College of American Pathologists
Printable Version






March 2012

Raymond D. Aller, MD
Hal Weiner

Benefits of diagramming tools to the clinical laboratory Benefits of diagramming tools to the clinical laboratory

Integrating laboratory workflow with information system operations to maximize productivity is a challenging task, but diagramming tools can simplify the process.

How diagramming tools work and which types of diagrams are most helpful to labs are the focus of “Diagramming Tools for Requirements Analysis and Workflow Redesign,” a section of the book Laboratory Administration for Pathologists, published by CAP Press last year. This section of the book, written by James H. Harrison Jr., MD, PhD, is excerpted and adapted for CAP TODAY here.

Dr. Harrison, one of the book’s several contributing authors, is associate professor and director of the Division of Biomedical Informatics, Department of Public Health Sciences and Pathology, University of Virginia, Charlottesville.

Requirements and workflow analyses are important parts of planning the installation of a new system and improving existing systems. To effectively support a workflow with an information system, pathologists must understand the key tasks and actors in the workflow, their association with each other, and the data elements that are captured or communicated as part of that workflow. Documenting this information accurately is very challenging because it requires collaboration between individuals who normally play different roles in different work domains and often have different vocabularies and assumptions. These communication problems were the impetus for the development of the Unified Modeling Language (UML []), a standardized set of diagramming techniques designed for collaborative documentation and cross-domain communication of work processes and information system design concepts. Workflows and information models captured in UML diagrams clarify complex real-world environments and relate directly to information system requirements and design elements.

The most useful diagrams for clinical laboratory settings are use case models, activity diagrams, and class diagrams. Use case models (Fig.1 PDF, 175 KB) are very simple and are designed to clearly depict key tasks and actors (human and technological). They are easy to create during a discussion, and they may be supplemented with a brief paragraph providing details for each task. All requirements analysis and workflow redesign should be rooted in use cases. Activity diagrams (Fig.2 PDF, 175 KB), also known as swimlane diagrams, are flow charts in which each actor has a lane, and the sequence of events moves down the chart and across the lanes to indicate the flow of actions and information between the actors. Class diagrams (Fig.3 PDF, 175 KB) display data models that map all the data elements used in a workflow and their relationships with each other. Unlike activity diagrams, class diagrams are static; they do not specify a particular sequence of use of the data elements they depict.

The combination of these three diagram types supplemented with some textual description can capture most of the information needed for the discussion and analysis of information flow in laboratory work processes. Most technical diagramming software includes templates for UML diagrams, and dedicated UML diagramming software is available commercially and in open source.

Laboratory Administration for Pathologists is $85 for CAP members and $100 for nonmembers. To order, call 800-323-4040, option 1, and request Pub. No. 312, or download an order form at

CompuGroup Medical introduces cloud-based lab outreach software CompuGroup Medical introduces cloud-based lab outreach software

CompuGroup Medical US has released LabNexus, a software solution to help hospitals and reference labs with their outreach programs. LabNexus allows laboratories to send orders and review results within a cloud-based system.

LabNexus works independently from CompuGroup’s LabDaq family of products. The system connects easily to an institution’s laboratory information system or anatomic pathology system. CompuGroup provides a secure hosting environment for the product.

The LabNexus portal offers order-entry capability for multiple lab facilities, batch printing, label printing, and customizable lab branding. It can generate preliminary and final reports that are compliant with the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments, as well as management reports, and provides a lab results inbox.

LabNexus interfaces with electronic health record systems, hospital information systems, practice management systems, and health information networks.

CompuGroup Medical US, 877-891-8777

pollo and Dell partner on clinical multimedia management system Apollo and Dell partner on clinical multimedia management system

Apollo has entered into a strategic alliance with Dell to provide a complete solution to manage, retrieve, and share clinical multimedia images and data.

Apollo EPMM (enterprise patient media manager) brings together all information for a patient that was generated throughout the medical enterprise and makes it immediately and easily available to authorized personnel. The product automatically collects multimedia images such as lab reports, physician reports, digital slides, studies, and pictures as they are being recorded. This allows providers to get a complete picture of the patient on demand in a secure environment and consult in real time.

“With the addition of Apollo EPMM into Dell’s UCA [Unified Clinical Archive], we can now offer a robust and comprehensive management, access, and storage solution that extends beyond the traditional imaging modalities,” says James Coffin, PhD, vice president and general manager of Dell Healthcare and Life Sciences.

Apollo, 703-288-1474
Dell, 800-999-3355

BD Diagnostics purchases laboratory automation solutions company BD Diagnostics purchases laboratory automation solutions company

BD Diagnostics has expanded its microbiology portfolio with its acquisition of Kiestra Lab Automation BV, a Netherlands-based company that designs, develops, manufactures, markets, and sells automation solutions for the microbiology laboratory.

Kiestra offers total lab automation and work cell automation products.

BD Diagnostics, 201-847-6800

Aspyra selects cloud-based NetSuite for global business management Aspyra selects cloud-based NetSuite for global business management

Aspyra, LLC, has announced that it will use the cloud-based business-management system NetSuite to facilitate and manage growth within its global customer base.

Aspyra will use the product to connect clients who maintain accounting, CRM, project management, marketing, and support departments with complementary channel partners.

“NetSuite will allow our clients to have quick access to their account status, invoices, and support cases,” says Aspyra marketing manager Cassie Silletti.

Aspyra, 818-880-6700
NetSuite, 877-638-7848

Siemens Healthcare automates training program management Siemens Healthcare automates training program management

Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics has launched PEP Administrator, Web-based software that allows clinical laboratory managers to simplify and streamline their process for administering staff education and training programs. PEP Administrator is an extension of Siemens’ Personalized Education Plan and is available exclusively to Siemens customers as part of the company’s customer care portfolio.

PEP Administrator is a virtual competency-based clinical laboratory education model that can be personalized for each staff member. Its intuitive interface helps education managers guide and monitor progress on an individual basis. The product consolidates continuing education from any source and automatically summarizes staff members’ progress.

With PEP Administrator, organization-wide training invitations, status reports, certificates of completion, and compliance verification are accessible in real time.

Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics, 914-631-8000

New contract and installation New contract and installation

TriCore Reference Laboratories recently announced that it has contracted for 4medica’s ambulatory cloud integrated electronic health record, 4medica iEHR. TriCore will offer the product to approximately 4,700 physicians in New Mexico.

4medica, 310-695-3300

Sparrow Laboratories is now using Lifepoint Informatics’ EMRHub to meet its electronic medical record integration needs. Sparrow, which operates 15 outpatient labs throughout mid-Michigan, has used Lifepoint for results reporting for several years.

Lifepoint Informatics, 201-447-9991

Dr. Aller is director of informatics and clinical professor in the Department of Pathology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles. He can be reached at Hal Weiner is president of Weiner Consulting Services, LLC, Florence, Ore. He can be reached at