New Biomnis LabConnect eliminates errors by almost 100%
Sligo Regional Hospital’s pathology department has this month reported the elimination of transcription errors in its outsourced patient tests by almost 100%.
The major step up in efficiency has been achieved over a six month period by engaging with the unique LabConnect integration platform provided by the hospital’s outsource partner Biomnis Ireland.
LabConnect, which went into use at the Hospital earlier in the year, deploys the latest software technology to eradicate error by greatly reducing the amount of human inputs throughout the testing chain for outsourced samples and then better managing those inputs which remain. The numbers of human inputs required in the whole test process have now been reduced by at least 50%.
Accordingly LabConnect has also cut test handling times through Sligo by eliminating the need to check and recheck data for human error. It has also eliminated the time normally spent correcting those errors.
Sligo’s Laboratory Manager Dr John Williams adds: “At Sligo RH patient safety is paramount, so the elimination of transcription problems to this degree has been a real boost for us. Whilst legibility problems will still exist with regard to requests this system has made entry of results virtually free of transcription errors.
“We can now be confident that we’re getting the right result every time but more importantly, we also know that we’re not getting the wrong result - something which can cause significant stress for the patient.”
“While it’s very difficult to measure exactly how much time is saved, I’m guessing we’re looking at something in the order of five to eight minutes per patient.”
"Up until now, while test results might have got back quite quickly to the doctor who ordered them in the first place, a busy doctor might not remember to look for them until much later. With LabConnect, those results go automatically into the patient’s file and are apparent to the doctor straight way. So now the patient gets the results without these delays.”
So how does LabConnect work?
Laura Buttimore, application engineer at Biomnis Ireland explains how the system works: “LabConnect is a Laboratory Information System (LIS) to LIS integration system which avails of the virtual private network (VPN) we built between Biomnis and Sligo General Hospital. That VPN provides a secure connection for communication between the two sites – a form of encrypted “tunnel” through which enquiries can be received into our laboratory and results can be transmitted back to the hospital”
“The interface was built to receive order messages from the LIS system in Sligo. The LabConnect solution therefore solves issues of double entry of patient details, assuring that they have been inputted correctly in the first place while also significantly reducing the time taken to process the sample in the pre analytic stage. The success of this project was underpinned by the significant work taken on by both the Sligo and Biomnis scientific and IT teams.
“There can also be queries over what test is required. Having LabConnect means that each test analysis code requested in the hospital is “translated” to our test analysis code. The reverse also happens on the way back.”
“The test result data is transmitted back to Sligo’s LIS where it can be read and managed in a system they are already familiar with. The bottom line is that it means there is no need to wait around for printed reports, faxes, or even to look up results in a different system. And all the data - from the units of analysis, the name of the authoriser, the authorising lab, to the referral lab reference number - stay with the report along with any additional comments associated with the analysis.”
Esoteric tests which must be outsourced and therefore handled by significantly more people tend to generate the most concern for transcription error.
In a country like Ireland where health systems are under continued financial pressure and where little research has been conducted on the extent of transcription error for pathology, the extent of transcription error in lab testing has thus far remained hidden.
But elsewhere the 2002 report, “Errors in Laboratory Medicine” (Bonini) showed that 68% to 87% of lab errors occurred in pre or post analytical phases while a College of American Pathologists Q Probe study showed that well resourced US hospitals had an overall transcription error rate affecting 4.8% of tests – one in twenty.1,2
A similar Australian survey showed errors running as high as 46% in a survey that found just one hospital with errors as low as 5%.3 In the absence of studies conducted in Ireland, some laboratory leaders have reckoned that transcription errors in Ireland run somewhere in the order of 10%- 11%.
Dr Williams adds: “In Ireland, as elsewhere, transcription errors have meant that there have been unnecessary delays in test returns caused by the need to double check, and also by the time taken to correct those errors which have been found. For patients the potential for error means there has always been a small risk of repeat and stressful invasive procedures which cause unnecessary stress and in the most worrying scenario possible, there has been potential for failing to pinpoint a patient who really does require treatment. So for patient safety, the new system is a big step forward.”
With LabConnect’s Irish installation having proved successful, Biomnis Ireland’s commercial director Mark McKeever is eager to explain the benefits of LabConnect for other clients who are similarly keen to eliminate the transcription error curse from their test chain.
“While this sort of state-of the art connectivity has been widely implemented in the UK and US, unlike other interface engine products, LabConnect has the added benefit of a built-in, non-invasive interface capability. It therefore provides laboratory professionals with the ability to connect successfully to even the most closed, proprietary legacy systems or devices. The flexibility of this platform means it can be adapted along the way as we realise new improvements.”
“Importantly there are minimum maintenance overheads for those of our hospital clients who will use LabConnect. Biomnis becomes just like another interfaced analyser and as Sligo Regional Hospital has reported, there are real savings in turnaround times with results instantly available as soon an analysis is completed here or in our specialist facilities in France.
"The patient’s entire records are automatically updated and remain together allowing them to be checked easily and quickly at any time. The data at all times remains secure - paramount in a time when data privacy is so important. LabConnect provides increased safety levels and vital time saving for hospitals and patients alike in a time when resources are under increased pressure.”
- Bonini P, Plebani M, Ceriotti F et al;. Errors in laboratory medicine. Clin Chem 2002;48:691–8
- Valenstein P, Meier F. Outpatient order accuracy. A college of American Pathologists Q-Probes study of requisition order entry accuracy in 660 institutions. Arch Pathol Lab Med 1999;123:1145-1150
- Khoury M, Burnett L, McKay MA. Error rate in Australian chemical pathology laboratories. Med J Aust 1996;165: 128–30.