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The Visible Value Blog

Why technology should play a central role in sample collection

Posted by Wayne Miller

June 28, 2016 at 4:58 AM


Despite best efforts, errors in taking samples from patients are difficult to fully eradicate. Wards are extremely busy places and a crisis can happen at any moment, diverting the attention of staff. Added to this are the difficulties associated with the handwritten labelling processes many hospitals still use. Illegibility can cause serious problems when it comes to patient identification and specimen collection, putting patient safety at risk and taking up valuable staff time.

An improved system of patient ID and labelling at the bedside are the two key solutions that can help to resolve the problems around specimen collection, and technology lies at the heart of this. An easy to use and affordable track and trace system can help digitise patient identification and sample collection, making the entire process more accurate and efficient. A technology solution can help healthcare institutions to create robust processes, simplify data collection and improve accuracy, underpinning significant progress in the system of specimen collection.

The first step towards improving specimen collection is to establish a standardised system of patient identification and sample labelling. Many hospitals are using a combination of barcoded and handwritten wristbands and labels, meaning some data is recorded electronically and some on paper. This undermines the benefits of using an electronic system; the data stored against a patient’s electronic health record (EHR) cannot be relied upon, staff are having to use two systems rather than one and hospitals are failing to see an improvement following the investment they have made in the technology.

If a system of barcoding is used, then patient identification, sample collection and updating a patient’s health record becomes far more accurate and efficient. Staff can simply scan the patient’s barcoded wristband to confirm his or her identity and the test required can be checked on the patient’s EHR. Then, once the sample has been taken, a corresponding barcoded label can then be printed and attached to the sample. When the sample reaches the lab, once again the barcode can be scanned to identify the patient, the tests can be carried out and the results can be added immediately to the patient’s EHR.

Another issue is the process of labelling samples away from the bedside. For many hospitals, label printers are located in a central area so staff have to leave the bedside with the sample in order to label it. If a crisis then happens which diverts the attention of staff, the sample is left by the printer and potentially confused with other samples. This is where mobile specimen collection becomes essential; staff who are equipped with compact mobile printers at the bedside can print labels and attach them to the sample immediately.

Utilising a system of barcoding and arming hospital staff with mobile scanners and printers has been proven to achieve 99% accuracy in specimen collection. The benefits don’t stop there; this system can be extended to non-clinical applications as well, from meal ordering to asset management. Learn more about the various benefits mobile technology can deliver in your healthcare setting.


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Topics: Healthcare, Printers, EMEA, Mobile Printing, Technology