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Eliminating Manual Transcription of COVID-19 Lab Results Cuts Wait Time in Half

An electronic connection from Epic enables near-instant communication between Mackenzie Health and a lab

Having COVID-19 test results as fast as possible is critical so patients can take precautions to avoid spreading the virus. By communicating instantaneously with an external lab through an electronic connection, Mackenzie Health in Ontario, Canada, reduced the time it takes to get results by more than 50%. Now, results are typically available in less than 24 hours.

When doctors first started testing patients for COVID-19, staff at Mackenzie Health needed to manually transcribe results received from an external lab before they could be sent back to the doctor in Epic. The manual entry took time, and providers and patients had to wait for test results. In the meantime, patients needed to self-isolate because they couldn’t be sure whether they were infected.

Now, Mackenzie Health sends their tests to an external lab using a bidirectional connection with their Epic lab software. Transmitting results to patients and their primary care providers instantaneously, without manual transcription by hospital staff, reduced the wait time for results by more than 15 hours.

“When we first started working with COVID-19 tests, our lab staff spent so much time just moving test results from one system to another,” said Sharon MacSween, Mackenzie Health’s director of clinical informatics and health records. “Now, patients get the results quickly so they know what to do next.”

Epic community members can read more about connecting to labs providing COVID-19 testing in the Managing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) With Epic white paper, which is updated regularly with recommended build and workflows.