This year, MedicalLab Management’s annual survey of clinical laboratory directors yielded 366 respondents. The survey solicited input from a cross-section of hospital laboratory directors in terms of facility size, testing volume, location, and level of automation and technology utilization. The survey queries lab directors on budgets, technology use, satisfaction with current vendors and systems, and future acquisition plans.
As the practice of clinical laboratories continues to evolve and refine its focus on operational efficiency and patient safety, we are encouraged by laboratories’ commitment to further automating operations and implementing systems that minimize turnaround times, enable greater testing accuracy and precision, reduce errors, reap financial gains, and most important, positively affect patient outcomes.
The breakout of survey respondents by facility size largely reflects the demographics of US hospitals.
After a slight downtick in 2018, fully automated testing—meaning samples are automatically received in the LIS, all high-volume analyzers are automated, and formerly manual processes in the molecular and microbiology labs are substantially automated—returned to previous years’ rates with 36% of facilities automating over 50% of their testing. As expected, fully automated testing remains elusive.
Although most respondents hail from community hospitals, a wide variety of facilities are represented.
The vast majority of facilities are processing well over 100,000 billable tests annually. At the largest facilities, testing volumes far exceed 1 million, indicating an ongoing need for substantial automation and technology investments in the clinical laboratory.