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Legacy Health

From collection to archive: Legacy Health paves the way in tracking pathology specimens

When it comes to anatomical pathology, there’s nothing worse than losing a patient’s specimen. The specimens are often times irretrievable, and if one is mislabeled or misplaced the patient’s diagnoses could be delayed or completely wrong.

“Some of these specimens are just small pieces of tissues in a jar, so you cannot distinguish one from the other,” said Dr. Juan Millan, Clinical Vice President of Diagnostics, Legacy Health. “Nobody wants to have somebody else’s tissue mixed up with theirs, especially if it is a serious disease or tumor.”

Dr. Millan and his team implemented two Cerner tracking solutions and are now able to monitor a specimen from the time it’s collected to the time it’s archived. The new technology has increased efficiency and reduced errors. In just the first year after implementation, label errors dropped 85 percent.

Advanced Barcode and Tracking (AB&T)

Legacy Laboratory Services, based in Portland, Ore., serves the Pacific Northwest with 19 locations and dozens of couriers who drive over a million miles a year. With over five million tests performed annually, Dr. Millan said there’s an inherent risk of mislabeling. In 2014, the lab implemented Cerner’s Advanced Barcode and Tracking solution (AB&T).

“AB&T tracks the specimens through each stage of the anatomical pathology process,” said Kevin Verdon, Sr. Application Technical Analyst, Legacy Health. “From receiving it to the lab, all the way through to the pathologist, and on into the archive, we can see exactly where a specimen is.”

Prior to AB&T technicians would handwrite labels, which was time consuming and created more risk of error. With AB&T, the labels are printed, which has decreased the lab’s turnaround time and therefore improved their patients’ experience.

“If you’ve ever had a specimen taken for anatomical pathology review, there is a huge cloud of dread that comes over you because the diagnosis you get back could impact your life,” Verdon said. “Shortening that period of uncertainty can bring a sense of comfort to a patient’s peace of mind.”

The printed label includes a barcode, which is scanned at each step in the lab process.

“If we need to find a specimen, we can just look in the computer essentially and see the last place that label was scanned,” said Dani Sensenig, Supervisor of Pathology, Legacy Laboratory Services. “You can also track volumes and productivity easily and identify any opportunities for improving the workflow.”

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

After such strong success with AB&T, Legacy added Cerner’s Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) to expand the tracking capabilities all the way to the point of collection.

“With RFID, there’s a little chip inside of the label, which is put on at the patient’s bedside when the specimen is collected,” said Brian Desimone, Sr. System Analyst, Legacy Health. “It tracks from the department, through the hallways, right down to the laboratory – which greatly reduces the chance of that specimen getting lost or misplaced in route.”

Legacy piloted RFID in its endoscopy department and received such positive feedback that it’s looking to expand the solution to other parts of the hospital.

“We’ve already had comments from other hospital departments begging us, essentially, to implement RFID in their work areas,” said Sensenig. “They see the benefit right away, and collaborating with the other departments to provide better patient care is something we definitely take pride in.”

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Client outcomes were achieved in respective settings and are not representative of benefits realised by all clients due to many variables, including solution scope, client capabilities and business and implementation models.