Article of the day
November 4, 2020




Michael Kalinowski

Northwest Laboratory Leads the Way with its 24-Hour Commitment for COVID-19 Test Results

July 26, 2021
November 2020

For COVID-19 testing to be effective, turnaround times need to be quick. This is only possible at scale by using robust software that integrates and supports the complete life-cycle of the cases: from patient self-sign up and scheduling, through specimen collection and laboratory processing, to report delivery and billing. Northwest Laboratory provides a case study in its responsibility for testing at 4,000 long-term care facilities in Florida, the Washington State Department of Corrections, and other large contracts. By using LigoLab’s Laboratory Information System (LIS) software as well as the TestDirectly Direct-to-Consumer Portal, Northwest has been able to process approximately 1.5 million COVID-19 tests since the start of the pandemic with 98 percent of them reported within 24 hours to the patient via email/SMS. Key elements in improving efficiency (and reducing errors) include: patient self-registration and the assignment of individual QR codes linked to their sample software support and integration for batch scanning, plate mapping, rack scanning, and pooled testing methodology support.

If you’re familiar with this blog, you may already have a good understanding of just how big of an impact Northwest Laboratory (Bellingham, Wash.) has had in terms of COVID-19 testing in both its local community and nationwide. If you’re new to this blog, I invite you to read the case study below that goes into great detail and recaps how NWL earned a statewide testing contract with the Florida Department of Health in the early days of the pandemic. The contract called for the screening of asymptomatic patients to help protect Florida senior citizens living in 4,000 long-term care facilities located throughout the state’s 67 counties.

Learn More - How Our Lab Partner Embraced Innovation and Won a Statewide Testing Contract

Since completing the Florida contract, Northwest Laboratory has continued to serve as a trusted testing partner for several drive-through collection sites in multiple states. It’s also partnered with the Washington State Department of Corrections to manage the testing of both the department’s employees and the incarcerated. Additionally, it’s supporting organizational testing for employers, school and university systems, long term care facilities, the entertainment and production industry, and more.

To handle this workload and still deliver fast and accurate test results, Northwest Laboratory has leveraged the flexible and comprehensive nature of the LigoLab LIS & RCM Operating Platform, and the streamlined workflow created by the TestDirectly Direct-to-Consumer Portal.

The results speak for themselves. Over a recently completed 30-day period, Northwest Laboratory processed and reported nearly 180,000 COVID-19 cases. An incredible number made even more impressive when you consider that in over 98 percent of these cases, the results were reported within 24 hours.

“We have a proven workflow for high throughput testing and we’re committed to a turnaround time of 24 hours from the time we receive the specimens,” said Jennifer Bull, Chief Operating Officer at Northwest Laboratory. “You can rely on the result you receive from us.”  

TestDirectly is web-based and works seamlessly with any laboratory information system (LIS). It replaces paper requisitions and time-consuming and error-prone manual order entry with an electronic workflow that supports the complete life-cycle of a case and a specimen, including patient self-registration and scheduling, specimen collection, laboratory processing, report delivery, and billing operations. The portal also frees laboratories from any follow-up because it automatically notifies patients when to check their results, while those same results are also being monitored in real-time by public health authorities.

Read More - Visit TestDirectly Laboratory Solutions

The TestDirectly workflow starts when the patient accesses the TestDirectly home page and creates an account. It continues as the patient orders a test and schedules a collection appointment. After completing the order, the patient receives a QR code that will be used for check-in at the collection site.

Once on-site for the appointment, a simple scan of the QR code marries the patient’s order to the specimen and labels with the patient’s demographics are automatically printed and attached to the laboratory test kit.

“Thanks to self-registration, we already have the orders when the specimens arrive at our laboratory, so they go straight into processing,” said Bull.

The efficiency created outside of the lab by TestDirectly is matched by the agile LigoLab platform inside the lab. That’s because LigoLab LIS can be configured to support time-saving processes like batch scanning, plate mapping, rack scanning, and pooled testing, and it features a built-in interface engine that ties all these processes together.

More Information - LigoLab’s LIS & RCM Operating Platform Supports Pooled Testing

Northwest Laboratory is not alone. Many other labs have joined them by switching to LigoLab and leveraging the TestDirectly portal. Despite hundreds of thousands of tests processed daily, these LigoLab partner labs are not only handling the workload, they’re managing it while collectively averaging 30-hour turnaround times.

Now several months into the pandemic, we’ve learned a lot about SARS-CoV-2 and how to treat it for better patient outcomes. We’ve learned that testing on a massive scale and fast test turnaround times are equally important as we try to understand how prevalent the virus is, and how to blunt its spread. We’ve also learned that to meet the public demand, the manual order entry and follow-up chokepoints must be removed and replaced with innovative new technologies.

By tackling old problems with new and more efficient processes, Northwest Laboratory has become an industry leader and a great example for other laboratories to follow.

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In Latin, Ligo means “to unite or to connect,” and that’s what LigoLab flawlessly does for its 100+ laboratory clients nationwide, providing them with a modern platform that automates processes, eliminates human errors, drives efficiency, and helps them become more profitable.

To learn more about LigoLab's all-in-one platform and its customizable modules for Anatomic Pathology (AP), Clinical Pathology (CP), Molecular Diagnostics (MDx), Revenue Cycle Management (RCM), and Direct-to-Consumer (D2C), call (818) 395-4659 or visit us at

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