Optimizing pre-analytical molecular workflows with automation

Despite growing demand for testing, laboratory sustainability remains at risk

Pre-analytical processing is one of the more burdensome parts of a molecular workflow, and up to 75% of all laboratory error occurs during this phase.1

In today’s competitive healthcare environment, laboratories face constant pressure to reduce costs while needing to elevate the value they deliver. During preanalytic sample handling and processing, highly skilled technicians perform repetitive manual tasks, like vortexing, decapping, and labeling tubes.

These time-intensive steps not only cause bottlenecks, they increase the opportunity for human error, put technicians at risk of repetitive motion injuries, and limit the availability of lab staff to perform more challenging tasks.

With the wide variety and volume of samples entering the laboratory for molecular diagnostic testing, complex and error-prone processes must be streamlined if labs want to free-up staff and elevate their value.

Area of Focus

Four areas of focus to enhance pre-analytical efficiency:


  • Automation can eliminate virtually all pre-analytical steps currently performed manually
  • Consolidation of multiple sample types and tests into one system can simplify and streamline processing
  • Integration with leading analytical systems and overarching IT solutions can create efficient end-to-end workflows
  • Standardization of workflows can improve ease of use and allow for predictable and efficient turnaround times
The value of end-to-end automation in molecular testing

In today’s competitive healthcare environment, laboratories need to find ways to elevate the value they deliver. Automation helps labs to achieve this on several fronts - lowering operational cost, improving capacity, performance, and service quality,2 and reducing error caused by manual processing.

In a molecular laboratory, cross-contamination can happen at any time - especially during manual scanning, aliquoting, sample preparation, and reagent preparation.3-5 Errors during critical pre-analytical stages can affect the laboratory’s reputation and the perception of the value they provide. Pre-analytical automation offers the potential to eliminate human errors associated with pipetting.6

The ability to consolidate and process a wide variety of samples in high volume with minimal manual steps brings a new level of efficiency to molecular workflows. Streamlining and standardizing testing with a dedicated molecular pre-analytical automation creates a value-adding end-to-end solution that can increase confidence in results and ensure more predictable turnaround times - a win for the laboratory, their customers, and patients.

End of testing
Industry experts discuss ways to prevent pre-analytical error
cobas® prime pre-analytical system

cobas® prime pre-analytical system

Accelerating speed and efficiency in the molecular lab

Streamlining and simplifying your day-to-day operations


As laboratories look for ways to add value, the integration of a pre-analytical automation solution can eliminate time-consuming manual processes, allow a greater number of samples to be processed with less error, and free-up staff to focus on more meaningful work.

With unprecedented efficiency and a focus on value, laboratories can meet today’s testing demands and better position themselves for a sustainable and successful tomorrow.

Molecular Work Area Visual

Roche has a vision for the future of laboratory testing - the Molecular Work Area.

Discover how next-generation pre-analytical automation, integrated with Roche’s industry-leading systems, can elevate laboratories of all sizes to a new level of speed and efficiency.


  1. Hammerling JA. A Review of Medical Errors in Laboratory Diagnostics and Where We Are Today. Laboratory Medicine. 2012;43(2): 41–44.
  2. De Capitani, C, Marocchi A, Tolio T. Automation of the Pre-Analytical Phase: A Performance Evaluation of Alternative Scenarios. JALA: Journal of the Association for Laboratory Automation. 2002;7(2): 89–93.
  3. Vermehren J, Stelzl E, Maasoumy B, et al. Multicenter Comparison Study of both Analytical and Clinical Performance across Four Roche Hepatitis C Virus RNA Assays Utilizing Different Platforms. J Clin Microbiol. 2017;55(4):1131-1139.
  4. Maasoumy B, Bremer B, Lehmann P, et al. Commutability and concordance of four hepatitis B virus DNA assays in an international multicenter study. Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2017;10(8):609-618.
  5. Adams P, Vancutsem E, Nicolaizeau C, et all. Multicenter evaluation of the cobas® HIV-1 quantitative nucleic acid test for use on the cobas® 4800 system for the quantification of HIV-1 plasma viral load.
  6. cobas® prime Pre-analytical System Performance Specification.