When Janet Chennault and William Shipley went into the laboratory information systems business in the mid-1990s, they soon noticed a trend. When a lab didn’t buy their product, it wasn’t because the lab purchased a competitor’s system. It was because the lab decided not to purchase an LIS to save money.
Even today, many laboratories that desperately need a system don’t buy one for economic reasons, says Chennault, vice president of Valencia, Calif.-based Schuyler House, which has software installed in approximately 750 labs in the United States and Caribbean.
Now those labs have another option. Starting this month, Schuyler House is offering a free, streamlined version of its full laboratory information system. “In the end, our analysis is we’ll end up with more customers and more money than if we don’t do it,” says Shipley, Schuyler House’s president.
Chennault takes credit for suggesting, more than 10 years ago, that the company give away a free version of its software. But the suggestion stayed just that until about 18 months ago. In late 2008, the partners revisited the concept and started talking about offering two versions of the company’s LIS — the premium version, SchuyLab Pro, which they had been offering, as well as a scaled-back version for smaller labs that don’t need all the bells and whistles of the high-end software, called SchuyLab Basic. They would give away the latter to interested laboratories.
Schuyler House anticipates that giving away SchuyLab Basic will earn the company more paying clients in the long run since those laboratories eventually may upgrade to more sophisticated software that can connect to instruments and do electronic billing, for example.
SchuyLab Basic requires that laboratorians manually enter data. However, the software can create patient reports, including cumulative reports, so a doctor can easily scan several years’ worth of lab results to see if unusual patterns emerge instead of flipping through paper copies of test results generated by various systems. This also means slimmer patient files, says Chennault, which saves medical record storage space.
Laboratory technologists can use the software to monitor quality control and to determine how many times they performed a certain test in a set period, such as a month or year, and how many of those results were elevated or critical. They can also generate statistics on billing and produce documentation for inspections.
If a laboratory outgrows SchuyLab Basic, it can upgrade by connecting a single instrument to a workstation for $3,000. For an additional $3,000, Schuyler House will connect multiple instruments to one workstation. From there, a laboratory can upgrade to the full SchuyLab Pro setup, which works at multiple workstations, for $2,000. Instrument hook-ups are extra.
Laboratories can sign up for SchuyLab Basic on Schuyler House’s Web site, www.schuylerhouse.com. They will be mailed a start-up disk to install themselves. Schuyler House will maintain a free web-based technical support forum, or labs can purchase 24-hour support for $240 per year.
Schuyler House plans to promote its free LIS primarily through word of mouth and by integrating information about the product into trade show advertising for SchuyLab Pro. “We don’t know if we’re going to have two people jumping onto our Web site and registering or if we’re going to have 100 people the first day,” Chennault says.
For now, Schuyler House is only offering SchuyLab Basic in the United States, but the company is willing to work with public health or charitable organizations in other countries.
As long as laboratories in need of an LIS benefit from SchuyLab Basic, the venture will be a success, says Shipley. “We are perfectly willing for that program to be used in hundreds of laboratories without us ever making a cent [from it],” he adds. “People will get better health care because their doctors have better information.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released the hemovigilance module of the National Healthcare Safety Network, or NHSN.
Through the module, U.S. hospitals that transfuse blood and blood components can contribute data on adverse events associated with blood transfusions for the purpose of monitoring such events. The intent of the surveillance system is to improve patient safety by allowing hospitals to identify trends in their institution and by allowing the CDC to summarize data at a national level.
“The U.S. is the only developed country that does not have an established method to track and monitor ad-verse events associated with blood transfusion on a national level,” says AABB CEO Karen Shoos Lipton. “By collecting and analyzing these valuable data, the transfusion medicine community will be better equipped to evaluate the effectiveness of interventions and make best practice recommendations to improve patient safety.”
All data entered into the hemovigilance module are fully protected.
Haemonetics Corp., a vendor of blood bank and donor management software, has announced that it will acquire Global Med Technologies, which sells blood bank software and other laboratory systems and services.
Global Med’s domestic subsidiaries include Wyndgate Technologies and PeopleMed. It also owns the European software company Inlog SA, which is based in France and Germany.
Spectra Laboratories East, Rockleigh, NJ, a division of Fresenius Medical Care North America, has improved its productivity using McKesson’s Horizon Lab LIS.
The reference lab, which performs more than 30 million tests annually, replaced its legacy McKesson laboratory information system with Horizon Lab last year in an effort to streamline workflow, further automate processes, and simplify quality control monitoring.
