The field of biochemistry instruments is undergoing a significant transformation, caused by convergence of new and more stringent regulations, advances in diagnostic technologies, system engineering, automation, IT, and intensifying competition.
Technological advancement is one of the major factors driving the growth of the biochemistry analyzers. Increase in automation for high-throughput analysis of biochemical entities has helped in saving time and generates results quickly. Developments of software programs have also allowed the integration of various workflows of biochemistry analyzers for better control and operational efficiency.
Automated analyzers. With increasing competition and demands for higher levels of performance, the need for automation has become more and more essential - even among labs that have been resistant until now. Meanwhile, the development of new generations of automated standalone and bench-top equipment has made lab automation a more and more viable option for labs of all sizes - a necessary option for labs seeking to remain competitive in today's marketplace.
The use of automation and robotics has become pervasive in clinical laboratories around the world enabling faster turnaround times and reduce errors to improve patient care. Current technologies can automate specimen transportation, sorting, accessioning, and inspection.
Integrated analyzers. Development of integrated systems greatly improved the analytical phase of clinical laboratory testing and further automation has been developed for pre-analytical procedures, such as sample identification, sorting, and centrifugation, and post-analytical procedures, such as specimen storage and archiving.Â This has proved to be a significant improvement over a group of analyzers devoted to performing routine clinical chemistry tests and another group dedicated to performing immunoassays using a variety of methodologies. The emergence of high-throughput systems that can provide an output of several thousand sample results in the same amount of time with their ability to run at rapid speeds have compensated for the higher manual requirement.Â
Point-of-care analysis. The most important trend witnessed recently in the in vitro diagnostics industry is self-testing as opposed to patients visiting hospitals. This is one of the biggest factors responsible for the growth of point-of-care testing, as patients prefer self-testing so as to avoid unnecessary visits to the hospital. The need for point-of-care analysis is very strong. If analyses can be carried out in the field or at home the laboratory is becoming unnecessary. Many such analyses are carried out on a wide scale, including determination of blood glucose levels at home using portable glucometers. There are already many tools for out-of-laboratory analysis - mobile laboratory (palliative tool), portable instruments, chemical sensors, test kits, and others.
Improved functionality. Clinical chemistry routine tests such as testing for blood albumin, ALT/SGPT, ammonia, blood gases, and calcium and creatinine levels are required before undergoing advanced tests. These tests have formed the center stage of the IVD market. Consolidation of these routine and specialized tests onto one platform combined with the ability to run emergency samples has ensured optimum efficiency in the laboratory and a rapid turnaround of samples. The analyzers manufactured today offer state-of-the-art features and design. Multiple on-board assays, innovative cassette format, integrated work station and validation station, touchscreen and real-time workflow viewing capability have improved the workflow of the analyzers.
The major changes in clinical biochemistry have been brought about as a result of the convergence of system engineering, automation, and IT technology. Thus, new technologies have enabled a better understanding of disease processes and the field has witnessed expansion, consolidation to become highly competitive with a myriad of opportunities for various new instruments, reagents, calibrators, and other systems.