Sandy Jensen is a Senior Automation Informatics Specialist with more than 20 years of experience working for Siemens and Siemens Healthineers. We asked Sandy to share her perspective on the role of automation and information technology (IT) in laboratory diagnostics, and how they have evolved to support laboratories and optimize workflow today.
What is your role at Siemens Healthineers?
I am a Senior Automation Informatics Specialist. I provide on-site and remote application support from installation to post go-live for Siemens IT and Automation Solutions.
Over the course of your career, how would you describe the evolution of automation and IT in laboratory diagnostics?
As with all new devices coming to market, automation and IT in the laboratory are ever changing for the better. I started implementing CentraLink® and automation back in 2004, which entailed unboxing a +50-pound server in the middle of a laboratory to install. Today, it only takes a few keyboard commands to connect to a virtual machine to install Atellica® Data Manager (ADM). The change over the last two decades has been physically huge – not unlike many technologies over the years.
Streamlined processes in the lab, with the help of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and new applications, are continually improving and moving the burden from the human to machine. I compare it to going from a clunky flip-phone to a smartphone: The flip-phone had perks in the beginning, but a smartphone is sleeker and more efficient to increase productivity.
How have you seen customer needs change, especially over the last 2 years as they worked to support patient testing during the pandemic?
Overnight our entire industry went from on-site to online support. We needed to quickly adjust our “normal” day to provide proper IT security and access for multiple platforms to keep critical labs running. The knowledge we gained has really driven the focus on IT platforms, IT security, and adapting daily to the ever-changing IT world.
How do you think the adoption of automation and IT in labs will benefit customers in the future?
So many labs are facing a medical technologist and technician shortage pre- and post- pandemic. I see automation and IT applications working hand-in-hand to reduce overtime and burnout in the lab. With our busy day-to-day lives, we all want information at our fingertips and to have processes simplified so we can be as effective as possible. These innovations enable faster turnaround time for sample testing because, we know as patients ourselves, that we want fast results. I think automation and IT can aid in providing the quality of life we all strive for directly to the lab staff, and the patients they serve, by streamlining the process.
What is one thing that you think every customer should know or understand about introducing new technologies into the lab environment?
Labs need to understand current workflows and how they can really maximize all of the capabilities automation and IT provide. When a lab becomes aware of the multitude of manual steps being taken by a technician as a part of their normal routine, they can make big strides to set up the lab for success.
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