Efficiency and patient safety behind lab’s decision to implement specimen tracking system

The requirement to manage an increasing workload while maintaining patient safety was the driver behind the decision to implement Sysmex’s Delphic AP Single Piece Workflow at Hawke’s Bay District Health Board’s histology laboratory.

The laboratory has used Delphic AP software to manage its workflow processing and reporting for a number of years, but will be the first lab in New Zealand to use the product’s specimen tracking module, Delphic AP Single Piece Workflow, once the upgrade has been completed later this year.

Laboratory Manager at Hawke’s Bay DHB, Ash Fitchett, says he wanted a system that staff could have confidence in.

“We were cognisant of a number of situations nationally where patient samples have been substituted with those of another patient during the processing of tissue in the histology laboratory. We wanted a solution that would give us absolute confidence, as far as possible, that this could not happen in our laboratory. Delphic AP’s Single Piece Workflow module will considerably reduce the risk for patients and clinical staff, as each individual sample is processed in isolation.”

Delphic AP’s touch screen user interface was another appealing feature of the solution, being practical for staff to operate at the lab workbench.

Mr Fitchett says that both the volume and complexity of the work are increasing for histology labs across New Zealand, in part due to new cancer treatment protocols, and that this trend is likely to continue with the expansion of national cancer screening programmes.

“The number of tissue blocks being processed by our lab increased by 67% between 2010 and 2014. We need the right tools to manage this increase in demand, and having the right IT systems is part of that. We anticipate that the introduction of Delphic AP Single Piece Workflow will result in efficiency gains which will enable us to absorb the increasing workload.”

The lab currently processes approximately 85% of samples within 48 hours. Mr Fitchett says that while there will be an adjustment period for lab staff and pathologists, the new system will help the lab maintain its excellent turn-around-times, even while coping with increased demand.

Delphic AP’s flexible interfacing solutions offered the laboratory the freedom to choose instruments that best fit their pricing, functionality and quality requirements. The system will be interfaced to the lab’s Sato label printers and Thermo Fisher PrintMate cassette writers, allowing for on-demand printing, and avoiding the need for pre-labelling of cassettes and slides.