In today’s pathology laboratories, aggregating data from disparate sources and providing impactful evidence quickly and efficiently to drive improvement is a major challenge.
Laboratory managers need access to a reliable evidence base, with easy-to-use dashboards and reports that provide actionable insights.
Abbott’s solution to this, is the AlinIQ Integrated Platform, a set of software services and applications that enable harmonization of existing and new AlinIQ applications. It is conceived as an essential framework that integrates and powers the AlinIQ solutions. Through this harmonization, the AlinIQ Integrated Platform seeks to unlock new values for customers in the form of actionable insights, workflow integration, and automation of manual processes.
Murray Craft, Project Manager - Core Diagnostics of Abbott Australia and New Zealand, said that the AIP Business Intelligence Package from Abbott provides a solution to some common problems within labs; “Every laboratory manager will ask their supervisors for a report, but if they have six supervisors, they will get six versions of the same report that they need to consolidate. Business Performance creates reports that are standardised, and these can be produced daily, or more often, so you know the data is up to date.”
Importantly, Business Performance reports do not rely on an individual's expertise, which can easily be lost when an employee moves on to another role. Mr Craft described the Business Performance succinctly; “It's a very repeatable, sustainable way of measuring what laboratories do.”
AIP can ingest data from multiple data sources including Laboratory Information Systems (LIS), Inventory Management, and Middleware.
Being able to accurately and consistently report on key operational metrics such as turnaround times, using one or more sources of the lab’s own data provides the basis for tracking, improvement and future planning.
Mr Craft illustrated an example of this in the field: “One of our public hospital customers, brought in AIP Business Performance as part of a much larger install of equipment in the lab, including analysers and a track system. We preloaded Business Performance with historical data, gathered prior to the track being installed. They were then able to show about a 14 per cent improvement in turnaround times for their routine work within five months of a brand-new system going in, which is pretty extraordinary.”
The solution is vital in realising the potential of AIP for them, Mr Craft said: “They have also been able to look at other departments like cytogenetics, microbiology and other non-analyser-based work that they hadn’t really measured before.”
The Abbott team provides ongoing support to assist labs in getting the most out of the system. As well as an initial training workshop and six-monthly refresher sessions, the Abbott team act as consultants to assist lab teams in goal setting, tracking and problem solving.
Mr Craft described the team’s approach; “We actually come in as that set of outside eyes to say, what have been your goals in the last six months? What have you achieved? What’s working well? What’s driving a specific point of failure? And we think of things outside of the lab.”
One example of this, was a hospital client in Melbourne that was conducting a small-scale trial of Business Performance. A turnaround time report obtained from the AIP showed that for one wing of the hospital, the turnaround times were much worse, yet the lab could not explain why. From the lab perspective, there was no difference in how samples were being received or processed.
A lab team member went to the ward involved to investigate and discovered an easily rectifiable training issue; the hospital staff working on the ward were waiting for a full batch of samples before sending them through the tube delivery system. They were under the impression that this was the correct process, rather than sending individual samples down the tube as soon as they were ready.
Mr Craft said, “It was solved with a five-minute conversation, but they just hadn't had the visibility of that piece of the puzzle before, it was a data gap that just needed to be seen”
The AIP system has been designed to be user friendly and secure, Mr Craft noted; “It runs on a server at the customer site, so the data's all locally maintained. It's very easy to train. It's very easy for labs to on-train internally as well.”
“The Business Performance package in AIP has been deliberately built to be relatively simple, but it's the filtering tools and the way you slice and dice basic information that gives it the power,” he added.
From a commercial perspective these filtering tools are what allow labs to monitor some key aspects of their business, for example ordering patterns of referrers. Labs can help ensure ordering is appropriate for the type of patients and area of practice, as well as tracking volume.
Mr Craft noted an immediate benefit of this tracking; “One of the private labs we've talked to said they can share the reports with their marketing team, and they can see which doctors have stopped ordering, that could mean they've gone to a competitor lab.”
In summary, AIP business performance enables simplified and repeatable insights through a business intelligence dashboard that in conjunction with a mindset of continual improvement can enable the pathology operations to deliver measurably better healthcare performance.