PHH lab gets new, better tools to work with

Greg Reed, clinical lab scientist at Parkview Huntington Hospital, loads samples into the new, faster analyzer in the PHH lab.
Greg Reed, clinical lab scientist at Parkview Huntington Hospital, loads samples into the new, faster analyzer in the PHH lab. Photo provided.

For a hospital laboratory — which tests blood, tissue and other samples from patients — time is of the essence.

Efficient and accurate processing of samples means physicians and care teams receive information they need to be able to provide quality care.

Asheet Chauhan, manager of the Parkview Huntington Hospital (PHH) lab, says that customer service goal of timely data delivery is always front-and-center for his staff. Technology offers them new and better tools to accomplish their work, and in 2017, the PHH lab has made significant upgrades.

This spring, the lab replaced its chemistry analyzer — a key piece of equipment — with a sophisticated, next-generation analyzer capable of performing more types of testing. This new analyzer has enabled the lab to provide quicker turnaround for some common tests that previously had to be sent out of house for processing, such as CRP (C-reactive protein, a screening test for heart disease) and T-4, a thyroid function test.

“Faster turnaround is a significant benefit for our patients,” says Chauhan. “Obtaining results more quickly can also lead to faster diagnosis and beginning of treatment. The new analyzer is already making a big difference.”

In addition, the lab can now test for Troponin-T, a marker of tissue damage from heart attack that is used in assessing some patients’ cardiac risk. Former capabilities only allowed the lab to test for a different Troponin marker that had a five-day window for detection. Troponin-T stays in the blood for as long as 10 days, which means more time to detect, and possibly halt, heart muscle damage as the result of a heart attack. This is particularly important in cases where the patient did not initially recognize they were experiencing heart attack symptoms and put off going to the hospital.

In October, the lab installed the TAT (Turnaround Time) monitoring system. A 60-inch monitor prominently displays a list of orders being processed in the lab and updates their status in real time so urgent STAT and routine tests can be tracked. The monitor is visible to all personnel in the lab, so a quick glance can tell them whether a specific order is taking longer than anticipated and needs to be expedited.

Purchase of the TAT monitoring system was funded by generous donor gifts through the Parkview Huntington Foundation. PHH is the first Parkview hospital outside Allen County to implement the system.

In processing samples, safety is also important for the lab staff. If a test tube breaks during handling, a lab technician could potentially be exposed to a communicable disease, if one is present in the blood sample. A new automated blood analyzer has eliminated the step of having to transfer a blood sample from the original collection vial to a new tube for analysis. Not only does this drastically reduce the chance of human error, potential injury and sample loss, but it has also reduced the time for one test, which used to take as much as half an hour and now takes only about three minutes.

The lab is also capable of more sensitive testing for flu and RSV, a common virus that causes cold-like symptoms in healthy adults but can pose a serious risk for infants.

All of these improvements translate into enhanced service for patients, physicians and care teams. Speedier results for hospitalized patients can impact care decisions in an even more timely way. Individuals who have outpatient testing done can obtain their results even faster, as can the local medical offices, nursing homes and rehab facilities that also use PHH lab services.

According to Chauhan, the lab performed more than 150,000 individual tests in 2016; he estimates that number will exceed 160,000 in 2017 thanks to the new capabilities.

The fast, efficient way to receive test results is via a personal Parkview MyChart account. To create a MyChart account, visit your Parkview provider’s office or any Parkview walk-in clinic to obtain an activation code. Or call 855-853-0001 to request an activation code. For security purposes, it will be sent to you through the mail.

Your activation letter will provide all the instructions for sign-up. MyChart helps you manage your healthcare, enabling you to receive your lab work and other test results, request prescription refills, ask questions of your Parkview provider, schedule appointments and more.