JPS Health Network leaders have announced that they’ve begun building a new laboratory data recording and communication system that will make patient care both safer and more efficient.
Called Beaker, the software is made by the same company that created the Epic patient information management system and the MyChart patient information portal JPS currently uses. Because of that, it will work seamlessly with the other patient communication software at the health network.
“What we’re using now is a one-off system that’s old technology,” said David Mendenhall, Chief Technology Officer at JPS. “We have to manual force feed results from the lab into Epic and sometimes things don’t work exactly as we hoped they would.”
According to a demonstration of the new technology, a handheld scanner similar to the ones people use in the self-service lane at their local big box store will be used to scan a patient’s wrist band to positively identify them. Then lab orders for that patient will populate the computer screen, telling the nurse when to draw a lab sample and lab personnel what they’re supposed to be checking for. Labels for their samples will automatically be generated and the lab will be ready to go as soon as the specimen arrives.
Beaker will coordinate information in patients’ electronic files with new entries. If a blood draw is ordered twice for the same tests, the system will automatically eliminate the extra needle stick, making the patient more comfortable while saving resources.
Dr. Janet Miles, Chairwoman of Pathology at JPS, said the process of building the Beaker system will take 18 months to two years, including thorough testing of every potential scenario the software could face before it goes live. But she said the wait will be worth it.
“No one person is as smart as all of us together,” Miles said. “So it’s important we integrate our records together to make sure all of the information is there when we need it. Lab data makes up about 80 percent of medical records. So, it’s important to get this done to support delivery of safe and effective patient care.”