Two significant technological developments are transforming lab services at the Rapid Response Lab (RRL) at Barnet and Chase Farm Hospital and in the wider North Central London region. Angus Wyatt, Rapid Response Manager at Barnet and Chase Farm explains.

A salute to Salutare

While much of the laboratory equipment was upgraded in 2019, a number of issues remained about the processes involved. First, with access to GPs limited during Covid, patients requiring a blood test would frequently attend a phlebotomy clinic without the appropriate pathology request forms.

This resulted in a frustrating number of orders getting “lost” in the system. Another challenge for the labs was the poor print quality of sample barcodes generated by GP surgeries.

A Consultant Hepatologist at the Royal Free London (RFL), Professor Kevin Moore, initiated a solution to the issue. The result is Salutare.

Salutare is essentially a lookup system that takes the messages from linked electronic ordering systems such as tQuest and Cerner EPR that connects all the labs and clinics within the Royal Free London group. It provides the ability to locate request forms and/or generate high quality barcode labels from the correct primary or secondary care encounter, minimising the need for manual input. Reducing the potential for human error speeds up the testing process and ensures more timely results which then get to the correct requesting physician.

Labels from the combined tQuest request forms used in GP practices frequently become faded. Printing better quality labels in phlebotomy gets over this problem.

Salutare also lets labels be reprinted in the lab with full patient demographics before the sample is booked into WinPath and allows a full audit trail.

While Salutare is live at Royal Free sites, work is being undertaken to refine it and roll it out more widely across the North Central London region. Ultimately, primary and secondary care patients will be able to get their bloods taken at any phlebotomy centre in the area, and be assured the sample will be correctly processed and their results sent to the clinician.

Streamlining the Sample Reception Area

ATRAS (Automated Tube Registration and Sorting) is another technological development that will save labs time and energy. ATRAS is a front end automation system that can sort out samples in the Sample Reception Area into the correct workstream, whilst registering the sample into the correct WinPath system.

To make the most effective use of ATRAS, good quality barcodes on the patient sample are essential. This is where Salutare has contributed greatly. More samples now reach the labs with good quality labels, or labs can reprint labels for themselves.

ATRAS will make a major contribution to standardising working practices. It reduces the likelihood of errors, ensures a more streamlined process throughout the business using a common sample booking interface and increases capacity for improved service resilience as staff can easily transfer between sites in the event of service failure.

Both Salutare and ATRAS are great examples of how Sonic Healthcare UK, together with our hospital partners, continually strive to improve the quality, speed and safety of services to the benefit of staff, clinicians and their patients.