SOFTWARE TYPE – Software packages that provide similar capabilities are categorized as a particular type of software, e.g., database management, electronic spreadsheet, or word processing. The distinction between desk-top publishing software and word processing software is diminishing as the latter software packages take on greater capabilities. Most software packages are designed to allow extensive capabilities in only one type of software, although some packages provide integrated capabilities for more than one type of software. Software for word processing is typically more complex than software for calendar packages or electronic mail, but less complex than software for spreadsheets or database management. These increases in the types of software available, the functions available within software packages, and various user aids generate new opportunities for automating the administrative work of the office.
Employees are required to apply knowledge of: varied and advanced functions of one software type; varied functions of more than one software type; or other equivalent knowledge of automated systems. Positions typically require at least one of the following bodies of knowledge and skill: – The level of knowledge of software needed to produce a wide range of documents requiring use of advanced software functions to enhance productivity or meet needs of complex formats. Level 1-4 – 550 Points Knowledge of the capabilities, operating characteristics, and advanced functions of a variety of types of office automation software, e.g., database, spreadsheet, and word processing; and knowledge of the similarities, differences, and integration of the different software types. Selects the most appropriate software for automating office work based on the nature of the work and the characteristics of available software types. Of two positions at the same level, for example, one may require use of only one type of software, but in highly varied, complex, and sophisticated ways, while another position requires using a broad range of software types, but each in relatively basic or routine ways.
Assignments typically include a broad range of office automation duties such as: – using word processing and graphics software to prepare reports and briefing documents, using spreadsheet software to maintain the unit’s fiscal records, and using project management software to track the status of a number of projects assigned to the unit; or – performing complex office automation duties requiring different approaches and methods from one assignment to another. These include, for example, the nature and capability of different U.S. Office of Personnel Management 17 Office Automation Grade Evaluation Guide TS-100 November 1990 software types or software packages of the same type; the similarities, differences, and integration compatibilities among software types and software packages; the general operations of the unit such as the source and timing of data for reports; and the current and long term use of the subject document or report and how its use may change.
Although continuous-monitoring blood culture systems, automated microbial identification, and automated antimicrobial susceptibility testing systems are widely utilized in microbiology laboratories, microbiology specimen processing and culture workup, in particular, remain largely manual tasks, and indeed, few changes to the methods used to perform these tasks have occurred for many years. While we acknowledge that some larger microbiology laboratories utilize urine-plating instrumentation, most microbiology laboratories have littleto-no automation in their specimen-processing areas, with the exception of some laboratories in Western Europe, Australia, and the Middle Eastern nations. Asm.org Journal of Clinical Microbiology with selection and implementation of microbiology automation solutions will place significant management and financial challenges upon laboratory leadership. Of the primary drivers of automation, standardization of identification methods to matrixassisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight mass spectrometry and the adoption of liquid microbiology specimen transport have allowed microbiology laboratories to simplify collection and identification systems, creating a work flow that can be optimized with automation. These include the ideas that microbiology is too complex to automate, no machine can replace a human in the microbiology laboratory, automation is too expensive for microbiology laboratories, and microbiology laboratories are too small to automate.
In reviewing the current options available for automation in microbiology laboratories, we have chosen to divide the automation solutions into two groups: instruments that function primarily as specimen processors and systems that offer total microbiology laboratory automation solutions. Total microbiology laboratory solutions generally include the functions of specimen processors and add modules to achieve various degrees of total microbiology automation. Asm.org MICROBIOLOGY TLA SOLUTIONS There are currently 3 microbiology TLA solutions in use or in development: Kiestra TLA, full microbiology laboratory automation, and the WASPLab. MICROBIOLOGY AUTOMATION RESEARCH NEEDS The scientific literature assessing the benefits of microbiology automation is sparse. While the benefits of microbiology automation can often be inferred, well-performed studies are needed to accurately assess the financial, operational, and clinical impacts of incremental or total laboratory automation in microbiology laboratories.
Dr. Bourbeau is a past chairman of the clinical microbiology division of the American Society for Microbiology and currently serves as an associate editor for the Journal of Clinical Microbiology. His research interests include microbiology automation, molecular microbiology, specimen transport, clinical microbiology methods, and organization of microbiology testing in integrated health care systems.