With a growing demand for diagnostic lab work, Health Network Laboratories bought and installed a high-capacity diagnostic machine that can test up to 700 samples at a time.
HNL, headquartered in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, is the first lab in the United States to own and operate the EUROLabWorkstation ELISA from EUROIMMUN US Inc., a subsidiary of EUROIMMUN of Lubeck, Germany.
HNL did not disclose the price of the equipment, which typically costs $200,000 to $300,000.
The EUROLabWorkstation ELISA can perform automated simultaneous testing on up to 750 samples at a time and process 200 tests per hour, an improvement over HNL’s current machine that can load 98 samples at a time, according to Jeff Wisotzkey, clinical laboratory director and scientific officer at HNL.
ELISA, which stands for enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, is a method used for immunology tests.
The machine, nearly 10 feet long and 3 feet high, was installed last July at HNL’s headquarters on Roble Road. HNL has been testing it since then and expects to go live in April.
Wisotzkey said the new workstation’s methodology is the same as its current machine, but it has a much larger capacity and is faster and more efficient.
The workstation will not replace employees, he said.
HNL will be able to bring additional tests in-house to its laboratory headquarters, such as a test to differentiate irritable bowel syndrome versus irritable bowel disease and more tick and mosquito-borne disease tests, Wisotzkey said.
HNL performs nearly 70 million diagnostic tests a year and is one of the largest private, for-profit medical diagnostic laboratories in the Northeast.
“As technology evolves, the medical laboratory industry benefits,” Wisotzkey said. “HNL’s pursuit of the latest state-of-the-art technology is ongoing.”
Demand for lab tests is expected to further increase when HNL sets up laboratories at four Lehigh Valley Health Network hospitals in the region, LVH-Pocono, LVH-Schuylkill E. Norwegian Street, LVH-Schuylkill S. Jackson St. and LVH-Hazleton. Two LVHN hospitals are part owners of HNL.
Although the labs at those hospitals will handle many of the additional tests, they are expected to generate another 3 million to 5 million tests at HNL’s headquarters, Wisotzkey said.
“HNL has recently negotiated management and operating agreements with four additional regional hospital laboratories, and the added demand for lab diagnostics brings us great responsibility in patient management, which we take to heart,” Dr. Peter Fisher, president and CEO of HNL, said in a statement.
HNL has about 1,000 employees, including 600 at its headquarters. It has a staff of 30 board-certified pathologists and scientific directors and more than 400 certified lab scientists and phlebotomists.