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Using healthcare IT to elevate the Lab

Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, April 24–30, 2022, is an annual celebration of the medical laboratory professionals and pathologists who play a vital role in healthcare. Personally, I like to take this time to celebrate the accomplishments of the Lab community and reflect on the current Lab environment. In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic marked a new beginning for medical labs across the globe. Before the pandemic, Lab was often the last department to receive funding or recognition despite its importance to the healthcare delivered across varying disciplines. As the world turned to testing to identify and monitor the number of infections, hospital leadership found a renewed interest in Lab and provided medical labs with more funding than ever before. The pandemic underscored the importance of Lab, and while healthcare slowly begins the road to recovery, Lab will continue to be at the forefront.

But as one crisis comes to a close, another begins. And like most sectors in healthcare, Labs are suffering from staffing shortages. It’s more critical than ever to provide Lab professionals with the right tools to increase efficiency and protect patient safety. Below are a few features that every Lab solution should have—and have optimized—to help alleviate the strain on those who remain.

Specimen collection positively identifies the patient at the bedside when blood specimens are collected, ensuring specimens from the wrong patient will never be collected. This process is critical to overall Lab—and hospital—success.

Color coding orders and results help the medical lab staff easily identify at a glance what is coming to the Lab, what is overdue, and which results are critical and may need quick action taken by the Lab tech.

Auto-release monitor makes it easy to define rules that enable the Lab workers to auto-validate specific results that fall into categories that they have previously defined and that do not need Lab tech intervention. This frees Lab staff to work in things that require their attention instead of releasing hundreds of normal results.

Phrase microbiology is a standardized, electronic decision logic built to guide the Lab tech in identifying microorganisms. Using this helps techs follow the same workflow each time without having to memorize a variety of workflows.

Alerts to warn and stop users from releasing incorrect or invalid results are incredibly useful for increasing patient safety. Delta check alerts and Valid Value (linearity) alerts quickly warn users if there are any specimen-identification or specimen-integrity issues. If the specimen was mislabeled, a delta check could alert the Lab tech that the result is very different than the last time this patient was tested, indicating there could be something wrong.

Built-in quality control (QC) module that works with auto-validation to ensure wrong results are not released when QC is out of range.

Expert rules technology is a powerful feature that helps guide users with decision logic, create pop-ups and auto-fill spaces, among other necessary tasks.

With the right healthcare solution, your Lab team can weather this storm, just as it weathered the first waves of the pandemic. To learn more about the Allscripts Lab™ solution, go here.

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