Pacific Toxicology Laboratories (PacTox), located in Chatsworth, California, is a privately owned company that performs five distinct lab functions under one roof—drug testing, biological monitoring, medical surveillance, therapeutic drug monitoring, and forensic toxicology. PacTox's competitive advantage is its unique ability to provide integrated biological testing services. Clients include corporations, medical and occupational health clinics, academic and government researchers, district and defense attorneys, and physicians and other health professionals.
In today's heavily regulated health care environment, many organizations are required to satisfy the security mandates outlined in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. To that end, laboratories like PacTox are investing in enhanced automation software to slash costs, streamline information flow, and provide better testing and faster results for their patients.
Like many laboratories that perform a wide array of tests and procedures, PacTox relies on a number of disparate systems to gather testing data, upload it to the legacy system, interact with customers and partners, and generate and disseminate reports. In the past, PacTox relied on a hodge-podge of manual activities and batch files to link systems, keep customers updated about order and testing status, and inform management about issues requiring their intervention.
The problem with this approach is that it relied on a group of individuals to manually perform many activities throughout the course of the business day. If any one of the activities was not completed, backlogs would result frustrating employees, managers, and customers. This put an enormous strain on the resources responsible for supporting the application infrastructure. Missing a day's work for illness could have serious ramifications, and consequently, the employees were stressed out. Something had to be done!
Bernadette Apostol-Rebite, IT manager at PacTox, evaluated Automate and was excited about what it could do to streamline operations and make critical business processes more robust. She was attracted not only to the product's power—it could handle just about any task—but also its simplicity. With a solid understanding of the company's business processes, Bernadette found she was able to drag and drop her way to automating these processes.
Now the lab uses the software to generate daily reports that must be processed and distributed by email to a diverse base of clients each day. Updated information is created by the lab's information system every hour and sent to clients via email.
"We have 11 Automate tasks running in the background," Apostol-Rebite says. "Now, as soon as our lab information system [LIS] is updated, we can send detailed information to our customers and business managers. This has had a hugely beneficial impact on customer service."
Several new features made the software especially attractive and applicable to the PacTox operation. "One example is that Automate is able to send reports even when someone is not in the office or out on vacation," Apostol-Rebite says. "Our daily repetitive tasks are already done when we walk in the office in the morning. Also, using Automate has improved our turnaround time when it comes to reporting time-sensitive results. Our customers are thrilled and upper management is better informed."
Apostol-Rebite says there are also reports that would take her team an hour or more to create. "With Automate, our team is able to focus on other projects. It's like we all have an assistant who saves us 3 to 4 hours of work each day," Apostol-Rebite says.
"I was excited to try it and was very happy with the results," she says. "I never looked at any other software, because Automate was able to do our daily repetitive tasks without any hassle or problems."
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