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Lab Automation in EasyCare HMS v2.8

Updated: Jul 17, 2020

Here's an update we are excited about too!

The EasyCare HMS Laboratory module can now integrate with Laboratory Auto-analysers. The solution further streamlines and tightens the lab processes and enhances safety and efficiency in the lab's operations. It will be available in version 2.8 to all our customers.

Handwritten labels vs barcoded labels
The old world alongside the new

Lab Automation - What it means

The most obvious benefit is that the test results generated by the analyser will automatically update the HMS, without human intervention. This drastically reduces transcription errors, from machine to HMS.

But, this is not the only benefit. The lab processes, right from Sample Collection, through to Review and Release Results are now more tightly integrated, with one stage's output feeding the next.

The graphic below provides a high-level summary of the process changes.

High-level assessment of process changes in the Lab

The visible change is in the Sample Collection stage where barcoded sample stickers are generated in EasyCare HMS. An example of the sticker generated is given below.

Only billed tests can be barcoded. This prevents unbilled tests from getting into the Lab.

The stickers are generated at the sample collection desk and stuck on the sample container in the presence of the patient. The process also forces the sample collection to be registered in the system. This cuts several opportunities for errors (for example: illegible, hand-written identification, mislabeled containers and missing containers). The Lab will still have to ensure that the standard operating procedure for sample collection is maintained.

Special consideration has now been made to ensure that the privacy of the patient is protected in the label design. Neither the patient name nor the patient number are featured on the label. Unauthorised persons without access to EasyCare HMS cannot obtain information about the patient and the tests from just the label.

The samples are batched and sent to the Lab periodically where a new step called Accession has been introduced. Accession formally marks the sample as having entered the testing facility within the Lab. The accession step simply requires the Lab personnel to "scan-in" the samples at the entry point in the Lab. This is done using a barcode scanner and marks it as ready for testing in EasyCare HMS.

The rest of the Lab process remains the same. At test completion, the results are auto-updated in the HMS and are marked as 'Ready for Review'. The review is done on-screen by the reviewer. Following the review, the Lab can release the results for printing or for access to the doctors, in the clinical module of EasyCare HMS.

We have also built a new Lab Performance Dashboard in ReportServer that gives visibility of the Lab processes at any point in time.

Solution High-level Overview

For the technically minded, this is a short overview of the solution and how it works.

The integration supports analysers that are physically interfaced using

  • the RJ45 connector (supporting TCP/IP)

  • the RS-232 (Serial communications)

The integration also supports the following modes, based on the analyser's capability:

  • Uni-directional (only transmit results to the LIS)

  • Bi-directional integration (supporting order details as well as result transmission).

The following diagram provides a high-level view of the solution. For analysers that have the RS-232 interface (the Tosoh AIA-360 in the diagram), the EasyCare HMS Serial Gateway solution running on a Raspberry Pi achieves the intermediation, cost-effectively.

The physical interfacing of analysers to EasyCare HMS
High-level Solution Diagram

Each Raspberry Pi can interface upto 4 serial analysers. The solution supports multiple serial gateways (for labs that have more than 4 serial analysers in operation).

In the diagram above, the EM200 Biochemistry analyser and Sysmex Cell Counter supports bi-directional integration -- which means the samples only need to be loaded into the machine and the machine will query the HMS to get details of the patient and the tests to be conducted. This has several benefits in that it cuts down an opportunity for error or misuse. Once the tests are complete, the analyser automatically sends the results back to the HMS, which updates the lab reports and promotes it to the 'Ready for Release' status.

Testing the solution (past midnight, when the lab is free!)

The AIA-360 Immunoassay analyser has a reagent cup and sample carousel. The machine identifies the test to be done from the code on the reagent cup. Once the test is complete, the analyser automatically transmits the results via it's serial port. This triggers the EasyCare Serial Gateway to store and forward the results to EasyCare HMS.

The result update in the HMS follows the same process as described for the EM200 and Sysmex auto-analysers.

The integration solution for several other analysers is currently being developed.

Taking it forward

We hope you have found the information in this article helpful. If you would like to know more or witness a demonstration, please get in touch with us.

The auto-analyser integration in EasyCare HMS is provided as an optional, paid module. Once your requirement and lab details are discussed, we can provide you a quotation and a timeline for implementation.

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