Embracing Technology Helps Calgary Lab Service Improve Health Care Accuracy

Automated System Serves Up Savings for ITAC Ingenious Award 2014 Finalist

Calgary Lab Services was a finalist for a 2014 Ingenious Award.

Calgary Lab Services was a finalist for a 2014 Ingenious Award.

Calgary Laboratory Services performs over 27-million healthcare tests each year with aging baby boomers making up an increasingly large portion of their repeat business.

As blood collection and testing is a critical part of the health care roadmap, the Calgary mobile blood collection firm has been working to ensure people with mobility issues preventing them from accessing the regular health centres still have the most uncomplicated access possible to those services.

“It helps people maintain their sense of self-reliance,” says Operations Supervisor Brenda Miller.  If you just had heart surgery or just had a hip replaced, and you can’t get around, it’s something that helps them get better at home. “

Just two years ago Calgary Lab Services professionals made close to 2200 calls per month in order to notify patients that the blood collection’s mobile Medical Laboratory Assistant would be coming the next day.  “It was kind of a waste of our skilled workers,” says Miller.

So they decided to set up a system to automate those phone calls with computer software that now makes over 5,000 patient reminder calls per month, leaving staff free to concentrate on patient care.

“It was probably the easiest implementation I’ve ever had to do.  It only took about six months to set up, with no new hardware costs and we’ve continued to use our lab system,” she says.  “It’s saving us 20 to 25 hours of staff time per day.”

Using Cerner software and its IT professionals, CLS employees were quickly able to learn how to program the information into the lab information system to precisely reflect the mobile services required by each patient.

“The automated messaging system can be customized to add additional comments depending on what tests are ordered by the patient’s physician,” says Miller.  “If a fasting test is ordered, the automated message will tell patients that they have to refrain from eating the night before and that the lab will arrive to their home prior to 10 a.m.”

The innovation earned the Calgary Laboratory Service finalist standing in the 2014 Ingenious Awards presented by the Information Technology Association of Canada. Nominations for 2015 are now open.

With the system running smoothly, CLS staffers are able to change the message on the fly, much as they would in a face-to-face conversation when a patient’s chart calls for changes.