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A new statewide tracking system

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27th September, 2022

The challenge was to design, develop and implement a new statewide electronic specimen tracking system that lets us know where every patient specimen is at all times and ensures they arrive safely, every time. It was a big ask, but our clever akuna team rose to the challenge using human-centred design.

As a new­ly formed statewide ser­vice, NSW Health Pathol­o­gy inher­it­ed lots of dif­fer­ent process­es and plat­forms for man­ag­ing spec­i­mens. The con­nec­tions need­ed to deliv­er the excep­tion­al per­for­mance we want for our com­mu­ni­ties just weren’t there.

Fax­es and oth­er paper­work were still being used at some sites to record and com­mu­ni­cate the where­abouts and cus­tody of patient spec­i­mens. Spec­i­men recep­tion teams were con­cerned, and couri­er dri­vers frustrated.

There were also our patients, clin­i­cians and police and jus­tice part­ners to con­sid­er. What bet­ter way to under­stand the issue and find the best solu­tion than engag­ing with them, those clos­est to the prob­lem? Focus groups, work­shops and meet­ings were held with key stake­hold­ers, forg­ing rela­tion­ships that last­ed from con­cep­tion to user-accep­tance test­ing and a pilot.

aku­na (mean­ing ‘to fol­low’) – our new statewide spec­i­men track­ing sys­tem was born.

Despite the chal­lenges of COVID-19, akuna’s statewide roll­out began in Octo­ber 2021 and is now complete.

By June 2022, aku­na was:

  • in place at 64 labs, includ­ing all five Foren­sic and Ana­lyt­i­cal Sci­ence Ser­vice sites and the NSW Health Pathol­o­gy Statewide Biobank
  • in use by 900 trained staff
  • had tracked 97,000 eskies and packages
  • moved 495,000 patient sam­ples, and
  • reduced paper-based process­es at some sites.

Its capa­bil­i­ties are beyond that avail­able any­where else in Aus­tralia or from off-the-shelf solu­tions. It’s a win for effi­cien­cy, reli­a­bil­i­ty, sus­tain­abil­i­ty and most impor­tant­ly – con­fi­dence in our chain of cus­tody of pre­cious patient samples.


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