Croydon University Hospital provides out-patient care for 350,000 people and supports phlebotomy services for the 64 GP practices in the surrounding area. Keen to improve efficiency and patient care, Croydon Healthcare Services had introduced ICE, an electronic ordering system. Peter Norris, Application Manager at the Trust approached Brother with a development opportunity to improve the process of labelling blood samples.
Peter explains, “We have a busy phlebotomy unit at the hospital supporting clinics as well as the GP practices in the Croydon area. Our challenge was to improve the process of labelling blood pathology request forms and blood tubes. Many of the practices were still hand writing forms and labels, a time-consuming process, open to frequent errors or labels being misread. In some cases patients had to be retested, delaying the process and possible diagnosis. Previous attempts to improve the service had proved too costly. We needed an efficient electronic system of labelling request forms and blood tubes that would work seamlessly with the Trust’s software.”
Codegate and QuickTrace and Brother worked together to create a bespoke solution for Croydon Healthcare Services. Peter Norris explains, “Trials were undertaken at the hospital to pull the demographic information from a database into LabelTrace via scanning a linear bar code and printed onto labels using Brother’s compact machines. This worked so well, we developed the modifications necessary using 2D barcodes and handheld scanners at GP practices. Brother’s QL-570 labelling machines were ideal because of their high resolution printing and capability to print barcodes straight from the box.”
Following the success at Croydon University Hospital, the system was rolled out to Farley Road, a large GP practice covering two sites and supporting 11,500 patients. Although the practice runs a phlebotomy clinic, they had no dedicated room and the slow process of filling in forms and hand writing sample bottles often caused queues and some patients were forced to go to the hospital for tests. Tracy Keogh, Practice Manager at Farley Road explains how the new electronic system has transformed the whole phlebotomy clinic.
“The staff really wouldn’t do without the new system, it has literally transformed how we manage blood testing at the practice. It’s now a much more efficient process and patients receive a better, faster, smoother service. We can take the handheld scanners to the room where the patient is having a blood test, giving us much more flexibility. All patient details are drawn down automatically from the hospital’s systems via 2D barcodes and labels printed for request forms and sample bottles. It’s quick, easy and has eliminated errors and the need for retests. We’ve dramatically reduced waiting times and increased the number of blood tests at our clinic, which is a real benefit for some of our elderly patients, who no longer have to travel to the hospital.”
Peter Norris concluded "The innovative, 2D bar code label printing solution introduced at Croydon Hospital University and Farley Road Practice has transformed the phlebotomy clinics. The process is now fast, efficient and 100% accurate. It means staff can concentrate on patient care rather than filling in forms and labels. And it’s an affordable solution, with a significant cost saving over previous systems we’ve tried."