While the Helsinki University Hospital (HUS) and several municipalities have implemented the new Apotti patient information system, the reformation of the HUS Diagnostic Centre’s laboratory information system is approaching completion. Data has been transferred to the new laboratory information system one specialist area at a time over the years, and the project has progressed despite the coronavirus pandemic.
We decided to replace the outdated system with a new one in order to gain more functions and improve reliability. All data can now be found in the same place. As a result of coronavirus, we have needed to add new types of integrations and products into the system. With the help of additional functions, patients can now book laboratory appointments by themselves and we can transfer data from the system directly to the patient. These are essential features when serving a population this large, HUS Diagnostic Centre’s Director of Diagnostic Services, Lasse Lehtonen, says.
HUS Diagnostic Centre provides clinical laboratory and medical imaging services for a population of about two million people: this makes over 24.5 million laboratory tests at over one hundred sample collection sites in the Uusimaa, Kymenlaakso and South Karelia regions. According to Lehtonen, reliability is vital to laboratory information systems – test results must be transferred dependably from analysers to the laboratory information system, and then onwards to patient information systems.
My+® has been very stable, which is great, and transfer of results to patient information systems has been reliable. Much is still to be developed, however, and we have discussed the possibility of new reporting features with Mylab. For example, the format of the results displayed to patients in the Kanta services still needs fine-tuning, and we could use more features for reporting production.
A separate system is necessary
Lehtonen explains that the overall impact of reforming the system is difficult to assess at this point, because the advances in efficiency brought about by the new information system and the simultaneous organisational changes and developments in laboratory technology are difficult to distinguish from each other. Nonetheless, he believes that the acquisition was worthwhile.
We considered implementing the laboratory section of the Apotti system, but ended up using a separate system instead. I believe this was necessary in order for the Diagnostic Centre to operate outside of the Apotti area, such as in the Kymsote and Eksote laboratories. In our own system, we can direct resources better and change the testing location in the event of incident, for example. Centralisation has improved our efficiency.
Some challenges have arisen from the fact that Apotti is based on the EPIC system, rooted in the American healthcare model, which differs from the Finnish model.
There have been practical problems with making entries, for example, but fortunately these have been solved. A separate Finnish laboratory information system may even have eased the transition to using Apotti, he adds.
Maximising health with available resources
The HUS Diagnostic Centre’s goals are to facilitate health through diagnostic means, to ease the work of clinician customers, and to ensure that patients have a smooth customer experience. Lehtonen stresses that the organisation seeks to facilitate healthcare as much as possible with existing funds.
Diagnostics is a normal part of medicine; we are not a separate entity, but one specialty within medicine. Our ideology is strongly connected with bringing about health and wellbeing. As healthcare develops through research, collaboration with universities is important.
Investing in health is an excellent use of money. Therefore, we do not mean to merely cut costs. We find that fast diagnostics, good accessibility to treatment and high-quality work are essential.
HUS Diagnostic Centre emphasises customer-oriented thinking: that using services should be pleasant for customers. It must be taken into consideration that different customers need different kinds of services.
We want to help clinician customers in choosing tests and interpreting the results of diagnostic tests, for example. And even though many patient customers want to use healthcare services digitally, like many other services, it is a divided issue. Not everyone has the same abilities or access to use services online. This must be taken into consideration when building the customer experience and thus in the development of information systems also.