Public Health Labs (PHLs) serve important missions, from monitoring the environment, to keeping pathogens out of food supplies, to protecting populations from infectious diseases. Today, that means confronting the challenges of COVID-19 testing head-on. We can all agree that Public Health Labs (PHLs) serve important missions, from monitoring the environment, to keeping pathogens out of food supplies, to protecting populations from infectious diseases. Today, that means confronting the challenges of COVID-19 testing head-on.

Unfortunately, many PHLs are struggling to keep up with the huge surge in volume — at a time when testing is critical to stem the spread of the virus. Even though clinical and commercial labs are also involved in the pandemic response, the vast majority of the testing load is still falling on PHLs. And while budgets and resources vary considerably between labs, all are currently facing the need to do more with less. This is especially true for labs in the national network, which remain responsible for their usual workload in addition to COVID-19 testing.

Manual lab processes aren’t enough
The key problem highlighted by this pandemic is that many PHLs don’t have the digital informatics systems necessary to handle significantly increased volume, or to manage the molecular testing required to complete most COVID-19 tests. Accessioning — the ordering and documenting of samples as they are received — is a particularly common bottleneck.

As volume continues to rise, manual processing also increases the possibility for errors. Any task where data entry is done by hand is prone to human error, and the need to bring in new employees — or shift workers from their regular tasks to meet increased volume — only makes the problem worse.

PHLs also face additional challenges related to meeting the reporting protocols set out by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Reliance on manual data handling to meet these protocols is straining resources at every stage of testing procedures.

With COVID-19 cases surging to new records across the US, Europe, Canada and elsewhere, there is a clear need for PHLs and other labs handling public health-related testing to quickly adopt an advanced informatics system that can meet the challenges of both today and tomorrow.Lab informatics offer a fast and cost-effective solution
With COVID-19 cases surging to new records across the US, Europe, Canada and elsewhere, there is a clear need for PHLs and other labs handling public health-related testing to quickly adopt an advanced informatics system that can meet the challenges of both today and tomorrow.

A laboratory information management system (LIMS) can reduce costs and increase the speed of sample testing by automating and streamlining lab workflows. LabVantage’s purpose-built COVID-19 LIMS provides a powerful, flexible, and easy-to-use solution that can be quickly implemented to scale up to meet burgeoning demands for diagnostic testing in PHLs, along with the adaptability to manage workflows for other types of testing.

This turnkey solution can be up and running in a matter of weeks as a SaaS, cloud-based or on-premise system. The platform handles request management, next-generation sequencing workflows, consumables management, and the statistical processes. A complete, GxP-compliant audit trail is automatically captured in accordance with data integrity guidelines from the FDA. In addition, most manual data entry is replaced by interfacing directly with your lab’s simple and complex instruments – significantly reducing the risk of human error.

Benefits of the LabVantage approach
With the LabVantage LIMS pre-configured for COVID-19 extracting and testing workflows (including molecular assays), you can quickly ramp up your testing and research capabilities. Benefits include:

  • Built-in OMICS workflows, CDC PCR test methods, Abbott Serology test and other pre-populated master data specific to COVID-19
  • Easy tracking of CDC-mandated patient metadata with complete electronic patient records and eConsent support
  • Faster and more accurate research enabled by comprehensive sample data traceability
  • Greater data integrity and compliance — without manual intervention — provided by built-in audit trails and workflows for making all data ALCOA+
  • Protect privacy and integrity in compliance with HIPAA, GDPR, and other regulations with robust security and permissions
  • Scale consumables inventory management and automation at any pace
  • Reduce reporting time, meet state and CDC requirements, and adjust as needed with a robust reporting and communications framework
  • Accelerate testing and research while reducing errors via seamless integration with instruments and downstream systems.

While the LabVantage COVID-19 LIMS is purpose-built, the software can be easily adapted to address many other public health workflow challenges, including influenza testing, ensuring your lab will be equipped to function more efficiently for whatever types of processes are being undertaken. The system leverages more than four decades of experience providing digital informatics solutions, and is capable of supporting hundreds of simultaneous users while interfacing with instruments and other enterprise systems.

Where to learn more
For more details on how your lab can minimize the burdens of COVID-19 demand, download our free report: The Need for Advanced Laboratory Informatics in a Public Health Crisis. You’ll learn more specifics about the volume of recent demand, the power of informatics to confront these challenges, the flexibility and security benefits of the LIMS, and how the system can quickly scale to meet the needs of COVID-19 and beyond.