|Economic Evaluation of Total Laboratory Automation in the Clinical Laboratory of a Tertiary Care Hospital.|
Kim K, Lee SG, Kim TH, Lee SG.
Annals of laboratory medicine. 2022; 42(1): 89-95
Background: Total laboratory automation (TLA) is an innovation in laboratory technology; however, the high up-front costs restrict its widespread adoption. To examine whether the capital investment for TLA is worthwhile, we analyzed its clinical- and cost-effectiveness for the expected payback period. METHODS: Clinical chemistry tests and immunoassays performed in the clinical laboratory of a tertiary care hospital were divided into a post-TLA group, including 1,182,419 tests performed during December 2019, and a pre-TLA group, including 1,151,501 tests performed during December 2018. Laboratory information system data were used to measure clinical effectiveness, and depreciation data were used to calculate TLA costs. RESULTS: Laboratory performance improved after TLA adoption in all four key performance indicators: mean turn-around time (TAT), representing the timeliness of result reporting, decreased by 6.1%; the 99th percentile of TAT, representing the outlier rate, decreased by 13.3%; the TAT CV, representing predictability, decreased by 70.0%; and weighted tube touch moment (wTTM), representing staff safety, improved by 77.6%. Based on these effectiveness results, economic evaluation was performed using two approaches. First, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio and wTTM were used as the most cost-effective performance indicators. Second, the expected payback period was calculated. Considering only staff cost reduction, it was anticipated that 4.75 yrs would be needed to payback the initial investment. CONCLUSIONS: TLA can significantly enhance laboratory performance, has a relatively quick payback period, and can reduce total hospital expenses in the long term. Therefore, the capital investment for TLA adoption is considered to be worthwhile.