Temple Street Children's University Hospital in Dublin, Ireland, recently earned an extraordinary honor. The Irish Medical Times (PDF, 2.1 MB) presented the hospital's National Newborn Blood Screening Laboratory (NNBSL) with the 2014 Best Use of Information Technology Commendation.
The Commendation specifically cites the "electronic reporting of newborn bloodspot [also known as a heel-prick] screening reports, which allows the electronic reporting of results of newborn bloodspot screening securely over the Internet to all maternity hospitals and local health offices nationwide, The Irish Medical Times says, "thus cutting down significantly the delivery time of reports — from 21+ days under the old system to between eight and 12 days with e-reporting."
Providing More Than Just Faster Results
Considering Ireland leads the European Union in births, the 2014 award marks a milestone accomplishment affecting the lives of nearly 69,000 babies in 2013 alone. It also affirms NNBSL's 2012 decision to replace its aging screening system with a comprehensive software platform called Specimen Gate®. Developed by PerkinElmer, Specimen Gate offers a modular format that is doing far more than just speeding up newborn screening results. It is helping to improve all of the lab's activities and processes-from bloodspot data collection to individual follow-up case management-by integrating a broad range of information into a single, consistent electronic record for every newborn baby tested in the Republic of Ireland.
Until 2012, the NNBSL was using a computer system that was not meeting its growing requirements, David Hall, head of Information and Communication Technology and Information Governance at Temple Street Children's University Hospital, says. Now, "we are delighted with the partnership with PerkinElmer, which promotes smarter ways of working."
That partnership included comprehensive workshops across the Republic of Ireland on the enhanced newborn bloodspot program and its e-reporting capabilities. Called eReports™(PDF: 141 KB), the feature allows public health nurses, maternity hospitals, and local health offices secure access to screening results via the Internet. Additional training on the program began in late 2013 for midwifes, public health nurses, and clerical staff identified as key individuals by Ireland's Health Services Executive (HSE), which provides health and social services to everyone in Ireland.
Professor Philip Mayne, NNBSL's Clinical Director, who is responsible for the lab's daily operations, says the results of the new system are transformational. "Not only is Specimen Gate enabling us to speed up our baby screening process and enabling us to get results back much quicker, it is also helping us to significantly reduce paperwork," he says.
"Specimen Gate has changed the overall management of the screening process in the laboratory and therefore makes the results reporting much easier," adds NNBSL Chief Medical Scientist Geraldine Roche.
Software That Prepares for the Future
Specimen Gate's seamless, electronic workflow is saving the NNBSL time and money. Equally important, it presents the HSE with a rare opportunity — the ability to get ahead of potential newborn healthcare disease. How?
Because the Specimen Gate platform is expandable, it can easily accommodate additional testing data beyond the six newborn screening protocols that are already in place. That is especially important for a country that historically exhibits the highest incidence of inherited diseases in the world.
Ireland is among the first countries to institute a heel-prick test for the inherited disorder phenylketonuria (PKU) in newborns in 1966. Since then, the newborn screening initiative includes tests for homocystinuria, classical galactosaemia, maple syrup urine disease, congenital hypothyroidism, and cystic fibrosis. In 2012, the last year data was available, 93 children tested positive for one or more of these inherited disorders. Because they received treatment soon after birth, most will live a normal life. The bloodspot screen may also soon include testing for two new disorders, medium chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency (MCADD) and glutaric aciduria type 1 (GA 1) in the near future. In the interim, NNBSL leaders are leveraging Specimen Gate to achieve an objective considered impossible only a few years ago - a paperless reporting system that provides doctors, healthcare professionals, and parents with real-time results.