Spectra Laboratories, one of the world’s largest providers of renal-specific lab testing services, plans to eventually install Horizon Lab at its West Coast facility, in Milpitas, Calif., as well.
“In light of the increasing labor cost coupled with a shortage of new hires, we need to automate processes with a laboratory information system that is fast and efficient,” says Chinu Jani, vice president of operations and general manager for Spectra Laboratories East. “With Horizon Lab, we can receive laboratory orders electronically and report real-time results, which has significantly improved our turnaround time to clinicians.”
CAP TODAY contributing editor Raymond Aller, MD, attended the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas, where, among the more than 20,000 exhibits, he found numerous products of relevance to pathology laboratories. “The medical community can learn from shows like this,” Dr. Aller says. “The consumer market knows best how to create user-friendly products with robust functionality at a reasonable cost. And technological innovations introduced at CES may be of significant importance to the medical field.” Following is a sampling of what caught Dr. Aller’s eye.
The biggest buzz on the floor of the Consumer Electronics Show appeared to be three-dimensional display technology. Several companies exhibited large, flat screens and 3-D eyeglasses for directing images to the left and right eye. These specialized glasses use such technology as red/green lenses, polarization, and high-speed shutters.
While such technology has mass consumer appeal, it is also of interest to radiologists and neurosurgeons who have been working for years to better understand three-dimensional tissue relationships within the body. Three-dimensional reconstruction is helpful as well for assessing the extent of tumor within a resected organ. And such technology eventually may be used to better display laboratory data.
Sharp Electronics presented an important advance in display technology. The company has added yellow to the red/green/blue paradigm for representing displayed color, used since the 1940s. It’s too early to tell, but I would wager that pathologists specializing in digital imaging will find it easier to make a diagnosis on a RGBY monitor than an RGB monitor.
For pathologists directing outreach laboratories that use courier fleets, the Spot Satellite Personal Tracker from Spot Inc. may be worthwhile. The device can be mounted on the dashboard of a courier vehicle, where every 10 minutes it transmits its location to a LEO (low Earth orbiting) satellite. A dispatcher can access a Web page using Google Earth to see where the vehicle has travelled over the past few hours and when it will arrive at its destination.
Several other vendors market tracking devices that send a fleet vehicle’s location via cellular wireless networks, such as CDMA (code-division multiple access). One such vendor markets a device that is permanently installed in a vehicle and communicates via cellular network but switches to Iridium satellite if the vehicle exceeds the range of the cellular network.
Also on display were automated data backup units from Clickfree Automatic Backup. The units are available as a self-contained external hard disk with software or as a software dongle that fits between a PC and a hard disk or a PC and an iPhone. Such devices simplify the process of backing up data, thereby encouraging users to back up important information regularly.
The Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange recently launched a free online ICD-10 vendor resource directory.
The directory, located on the Reston, Va.-based advocacy group’s website, www.wedi.org, provides information about companies that offer ICD-10 services.
WEDI will accept vendor submissions on an ongoing basis and update the directory bimonthly.
Emdeon, a provider of revenue and payment cycle management solutions, has acquired FutureVision Technologies, which markets out-sourced services for electronic data conversion.
With FutureVision’s capabilities, “Emdeon can now automate 100 percent of the posting for both paper and electronic payments for our pro-vider customers,” says Emdeon CEO George Lazenby.
Portland-based Oregon Health Sciences University Hospital recently implemented Mediware Information Systems’ BloodSafe system.
The product, a combination of hardware and software, can be used to securely store blood in areas of high need, electronically match blood to patients, and dispense blood units to health care providers. It is available as an integrated component of Mediware’s HCLL Transfusion blood bank system or as a standalone product.
Aurora Interactive Ltd. has signed a contract with the pathology society Association des Pathologistes du Québec for its mScope Education Communication platform.
The association will use the digital pathology communications software for teaching purposes and to enhance collaboration between pathologists in Quebec.
Emirates, the international airline of the United Arab Emirates, has contracted with Sunquest Information Systems for the vendor’s laboratory information system and Sunquest ICE (Integrated Clinical Environment) desktop requesting and reporting portal.
Dubai-based Emirates provides medical clinics for its employees.
Dr. Aller is director of automated disease surveillance and team lead for disaster preparedness Focus B, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. He can be reached at email@example.com. Hal Weiner is president of Weiner Consulting Services, LLC, Florence, Ore. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.