prelink is an ever evolving, web based, laboratory information management system.
There are several headaches and issues that come with installing applications on computers – namely: user account permissions, different operating system compatibilities, required frameworks and software, pushing/downloading software updates on every PC, etc.
Therefore, prelink decided to instead go the web-based application route. This means that a computer with a modern browser can access prelink, no software installation is required, and it is always up to date.
This also allows prelink to run from one central location, preferably a cloud hosted location, where all the depots, satellite laboratories and clients can access prelink.
Paperless or Paper request forms
The system can be run completely paperless or it can scan paper-based request forms from clients.
Paper-based request forms can be pre-printed from the lab or external provider or they can be any form from the client. They just require a unique request form barcode.
prelink supports the use of internally generated barcodes or pre-printed barcodes from an external source.
prelink is able to generate and print on-demand barcodes or batches of request form barcodes. It is also able to generate all the required barcodes for all the specimens linked to the request. These are very important as they are used throughout the system for analyser ordering and resulting, tracking, storage, etc.
Data capture can be performed from a central location or it can be performed by users at various locations. Every user will be configured to capture for a single location or several locations, depending on what they are allowed to view.
Data capture can be performed directly off the paper-based request form, via the electronically available scanned request form, or via the REST API available to external systems.
If paper-based request forms are scanned into prelink, the barcode recognition service will identify the barcode and then either create the request or associate the scanned form to the request (based on the system settings).
prelink contains a Booking form that is accessible to the public. It allows a patient (or guarantor) to create a simple booking request by capturing all the patient and guarantor details. They will then receive a booking reference number that must be presented on arrival.
This speeds up the entire capturing process as all the patient and guarantor demographics would be already be captured and available to the lab on arrival. The lab would only need to check the demographics and order the appropriate tests to convert the booking into a full request.
User and Role Management
Every organization has different user structures and responsibilities and therefore, prelink has an extensive user, role and permission-based setup that allows a user to have the same or different access per site (laboratory/depot).
e.g. User A can capture requests and edit patient demographics OR User B can capture requests, edit patient demographics, validate results and perform sign off.
These roles and/or permissions can be fine tuned per site/location if you want to prevent users from accessing requests at different sites/locations.
Clients can have multiple locations/rooms therefore, preLink allows the laboratory to configure multiple locations per client. Each location has its own set of communication and reporting preferences. They can also be limited to a subset of payment methods and/or a subset of available test/procedures.
prelink provides a basic test dictionary that contains:
- Calculated Tests
- Test Ranges
- Result/Test Comments
- Reflex testing
The laboratory can manage and maintain their dictionary as they see fit.
Microbiology is a complex discipline and requires a more involved setup than regular procedures.
prelink has a Microbiology section with a standard set of Organisms and Antibiotics with their related sensitivities and resistance levels. The laboratory can manage and maintain the complete list.
The Microbiology result entry screen is dynamically built based on the growth status and organisms observed in a specimen. The lab staff can then enter the diameter and prelink will calculate the interpretation.
Focus must be placed on fast, priortised and effective testing and release of critical results. Therefore, prelink has several visual queues and alerts across the system to indicate urgent requests/tests and if they are outstanding.
Client services can also prioritise callouts and notification for urgent requests.
There are various forms of result reporting in prelink and they can be manual and/or automatic via Email, SMS and/or a printed result report.
Result reports can be automatically printed, emailed or SMS when a request is signed off and/or each client can receive automatic Email, SMS and/or printed reports when a request is signed off (based on their reporting preferences for the location the request was captured for).
Email, SMS and printed reports can also be manually performed at any time by the lab staff. This can be preliminary or final reports.
The laboratory can also configure Print Routes which link a printer to several client client/doctor locations. Every time a result report is automatically printed, prelink will check if the client/doctor location belongs to a print route and then queue it for the correct printer.
Result Report QR Code validation
prelink has the ability to include a QR code on all patient and client result reports. This allows any entity to scan and verify the result report.
Result report forgery has become a big issue due to the COVID19 pandemic and travel.
Specimen Storage and Tracking
Every specimen in prelink must have a specimen barcode that is either printed by prelink or pre-printed by an external provider. This barcode is used during communication with the analysers, performing tracking, performing storage, etc.
A specimen can be tracked per department and then prelink will use that date/time when calculating turnaround times for tests. These can be used to determine how efficient departments are and to eliminate slowdowns.
Administrators can setup and manage short term storage tube racks in fridges. These racks can be open to all departments (for smaller labs) or can be department specific (for larger labs with fridges per department). Lab staff can then store, retrieve, view the location of a specimen and view the specimen storage history.
If your core business is Clinical Research, preLink has numerous unique features that considerably reduce laboratory workload.
Laboratories can configure research trials and configure details for that trial:
- the client
- the date ranges
- the patient demographic setup
- the submission forms and their barcodes
- the trials rounds (including the study/participant count, period, barcode setup)
- the specimens and tests
- barcode setup
- printing of submission forms
- printing of barcodes.
Our unique barcoding system for pre-labelling of study protocols and visits reduces the time taken to register study work by up to 95%.
prelink allows the laboratory to setup templated tests and/or custom worksheets. The lab staff would be able to configure the required tests, rack or worksheet layout, controls, open or client specific, etc.
