Custom interfaces cut turnaround time for COVID-19 testing

Monday, 30 March, 2020 | Supplied by: InterSystems Corporation (Australia)


InterSystems, a creative data technology provider dedicated to helping customers solve critical scalability, interoperability and speed problems, has responded to requests from five Australian clinical laboratories gearing up to deal with COVID-19, including St Vincent’s Pathology Service (SydPath), Austech Medical Laboratories and Goulburn Valley Health Pathology.

All five laboratories ordered PCR analyser machines — normally used to test for viruses like influenza — to increase their COVID-19 testing capacity and deal with the current crisis. Each of the labs asked InterSystems to provide customised digital interfaces for their InterSystems TrakCare laboratory information systems. The interfaces were delivered in 24–48 hours and before the new machines arrived.

The TrakCare interfaces are designed to reduce data entry and ensure that each laboratory’s testing rules and protocols are followed. They also enable test results to be available immediately once completed by delivering them electronically to clinicians. By integrating the new tests within each of the laboratory’s normal workflows, turnaround times can be kept to a minimum, improving the responsiveness of the healthcare system in dealing with the coronavirus.

“We were prepared in early February for higher testing volumes. This included the procurement of a rapid PCR analyser which will provide our Emergency Department with a one-hour turnaround time for patients presenting with suspected COVID-19,” said Greg Granger, Chief of Operations for SydPath. “InterSystems delivered an interface for the new machine within one day — an extraordinary result — bringing the instrument online as soon as it came through the door.”

“We went from doing zero to 500 tests per day, with a same-day turnaround time, in the space of a couple of days,” added Nadeem Khaliq, Managing Director of Austech Medical Laboratories. “We ordered the machine, requested the interface from InterSystems and it was delivered within a couple of hours. The machine came within two days. The responsiveness of InterSystems was fantastic and was part of a great team effort.”

Mohsen Bilal, head of Austech’s PCR section, is directly involved in the testing for COVID-19. According to Bilal, the interface provided by InterSystems has decreased result entry turnaround time and allows the test results to be instantly accessible to the clinicians. Austech is currently finalising a specialised PCR Laboratory to accommodate two new PCR analysers, to cater for even higher volumes and shorter turnaround times.

“This will increase our capacity to provide services that ease the pressure on public hospitals, other laboratories and nursing homes with vulnerable elderly patients,” Khaliq said. “It will also allow us to dedicate more resources to non-English-speaking individuals in the community who require extra assistance, including home visits for patients who are unable to attend a doctor’s surgery or medical centre.”

Jeremy Fowler, Information Systems Officer for Goulburn Valley Health in regional Victoria, said doing COVID-19 tests in-house, rather than referring them to labs two and a half hours away in Melbourne, will improve turnaround times.

“I opened the support ticket mid-morning and we had the interface from InterSystems in the test system by that afternoon,” Fowler said. “It is certainly going to make a big difference in the lab. The scientists can do their jobs rather than entering test details and transcribing results from the instrument.”

InterSystems is able to turn around the requests quickly because of its strong expertise in providing interoperability solutions to healthcare organisations globally. Digital interfaces between different healthcare information systems and devices are a core component of the InterSystems’ IRIS for Health healthcare data platform on which most of the company’s products are built.

Interoperability capabilities are built into both the InterSystems HealthShare unified health record and the InterSystems TrakCare healthcare information system. TrakCare’s laboratory functionality is available within the unified system and as a standalone solution and is widely deployed throughout the world and regionally within Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia and China.

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