Automation Budgeting

November 2021 - Vol.10 No. 10 - Page #10

When viewing the laboratory as a business, the director must seek to budget for all costs (eg, instrumentation, IT interfaces, maintenance, upgrades, consumables, waste, etc), develop accurate ROIs, and be prepared to explain how new automation and technology will positively impact the patient through metrics such as reduced lengths of stay, improved clinical decision support, reduced TATs, and so on. As always, encourage front-line staff to provide input on how automation will benefit their work, while also considering available technical and human resources, and risk reduction.

Moving forward, the acquisition of advanced technologies will remain crucial to servicing the ever-growing needs and desires of clinicians and patients. Fortunately, budgets for laboratory automation and technology are increasing in both the short and long term (see below) and expected decreases dropped sharply compared to 2020.


Reductions in lab automation budgets were substantially curtailed this year compared to last. An impressive 74% of labs report no reductions in this year’s budget, up from 58% just last year.

Short term budgets are on the rebound with 86% of facilities maintaining or increasing their lab automation budgets next year. The number of facilities facing declining budgets dropped by 65%; just 14% of facilities forecast automation budget reductions next year.

The long term forecast is even more optimistic as most facilities are expanding their automation budgets over the next 3-5 years.

Historically, the number of facilities enjoying automation budget increases year over year hovered around 20%. While that number decreased to 17% last year in the initial response to COVID, this year saw a rebound to its highest level yet. A quarter of all facilities will be able to take advantage of increased automation budgets in the coming year.

Longer term trends are even more encouraging as a record 47% of facilities will benefit from extended budget growth over the next 3-5 years.

After a second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, we see a substantial dedication to lab budgets, with those indicating a budget increase up from 47% last year.

Current laboratory budgets cover a wide range with some of the smallest facilities garnering budgets above $1 million. Of the largest facilities (400+ beds), 60% report annual budgets above $750,000, up from 45% last year.

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