Automatic queuing of templates for molecular testing and instrument interfacing to PCR equipment reduces transcription errors and reduces turnaround time for results.
Resulting is done via analyser interfacing or manually captured on worksheets.
Analyser/Information System Interfacing
We have a long list of interfaced analysers using bidirectional and unidirectional communication protocols and a file import interface using network shares.
prelink can receive specimen queries, program test orders and receive test results from analysers whereby reducing human errors that would normally occur during manually programming orders or entering results.
prelink also has bidirectional communication for receiving orders and sending results to referral systems, hospital EHR systems or external systems using open standards such as HL7. E.g. interfacing to Meditech.
Auto Signoff and Reporting
The laboratory can setup the auto department sign off that will automatically sign off request results for that department only if:
- all the required tests are resulted,
- all results are validated and,
- all results are within range and NOT abnormal.
A department will not be automatically signed off if there are tests outstanding or there are abnormal results. These will have to be signed off manually.
After signoff has occurred, prelink can automatically print the result report (to the default printer or the Print Route associated to for the client location) OR automatically Email, SMS and/or print based on the reporting preferences setup for the client location.
Quality Control Module
Every organization requires QC in some shape or form. IN the laboratory environment, QCs are normally running on a daily basis to ensure that analysers are accurate.
prelink has a QC module that allows the laboratory to configure all their QC lots. Each lot has a barcode, date range, analyser and required tests. Each test is configured with a Mean value and Standard Deviation value. This allows prelink to plot the each runs results on a Levy Jennings graph.
preLink keeps an audit event for all events that occur on a request, this includes events such as:
- request captured
- barcode(s) entered
- documents associated
- tests ordered/removed
- request details modified
- patient demographics modified
- sign off events
- callout events
- report printed event
- billing events
- EDI export events
The courier module allows the laboratory to create pickup requests for specimens and then automatically alert the laboratories drivers via SMS or email that there is a specimen collection at a specific client location.
We are currently looking at adding functionality to our mobile website that would allow drivers to login and view their pickup requests and also allow the client to “sign on the dotted line” when the specimen is collected.
Clients/doctors can login to our lightweight and responsive website that is specifically designed for mobile devices. It adjusts to the user’s device and resolution to provide a standard interface across all mobile devices – namely: laptops, cellular devices, tablets.
By default, the client is shown all requests that have been captured for them over the past 72 hours. The client is then able to search for requests based on patient name, surname, id number or folio/file number (which is a client reference number).
The view request page will show all patient, guarantor, orders, test results and comments for the selected request.
After a request is signed off and the request contains a client with an EDI type, prelink will automatically generate and send the result report to the EDI endpoint. We currently have interfaces to:
- BBraun / Datawise
- Discovery Health
- Discovery Health ID
- Discovery Life
- Life Healthcare
- Momentum Health (MMI)
- Momentum Health (MHG)
- National Institute For Communicable Diseases (NICD)
- National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS)
- Practice Perfect
- The Health Source
- Vodacom EDI
- WatIf Health
We have created a new REST API that can be used by external systems to electronically order requests, upload request forms, download result reports and receive test results.
Each external service requires a uniquely generated API key and credentials before using the REST API. Some systems currently using the REST API:
Printing to remote locations and printers that are not directly connected to the local laboratory network are always a problem. It requires creating complex VPNs, using expensive cloud enabled printers or exposing printers over the internet (which we highly recommend against).
We have created a small application that is run at remote sites, satellite laboratories and or depots to access our REST API and pull and print jobs from prelink. It allows for the management of printers at the remote location.
Communicable Disease Reporting
prelink allows the laboratory to configure which tests, and their trigger result, will automatically attach the National Institute For Communicable Diseases (NICD) to the request. As soon as the request is completed and signed off, prelink will upload the result report to the NICD.
This dynamic setup is not limited to COVID19 testing and can be setup for ANY of the Category 1 – 4 Notifiable Medical Conditions.
prelink allows the lab to configure if, and which, tests can be sent to a patient (or the guarantor) on sign off and completion of a request.
If notifiable tests are found, an email containing ONLY the notifiable tests will be sent to the patient (or guarantor) along with a result SMS (if the lab has enabled the notifiable SMS).
The laboratory can generate a list of specimens that are sent away to a third party laboratory for testing.
The laboratory can can also generate a list of specimens that must be transferred from one site (i.e. laboratory) to another.
There are a number of reports available to the laboratory that will enable it to get a clear overview of the functioning of the lab.
- Registered Requests
- Volume Graphs
- Hourly Graphs
- Department Breakdowns
- Requests per Doctor/Client
- Tests per Doctor/Client
- Test Ordering
- Users Stats (Logins, Validations, Sign Offs, etc.)
Medical Aid Claim Processing
prelink has an interface to the GoodX software suite.
All your complex billing and coding for clients, doctors and medical aids can be maintained in GoodX. Invoice data is posted to GoodX and then pricing and invoicing information is returned to prelink.
Labs can perform live validation on patient Medical Aid details and perform Medical Aid switching via GoodX’s Electronic Claim Processing System (ECPS).