PathArchiv™  |  Automated Block and Slide Archiving

PathArchiv automates sample handling, recording and archive management, virtually eliminating sample loss while substantially reducing staff Full-Time Equivalent (FTE), easing personnel shortages.

BarCode Scanning w no symbol

Homegrown file room management, slow error prone work...

Clinical lab personnel have built homegrown file room management systems, first using paper and now using electronic spreadsheets. In both cases, the weak link is the manual recording and handling of samples that suffers from the 'mean human error' rate as well as ongoing labor costs. Not surprisingly, this process deals with missing samples on a regular basis while simultaneously absorbing a significant percentage of the laboratory staff to sort, record, file, and pick samples, in addition to personnel time required to search for missing and lost samples.

SPOT Imaging's research showed that in the quest to address this issue clinical lab managers have developed a wish list for their next solution:

❑  Reduce file room FTE

❑  Reduce / eliminate lost samples

❑  Purpose built archive to manage sample loans and collections

❑  Minimize implementation costs

❑  Minimize storage container costs

❑  Maximize storage density


PathArchiv | A new era of file room management

An automated resource designed for histology labs by histology labs

Reduce labor costs and free up valuable staff time

Case studies show that one of the biggest advantages that PathArchiv can deliver to your lab is the reduction in staff time required to manage the sample file room. In one high volume lab, personnel went from 8 FTE to 3 FTE, while doubling their sample filing. The resultant savings to the lab file room budget enabled extra staff to be transferred to open positions, reducing staffing shortages.

Financial officers especially welcome the savings. They would require growth on the order of 20x the amount of the savings to gain the same margin (based on a 5% profit margin).


Eliminate lost samples

PathArchiv helps to eliminate samples losses, dramatically reduce them by mitigating contributing factors:  manual transcription and record entry, manual sample filing and sample loan procedures.

PathArchiv uses automation to:

1) Read sample barcodes

2) File samples into their magazines

3) Record the location of the sample

This process removes baseline human error and engages human intervention to address special cases and exceptions to the standard operating procedure. The result is a reduction in misfiled or unreturned samples.


Cost-effective, standard storage containers

The format of the storage containers was not FTE to the whims of the engineers. A strict requirement was that the storage containers were to use the standard format box and magazine insert size. Purchasing all new shelving would be cost prohibitive and any new storage containers had to maintain a reasonable purchase price.

PathArchiv ensures that the capital purchase of the solution does not get overwhelmed by add-on shelving purchases required to house a custom storage format and that the ongoing storage consumables cost does not negate the labor savings the system delivers. PathArchiv enables a practical storage solution–upfront and ongoing.


Maximize sample storage density

PathArchiv breaks the long-held paradigm of sequential sample storage, which was a simple, reliable system for human filing clerks to understand and maintain. Each sample was stored in its numerical order based on case number and subsample designator. The downfall is the reserve space, typically on the order of 25%, required in the storage magazine to accommodate late arriving samples. This space reduces the effective density of sample storage.

PathArchiv does not need reserve space in the storage magazines. Since it tracks the location of every specimen, specimens can be filed into the next available space, enabling the full loading of the storage magazines. The result is a 33% decrease in the space required (100%/75% = 133%) and a corresponding decrease in off-site storage and associated fees.

Picking is easily facilitated. PathArchiv provides the archive clerk with a list of locations. Refiling fees are also eliminated. Returned samples are processed along with the new entries into the archive. PathArchiv just updates its entries and tracks the new locations.

User Work Flow


PathArchiv-Slide filing workflow

Key to PathArchiv-Slide workflow is the unattended automated recording and filing of slides that allow your personnel to be freed up to perform sample picking or other more important laboratory work tasks.

Slide filing work steps:



Free up lab personnel

200 slides are easily loaded for 50 minutes of unattended operation without laborious sequential sorting or prefilling of proprietary slide trays that other solutions require. PathArchiv leverages its automation to free up lab personnel for other lab tasks.


Slide scanning and filing with
automated alerts

During this process PathArchiv is documenting each label, storing the case/slide data and position in magazine and the location of the magazine in the storage box. Any written labels or unread barcodes are flagged and sent to the exceptions list while the instrument continues uninterrupted during scanning. The exceptions list is accessed by any network-connected device and brings up each slide record showing the image of the label. The operator can enter the human readable characters ensuring all samples are logged into the system and retrievable in the future.

PathArchiv-Block filing workflow

The PathArchiv-Block workflow automates barcode reading and sample location recording, speeding up the process while virtually eliminating human transcription errors and the need for missing sample search parties.

Block filing work steps:

Process automation of 50 blocks
in 2 minutes

The PathArchiv block tracker automatically processes a magazine containing 50 blocks in 2 minutes, freeing the operator to handle other tasks such as loading the block tracker or filling out paperwork. During this process PathArchiv documents each cassette label, stores the case/block data and position in the magazine and the location of the magazine in the storage box. Any written labels or unread barcodes are flagged and sent to the exceptions list while the instrument continues scanning uninterrupted. The exceptions list is accessed by any network-connected device and brings up each block record showing the image of the label. The operator can enter the human readable characters ensuring all samples are logged into the system and retrievable in the future.

PathArchiv handles exceptional samples

PathArchiv handles broken and whole mount slides as well as whole mount cassettes that cannot run through the standardized automation provided in the PathArchiv-Block instrument. These low volume, 'Exceptional Samples' are recorded by the PathArchiv ExTrak™ Scanner which is a human-assisted automated recording system that records these samples into the main database ensuring all samples, standard or exceptional, are managed.

PathArchiv retrieval and loan management workflow

The PathArchiv retrieval order form is available from any network-connected device. Simply click the PathArchiv bookmark in your browser, enter your user passcode and select Retrieval. Pathologists readily submit their request by entering the case number, samples needed, delivery location, contact and loan duration. The completeness of this entry systematically eliminates the unrecorded 'sneaker' loans that cause sample losses.

Pick list for the order

The order is then posted to “Retrievals List” that file room personnel use to generate the pick list for the order.

Picked samples are recorded and tracked against their due date and if late, posted to the “Chase list” for follow-up. Individual samples are tracked ensuring that even partial returns are identified ensuring the return is complete. Returned samples are processed right along with the newly filed samples eliminating the labor, errors and third-party charges associated with legacy sequential filing. PathArchiv can do this because it is tracking every sample across its entire life in the system and does not rely on a sequential filing order required by manual systems.

Access the recorded data

The PathArchiv software records a full history of each sample’s transactions allowing standardized reports, sample searches and data analysis of the sample archive. Data integrity is assured by internal backups as well as the institutional central server backups, providing a routine recovery of sample tracking data if ever needed.

Budgeting ROI
Integration - Maintenance
Reference - Resources