Open systems are automated systems that allow for the inclusion of hardware, software, and instrumentation from many vendors. One of the major advantages of an open system is that it offers more flexibility for instrumentation choices and allows a greater degree of accommodation for any changes that may be desired over time. It should be noted that initial implementation and planning may be more involved. This is because ALL components of the system from various vendors must be integrated with each other, as well as with the LIS and/or workflow management applications where compatibility issues may be an obstacle.
In contrast, closed systems exist as packages of pre-analytic automation, analytic phase instrumentation, and post-analytic systems from a single vendor. The accompanying hardware and software are designed specifically to integrate together with that vendor's other instrumentation and applications. An appeal of the closed system is this "turnkey" benefit, since closed systems are "ready to go" and can often be up and running more quickly with less planning and implementation efforts by the laboratory. However, the trade off with closed systems is less long-term flexibility, since closed systems can often be more difficult or costly to modify after installation. If instrumentation changes are desired in the future, it may be challenging or impossible for any existing closed system components to be integrated with competing vendor's hardware, software, or instrumentation.
The choice of either an open or closed system will depend on a particular laboratory's needs. Great improvement in both process efficiency and specimen identification accuracy is frequently reflected when either an open or closed system is implemented effectively.