HORIBA Medical’s new HELO fully automated hematology platform installed at Torbay Hospital

New HELO fully automated high throughput system at Torbay reduces time taken for routine hematology work

HORIBA UK Ltd, Medical announces the first global installation of its new HELO high throughput fully automated hematology platform in Torbay Hospital. The Laboratory there has achieved UKAS ISO 15189 accreditation. Additionally, the ease of use, fast processing and operational efficiency delivered by HORIBA Medical’s new track-based hematology system has enabled routine hematology work to be smoothed and cut by an hour at the Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust (TSDFT).

The new HELO fully automated hematology platform installed at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust (TSDFT) has smoothed and cut routine work by an hour

The exceptional service and support given by the HORIBA Medical team to achieve this accreditation, which confirms lab quality and competence, has also been recognized by Biomedical Scientists at Torbay. This successful HELO install follows a response to tender in 2017 by HORIBA Medical for a new fully automated hematology platform to replace its 12-year-old Pentra DX 120 hematology analyzers. Alongside the requirement for assistance in verification of the new system via HORIBA’s Quality Accreditation Program (QAP), other ‘must haves’ within the tender were robust white cell linearity, optical platelet counts and nucleated red blood cell counts.

“We have always valued our excellent working relationship with HORIBA Medical and are extremely impressed by their hands-on service response and support,” explained David Strutt, Hematology Technical Manager, Torbay Hospital. “This level of support shone through during HELO’s installation and the demands of the validation process for our lab to continue to meet ISO 15189 quality standards. Also, as the world’s first installation of HELO, we were prepared for the possibility of some teething issues. However, these were minimal and HORIBA couldn’t have done more to sort them out effectively and rapidly.”

The new HELO also met Torbay’s requirements for a tracked hematology platform with flexible layouts to fit within a reconfigured Blood Sciences lab alongside chemistry analyzers to facilitate efficient working. Key to enabling improved workflows is HELO’s novel approach to track - samples can be loaded at any analyzer and the system then disperses them, depending on tests required and individual analyzer capacities.

David Strutt added:

HELO has a different type of track to what I’ve been used to where samples are loaded at the front and taken off at the end. We can simply load sample racks to any Yumizen analyzer linked by the track, HELO then smooths and eats through our workload, with the track reducing turnaround times compared with our previous system. STAT samples are also detected and prioritized wherever you load them directly onto the track, making it very easy to use and giving us more options. Having used other tracks, I can now really see the advantages of HELO’s new more efficient, redistribution approach.”

Also enabling efficient working, HELO displays visual status aides via green, amber and red lights, both as large overall status lights visible from anywhere within the lab, as well as on individual analyzers. “Having immediate warning that the system needs attention allows us to take instant action, whether it’s a reagent change or a Westgard QC alert that has automatically stopped an analyzer,” clarified David Strutt. “Another advantage is the fact that HELO’s open/manual mode uses the same needle as the automated mode, meaning that only one calibration is needed.”

HORIBA Medical’s new HELO solution is an innovative platform designed in consultation with end users to cover all needs of high throughput automated hematology. It offers a highly flexible hematology track system that is fully scalable with many possible configurations, supporting any future changes within a laboratory. It incorporates high throughput Yumizen hematology analyzers processing up to 120 samples/hour. Integrated automatic slide maker/strainers. A comprehensive automated slide digital morphology system is a planned addition for the future. Its automated conveyor (track) and Data Manager ensure intelligent, efficient working with rules based auto-validation.

“We have always championed LEAN working within labs, so when developing our new automation offering, our R&D team approached it with this in mind. As Torbay has confirmed first hand, HELO certainly delivers fast, efficient sample processing which is intelligent and easy to use,” said Mandy Campbell, HORIBA Medical. “We see it as essential to work in close partnership with our customers to meet quality standards. Help is needed not only during the very rigorous ISO 15189 validation process for new equipment such as HELO, but also with ongoing needs for continuing improvement and competency assessment in labs. This is why we introduced QAP to fully support all our customers.”

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