Mater Pathology has been serving the residents of Southeast Queensland for over 100 years, with involvement in tertiary hospital testing, clinical trials and research, alongside the vital, routine tests they perform for hospitals and the community every day.
Some 13 years ago, the laboratory was looking to bring in an instrument that would minimise the risk of health and safety hazards such as spills and reduce the potential for human error associated with specimen traceability from collection to testing. Mater Pathology was an early adopter of automation with the original model of the PathFinder 900 being integrated into their workflow.
The relationship with Brooks instruments within the Central Specimen Reception (CSR) area has extended over a decade. The relationship has provided support to Mater Pathology through workflow analysis and instrument enhancements to improve laboratory efficiency.
CSR and Scientific Assistant Manager, Carrie-Anne Teale said the partnership with Brooks has been of great value during her 10-year tenure.
“They support us very well. With Brooks being Brisbane-based, their techs, consumables etc. can be dealt with and handled very quickly,” Teale added. The well-established relationship means that the laboratory is able to test out Brooks’ new modules on a regular basis.
Integrating new instruments into the laboratory’s workflow regularly however demands time and effort, and yet Brooks’ team has learnt to do this working well with the laboratory to ensure that the impacts are minimised.
“They liaise with us very well,” Teale stated, continuing, “we’ve never really had a problem.”
If significant changeovers are planned, Brooks’ technician team comes in at a time to suit the lab, such as early in the morning when the laboratory is quieter. With plenty of communication and planning, Mater Pathology is able to prepare for instrument outages while modules are being changed by allocating lab staff to manual tasks for a short time while installation takes place.
“There’s always plenty of communication to work out the best implementation for both Brooks and our CSR staff,” said Teale.
Mater Pathology has made the most of the PathFinder 900, using its aliquoting, capping and de-capping features including the specialised foil sealing capabilities.
“We use the capability within the instrumentation to send away to referral laboratories, and internally as well,” Teale elaborated.
The automation offered by the PathFinder reduces manual tasks and frees up staff for other skilled jobs. It also reduces health and safety risks of spills and splashes, as well as the risk of injuries caused by repetitive movements such as capping or de-capping tubes.
The other major benefit of the PathFinder is its capability to record storage locations and process archiving requirements. This increases efficiency within the laboratory ensuring that specimens can be retrieved quickly and acted upon.
“The other big thing we use it for is storage. So it gives an exact location as to where the specimen is located after it’s gone through the Pathfinder. So, for further testing, it’s very easy to locate the specimen,” Amit Sami CSR Supervisor noted.
Mater Pathology are currently in the implementation phases of a replacement Laboratory Information System (LIS) expected in early 2023. Integration with the PathFinder is a key component of the implementation and Brooks are supporting Mater Pathology in this challenging journey.
“The Brooks representatives are fantastic. They’ve been communicating with the Mater Information Technology personnel from the new LIS, and working with us every step of the way,” said Teale.
When choosing technology partners, Teale has to take many elements into consideration to ensure that the solution on offer is the right fit for her CSR department.
“We have to think about budget. We have to think of support services with our technicians and consumables, whether the instrument links with the machines we’ve got,” she said, adding, “Reputation, and whether they can provide the follow-up services, is hugely important.”
Brooks exceeds these expectations.
“They give the service when we need it. I’ve said to the staff, ‘Call. If there’s something wrong with that machine, call them.’ And the response is fantastic. I cannot fault them with that,” she said.
Reflecting on why the partnership between Mater Pathology and Brooks has been successful, Sami and Teale agreed that the team excels in being personal with their customers.
“They’re personable. We know all the techs by first name,” said Teale.
Sami concluded, “Whenever they pop in, they always stop by the office and say hi.”