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New Automated Test Equipment

Monday, July 14 2014 10:10 AM

Automation ups efficiency for Via Christi lab

By Kelsey Ryan

The Wichita Eagle

Not unlike inside a Coca Cola bottling plant, the equipment at Affiliated Medical Services Laboratory move in seemingly perfect choreography – extracting samples, mixing and incubating them before they continue their journey down an automated assembly line.

But the items on the automated line won’t be your favorite soft drink.

They’re test tubes full of blood samples from thousands of patients across the state.

“Health care has really taken a cue from industry over the years that automation is achievable,” said Edwin Harned, senior administrator at AMS.

Every week, tens of thousands of specimens are processed at AMS, located in a nondescript building at 2916 E. Central. The company, Harned said, is the largest reference laboratory biller for Medicare and Medicaid in the state.

AMS was founded in 1983 and is wholly owned by the nonprofit Via Christi Health. And it took on the laboratory testing for Via Christi Clinic in June.

The increased demand for services and the expectations for quick results from the lab meant AMS needed to look for more ways to be efficient, Harned said. So it recently installed and is currently programming a new $1.1million Inpeco robotic track and Abbott diagnostic testing machines that are slated to start running Sept. 28.

Next: Direct-to-consumer testing

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