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Old Techs, New Tricks

Researchers and clinicians are justifiably excited about methods like LC-MS/MS and next-generation sequencing making their way into their labs, but, asks Christine Snozek, director of clinical chemistry at the Mayo Clinical Arizona, what about the technicians?

Beyond simply worrying about technical validation of new platforms, lab leaders also need to make sure these new technologies are embraced by their employees, Snozek writes this week on the blog of the National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry.

Otherwise, she says, that shiny new mass spec could end up just "a dusty, expensive box sitting idle in the corner."

"Introducing any form of change is challenging," Snozek writes. "Humans are change-resistant by nature, and this is even more true for those individuals whose personalities are well-suited for the clinical laboratory with its stringent regulations and SOP-driven nature."

Education is key, she says. For instance, technicians might not be excited to switch from a fully-automated platform to LC-MS/MS detection using manual extraction. But if supervisors explain the benefits of the extra work — eliminating metabolite cross-reactivity, for example — their team will probably be more willing to come onboard.

Taking a page from the military, Snozek recommends after-action reviews to help implement new technologies. "As laboratorians, it's easy to forget about the human side of the process," she says, but with a host of new omics platforms making their way to the clinic, it's an important consideration.