Northwest Laboratory (Bellingham, Wash.) is a fast-growing all-purpose laboratory medicine operation that’s partnered with LigoLab since 2015 and has quickly become an industry leader in all aspects of diagnostic testing for COVID-19.
NWL quickly embraced LigoLab’s TestDirectly direct-to-consumer web portal and became the first lab to integrate the platform into their COVID-19 testing operations. With it, the laboratory was able to quickly scale up and meet the growing demand for more testing and faster results delivery.
In May of 2020, the Florida Department of Health (DOH) partnered with Northwest Laboratory, LigoLab, and TestDirectly to screen the state’s 500,000 long term care (LTC) residents and employees for COVID-19. The Florida initiative identified asymptomatic patients and protected senior citizens living in 4,000 LTC facilities located in 67 counties throughout the state.
In just four weeks, Northwest Laboratory went from implementation to producing 190,000 test results that were available electronically within 2-to-3 days of collection, all while Florida’s DOH was leveraging TestDirectly to monitor virus prevalence in real-time, and working with local county health departments throughout the state to isolate those who tested positive.
State public health officials were able to immediately initiate safety protocols because they had access to a dedicated track and trace portal, giving them a real-time dashboard view of the population as a whole, and as segmented parts (sorted by gender, ethnicity, zip codes, age groups, etc.).
So how was Northwest Laboratory able to manage such a massive amount of testing in such a short time period? By leveraging the efficiencies created outside the lab by TestDirectly, and inside the lab by LigoLab.
The TestDirectly Direct-to-Consumer Portal gives laboratories a simple yet innovative tool that eliminates the bottlenecks and friction that cause delays and errors. It positions them to scale up with COVID-19 collection, testing, and reporting workflows that produce fast and accurate test results.
TestDirectly is web-based and designed to connect with any laboratory information system (LIS) to replace paper requisitions and manual labor with a streamlined electronic workflow that boosts testing capacity and improves turnaround times. It supports the complete life-cycle of a case and a specimen, including patient self-registration and scheduling, specimen collection (drive-through, walk-ups, employer testing), laboratory processing, report delivery, and billing operations. TestDirectly is intuitive and accessible from anywhere at any time on any mobile device. It supports all collection and testing workflows, removes the order entry bottleneck, and frees laboratories from any follow-up because reports are automatically delivered from the LIS to the TestDirectly portal, and patients are notified (via email and/or SMS) when their results are ready to be reviewed in the portal.
TestDirectly works with any LIS, but when coupled with the LigoLab LIS & RCM Laboratory Operating Platform, it seamlessly becomes a part of one united software infrastructure that connects all departments, removes all data silos, and ensures end-to-end data integrity for the complete lifecycle of all laboratory and financial operations.
In addition to the TestDirectly direct-to-consumer portal, LigoLab’s comprehensive and fully customizable platform also includes powerful modules for Anatomic Pathology (AP), Clinical Pathology (CP), Molecular Diagnostics (MDx), and Revenue Cycle Management (RCM), along with every supporting module and engine needed to cover every aspect of laboratory operations. Labs using this fully integrated platform can easily capture and verify valuable patient demographic and billing information on the front end of the billing cycle, a major advantage that leads to clean claims, faster payments, and optimized cash collection, all without the need for expensive and time-intensive manual processing of claims and resubmissions.
What’s Next for Northwest Laboratory?
After successfully fulfilling its contract with the state of Florida, Northwest Laboratory has expanded its operations and formed new partnerships with the Washington State Department of Corrections and the Whatcom County Health Department.
The laboratory has also successfully managed TestDirectly implementations for several drive-through collection sites in multiple states, and new drive-throughs are being added every week. TestDirectly’s out-of-the-box solution and a strong IT department have made this possible, enabling quick 48-to-72 hour turnarounds for new drive-through locations to become operational.
NWL continues to collaborate with LigoLab to identify any part of the testing process that can become more efficient and quality-driven. Thanks to the flexible nature of the LigoLab LIS & RCM Operating platform, the laboratory has been able to streamline its COVID-19 workflow with enhancements like batch scanning, plate mapping, and sample pooling.