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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.