National Cancer Institute gives healthcare a booster shot with the latest in laboratory techniques

Maitri Porecha Jhajjar | Updated on June 25, 2019 Published on June 25, 2019

The sprawling 70-acre campus of the government-run National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Jhajjar, Haryana, built to provide respite to thousands of patients, is home to novel laboratory techniques implemented in the public sector for the first time.

Sixty-five-year-old Satyawan Singh, who was wheeled into the emergency section of NCI recently, is one such beneficiary of the institute’s new approach to diagnostics. Singh’s jaw was ‘locked’ due to a potential cancerous condition, and he was unable to eat food.

“If it were not for the NCI, we would have been forced to visit the crowded AIIMS in Delhi for treatment,” Pawan, Satyawan’s son, said.

On entering the ‘Phlebotomy’ division, a doctor collected Satyawan’s blood sample, transferred it into a colour- and bar-coded vial and put it in a jar. A technician collected the jar and pushed some buttons to deposit the jar into one of the chutes attached to the wall. Sucked away through vacuum pipes, the jars were transferred to the lab in a jiffy.

“The pneumatic chutes are designed in a way that they suck the sample jars via air pressure and deliver them to the lab on the upper floors. The system is run on sensors and a software that manages incoming traffic from different wards,” said a spokesperson for Seimens Healthineers present on-site.

A few floors above, a stream of sample jars are received by two technicians in the Robotic Core Clinical lab, which takes care of biochemistry, haematology, coagulation, immunoassays and tumour-marker tests.

“Based on their colour and size, they (the samples) are automatically sorted onto specific belts mimicking railway lines, and are carried to their respective testing machines. The lab is expected to receive anywhere between 100 and 150 samples in a day,” said Vivek Kanade, Executive Director, Siemens Healthineers.

“While the largest belt, 92 m in size, is housed at Thyrocare and processes close to 50,000 samples annually, the NCI belt is the second-largest at 55 m, and has the capacity to process 1,500 samples per hour,” Kanade added.

Automated design

The tube-to-lab automated facility is conceptualised to avoid spillage of samples and avoid contamination.

Said Seimens in a statement: “The laboratory automation solution supports an end-to-end sample processing workflow — from loading various sample tubes to the analysers to storage and disposal of the samples with minimal manual intervention needed. This results in reduced error rates.”

The entire design of the NCI as envisioned by its head, GK Rath, is futuristic. The labs have been built at an expense of ₹20 crore.

“Improved turnaround time, enhanced quality, reduced biohazard risks due to minimal sample extraction, coupled with cost-effective processes and diagnostic accuracy will help us serve the needs of the community better,” said Rath.

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Published on June 25, 2019
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