In the spring of 2020, diagnostic laboratories became more important than they’ve ever been before. These labs have always played an important role in American healthcare, providing answers when people needed them the most. Now, thanks to a fast-moving and unexpected global health crisis, clinical laboratories have had to adapt to increasing needs. More and more laboratories have made themselves available for the COVID-19 test procedure, which means an increased need for COVID testing software.
At Psychē Systems, we provide comprehensive software for laboratories all across the US. If you own or manage a clinical laboratory, then you likely want to know how you can help during this crisis. That’s why we’ve put together this document. Over the next several pages, we’ve provided critical information on COVID-19, the COVID-19 test procedure, and how laboratories like yours can help with the right software.
Nobody could have predicted the healthcare crisis 2020 would bring. While the world has certainly seen major health crises in the past several decades, the COVID-19 pandemic took the world by surprise in a way that few other crises have before.
As most of the world celebrated the new year in January of 2020, several pneumonia cases emerged in Wuhan, China. Within the first few weeks of January, the World Health Organization started tracking the virus and providing advice, eventually announcing the existence of an illness called COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus.
What Is It?
Caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, COVID-19 is thought to have originated in bats and spread through wet markets in Wuhan, China. The virus causes fever, coughing, shortness of breath, and other symptoms, and when it results in pneumonia, it can lead to death or lasting health complications.
Though the virus can live on surfaces for hours or even days, it’s primarily spread through respiratory droplets during person-to-person contact. Before researchers realized how contagious the virus is, COVID-19 spread rapidly across borders. By early July of 2020, more than 500,000 people had died from COVID-19.
Who Is At Risk?
COVID-19 is highly contagious, and because it’s so new, the human body in 2020 doesn’t fully know how to fight it off. As a result, the CDC warns that everyone is at risk for catching the virus, and the organization cautions everyone to take proper precautions. Those precautions include wearing a face mask in public, practicing social distancing, and staying at home as much as possible.
Although everyone is at risk of catching the virus, some people have a higher risk of becoming seriously ill or dying as a result. Those who have a higher risk include older adults and people with preexisting medical conditions. However, the COVID-19 death toll includes people of all ages and health backgrounds, so everyone should remain aware and take the virus seriously.
What Laboratories Can Do
The COVID-19 pandemic puts medical laboratories in a unique position. Now, many laboratories have shifted focus to the COVID-19 test procedure. The CDC and the WHO have developed nasal swab tests to diagnose COVID-19. Because the virus has such a high exposure rate, public labs and academic labs are facing an enormous demand for test results. Privately-owned clinical laboratories can help fill in the gap as long as they meet the CDC requirements for COVID-19 testing.
There are two main types of COVID-19 testing: diagnostic testing and antibody testing. Both have become critical in recent months. Some laboratories also provide genetic testing to assess the risk of developing serious COVID-19 complications. However, diagnostic and antibody testing remain at the front and center of the testing demand.
Diagnostic testing determines whether or not a person has contracted the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The test generally involves a nasal swab. Once the tester collects the sample, they’ll seal the sample in a container and send it to a laboratory for either a molecular test or a serology test.
When most people discuss the COVID-19 test procedure, they’re referring to a reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). The current CDC and WHO tests use these tests to isolate viral RNA. This means that many laboratories that provide certain genetic diagnoses and cancer detection may already be equipped to provide COVID-19 diagnostic testing, assuming that these laboratories have the necessary software.
COVID-19 antibody tests work like similar antibody tests. In this case, the subject gives a blood sample that gets tested for previous SARS-CoV-2 infections.
Researchers still aren’t sure whether or not a previous viral infection provides immunity against further infection. However, antibody testing can prove useful for tracking the virus’s spread across borders and communities. Likewise, antibody tests can aid in research to determine if previous infection does cause immunity.
Genetic Testing for COVID-19 Risk
Some genetics and DNA laboratories have also stepped in to help during the crisis by providing tests for COVID-19 complication risks. Genetics can give researchers a clue about how sick a person may become if they contract the virus. This information may help researchers as they look for ways to treat, prevent, and cure COVID-19.
Why the US Needs More COVID-19 Testing Labs
The United States desperately needs more laboratories with COVID-19 testing software that can handle the COVID-19 test procedure.
Because COVID-19 is a highly contagious disease, it moves quickly from one person to the next. In fact, the virus is quickly outpacing laboratories and their ability to track it. The more laboratories equip themselves with COVID-19 testing software, the better the US can process the tests.
This importance becomes even more clear when one considers how many tests remain unused in laboratories across the United States. Though many labs have reconfigured themselves to focus on COVID-19 testing, many of those laboratories are still adjusting and unable to operate at their fullest potential.
“The barriers are troubling because more people must be tested to stop the spread of the coronavirus,” says Amy Maxmen in Nature, an interdisciplinary research journal. Maxmen went on to say, “In California, the figures are stark: in late March, the state’s health department reported a backlog of almost 57,000 tests.”
