Performing tests and analyzing the results is one of the most fundamental tools that scientists, including doctors, use to understand the world around them. For a doctor’s office, lab tests peer into the patient by examining the fluids, tissues, and gasses exuded by their body. The cost of sending out hundreds of tests per month to outside labs and the extended delay in receiving results has motivated many offices to seek out their own chemistry analyzers. Going from lab-reliant to self-sufficient testing takes just a few steps: selecting a chemistry analyzer, preparing a lab space, stocking the shelves, and training the staff.
Select Your Chemistry Analyzer
While not quite as varied as consumer goods like cars or brands of potato chips, there are a number of different analyzers on the market that possess unique selections of tests and capabilities in machines that range from small enough to sit on a desk to large enough to cover an entire wall. They will have different rates and volumes of testing that change how much time your lab techs will be standing at the machine and how much work will get done in a given time.
The best way to filter through the available models to pick out the ones that are suited for your office is to look over your request history to outside labs. For example, general practitioner offices will likely run glucose and cholesterol tests, so their choice should include both tests. From there, start looking at other metrics until you are down to just a few choices.
Once you have your potential analyzer list narrowed down, run the numbers to determine which will give you the best return. The manufacturer should be willing to supply information on the expected costs and returns for a given volume of testing.
Prepare the Lab Space
Once you know which analysis equipment your office will be purchasing, you can begin deciding where is the best place to put it. Offices that are already equipped with a lab that has space for new gear will find this step to be easy to complete.
The lab should preferably be made from a locked room with easily cleaned floors and minimal incoming light. There should be enough power running to the room to run the analyzer and any additional devices in the lab.
If you need a surface space like a table or counter to hold the analyzer, pick one out that has ample room for an additional computer and monitor with working space for writing down results and moving samples around. A refrigeration unit, freezer, and oven may be needed to control sample temperatures, and you will most definitely need a place to store samples and test results.
Setup and Stock Your Supply Center
Every analyzer will require a selection of supplies in order to be used. The most common consumables include cleaning supplies, microscope slides, testing strips, test tubes, and sample bags. Other supplies may include printer paper, portable digital storage, protective equipment, organizational aids, and upholstery.
Train the Staff on Using the Analyzer
The last step in preparing your office for the analyzer is getting your staff familiarized with its use and operation. Manipulating the controls for most analyzers is no more difficult than working a modern piece of computer software and can be done with a mixture of reading and hands-on instruction. The more important lesson for the staff who will be using the analyzer is the instructions on how to properly retrieve, prepare, and input samples to the machine. Once they are signed off as ready, your chemistry analyzer is finally setup.
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