LabWare Portable Disease Surveillance Lab fighting COVID-19 in Florida and Delaware

LabWare's business is about providing enterprise software for testing laboratories. We are the global leaders in Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS). One area we support is Public Health. The Florida and Delaware Department of Health use LabWare LIMS. Since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, it's been clear that more testing is required to defeat the virus and to get people back to work. So, LabWare approached the problem from the position that for this testing to get done, it's going to involve a lot of activity in the field and not just within a heath care setting; e.g. drive-up testing sites.

What we realized is that all this testing is supported by lots of paper. There are questionnaires for triage of the person (patient contact). There are requisition forms for testing, and the specimens collected in the field have handwritten labels. If scheduling patient appointments is necessary, this is all done on paper. The problem with all this paper is that things get lost, and there are numerous transcription errors when the data is entered into various computer systems. The paper becomes a big bottleneck for the labs to process the samples, which delays testing. Often, the results are no longer tied to the patient, and thus, the whole process must be repeated.

LabWare set out to solve this problem by introducing a system which uses tablet devices which are tied into a mobile hot spot and which run our app to communicate with a cloud based HIPAA compliant server running our LIMS. The system allows scheduling of patient visits to testing locations, capturing the patient demographic information and responses to the many triage questions. In the field, when specimen samples are collected, we print labels which have a barcode as well as the patient's name and DOB. This information is used by the DOH labs to identify the sample and patient. All the data we are collecting is transmitted within minutes to the DOH system, so when the samples arrive at the lab, they are scanned and ready to be tested. We initially piloted this system in Florida in early April. The plan was to gather information on the gaps where we need to enhance the system to be ready for live use. Much to our surprise, what we had done met the needs of the DOH. We planned on departing Florida, but they told us they want to go live with the system right away. So, we stayed in Florida, and they went live the next week. Florida DOH has now committed to purchase 303 kits, enough to roll out to every county.

More recently, we began deploying the Portable Disease Surveillance Lab kits in Delaware. The kits will be used to monitor hotspots within the state.