With an ongoing aggressive second surge in COVID-19 cases, faster and reliable testing rates have become crucial. This is possible only when turnaround times are efficient and consistent. The solution to this problem is comprehensive and robust software that can tie everything together: from patient demographic acquisition and appointment scheduling, through to specimen collection and laboratory processing, and finally with report delivery (via email, SMS, or portal), billing and follow-up. Identifying this, Reditus Laboratories, a testing partner of the Illinois Department of Public Health, deployed additional functionality to its already running Ligolab LIS & RCM Platform by adding the TestDirectly Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) Portal. The D2C Portal resolved patient-specific related bottlenecks (such as paper requisitions and manual labor) by streamlining electronic workflow, including patient pre-registration/scheduling, QR coding, report delivery, and billing. As a result, Reditus enhanced its testing capacity to 15,000 specimens per day, achieving the one million COVID-19 tests landmark in eight months.
November 19 was a milestone day, a bright moment in an otherwise dark winter. That’s the day that Reditus Laboratories (Pekin, Ill.) processed and reported its one millionth SARS-CoV-2 case.
That’s one million COVID-19 tests since April. Quite an accomplishment for a practice that quickly pivoted and added molecular diagnostic testing to its growing histopathology business just as the first wave of the pandemic was hitting central Illinois.
Credit Dr. Aaron Rossi (MD), CEO at Reditus Laboratories, for not only recognizing the need to act quickly but also having the vision to invest in and build a scalable operation that hospitals, long-term care facilities, and government agencies continue to rely on as a massive second wave surges through the state.
For nearly two years, Reditus Laboratories has partnered with LigoLab for its laboratory software needs, with the fully integrated LigoLab LIS & RCM Operating Platform serving as the backbone for all laboratory and financial operations. The platform features embedded modules for anatomic pathology, clinical laboratory, molecular diagnostics, revenue cycle management, and direct-to-consumer testing, all on one united infrastructure that eliminates data silos and allows the laboratory to start the billing cycle at the order level.
This meant that back in April, Reditus already had a significant piece in place - the molecular diagnostics module - that would serve as the base from which the laboratory could build out its molecular testing workflow. From there, the leadership at Reditus added the necessary instrumentation, such as particle extraction platforms, safety hoods, liquid handling platforms, and real-time PCR systems, and began testing soon thereafter.
As the need for testing has grown over the last several months, the testing capacity at Reditus Laboratories has also steadily increased to meet the demand. This can be attributed to the lab’s willingness to invest in more instrumentation, and its use of the innovative TestDirectly Direct-to-Consumer Portal, the newest addition to the LigoLab platform that helps labs eliminate the bottlenecks and friction that they typically face. Add to that a well-earned reputation for providing high-quality test results without sacrificing test turnaround times and it's easy to see why an agency like the Illinois Department of Public Health would choose Reditus Laboratories as a testing partner.
“The State of Illinois relies heavily on us for testing and they keep sending us more samples,” said Dr. Rossi, who estimated that 75 percent of the current Reditus workload is coming from drive-through or mobile testing sites. “They’ve also been extremely impressed with TestDirectly.”
At present, Reditus Laboratories is processing specimens from 10 testing sites (eight drive-throughs and two mobile sites) run by IDPH. Of these 10 sites, six are using TestDirectly for their COVID-19 collection, testing, and reporting workflows.
TestDirectly is a web-based portal that works seamlessly 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’s accessible from anywhere at any time on any mobile device and 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.
“Our biggest problem is the bottleneck on intake. If we’re able to utilize TestDirectly and get the samples quickly into processing, we have the staff and equipment to handle the capacity without it negatively affecting turnaround times,” said Dr. Rossi, who continues to push IDPH to deploy the TestDirectly portal for all of its drive-through and mobile testing sites.
“The errors and the fluidity become barriers without the LigoLab platform and TestDirectly. By spending less time trying to interface with four separate systems across the state a lot of people will be better off, because we all know that data transfer doesn’t work perfectly every time,” said Dr. Rossi.
Dr. Joshua Geltz (Ph.D.) echoed Dr. Rossi’s comments while also providing an inside look at the challenges Reditus faces daily while managing a testing capacity that’s now reached 15,000 specimens per day.
“There are constant battles that everybody faces. Reagent shortages, consumable shortages, personnel shortages,” said Dr. Geltz, the former Chief Virologist for the IDPH laboratory in Springfield, Illinois. “That being said, we have an excellent staff and we are making strides every day to increase our testing capacities.”
Dr. Geltz joined the Reditus team in September, and since that time the laboratory has effectively doubled its testing capacity to keep up with demand by adding four additional particle extraction platforms and three additional real-time PCR systems to their operations.
According to Dr. Geltz, Reditus now has eight real-time PCR systems and each one is capable of running 384 specimens in just under 90 minutes. He also said those machines are able to run 24/7 without delay because TestDirectly has been an invaluable tool that’s removed the accessioning barrier.
“Having the patient pre-register and enter in their demographic details and other information ahead of time has been absolutely essential to this whole process,” said Dr. Geltz. “When the patient gets to the mobile testing site, all that information is added automatically. Then it’s just simply linking that specimen back to that patient, putting a barcode on it, and moving on.”
Historically accessioning has been done either through hard orders (paper requisitions) or by the patient filling out a form before collection, with info from that form then manually entered into the LIS. But with TestDirectly, the barcode is scanned, the information is verified through LigoLab LIS, and then the specimen is sent straight to the testing laboratory.
“If we had 15,000 hard order requisitions, it would be impossible to maintain that workflow and that sample volume. TestDirectly has worked flawlessly and the fact that it links directly into our LIS has saved countless hours,” stated Dr. Geltz.
Geltz also noted the importance of patients having the ability to log in and access their test results as another huge time-saver on the backend.
One million COVID-19 tests in eight months is definitely something to celebrate, but please forgive the Reditus team if they choose to save that celebration for another day.
“I think the battle is just beginning. We’re still facing several months of this before we have any real type of solution,” concluded Dr. Rossi.
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The LigoLab LIS & RCM Operating Platform is a fully integrated information system that connects every laboratory department on one united software infrastructure to transform operations. Unlike traditional RCM solutions, LigoLab starts the revenue cycle process at the order level with powerful verification and scrubbing components that are shared by the LIS and RCM modules. The platform also features automation and a seamless workflow designed to increase operational efficiency, transparency, revenue, and profit.
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 online at LigoLab.com.