However, the problem goes much deeper than a shortage of available laboratories. The COVID-19 testing process runs into barriers within the US healthcare system, the federal government, and more. Still, a larger lab availability may help reduce the pressure and increase answers for those who need testing.
How to Begin Testing for
Not every laboratory can dive right into the COVID-19 test procedure. Clinical laboratories need the right permissions, supplies, and COVID-19 testing software to get started. Here’s what you need to know if you plan to open your laboratory to COVID-19 testing.
Which Labs Can Test for COVID-19?
To start testing for the novel coronavirus, laboratories must obtain a CLIA certification. Once a laboratory completes that step, it may use CDC-approved test kits for the COVID-19 test procedure. Both private and government-run laboratories may provide COVID-19 diagnostic tests as long as they have the right instrumentation and COVID-19 testing software.
How to Obtain COVID-19 Testing Supplies
A clinical testing laboratory can request testing supplies from the CDC. The CDC also provides a comprehensive guide to materials that laboratories need to provide the COVID-19 testing process. There are also commercial suppliers that offer instrumentation, testing kits and software for the testing of COVID-19
Using the Right COVID-19 Testing Software and Supplies
In addition to using the right laboratory supplies, those who provide the COVID-19 testing process will also need the right COVID-19 testing software. The CDC’s COVID-19 test kits are designed for use “with the Applied Biosystems 7500 Fast DX Real-Time PCR Instrument with SDS 1.4 software,” according to the CDC’S diagnostic testing guidelines for clinical laboratories.
How to Report Your COVID-19 Testing Laboratory Data
Once a laboratory begins COVID-19 diagnostic and/or antibody testing, that laboratory must report its findings appropriately. Laboratories must report their findings within 24 hours of completing a test.
Laboratories should send their test results to either their state public health department or their local public health department, depending on the laws in that laboratory’s area. The CDC provides a list of items to report for each test, as well as a guide on how to report the results.
Must-Haves for COVID Testing Software
COVID-19 has made it very clear that it’s not going away any time soon. As a result, laboratory software should go beyond the basic requirements to provide fast, well-documented testing.
Nevertheless, COVID-19 testing software should serve laboratories well beyond the pandemic. Though it may be hard to imagine, the pandemic will eventually wane, and so will the need for the COVID-19 testing process.
When that happens, the laboratories that purchased new software specifically for the pandemic will still have that software. Clinical laboratory owners understand that lab software is an investment. These laboratory owners need software that can serve their labs through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
What qualities separate the best software choices from the rest? Aside from meeting the basic COVID-19 testing requirements as outlined by the CDC, COVID-19 testing software should demonstrate several important qualities.
First of all, this software should integrate quickly with a laboratory’s existing processes and software. This proves especially important during the pandemic. With the virus spreading quickly and current COVID-testing labs stretched to their fullest capacity, the US needs clinical laboratories that can get to work right away. Laboratories cannot provide their best work if their COVID-19 testing software slows them down.
Second, this software should offer simple, straightforward reporting that works with a centralized platform. This way, the software will comply with CDC requirements and offer the quick results that people need during this time of uncertainty.
Third, COVID-19 testing software should come with excellent organization. With the COVID-19 testing process, clinical laboratories have taken on more work and information than usual. In fact, many laboratories are dealing with far more information and supplies than they had ever anticipated using. For these laboratories especially, COVID-19 testing software needs simple and automated organization.
Fourth, due to the urgency of COVID-19 testing, your lab needs to have fast and reliable software support. Should you have a question about your laboratory testing software, you need to know that you can rely on a dedicated support team that will get you answers quickly.
Finally, COVID-19 testing software should provide enough flexibility to switch seamlessly back to a clinical laboratory’s original purpose.
COVID Testing Laboratory Software
Laboratories need a lot from their COVID-19 testing software. At Psychē Systems, we offer several software choices for private clinical labs, two of which are compatible with the COVID-19 testing process: nucleoLIS Ē.finity and MicroPath Ē.ternity.
nucleoLIS Ē.finity is a powerful but flexible software that can be used for the COVID-19 testing process. This molecular and genetic laboratory software integrates fully with existing lab workflows, letting clinical laboratory leaders design and customize their organizational systems for COVID-19 testing.
COVID-19 Testing Software
nucleoLIS Ē.finity works for several molecular and genetic test processes, including PCR, FISH, karyotyping, and more. Its immunology testing capabilities may be used for COVID-19 antibody testing, and its real-time PCR testing capabilities can be used for diagnostic testing.
Features and Benefits
nucleoLIS Ē.finity has several features that can benefit clinical laboratories during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. These features include, but are not limited to, the following:
- All molecular disciplines and workflows.
Clinical laboratories can use this software not just for COVID-19 PCR, but for karyotyping, FISH, and other tests once the pandemic has passed.
- Simple automation and organization.
The nucleoLIS Ē.finity system can handle large batches and runs, helping clinical laboratories take on large workloads for the COVID-19 testing process.
- Comprehensive reporting.
This software offers highly customizable reporting so that laboratories can create reports that meet CDC requirements for the COVID-19 testing process.
