A robotic arm that takes a tube with a sample from the patient. It puts it in a self-contained GPS monitored smart car. He takes it first to a centrifuge. Then, for the rest of the custom tests. When it’s over, it goes to the waiting area. You may be asked for new tests. If this happens, it starts again. If not, then it goes to the storage sector. This process is carefully designed, and controlled by clinical analysis service professionals, who will ultimately report the results.
Crossing over information from databases, medical records, analyzes, medical evidence and applying AI models and models is designed to predict diseases. With these results, many people’s lives are improved and the lives of many others saved.
They are not paragraphs taken from the latest best-selling science fiction books to hit the market. There are two facts here and now. The closest they are in Valencia and Alicante. Specifically, in clinical analysis laboratories at La Fe and San Juan Hospitals, respectively.
New digital solutions make it easier to interpret health outcomes
They have a new smart robot system that allows thousands of tests performed daily to run it with greater speed and quality. Artificial intelligence solutions have been incorporated into everyday life which add real-time and immediate improvements to patients.
An important milestone has been achieved in both: time. Operations were automated. All this technology frees doctors from the routine tasks to focus their minds on investigating other diseases, working on other projects or improving diagnostics in areas that remain largely unknown.
Laboratory medicine has led to a quantum leap. It has transformed from a traditional laboratory model to a pioneering laboratory model. He is no longer just involved in the diagnosis. Now guided by him and the stars.
More than 3000 samples analyzed daily in the new intelligent robot system installed in the clinical analysis laboratory at Universitario La Vie in Valencia make an amazing journey along a chain of more than 40 meters.
It does not last long. Barely an hour and a half if a routine analysis. A little more than 20 minutes if the sample comes from the emergency room. 357 smart cars are able to move along this series at the same time. Each one has a different sample inside.
This new facility “will allow to improve the service we provide to the patient, integrate new diagnostic solutions and tools and improve response,” says Dr. Begonia Lyse, Head of the hospital’s Clinical Analysis Laboratory Service.
Investing in technology does that
In prevention. The patient wins
And the health system
In addition, “It allowed us to standardize all stages of the process, pre-analytical, analytical and post-analytical, and it also enabled us to include the emergency laboratory. The whole process is now standardized,” he adds.
It is ranked in the functional domains of Biochemistry and Immunochemistry. “They are the ones who process the most complex samples, and they deal with a very large number of them, and because of their large size, it is difficult to organize them,” explains the doctor. Hemostasis and blood diseases have their own chains.
The advantages do not end there: “The number of samples we can handle increases and so is their quality; errors are reduced, and as a result, the safety of professionals increases by not having to tamper with the samples as before, and also the safety of patients. Finally, we must highlight The traceability we obtain; we know at all times the status of each sample, ”Lays, Reels.
The impact of technology will be felt in a health area serving nearly 300,000 people. In it, more than nine million analytical tests are performed annually from hospitalization, outpatient consultations, emergency service, primary care centers and laboratories of other health departments.
The laboratory possesses this service and this modern technology thanks to a public bid in which it was awarded a budget of eight million euros for a period of four years.
The information in the tube with the patient sample is of pure gold. that is it. There are thousands of data. Some have a hunch. The others remain hidden. Detecting one and the other is one of the biggest challenges that laboratory medicine and the people who integrate it face.
In this investigative work, doctors of these clinical analysis laboratories are currently getting an essential aid: artificial intelligence (AI). With it, they process and request thousands of patient data. Thanks to this tool and its power, they discover evils and save lives.
“We have a very pioneering technology that we take advantage of not only to make the diagnosis that a doctor needs, requests, or suspects, but also to add other tests according to that patient’s characteristics, according to age, symptoms, or what the clinical guidelines say, and benefit him the most,” says Dr. Maria Salinas. Head of clinical analysis service in this hospital.
Salinas gives an example of more than 300 patients diagnosed with hypercalcaemia, or high levels of calcium in the blood. A problem, if not caught early, can weaken bones or form kidney stones in those who suffer from it. “Thanks to our technology, we were able to measure blood calcium every three years in patients over the age of 45,” he describes.
