Gerard Nussbaum may be to laboratory design what HGTV’s Ty Pennington is to home renovation. But while Pennington is offering tips on making a room cozier, Nussbaum is advising, “Plan for expansion.”
“Twenty years ago, a laboratory was an island,” explains Nussbaum, who is director of technology services for the consulting firm Kurt Salmon Associates Healthcare, New York City. “There wasn’t a lot of connectivity.” But today, electronic data readily flows between the laboratory and other areas of the hospital and to other medical facilities via computer systems. So new lab construction or remodeling plans should address in detail information technology needs, he says.
One of the primary challenges labs face as they increase their level of connectivity and automation is space constraints, Nussbaum adds. Therefore, one of the most important steps in building or updating a lab is to plan for growth. As labs become more automated, they acquire more equipment, he continues, so a fixed footprint will create obstacles for future automation.
Consequently, you should put soft space at one end of the lab so you can expand your production line, Nussbaum says. “That may mean offices or something else that can be moved out of the way so that when you need to extend the line, you have some place to do it.”
Equally important is not putting the network closet, which contains the outlets for computer cables and computer-related equipment, in the space that has been targeted for expansion. “Because you will then have to rerun every single one of those cables,” he explains. “Moving a network closet is never a good idea. It’s costly and disruptive.”
Creating flexible workstations that can be readily moved to other lab sections also helps address space issues, as well as changes in staffing, workload, and test demand. Place flat screen computer monitors strategically and locate servers in less congested areas of the lab, if possible, Nussbaum says. “Incorporating wireless connectivity offers added flexibility and support for mobile devices,” he adds.
Fundamental to design planning, says Nussbaum, is including the institution’s information technology department from the beginning. IT staff responsible for the lab’s computer systems need to have a say in designing processes. “Not that they can pitch in” and do lab work, he continues, “but they understand how all the parts fit together.”
Tight budgets and a poor economic outlook make it even more important that laboratory decisionmakers communicate plans with the IT department early on. “So one of the best things the lab folks can do is regularly communicate their entire business plans—what are they planning on doing in the next three months and beyond, what deals are they looking at—to the IT folks,” explains Nussbaum, adding that IT staff have to understand the lab’s goals.
“That’s really critical when you start planning a renovation or building a new lab,” he says. “Get the IT people involved in the planning stages because they have to deliver the key things you need.”
Impac Software has partnered with Amirsys to integrate Impac’s PowerPath anatomic pathology system with Amirsys’ PathIQ ImmunoQuery immunostain decision-support system.
The integration of PowerPath and ImmunoQuery allows labs “to use the new PowerPath custom immunostain menu mapping feature between the lab’s existing inventory and ImmunoQuery’s extensive antibody menu and database,” says Elizabeth Hammond, MD, executive editor for pathology at Amirsys. “The system will then automatically compare the antibodies in the lab’s own inventory to pathologist-requested IHC panels and determine if the requested antibodies are available in-house, available via send-out, or not typically supported.”
Laboratorians will be able to access ImmunoQuery directly from PowerPath.
Nuance Communications has acquired Philips Speech Recognition Systems, a business unit of Royal Philips Electronics, thereby expanding its foothold in the European speech-recognition and documentation products marketplace.
Philips offers speech-recognition products in 25 languages and has more than 8,000 product installations and over 100 integration partners worldwide. Nuance will retain all Philips employees.
Sunquest Information Systems has entered into a strategic development partnership with Finland-based Mylab Corp., a provider of laboratory information systems and related services.
“Mylab has over 30 years’ experience developing, delivering, and supporting laboratory information systems in Northern Europe,” says Richard Atkin, president and CEO of Sunquest Information Systems. “By working together, Sunquest and Mylab will be able to leverage their respective competencies and develop solutions with enhanced capabilities and broad global appeal.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has awarded a $16.9 million contract to the American Type Culture Collection to implement the CDC Influenza Reagent Resource, or CDC-IRR. The secure, Web-based system is designed to improve qualified laboratories’ access to influenza viruses, test kits, and reagents.
“This new resource will be a significant improvement for accessing the CDC library of influenza viruses,” says Nancy Cox, director of the CDC’s influenza division. “We expect that the CDC-IRR will speed the development of better diagnostic tests, antiviral drugs, and vaccines.”
The CDC signed a one-year contract with the ATCC, with the option of renewing annually for up to 10 years.
AllscriptsMisys Healthcare Solutions, formed by the merger of Misys Healthcare Systems and a subsidiary of Allscripts Healthcare Solutions, is now operational. The newly integrated company, headquartered in Chicago, is among the largest U.S. providers of electronic health records and practice management systems.
AllscriptsMisys will use the Allscripts brand name for its product line.
Sunquest Information Systems has signed a $1.5 million contract to supply laboratory information systems and supporting applications, such as modules for specimen collection management and Web-based orders/results, to the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. Sunquest will install the software at Princess Margaret Hospital, Rand Memorial Hospital, Sandilands Rehabilitation Center, and the country’s department of public health, ministry of health.
Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Blood Systems, which includes United Blood Services and Blood Systems Laboratories, has licensed Mediware Information Systems’ HCLL transfusion management system and Order Trak online supply and inventory manager software.
Aspyra has entered into agreements to install its CyberLab laboratory information system, version 7.2, at Porter Hospital, Middlebury, Vt.; Pathology & Clinical Laboratory Snd Bhd, Selangor, Malaysia; and IGeneX, Palo Alto, Calif.
The United Arab Emirates Ministry of Health has contracted with Cerner Corp. to install a suite of Cerner Millennium solutions at 12 hospitals and 60 clinics that are part of the ministry of health.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Hal Weiner is president of Weiner Consulting Services, LLC, Florence, Ore. He can be reached at email@example.com.