An interview with Ramon Benet, CEO, Instrumentation Laboratory

Sept. 24, 2019

For those readers unfamiliar with Instrumentation Laboratory (IL), what are three things you can share about the company that would enlighten a laboratory newbie? First, we are a global leader in the development, manufacture and distribution of in vitro diagnostic systems, including analyzers, automation, reagents, service, and information management products for clinical laboratories and hospital acute care settings. Second, we specialize in Hemostasis and Acute Care diagnostic products, all designed to help healthcare providers improve the quality of patient care and control costs. Third, we are very proud that every day, over 1.1 million patient samples are tested on our systems worldwide. This is a tremendous responsibility we take very seriously, as well as a measure of the positive impact we make on so many people around the globe.  

As of May 2019, WHO stated, “Burnout is included in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-1) as an occupational phenomenon.” You’ve been with IL since 1993; 26 years! How have you avoided “occupational burnout?” I cannot say I have ever felt burnout. I love what I do, and I find it a privilege to serve my colleagues, our customers, and their patients. I do confess, I like my weekends and time off. A good work and family balance is crucial for long-term success.

In your opinion, what makes you a good leader? Well, I have been fortunate to surround myself with the best team possible—people who are much better than me at what they do. I focus on maintaining our unified vision, mission, and direction. I provide steady leadership, concentrating on what is truly crucial to fulfill our goals. I am conservative overall, but very ambitious in certain select areas.

Being a top-level executive, how often do you get to interact with working laboratorians? I love visiting hospital laboratories to see our customers in action, understand their challenges, and envision how our systems can help them fulfill their goals. In addition, we frequently invite customers to visit our IL headquarters because we find it very useful to sit down with clinical laboratory personnel of all levels to openly discuss their needs, both now and in the future, and understand how manufacturers like IL can help them.

In your 2013 interview with MLO you indicated that the primary business areas of IL within in vitro diagnostics were Hemostasis and Critical Care. Is that still true today? Yes, but both have become much broader. While we remain the global leader in Hemostasis analyzers and reagents, we have expanded very heavily into laboratory automation and information management systems for the Hemostasis laboratory. Additionally, we have introduced a number of innovative reagents with significant impact on the clinical management of patients with conditions, such as Heparin-Induced Thrombocytopenia (HIT) and Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (TTP), along with many more innovations in our Hemostasis pipeline.

Our business line, formerly called Critical Care (which was essentially Blood Gas testing), has now expanded to become “Acute Care Diagnostics,” through the addition and integration of our comprehensive Whole-Blood Hemostasis and Patient Blood Management portfolios. We now offer rapid, whole-blood testing for a broad range of hospital acute care settings, from the Intensive Care Unit to the Cardiovascular Operating Room, Cardiac Catherization Lab, Neurointerventional Radiology Lab, and the Emergency Department, as well as the Laboratory.

IL introduced the GEM Premier ChemSTAT in vitro diagnostic (IVD) analyzer with Intelligent Quality Management (iQM) at AACC Anaheim this year. How does this analyzer help identify sepsis patients faster? Rapid Lactate testing allows earlier triage and management of patients with sepsis. The new GEM Premier ChemSTAT system is designed for the emergency care environment and provides results for a complete Basic Metabolic Panel (BMP)— including Creatinine, Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN), measured tCO2, electrolytes and Glucose, as well as Lactate, Hematocrit, pH, and pCO2. In addition to sepsis and septic shock, these are some the most widely ordered tests for diagnosing acute conditions, such as kidney injury and diabetic ketoacidosis. Recently, IL initiated commercial release of the GEM Premier ChemSTAT system in select hospitals.

What kind of advantages does this type of technology offer for these institutions? Generally, hospitals perform BMP testing in the laboratory. Now, with the GEM Premier ChemSTAT system, healthcare providers can obtain laboratory-quality results on-demand, at the point of care, in less than 70 seconds. A single sample of venous whole blood is all that’s needed, with no preparation required. This enables rapid assessment of life-threatening conditions, aids in risk-stratification and prioritization of patients for expedited treatment and disposition— especially important for high-risk, acutely ill patients in the emergency department. Additionally, and very importantly, the GEM Premier ChemSTAT system integrates patented iQM, which provides unmatched quality assurance for the most accurate results with every sample and eliminating maintenance to deliver cost-efficient outcomes and improved patient care.