Or also with early detection of diabetes by introducing a simple laboratory test that measures the glycosylated hemoglobin. It is not performed on all patients. Only those over the age of 45 have a certain level of glucose in the blood. The result was the location of thousands of diabetes cases that were undiagnosed within a few years.
“It has nothing to do with detecting diabetes or hypercalcemia early or years later, when some organs are already affected,” he highlights. The solution to both problems could be strict control and lifestyle changes in the first case or a simple operation to remove the analog gland in the second case. And it summarizes: “Through a very simple and cheap test, early detection is made, the patient is protected, and some diseases are well prevented.”
The 240,000 people living in San Juan de Alicante Hospital’s area of influence are the primary beneficiaries of these clinical decision-making support solutions.
The laboratory of this center treats more than 1,000 patients every day. They mostly come from primary care, but they also hail from the emergency department, specialist physicians, or admissions patients. In this place everything comes together. Here the data, knowledge, advice, and references found in the medical records required for the past 15 years and the intentions of the professionals are mixed. Everything is interconnected. With artificial intelligence, it is possible to mix all of this and get a winning hand.
“With the consensus of primary care physicians and the hospital administration, we decided to conduct a series of tests and eliminate other unnecessary tests. Always with the aim of benefiting the patient in a particular case,” details the center’s chief clinical analysis.
In this way, models and prototypes are built to predict diseases. He says: “When a patient goes to the hospital in any way, the possibility of contracting a specific disease is determined precisely or very high.”
Dr. Salinas provides another example to illustrate the above: “With artificial intelligence and millions of data that we are dealing with simultaneously, and at such high speed, we benefit from creating models to see if we can detect thyroid diseases in older women aged 45 years. They are very frequent and sometimes It cannot be detected, without severe symptoms, but it nullifies it in the tasks of daily life
Smart solutions like this make it easy to interpret the enormity of patient data generated to support the clinician in making their decisions at all times and in real time.
Treatments, diagnostics, and prevention. Laboratory medicine leaves its mark while using technology in the entire process that a patient goes through. Bearing in mind that the stories of thousands of people in these two hospitals pass through his hands, it is the medical specialty that treats most patients in these centers on a daily basis.
Hence the importance of creating accurate models with a very high success rate with these techniques if the patient suffers from specific syndromes or diseases.
Without neglecting the other benefits that also come into play. A decrease in the percentage of errors, in variation in doctors’ decision and in increased health system efficiency. Because in an increasingly aging society, with more healthcare, economic pressure and limited resources, doctors can devote more time and energy to improving patients’ health. As Dr. Maria Salinas says, “Only with the value of the reagent strip can we discover pathology and improve that person’s life.”
She also presented her logical conclusion: “Investments in laboratory medicine using technology and artificial intelligence are currently investing in prevention.”
Forward opens up a world of infinite possibilities. Because you are only at the beginning of this path. To the examples already seen, many others have been added: recognition of vitamin B12 deficiency; Models are also being tested for myeloma, a disease whose prognosis improves dramatically if diagnosed early; In coagulation, in the prognosis of no urinary tract infection, in patients presenting to the emergency department or in detection of magnesium deficiency in those over the age of 65 years. “We cannot cope, there are many possibilities,” said the doctor, who is committed to exporting this model to laboratories in other centers.
And it all starts with a simple gesture. With the analysis that the patient must perform for any reason. From there, technology opens the door for the doctor to take a step forward. It gives you the option to anticipate what will happen. Then you can watch, see what happens, and take action. Future medicine is here.
“The lab is the big unknown for hospitals,” says Begoña Laíz of La Fe Hospital. In fact, many believe that the work done in these places is limited to receiving samples, analyzing them, and giving results. Nothing is further from reality. In fact, the lab is “responsible for providing 70% of patient diagnoses and a large amount of results,” he recalls.
But the silent work of the laboratory begins much earlier. The moment the doctor sends a test to the patient. The gear is then adjusted, it doesn’t matter only the result. Extraction, transportation and preservation are also essential. Maria Salinas, of San Juan Hospital, explains that all of this “was done by hand before, whereas now everything is very automated and we are working with the latest technology.” Thanks to this, laboratory medicine professionals save time to investigate and improve patients’ health.