- Document scanning.
nucleoLIS Ē.finity comes with clear and simple scanning options for supplemental documents.
The MicroPath Ē.ternity is an all-inclusive LIS software that can be used as COVID-19 testing software thanks to its serology capabilities. Microbiology labs may also use MicroPath Ē.ternity for their non-COVID laboratory needs.
COVID-19 Testing Software
As a COVID-19 testing software option, MicroPath Ē.ternity supports a wide range of microbiology testing processes. It easily adapts to the host lab’s workflow, and it offers automation from start to finish, keeping test subjects organized.
Features and Benefits
Thanks to its all-inclusive nature, MicroPath Ē.ternity offers several benefits for the COVID-19 testing process as well as other lab processes.
- Simple and flexible workflow.
The MicroPath Ē.ternity workflow is both easy and extremely adaptable. While COVID-19 testing isn’t any laboratory’s usual specialty, this software can help laboratories adjust to their new workflows while minimizing disruption.
- Advanced infection control reporting.
This feature has always been important, but it has become especially important in recent months thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Integrates microbiology instrumentation.
Many labs may use the equipment that they already have onsite for the COVID-19 testing process.
- Automatic media label printing and paperless culture processing.
This software is designed with as much automation as possible. As a result, it keeps cultures and reporting organized, and it helps lab technicians work as quickly as possible.
Psychē Systems has also developed a series of Ē.xtension modules as solutions for LIS connectivity and interfacing. These systems may serve as supplements to COVID-19 testing software because they can help clinical laboratories maintain quick reporting and communication during the COVID-19 testing process.
Features and Benefits
Ē.xtension modules can help laboratories perform all of the following actions:
- Manage large batches
- Allow clients to search specific reports
- Connect to physician offices and other clients
- Use graphs to examine diagnostic values in broader contexts
- Reduce duplicate entries for faster workflows
- Print lab results directly to the client’s preferred location
- Receive a full range of orders from various clients
- Print clear, high-resolution reports
Ē.xtension modules can help laboratories enhance their organization, communication, and workflows during the COVID-19 crisis, but they can also do the same when the crisis eventually comes to an end.
Why Choose Psychē Systems for Your COVID-19 Testing Software?
Psychē Systems offers a full range of specialty laboratory information systems, and we’re proud to play our role in mitigating the COVID-19 crisis.
Medical LIS Since 1976
Unlike some other medical pathology software options, Psychē Systems didn’t emerge at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve been providing and developing clinical laboratory software since 1976.
Because we’ve been in the game for decades, we understand clinical laboratories and their unique needs. Our years of experience provide us with the best background for supporting clinical laboratories as they add the COVID-19 testing process to their repertoires.
Commitment to Innovation
While we’ve provided our software since 1976, we’re far from stagnant at Psychē Systems. Thanks to our commitment to quality assurance, we consistently update and improve our LIS systems so that our clients can provide the best for their own clients.
Our experience has let us stay at the forefront of innovation. We’ve provided innovative and cutting-edge technology for decades, and we’ll continue to do so throughout the pandemic and beyond.
Support has always mattered for clinical laboratories using LIS and LIMS software, but these days, support matters more than it ever did in the past.
While the United States desperately needs more laboratories with COVID-19 testing software, the transition to COVID-19 testing is far from easy. The laboratories that add COVID-19 testing to their regular processes will require lots of support from their software providers.
Thankfully, we’ve always provided excellent support at Psychē Systems. Our support team is always available when our clients have questions or need help.
Customization Options and Seamless Integration
Laboratory software should never be one-size-fits-all, especially now. Laboratories must maintain standards and follow protocol, but that doesn’t mean they can’t develop workflows and organization systems on their own terms.
As laboratories incorporate COVID-19 testing software, they’ll need their software to work within their existing laboratory frameworks.
At Psychē Systems, we’ve designed all of our LIS software options to integrate seamlessly with the host laboratory’s needs. For laboratories that take on COVID-19 testing, this means that they can start processing COVID-19 test kits as quickly as possible.
With Psychē Systems software, laboratory owners can build their LIS systems from the ground up, choosing from cloud, on-premise, and hybrid options. From there, they can choose their software, add the modules that they need, and include other factors for full customization.
Helping Laboratories of All Sizes
During this pandemic, laboratories of all sizes have begun COVID-19 testing, which means that laboratories of all sizes need compatible software. Some LIS options only cater to large laboratories, not startup labs or small independent labs.
Psychē Systems works differently. Because of our customization options, our software fits clinical laboratories of all sizes. We’ve always helped big laboratories, small laboratories, and everything in between, and we’ll continue to do so throughout this pandemic.
Like any other LIS, COVID-19 testing software is an investment. However, that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be affordable. At Psychē, we’ve always prided ourselves on our cost-effectiveness for laboratories, and that cost-effectiveness has become especially important in recent months.
Software startup costs shouldn’t prevent laboratories from providing the COVID-19 testing that America needs. Laboratory owners can get affordable but effective software from Psychē Systems so that they don’t have to delay in providing help during the crisis.