Weblab branching out into microbiology

Published 28.09.2017
Author Virpi Ekholm
Photos Olli-Pekka Latvala & iStock
Application specialists Annika Rökman (left) and Katja Tuimala as well as Project manager Jussi Järventö of Mylab are happy with the progress of the Weblab project. In the future, Weblab will bring together all laboratory specializations and methods.
Application specialists Annika Rökman (left) and Katja Tuimala as well as Project manager Jussi Järventö of Mylab are happy with the progress of the Weblab project. In the future, Weblab will bring together all laboratory specializations and methods.

Developing microbiology functions has been a challenging but rewarding project. Product development is also underway for pathology at Mylab.

Weblab’s clinical microbiology functions are being implemented at a fast pace in Fimlab laboratories in Jyväskylä and Tampere as well as at HUSLAB in the Meilahti hospital in Helsinki. The initial implementations of the sample archive are also being carried out in parallel.

HUSLAB has been using Weblab for clinical chemistry and hematology tests and for structurally similar microbiology tests since early spring 2016. For Fimlab, however, the microbiology functions are the first contact with Weblab, Mylab’s new laboratory information system.

I expect the new laboratory system to improve the microbiology analytics process, in particular. I am hoping that Weblab makes the work stages easier, reduces manual work and speeds up analytics, says Jari Hirvonen, Laboratory manager at Fimlab’s microbiology laboratory.

Weblab implementation in Jyväskylä began at the beginning of September. The new system is being implemented initially for the screening of blood culture samples. Molecular diagnostics and traditional culture diagnostics will follow.

Weblab will introduce additional automation in the microbiology laboratory: for example, it will enable automatic approval of negative blood culture samples. This will free up staff members for other tasks which require manual intervention.

Going forward, the intention is to implement Weblab in all Fimlab laboratories which perform microbiology tests.

According to Hirvonen, the specialists’ work will be much easier, as the same system can be used in Jyväskylä, Tampere and Hämeenlinna.

Analytics monitoring and reporting will also be easier as the same system covers all microbiology diagnostics, Hirvonen says.

Weblab development work has focused on defining the processes of customers in particular. To this end, Mylab specialists have visited laboratories to see for themselves how they operate.

We also strive to support customers and help them streamline their processes. We start by analyzing their operating methods and then figure out if they could be streamlined and if Weblab could support the customer in this respect, Jussi Järventö, Project manager at Mylab, says.

On the other hand, the Weblab system is more flexible than its predecessors and thus supports many different laboratory operating procedures.

That is why laboratory professionals should define what their laboratory’s operating procedures are and prepare work instructions accordingly,Annika Rökman, Application specialist at Mylab, says.

Rökman admits that developing the microbiology functions has been a fairly challenging project for Mylab. Currently, three microbiology areas are being worked on: immunology, virology and bacteriology. Each area includes a wide spectrum of testing methods ranging from quick automation to manual work spanning several weeks. The operating models and processes are often extremely complex. Different methods require different kinds of processes and the information system should support each one of these.
Despite the challenges encountered in the project, Rökman says that it is a pleasure to be involved.

It is great to see how new things and ideas take concrete shape and benefit our users, she says with a smile.

Pathology functions are also under development at Mylab. The first functionalities are likely to be operational in April–May next year.

In genetics, the progress has been somewhat slower. On the other hand, development in genetics does not need to start from scratch but microbiology PCR functionalities, for example, can be used as a starting point. Annika Rökman emphasizes that Mylab is not trying to do everything on its own.

We are able to cooperate with systems providers who develop macro photography systems for pathology or tissue handlers, for example, and to integrate these special systems with Weblab, she says.

In the future, Weblab’s advantage will be its ability to bring together all laboratory specializations and methods. However, this will also be a challenge for the system developers.

We need to work hard in order for the integrated system to function quickly enough. Occasionally, we have encountered performance issues, since we haven’t been able to achieve exactly the same volumes as our customers during testing, Rökman says.

Customers are requested to report any system slowness to Mylab. This will enable Mylab to address the exact cause of the issue.

Sometimes it is not the information system that is slow but the Internet connection. From the customer’s point of view, these are not separate issues, but simply slowness that needs to be fixed. However, determining the cause may be challenging when several providers are involved, Rökman says.

Weblab’s user interface has been praised by users, according to Katja Tuimala, Application specialist at Mylab.

Training goes smoothly and adopting the new system is much faster than before, thanks to the user-friendly interface.
Weblab is easy to learn, even with minimal training, and work can start quickly, Tuimala says, citing feedback received.

Weblab is a visual program, which guides the user at all stages of laboratory work. The system instructs the user about what information needs to be entered in different fields and which function to use next. This also makes it easier to induct new employees in using the program.
However, customers need to be patient when new functionalities are being implemented. Careful testing at the implementation stage is important in order to ensure that the connections to different systems function well.

Product development does not end with the rollout to the customer. Continuing product development benefits both the customer and Mylab, Annika Rökman stresses.

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