Every business leader agrees that innovation is an important strategic asset for their organization and key to remaining relevant and competitive. Customer appetite for new products and services, be it groundbreaking and revolutionary or small, simple and seemingly obvious, is stronger than ever.
According to Forbes, Sysmex America, Inc., a diagnostic solutions company, is one of the most innovative companies in the healthcare equipment and services category. Our parent company, Sysmex Corporation, founded in 1968, is known for its unwavering commitment to technological innovation. For more than 50 years, numerous world-firsts have come from the dedicated efforts of our associates. In 2003, Sysmex America was formed to create a direct sales channel as a part of a market-share strategy. We began with 40 associates and have grown to more than 1,200 people today. This growth is a direct result of our teams’ firsthand experience as laboratorians and their passion for creating unique and innovative value that shapes the future of healthcare. For example, we produced the first modular, scalable hematology automation solution, which reduced manual steps performed by technicians so labs could process more tests and better leverage the scientific expertise of their staff.
Our company culture is rooted in “The Sysmex Way,” which fosters a workplace environment where associates can realize their full potential and where different work styles, experiences, knowledge and ideas are treasured as core elements of innovation. We have not let our rapid growth get in the way of our commitment to continuous innovation in our products, testing or quality processes.
But as our customer base grew, we were challenged with rising service and support labor costs. As sales increased, we hired more field service engineers who traveled to customer locations to diagnose and resolve their issues. Engineers often found minor instrument issues that could have been eliminated or reduced with better lab technician analyzer training.
We needed to change the traditional “break-fix” support model that was no longer practical for us or our customers. We needed to improve and retain service and support quality while reducing our labor cost. Our customers were being pressured with increasing test volumes, industry-wide staffing shortages and growing demands for improved results accuracy and productivity. We needed to help them extend their instrument uptime and improve overall workflow efficiency.
The solution? To innovate—that is, create a service paradigm shift that would reduce the cost curve, while, at the same time, ensuring customer satisfaction and retention at the same time. This was no easy task and there were failures along the way, but we learned quickly which solutions brought value and which ones did not. We became laser focused on automation solutions that would drive productivity. We also knew that it could not be innovation for the sake of innovation; an amazing laboratory innovation that laboratories don’t want to use is actually not an amazing laboratory innovation.
By looking at automation from a clinical perspective and improving efficiency as a company, we have successfully helped our customers manage today’s unique laboratory challenges and better position them for the future of health care:
Remote diagnostics management. We elevated service and support beyond the traditional “break-fix” model of over-the-phone troubleshooting and high field service engineer travel costs with a remote diagnostics management system. The system continuously collects and monitors system performance data from the installed instrument base. Sysmex Network Communications System (SNCS) features include proactive system functions that can alert us to potential future issues; real-time monitoring for scheduled service visits; customer-controlled remote access for streamlined; on-line troubleshooting; and secure access guaranteed by eSignatures that comply with HIPAA; and customer confidence.
Virtual instructor-led training. We turned the old, traditional training model upside down by broadcasting live training courses directly to the lab techs in their own facilities. Laboratories are no longer forced to send one or two techs for in-person training, only for them to retain a small percentage of what they learned and then cascade this knowledge to coworkers upon their return. Virtual instructor-led training combines the best of conventional training, including live, instructor-led sessions that combine sharing information, performing hands-on exercises, and real-time question-and-answer opportunities with expert instructors. There are no limits to the number of lab techs who can complete courses, or how often courses are completed, giving laboratories the ability to monitor their staff’s competency at any time. This year, we have increased the instrument competency of more than 12,000 lab techs, which also results in maximizing the use of our field service engineers.
Automating quality control. We have relieved our customers of the burdensome tasks of regulatory compliance and laboratory test result quality control. For example, if a lab is out of compliance for not performing its six-month calibration verification, it would have to spend time resolving the deficiency and responding to accreditation organizations to address compliance. Our BeyondCare Quality Monitor (BCQM) allows any user to manage quality with ease. Through advanced algorithms and artificial intelligence, the BCQM application can detect and correct errors before the customer is aware there is a problem that needs resolution. Through continuous calibration verification labs can minimize analyzer downtown, maintain compliance and maximize laboratory staffing efficiency.
Our win-win collaborative innovation has allowed Sysmex America to bend the cost curve via decreased field service engineer travel, economies of scale, breaking labor dependency and increasing productivity. Most important, our customers are enjoying extra value found in extended instrument uptime with improved professional services, auto-fixes and self-service tools.