Medical labs in Africa to benefit from state-of-the-art software solutions
Since its inception in 2011, the African Society of Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) has focused on building capacity in African healthcare laboratories, recognizing that providing efficient and accurate diagnostic services is critical to patient health. To this end, the ASLM has leapfrogged over many of the traditional barriers to entry for adoption of medical technology, enabling medical labs in Africa to benefit from state-of-the-art software solutions that power some of the largest laboratories in America. These efforts complement the full palette of ASLM’s offerings to Africa’s labs, including harmonization and training on quality standards, provision of reference materials, and other areas of resource mobilization.
Working in conjunction with the CDC, Clinton Health Access Initiative, UNAIDS, and WHO/AFRO, the ASLM have now partnered with SoftTech Health, in a program to network the laboratories continent-wide with the LabQMS (Quality Management Software).
The first site for the new partnership was the KEMRI/CDC HIVR lab in Kenya. “The SoftTech system is transforming the Kenya Medical Research Institute/CDC HIV Research laboratory into a paperless, efficiency driven organization and makes critical information available instantly. The user friendliness and ease of access of all critical SOPs and publications, including creation and recording of information (online forms), performing audits, and generating automated tasks with reminders is saving an enormous amount of time. Adoption of this system will enable other medical laboratories across Africa to pursue internationally recognized accreditation,” says Dr. Clement Zeh, Director of the KEMRI/CDC HIVR lab.
“By skipping right over the traditional processes of establishing physical infrastructural technologies, and going directly to wireless and cloud-based technologies instead, we’re helping labs in Africa go straight to the front of the line in terms of being able to use the same software tools that the top labs in America use,” says Craig Madison, Senior Partner of SoftTech Health, “This program is Proof of Concept that intelligently and selectively deploying the right technologies does indeed pay real dividends, and we’ve seen the laboratory sites in Kenya very readily transitioning to using software to improve quality and efficiency.”
Part of a global evolution in clinical laboratories, the project’s labs are optimizing their services by automating their administrative processes, transitioning away from a pen-and-paper system to using software in its place. In the clinical laboratory field, a formal Quality Management System is considered an essential administrative tool, being the first line of defense in prevention of errors that might compromise patient safety.
As more labs in Africa are able to use the same state-of-the-art software systems to streamline and improve day-to-day management, the CDC expects to see more and more labs meet international standards and achieve accredited status as a result. “Our work with the ASLM, and SoftTech Health, has been instrumental in guiding our initiatives to take the field of laboratory medicine to the next level—electronic management of processes,” said Carole Moore, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,“with the ultimate outcome being improved diagnostic services and healthier patients.”
The African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) is a Pan-African professional body working with countries to advocate for the critical role and needs of laboratory medicine. ASLM envisions all African nations providing affordable access to quality laboratory services, which make possible effective treatment and prevention of disease and a better life for all people. Visit www.aslm.org for more information about ASLM.