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Quick turnaround times are important. For the clinical laboratory, turnaround times (TAT) are used as a key performance indicator to measure the value of a lab's service compared to its competitors.
As such, anything that increases the efficiency of your lab gives you a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Let's explore some of the ways that a trusted laboratory information system (LIS) helps in that effort.
The digital connectivity afforded by your LIS means order and patient demographics information arrives in your lab through an interface with your provider's EHR/EMR system.
Not only does this speed up the pre-analytic laboratory workflow, but it also reduces errors to improve your lab's accuracy and reliability.
"Having all your orders transmit from the EMR reduces errors," said Sales Enablement Manager Phyllis Oberle, a former lab manager who has worked for physician office labs, hospital labs, and reference labs throughout her career.
"I can remember times in the past when I would have to walk down the hall and ask a doctor to interpret their written orders," she said. "If they said, 'I don't know what I wrote,' or, 'I can't remember,' it took them or the lab that much longer to figure it all out."
For reference labs that serve many providers, a web portal such as CGM LABNEXUS or CGM SCHUYNET can create that lab-provider connection to ensure the lab captures the order and patient information correctly the first time.
Automatic reflexing saves time. I cannot state that enough.
A reflex test is an essential step in delivering a complete diagnosis, and your laboratory information system should use pre-defined criteria to automatically reflex tests as needed.
For example, if a patient has a fasting glucose of 140, your lab software could automatically order a fructosamine test. Your lab would perform both tests right away and deliver a complete evaluation to the provider and patient.
"Automatic reflexing saves time," Phyllis said. "I cannot state that enough. Using rules to order the additional testing improved our workflow in the lab. We didn't have to stop what we were doing to do this step ourselves."
Of course, not all laboratory information systems are created equal. If your lab implements CGM LABDAQ, you could use the Workflow Management option to facilitate more complex workflows when manual intermediate steps are part of the overall process to generate a reportable result.
With Workflow Management, lab techs save time by easily retrieving pending orders and generating plate maps for each workflow step. This functionality alleviates manual documentation and streamlines the plate mapping process.
More than four-fifths of hospital-based labs receive complaints about their turnaround times. That's why the TAT Monitor and Draw Monitor in a laboratory information system such as CGM SCHUYLAB are so helpful.
Sales Enablement Manager Beth Schmitt was a lab manager in Princeton, Indiana, before joining the team at CompuGroup Medical. "When a test is ordered from the hospital floor, it is transmitted to CGM SCHUYLAB, and the order, patient location, test, and tube types appear on the Draw Monitor. The phlebotomists can tell at a glance what to do and who to see next," she said.
Similarly, the Turnaround Time Monitor shows the status of all the tests that are being performed. If a test is taking longer than it should, your staff will know to check for problems. "It could be an instrument malfunction or some other delay, but this immediate attention speeds up the testing process and helps get those results to the doctor as quickly as possible," said Beth.
Clinical laboratory software such as CGM LABDAQ goes even further to reduce your costs and improve efficiency with its real-time Inventory Management and Specimen Storage options.
As items are moved in and out of inventory, your techs will scan barcode labels to help the system keep track of quantities and expiration dates. In the case of reagents, alerts will notify users when it's time to re-order based on quantity, expiration date, and lead-time.
Additionally, Specimen Storage enables users to quickly find specimens when repeat testing is required.
These powerful options will also streamline the auditing process so that your lab can keep its focus where it belongs—on the patient.
Whether your team adopts the customizable homescreens of CGM LABDAQ or the familiar, icon-based interface of CGM SCHUYLAB, the intuitive user experience cuts down the learning curve in your laboratory, reducing training time and minimizing the impact of employee turnover.
"Training is one of the most expensive aspects of running a lab," Phyllis said. "Having a clear, concise system helps reduce the amount of time needed for training and instills trainees with confidence, regardless of their previous experience."
Alongside accuracy, precision, and authenticity, timeliness is one of the four pillars of efficient laboratory service.
A trusted laboratory information system streamlines your lab's pre-analytic, analytic, and post-analytic workflow and helps you deliver accurate results as fast as possible. A speedy and precise diagnosis is a critical element in the overall patient journey.
Whether you're opening a new lab or looking to improve the workflow in your established facility, CompuGroup Medical can help you implement the LIS you'll need to make those dreams a reality.