The impact of the implementation of electronic ordering on hospital pathology services

Timeliness of the test ordering process

Page last updated: 15 May 2013

Turnaround times (TAT) are one of the most frequently used measures of laboratory performance,43 and often a central criteria of how clinicians judge the quality of a pathology service.44 TAT partly reflects the efficiency of the laboratory workflow in regard to the use of time but it also includes processes outside the laboratory’s control (e.g., analytical cycle time). TAT can be considered by type of test (e.g., EUC), its priority (e.g., urgent or routine) or via different stages of the testing process (e.g., ordering, collection, identification, transportation, preparation, analysis, reporting, interpretation, action).52 In this project, we incorporated an examination of the data entry time; that is, the time from when a specimen arrives in the CSR to the time that it leaves the CSR, often referred to as the laboratory pre-analytical stage. This provided a means of comparing the impact of EMR (relative to the paper-based status quo) on data entry processes within the CSR. The median data entry time for EMR orders was three minutes shorter than it was for paper-orders. We also examined the Total Laboratory TAT. This measure allowed us to test if any time savings from the data entry process impacted on a measure of the entire laboratory process; significant differences in the median Total Laboratory TAT were demonstrated.

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