Wednesday, October 4, 2000

Laboratory Manual for Homegrown LIS

The client is a large hospital-based clinical lab with a homegrown LIS--the only LIS they have ever known.

Since the LIS was designed in the mid-1970s, it lacks some modern amenities, such as support for exporting test definitions to an HIS, let alone the several (!) HISes in use by the parent academic medical center.

The client developed a standalone test definitions database using an MS-DOS database management system; our first job was to port that schema to MySQL under Linux.

The client developed a library of export formats so our next job was to catalogue, document and implement exports for these formats. We did the document on-line, as a web site, for ease of use.

Since the process was laborious and manual and involved inventory (printed documents), the client was used to producing their Lab Manual only when pressure to do so became intolerable. We made the Lab Manual creation process push-button and greatly extended the range of supported formats:
  • Letter-sized paper for bench use
  • Pocket-sized paper for clinicians who are married to paper
  • HTML for both public and internal formats
  • Palm PDA format for that user base
  • Palm or PocketPC format using the Castle development environment
We helped them migrate off of paper, although I keep a pocket manual on my desk to remind me of why computers are a good idea for this kind of thing.

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