Why should I consider another software package when I already have one?
Everyone who uses a flow cytometer has software that was purchased with the instrument, but what is your current software costing you?
Do any of the following scenarios sound familiar to you?
|1||Your software is slow to update while you are performing the analysis. Does it take several minutes for your current program to process even small adjustments such as the moving of a gate, loading in new files or applying new gates?
Wasting time is wasting money.
|2||Your software crashes just when you are at the end of analyzing a patient sample. Many clinical analysis templates are quite complex, using multiple gating strategies, histogram overlays, and other tools to help generate results and reports. If the processing of one of these functions takes too long, there is a good chance that your program will crash or at the very least lock up causing you to have to reboot the computer. Many times, all the work done prior to the crash or lock up is lost or corrupted, requiring the entire process to be restarted. Using unstable software wastes time.|
|3||Training new people takes a long time. New instruments often mean new software programs. Different vendors use different names or jargon for similar functions. Techs may need to keep up with multiple software programs if there are different instrument platforms in use. Training and maintaining skill levels consumes significant resources.|
|4||You are doing a lot of manual work to report your case. Time is spent doing things like copying values from one sheet of paper to another, doing calculations by hand on a calculator, and writing down staining intensities. Many labs have report sheets that need to be completed manually for case review. The lucky labs may have some of the math done for them when they manually enter the data into a LIS, but no one is immune to the possibility of clerical errors. Subjectivity and lack of standardization can become real problems, even in simple classifications such as the grading of staining intensities. Doing things by hand is laborious and wastes time.|
|5||You have manual quality control and log books. Are you paying people to tick off long checklists of things to try to eliminate careless errors, instead of them concentrating on the interpretation of the case? Do you use creative means such as creating labels with lot numbers, serial numbers, etc., to document QC for each case? How much time is spent checking to see if any results fall outside your designated ranges and what happens when those ranges change? If you could find a way to automate quality control checks wouldn't you be saving a lot of time and effort?|
|6||You have made careless mistakes. The pressure of meeting critical turn-around-time deadlines leads to mistakes, especially in labs with large workloads. Problems such as loading the wrong patient files, copying the wrong value from one place to another, placing a gate in the incorrect position are common examples. Multitasking demands and staffing shortages increase these odds. How much is it costing you to fix these inevitable mistakes?|
|7||The pathologist wants to adjust the gate, which means that you have to start over and re-analyze the entire case. PDF files are a nice way to document your final analysis, but don't allow for making any adjustments. Some software programs allow you to save gate placement in individual FCS files but in reality, most labs analyze multiple files together as in Leukemia or Lymphoma panels. Making changes to this type of analysis requires the data to be located and reloaded into the analysis template. Is analyzing the same case twice something you want to be spending time and money on?|
|8||Generating the final report is a labor intensive process. Many labs need to perform multiple steps to generate simple reports. Tasks such as cutting and pasting, creating complicated spreadsheet macros, doctoring graphics in Paint or Photoshop are common practice. Moreover, "custom" report generators don't allow for complete flexibility for reporting. Hiring a separate cytometry transcriptionist is not possible in most clinical labs. Does a great report have to equal a great amount of time spent?|
|9||Technical support is lacking or absent. Does calling technical support with your software questions generate the response you needed? Or did you spend your time waiting in the queue or by being transferred about only to end up with the same person who answered your call in the first place? Do you know more about their program than the "technical specialists"? Poor support wastes your time - who can afford any downtime?|
|10||You could benefit from LIS integration. You would like to be able to send results directly to your LIS but your instrument vendor tells you that you need to purchase middleware to be able to send only simple statistics from a few limited assays. You want the flexibilty to report all the results you need from every test your flow lab performs.|
Using software designed for acquisition in order to perform your analysis costs you time and money! In today's tough economic times, everyone has to focus on efficiency and productivity. We are all too familiar with being asked to do more and more with the resources we currently have. How much room for wasted time and money did you put into your budget this year? How would FCS Express help solve these issues in your lab? Click here to find out.