark Report is pleased to offer a recently published FREE White Paper that describes an automated approach to serological laboratory testing. It is titled, “Achieving Automation in Serology: A New Frontier in Best Practices.” Published by The Dark Report and Dark Daily, it is available free to laboratory professionals as a PDF download.

Along with other topics, this FREE White Paper specifically addresses:

• Workstation Consolidation

• Efficiency

• Productivity

• Quality

• Cost

• A case study describing how the Microbiology Laboratory at the Medical Center Alkmaar (MCA) in The Netherlands developed a micro-automation system for use in infectious disease (ID) serology.

The paper’s authors are Ferdinand Vlaspolder, MD, PHD, and Patricia Glasius, Ing. Dr. Vlaspolder is a Consultant Microbiologist serving as Head of the Medical Microbiology Laboratory at the Medical Center Alkmaar (MCA) in the Netherlands. In addition, he is head of the Department of Hygiene and Infection Control, and the Outdoor Clinic for Travelers. He is published widely on different subjects in medical microbiology. Patricia Clasius, Ing, is a Senior Technician in the Medical Microbiology Laboratory at Medical Center, Alkmaar, the Netherlands.

The paper’s editor, Susan L. Hayes, is President of LabSim, Inc. She has over 30 years’ experience in the hospital diagnostics industry, including clinical chemistry, immunochemistry, and plasma proteins. She has consulted with over 50 clients globally, including Siemens, Dade Behring, J&J, DuPont, and others, and has generated over $17 million in sales for critical health networks. As President of LabSim, Inc., she leads development of custom software applications for laboratory cost accounting in addition to strategic marketing and marketing communications consulting in the healthcare sector.

This White Paper, “Achieving Automation in Serology: A New Frontier in Best Practices” is available for free download as a PDF at It is part of the Dark Daily Resource Center, which has a growing library of White Papers and other information resources tailored specifically for the needs of laboratory administrators, lab managers, pathologists, and lab industry consultants.

For additional information, Contact: Ron Martin, 512-264-7103


Established in 1995, THE DARK REPORT is the leading source of exclusive business intelligence for laboratory CEOs, COOs, CFOs, Pathologists and Senior industry executives. It is widely read by leaders in laboratory medicine and diagnostics. The Dark Report produces the famous Executive War College on Laboratory and Pathology Management  every spring, which showcases innovations by the nation’s and globe’s leading laboratory organizations. Dark Daily  is an Internet-based e-briefing intelligence service, read worldwide by thought leaders in laboratory and pathology management. Other well-known conferences conducted by THE DARK REPORT are Lab Quality Confab  (on the use of Lean and Six Sigma methods in labs and hospitals) and Molecular Summit  (on the integration of in vivo and in vitro diagnostics). THE DARK REPORT co-produces Frontiers in Laboratory Medicine annually in the United Kingdom; Executive Edge bi-annually in Canada; and The Business of Pathology bi-annually in Australia.