Friday, 27 March 2020 15:03

InterSystems helps accelerate COVID-19 testing at Australian labs

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Health and data management vendor InterSystems took less than two days to deliver customised digital interfaces to five Australian clinical laboratories gearing up to deal with COVID-19.

The five labs – including St Vincent’s Pathology Service, Austech Medical Laboratories, and Goulburn Valley Health Pathology – all ordered PCR analyser machines to increase their COVID-19 testing capacity and deal with the current crisis.

They all requested customised digital interfaces to their InterSystems TrakCare laboratory information systems, which the company delivered in 24-48 hours – before the new machines even arrived.

According to InterSystems, the TrakCare interfaces reduce data entry and ensure that each laboratory’s testing rules and protocols are followed.

Integrating the new tests with a laboratory’s normal workflow minimises turnaround times, and results can be delivered electronically to clinicians as soon as a test is complete.

“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 St Vincent’s Pathology Service (Sydney) chief of operations Greg Granger.

“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.”

Austech Medical Laboratories (Sydney) managing director Nadeem Khaliq said “We went from doing zero to 500 tests per day, with a same day turnaround time, in the space of a couple of days.

“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.”

Austech's head of PCR Mohsen Bilal said the interface provided by InterSystems has decreased result entry turnaround time and has proven to be an accurate and reliable method that allows the test results to be instantly accessible to the clinicians.

Austech is setting up a specialised PCR laboratory to accommodate two new PCR analysers, expected in a week’s time, to cater for the growing demand.

“This will increase our capacity to provide services that ease the pressure on public hospitals, other laboratories, and nursing homes with vulnerable elderly patients,” said Khaliq.

“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 doctors surgery or medical centre.”

Goulburn Valley Health (Victoria) information systems officer Jeremy Fowler said the ability to perform 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,” said Fowler.

“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 Asia Pacific regional managing director Luciano Brustia said “We are humbled by the efforts of our customers doing a tremendous job in the front line of the fight against COVID-19.

"InterSystems is proud to be helping SydPath, Austech Medical Laboratories, Goulburn Valley Health Pathology and other clinical laboratories, and we will continue making additional resources available to customers dealing with the pandemic.”

The company said the quick turnaround on the interfacing requests was possible due to the its strong expertise in providing interoperability solutions to healthcare organisations globally, and because digital interfaces between different healthcare information systems and devices are a core component of the InterSystems IRIS for Health healthcare data platform.

This interoperability is thus part of the InterSystems HealthShare unified health record and the InterSystems TrakCare healthcare information system.

Last month, the company provided functionality within TrakCare to help screen for COVID-19.

Image: NIAID via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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