UR Medicine (URM) in upstate New York is one of the nation’s top health research and teaching medical centers with specialty programs that consistently rank in US News & World Report. The five-hospital (and growing!) system is anchored by 800-bed Strong Memorial Hospital and includes a children’s hospital, cancer institute, eye institute and dental practice.
In a large academic and research medical center the laboratory is a vital source of data for patient care and research systems throughout the enterprise. LIS analysts participate in many non-lab specific IT projects and are key to their timeline and eventual success. With many different systems requiring lab results, analysts must perform repetitive testing in the LIS to assure proper data exchange between the applications. Performing these repetitive testing tasks can be a drain on both valuable analyst time and their focus on more complex issues.
One such project at URM was validating SCC’s SoftLab® billing interface for an Epic revenue cycle project. This involved ordering and resulting approximately 2,500 different test codes at the large hospital and 500 at a second, smaller facility. With reflex orders, the total number of tests would be over 5,000. That’s a lot of keyboard time!
Says Marlene Scott, System Operations Analyst, Manager at URM: “It just doesn’t make sense for our analysts to spend that effort on the rote stuff”.
With a desire to alleviate staff of these mundane, time-consuming tasks, URM turned to Software Testing Solutions (STS) for relief. Using the STS SoftLab Volume package at the larger facility, they were able to order and result all 2,500 tests in about two-and-a-half weeks. The smaller facility’s testing had been completed manually, and it also took two-and-a-half weeks. Imagine if five times as many tests took five times the effort to complete – that’s twelve-and-a-half weeks! STS effectively reduced the calendar time for the larger facility by as much as 80%.
When installing the SCC SoftLab system in 2001, URM required specialty coding to provide features required by their workflow. While these have since been incorporated as features in SoftLab, URM has not yet undergone the major LIS upgrade required to use the now standard code plus other advanced SoftLab functionality such as SoftID®. The upgrade project is planned for 2018 and will include simultaneously adding another affiliate to the enterprise.
Until the LIS upgrade is complete, URM staff must validate those “custom” code paths if any of the LIS changes affect that part of the workflow in order to assure they still work. STS’s SoftLab Scenario will be used to create automated test scripts that will execute this validation.
Says Marlene: “Adopting automated testing was a bit like adopting auto-verification – there was skepticism at first, but now that we have it, we can’t envision going back to the old way of doing things.”
When it comes time to train staff on the SoftID positive patient ID solution, STS’s SoftLab Volume can be used to enter as many pending orders as needed for staff training - more “rote tasks” removed from the analysts’ workload.
STS’s solutions go beyond the LIS to include major middleware vendors. URM also uses Sysmex’s WAM™ middleware to interact with the hematology track. The middleware manages the hematology auto-verification rules that must be validated on a recurring basis. Sysmex used STS as part of the implementation process to validate the major WAM upgrade required with a new line installed in 2015. A major time saver for the lab was the scripts’ ability to capture screen shots and provide comprehensive testing outcome reports.
Originally created for Sysmex to use at customer sites during installation processes, the STS Sysmex WAM Automated Rules Testing Solution is now available commercially to STS’s WAM customers – yet another mundane task that can be taken off the analyst’s plates.
Marlene goes on to say: “Before any big project I’m going to consult with STS to see how they can help us work smarter and be more efficient!”