The My+ mobile sampling application makes life easier for laboratory nurses on their rounds at the Central Hospital of Satakunta in western Finland. Printing test tube labels at POC reduces the margin for error.

It is nearly seven o’clock on a Wednesday morning at Satakunta Central Hospital in Pori, western Finland. The narrow corridor is crowded with laboratory nurses fetching smartphones and mobile label printers from their sampling trolleys for their morning rounds.

Today, Mylab’s Software Specialists Henrik Toivakka and Tommi Mäntynen will be joining the nurses on their rounds to observe the mobile sampling application in action. They will also be collecting feedback and suggestions for further development.

Laboratory nurse Anna-Liisa Vuohijoki is on her way to a surgical ward. She selects the mobile application and wirelessly connects the label printer to the phone.

The application displays the types of samples that will need to be taken. She checks whether special test tubes will be needed.

Previously, the night nurse had printed labels for samples twice during the night and a third time just before the morning round. There were many label stickers and it was a challenge to keep track of the sampling needs for each room. One night nurse had to be allocated to distribute tasks for the laboratory nurses, Vuohijoki says.

Now laboratory nurses plan the sampling order on their wards. Test requests are checked from the mobile app and labels are printed at points of care.

Application was easy to learn

SataDiag started to use the My+ mobile sampling application for ward rounds at the beginning of the year. User feedback has been positive: the application speeds up work, makes the laboratory nurses’ tasks easier, time stamps have become more accurate and there is less risk of error.

The mobile application has already been in use on the wards for a long time – since December 2013.

At that time, using a smartphone was new to some nurses, but people learned to use the application quickly, says Laboratory Nurse Paula Hennola who is in charge of the mobile devices.

Kaisu-Leena Mäkelä, Department Nurse on the Emergency Care Unit, says that the mobile laboratory application has sped up her work and decreased the need to walk back and forth during emergency duty. A ward nurse can inform the laboratory nurse about upcoming test requests and samples can be taken as soon as new requests arrive.

When the patient has a blood clot that might need attention, the laboratory nurse can be requested in advance even before the requests are sent to the mobile device. This saves crucial seconds, Mäkela points out.

The cellular phone network of the hospital crashed one Saturday, when the emergency duty sampling application had only been in use for three months. Very concerned about how best to handle the situation, the laboratory personnel called Paula Hennola at home.

It was funny, in a way, they had already forgotten that they could return to the previous process of printing labels from a computer.

“This real-time operation is so great!”

We need to rush, because we have patients waiting on the surgical ward. 13 patients have laboratory test requests.

We arrive on the ward that is waking up to a new morning. Nurses are attending their morning briefing and the clinking sounds of patients’ breakfast trolleys can be heard from the corridor.

Anna-Liisa Vuohijoki sees from the mobile application that one of the patients is about to have an operation urgently, so they need to see him first. The elderly gentleman needs to have a CRP test and basic blood count.

Vuohijoki prints the labels stickers using the mobile printer and attaches them to the test tubes. She acknowledges that the tests have been taken and the exact time is saved in the laboratory information system.

This real-time operation is so great! Furthermore, printing labels for each patient increases individual safety as there are no lengthy printouts of different labels and no possibility of mixing up the labels, she says. 

Less unnecessary interruptions

In the next room, Tiina Leppäniemi is recovering from surgery. She extends her arm for Vuohijoki who expertly takes blood samples from her.

The phone beeps, which means that a laboratory nurse needs assistance from another nurse. The message is displayed on the message board of the application, through which laboratory personnel communicate with each other.

The system also sounds an alert, when new test requests arrive after the round has already started.

Previously, laboratory nurses just had basic mobile phones and the secretary called when new requests arrived, which meant interruptions.

You could be in the middle of taking a blood sample with the needle in the vein of a patient and be unable to take the call. Then, if you forgot to call back and returned to the laboratory, you ended up walking back to the ward, Vuohijoki says.

Application boosts team spirit

It is almost 8 o’clock and all samples in the ward have already been taken. Vuohijoki checks the mobile application to see which wards are not yet completed.

On the other surgical ward, not all samples have been taken and the application shows that one of the tests is urgent. Vuohijoki heads to the ward to help with the remaining tasks.

Previously I needed to go back to the laboratory and ask around to find out whether some rounds were not yet complete. Now I can use the application to see how many patients each laboratory nurse still has to visit and it is easy to see who could do with a helping hand. She feels that the application has boosted team spirit and team effort. 

When the other surgical ward round is completed, Vuohijoki returns to the laboratory and enters the samples in the IVD sample automation system and centrifuging, then she cleans up and returns the sampling trolley to its place.

The smartphone and the printer will be put on charge, if they have less than 50% charge. On this occasion, the devices do not need to be charged, so Vuohijoki returns them to the table to wait for the next round.

In a building like this, the network connection is insufficient in places and in some areas of the hospital, the application refreshes slowly, which poses challenges for use of the system, although this is not due to the application but the network and the building, Vuohijoki says and adds:

We would not want to go back to the old system!

A visit to widen perspectives

Mylab’s Software Specialists Henrik Toivakka and Tommi Mäntynen felt that the visit to SataDiag was really useful.

I wrote several pages of notes! To see how sampling nurses actually use the application in a real situation widens the perspective of a software developer, Toivakka says.

When you test the application at the office, you have only a narrow conception of, for example, when the sampling nurses have the phone in their hands and when it is kept in the trolley and how this could then be taken into account to optimize use of the application.

Certain functional details were easier to notice when you got to see the application being used for yourself. It was also nice to hear from actual users that our mobile application has become a trusted partner in the daily tasks of laboratory nurses, Toivakka says he was happy with the results of the visit.

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