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Articles tagged with: Informatics/information technology (see also Automation; Digital pathology; Information systems) –

Dashboard eases performance analysis and prep

March 2017—Crystal Sands, MBA, MT(ASCP)SM, manager of quality, regulatory, and safety at NorDx Laboratories in Scarborough, Me., has a new favorite product, and she’s not shy about saying so. “Oh my gosh, I’ll be playing with it for a long time,” she says. “Every time I use it, I find different ways to slice and dice.”

Next-gen sequencing workflow in full spate

April 2016—With next-generation sequencing’s clear benefits—for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and trials—come its new challenges, and clinical laboratories are doing what it takes and sharing how. Two plenary speakers at last year’s meeting of the Association for Molecular Pathology spoke of variant calling in the bioinformatic pipeline and validation, and of clinical reporting. Colin Pritchard, MD, PhD, of the University of Washington and one of the speakers, sees reporting a genomic sequencing assay as more like making a histologic diagnosis, which he calls craftwork, than reporting a sodium value. “That’s an idea that hasn’t really permeated yet,” he said.

Beyond connectivity: middleware’s shifting shape

April 2016—Middleware was always about connectivity. But when it emerged on the scene some 20 years ago, connectivity involved basically one mandate: getting laboratory instruments to talk electronically to a hospital’s laboratory information system, accept orders, and deliver results to the right shelves in the LIS warehouse.

Broadening the productivity spectrum with middleware

March 2016—As James Beck, MT(ASCP), remembers it, middleware was introduced at his institution about the same time that the nursing department decided connectivity should be the province of the laboratory. When the concept of docking and interfacing glucose testing devices came on the scene around the turn of the millennium, that was a turning point, says Beck, who is point-of-care testing coordinator for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center–St. Margaret, which uses the Telcor middleware solution QML.

Interface validation: abort, retry, succeed

February 2015—When you go looking for problems, you’re bound to find them. That truism is especially pertinent in the arena of interface validation, as the team at New York’s North Shore-LIJ Health System discovered recently. The laboratory professionals there were charged with helping to implement the first phase of a joint venture with New York City’s Health and Hospitals Corp. (HHC), in which North Shore-LIJ would serve as the massive public health system’s primary reference lab.

LIS to EHR: Is results transmission what it should be?

January 2015—While no one would question the virtues of accurate laboratory results, a recently concluded Q-Probes study is a new reminder that alone they’re not enough. Results should be reviewed before a lab goes live with a new interface that transmits results to the electronic health record, as well as when changes are made at the laboratory or EHR level that could alter test resulting. They also should be reviewed periodically, say the authors of the study, titled “Validating Laboratory Results in Electronic Health Records.”

Full speed ahead through tight corners

December 2014—Like sailing ships, laboratories hope for fair winds as they chart their business plans. But smooth sailing is never a sure bet; rough sea conditions are an ever-present possibility that can make ships hard to steer. Perhaps the tide is with the vessel but the winds are against it. That’s a situation that could aptly describe a health care system facing a growing patient population at the same time that hospital admissions and reimbursement are in decline.

Seamless automation: within reach for AP?

August 2014—A familiar optical illusion uses a drawing of a vase that makes your eyes play tricks. First you see the vase, then two faces gazing at each other, then again, the vase…two faces…ad infinitum. It’s a concept that comes to mind when thinking about “tracking” in the anatomic pathology laboratory. Does it refer to a physical track—a conveyor belt to automatically transport and sort specimens—or to a system for “tracking”—that is, electronically keeping tabs on specimens?

Taking aim at overuse: daily labs, high-cost send-outs

April 2014—As reimbursement models change, achieving better test utilization will become a survival strategy. And in the hard work to improve test use, the computerized physician order-entry system appears to be the work tool with the winning record. Inpatient laboratory tests at Massachusetts General Hospital fell by 21 percent between 2002 and 2007, despite a seven percent increase in the number of discharges. Per discharge, inpatient tests dropped by 26 percent (Kim JY, et al. Am J Clin Pathol. 2011;135:108–118). Kent B. Lewandrowski, MD, associate chief of pathology and director of laboratory and molecular medicine at MGH and professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School, calls the number of inpatient tests per discharge “a global benchmark,” saying, “It rolls up all of our individual utilization initiatives.”

How high-tech approach may reshape the autopsy

March 2014—Boosters of so-called virtual autopsy say it has the potential to revolutionize the practice of forensic pathology and could help increase the share of U.S. deaths subject to medical autopsy. The technique involves the use of computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and three-dimensional surface scanning technology to help resolve tricky forensic questions such as whether a woman was killed with a hammer or a bicycle wrench.

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