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E-ordering of lab tests skyrockets

Tuesday, 26 May 2020  
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Return to home page editor Rebecca McBeth


The Covid-19 lockdown has driven a huge increase in the use of electronic ordering for lab tests and a national clinical data repository (CDR) for all Covid-19 test results has been created.


The new CDR, created by ESR and Sysmex, is a repository for all Covid-19 test results from labs across New Zealand, making it easier for information to be made available for the intelligence reporting that ESR provides to the National Health Coordination Centre.


This data is used by the Ministry for the daily Covid-19 update to the nation.


ESR data and informatics manager Andrew Crooke says the system allows a complete national overview of all testing to be provided much faster.


“The speed at which data is needed at the moment is unprecedented and we wanted to find a way to streamline processes for the laboratories, ourselves and the Ministry of Health,” he says. 


“We teamed up with Sysmex New Zealand and every laboratory in the country to find a solution.”


Testing labs such as MedLab South have also seen a rapid uptake in e-ordering by GPs.


Use of e-ordering for lab tests has jumped from 25 percent to 80 percent in the Nelson Marlborough region, driven by the pandemic.


MedLab South lab manager Rebecca Brosnan says, “it’s good for GPs and a real win for us at MedLab South where we’ve seen great gains in efficiencies and in accuracy of data as a result of the increase in e-ordering.”


Brosnan has worked with clinical information systems director Bev Nicolls at Nelson Marlborough Health since April 2019 to get GPs and clinicians in the region to order their tests through the e-ordering platform.


She says while many were geared up to do e-ordering well before lockdown, only about 25% were actively using it.


Following level 4 lockdown restrictions, GPs were provided with remote installs of the platform and online video training and use of e-ordering jumped to well over 80 per cent in a matter of weeks


MedLab South are now rapidly trying to get all GPs and hospital clinicians to be using e-ordering to further build on the gains seen during the lockdown period.


Nicolls says the new e-ordering process gives GPs much needed information and control.


“When you’re handing a patient their lab test order details on paper, once they leave the room there’s no way to know if they’ve had the test, you can’t easily change the test order, nor can you see where the testing process is at,” he says.


“If they are using e-ordering, then they’ll have that information and that control.”


IT manager at Medlab Central, Gareth Orme, says that in the central region virtually all Covid-19 requests have been ordered electronically since the start of testing.  


DHBs in the central region (Midcentral, Whanganui and Tairawhiti) have been using electronic ordering since 2010. eOrders now account for well over 80% of laboratory test requests.



If you would like to provide feedback on this news story, please contact the editor Rebecca McBeth.


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