The summer of 2012 was anything but relaxing for the staff at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. In June, the hospital closed its doors and moved across town. And, as might be expected, the hospital’s main laboratory packed up and went along for the ride.
So what percentage of its established computer systems and related technologies does a laboratory take with it when it moves? In Lurie Children’s case, about 50 percent. The other half of what it needed at its new location would be purchased.
“We were getting to the max of what our technology would allow us to do for improving quality and turnaround time,” says Shannon Haymond, PhD, director of clinical chemistry and mass spectrometry at Lurie Children’s, which, up until moving day, had been named Children’s Memorial Hospital. “We were also working towards more of a core lab concept and focusing on cross-training our technologists. We were looking for what was new in technology for lab analyzers and middleware that would help us facilitate these goals.”
In the end, the lab purchased a universal middleware system and numerous analyzers and point-of-care devices. However, the lab retained its LIS, which was housed off-site. Having the lab’s two servers—a main server and a backup—at another location “was a major plus for us,” says Fernando Nascimento, MSLA, MT(ASCP), director of laboratory information systems and operations for Lurie Children’s. “All we had to do was build the new locations into the servers.”
Information systems staff built test codes and reference ranges for the new analyzers into the LIS and created new interfaces for the analyzers. The core lab’s quality operations technologist translated rules from the two middleware systems at the former location into the single middleware system at the new location and built new rules for analyzers that had not been using auto-verification.
It helped that Lurie Children’s had purchased some of its new systems well ahead of its move so the lab could install and test the equipment at its new site prior to relocating. This was particularly beneficial, Nascimento says, because lab staff knew early on that they would have to operate at both the new and old location for at least one day.
If you decide to purchase new equipment, he says, have it installed and your staff trained on it approximately six months before you relocate, “so on the day of the move, you can just start using the analyzers [and other equipment] at the new place.”
But despite meticulous prior planning, the act of programming and installing new instruments, training staff, and coordinating the move—all while continuing to maintain existing instruments and systems—took a great deal of coordination, Nascimento says. “I turned a little more gray during that time,” he adds with a laugh.
Among the details Nascimento had to address was the programming of wall jacks. Unlike in the old site, he explains, each piece of equipment in the new site has a designated jack to enhance security and prevent someone from plugging in a device at the wrong location. “For anyone planning a new lab, make sure you have as many extra network ports as you can have,” he adds. “It never hurts in the main lab.”
Before moving day, Nascimento built an extensive spreadsheet to track every device in the lab and record its current and future location, room number, and IP address, as well as the jack number for each laboratory device in the new facility—another practice he recommends for labs planning a move. Nascimento also held bi-weekly meetings with department managers for a year before moving day and daily meetings for a few weeks afterward.
“It was really good to go over every item they [every department] had, every item they were purchasing, the current and future location of all devices, showing the plan of where things are going before we walk in the new building . . . and making sure they really got what they asked for,” Nascimento says. After moving day, “it was important to go through, with the managers and supervisors, items one by one to make sure everything was where it should be.”
By mid-May, about three weeks before moving day, “most of the large systems were up and running, fully interfaced, and all the correlations were done,” Nascimento explains. Then, about three weeks after moving day, “we had our CAP inspection, which went quite well actually,” he adds. “With our lab information systems, we had no deficiencies, which was quite amazing.”
Today, Lurie Children’s new instruments and software, along with the lab’s open layout and standardized workflows and processes, are helping the lab run more efficiently and, ultimately, will help improve turnaround time, Nascimento says.
Dr. Haymond concurs. For example, having just one middleware system—instead of different middleware for different analyzers—greatly reduces redundancy, she says. “All the rules are built into this one middleware. It’s more efficient to maintain” and is a key part of the lab’s work cell concept, which groups its chemistry, hematology, and coagulation analyzers with a single validation station to improve workflow. And with the system’s peer comparison feature, which is slated to go live this fall, the lab can monitor quality control peer comparisons and patient data trends. Says Nascimento, “We created the lab to be a lot more Lean.”
Another perk for the new lab is turnaround time monitors. The technology isn’t yet live, but it will eventually allow lab staff to see in real-time which tests are pending and when a test exceeds its time limit, Dr. Haymond says.
Turnaround time has been a long-standing focus of the laboratory, she continues. At its former site, the lab’s TAT was 30 minutes or less for urinalysis and CBCs more than 95 percent of the time and nearly 90 percent of the time for a basic metabolic panel. While those percentages dropped after the move, they are trending upward again, Dr. Haymond says. “We’re getting back on track.”
“Now,” concludes Nascimento, “it’s time for the fine adjustments—the fine tuning.”
Mediware Information Systems has acquired the assets of Strategic Healthcare Group, LLC, a provider of blood-management consulting, education, and informatics solutions.
Strategic Healthcare Group markets the Strategic Blood Management System, a blood-utilization management tool, as well as the informatics suite made up of Blood Management University, Blood Management Exchange, and BloodStat Multidimensional Analytics.
Of particular interest to Mediware is the BloodStat analytics product, which offers a large, representative sample of benchmark data for blood use in community and academic hospitals, Mediware reports. The database and online portal deliver a comprehensive view of blood utilization with clinical and financial data, allowing customers to track performance and compare their results against a pool of similar organizations.
“SHG’s focus on performance and quality improvement in the blood industry is highly aligned with Mediware’s efforts using the InSight technology to track performance in major hospitals and blood centers,” says Thomas Mann, Mediware president and CEO. “Adding specific subject matter expertise to consult with customers and help them analyze, improve, and control blood-management processes is an important addition to our portfolio of products.”
Mediware Information Systems,
SCC Soft Computer has reported that its SoftLab laboratory information system versions 4.0.3 and 4.0.4 have been certified as electronic health record modules by the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology, an Office of the National Coordinator Authorized Testing and Certification Body.
By receiving ONC-ATCB 2011/ 2012 certification, the software is deemed capable of enabling providers to meet stage one meaningful use requirements of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
“SCC,” says company founder and CEO Gilbert Hakim, “is currently seeking EHR module certifications for other versions of SoftLab, including 4.0.6.”
SCC Soft Computer,
The American Health Information Management Association has released the Health Information Management Career Map.
The free online mapping tool provides an interactive and visual representation of health care information management job titles and roles. It also shows the promotional and transitional career paths associated with those jobs.
The map, which is geared toward students, health care technology professionals, and those considering a career move into health care IT, profiles 53 job titles and 14 emerging roles in health information management. It will be updated to stay current with the health information management profession.
Each title includes a description of the job and lists the skills and experience necessary to obtain such a position. The map also indicates alternate titles for some positions since terminology varies across the health care industry.
The career map is available at http://hicareers.com/careermap/.
The cord blood therapeutics company Stemcyte has licensed Mediware Information Systems’ Transtem cell therapy software to automate manufacturing processes associated with its cord blood collection and storage business and to enhance donor recruitment. Stemcyte has operations in the United States, India, and Taiwan and has more than 50,000 cord blood units in its public and private inventories.
Mediware also announced that it has signed two contracts for its new chemotherapy management software acquired in April from Cobbler ICT Services BV. The new customers are Netherlands-based St. Antonius Hospital and Catherina Hospital. Mediware is marketing the product in Belgium as well.
Mediware Information Systems,
Lifepoint Informatics has implemented its EMRHub lab information system–electronic medical record system connectivity solution at Lenco Diagnostic Laboratories. Lenco is a full-service clinical reference lab in Brooklyn, NY.
Dr. Aller is director of informatics in the Department of Pathology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hal Weiner is president of Weiner Consulting Services, LLC, Florence, Ore. He can be reached at email@example.com.