Design and implementation of a clinical Laboratory Information System in a Low Resource Setting
Mtonga TM, Choonara FE, Espino JU, Kachaje C, Kapundi K, Mengezi TE, Mumba SL, Douglas GP. Design and implementation of a clinical Laboratory Information System in a Low Resource Setting. African Journal of Laboratory Medicine. 2019 October 28; 8(1). https://doi.org/10.4102/ajlm.v8i1/841
Background: Reducing laboratory errors presents a significant opportunity for both cost reduction and healthcare quality improvement. This is particularly true in low-resource settings where laboratory errors are further exacerbated by poor infrastructure and shortages in a trained workforce. Informatics interventions can be used to address some of the sources of laboratory errors. Objectives: This article describes the development process for a clinical laboratory information system (LIS) that leverages informatics interventions to address problems in the laboratory testing process at a hospital in a low-resource setting. Methods: We designed interventions using informatics methods for previously identified problems in the laboratory testing process at a clinical laboratory in a low-resource setting. First, we reviewed a pre-existing LIS functionality assessment toolkit and consulted with laboratory personnel. This provided requirements that were developed into a LIS with interventions designed to address the problems that had been identified. We piloted the LIS at the Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe, Malawi. Results: We implemented a series of informatics interventions in the form of a LIS to address sources of laboratory errors and support the entire laboratory testing process. Custom hardware was built to support the ordering of laboratory tests and review of laboratory test results. Conclusion: Our experience highlights the potential of using informatics interventions to address systemic problems in the laboratory testing process in low-resource settings. Implementing these interventions may require innovation of new hardware to address various contextual issues.