Name: Nader Bigdeli, MS, Molecular Microbiology
Title: Clinical Laboratory Manager
Employer: University of California (Irvine) Student Health Center, Irvine, CA

We provide non-urgent, preventive and supportive medicine for the student population here at the Irvine campus of the University of California.  Our doctors treat about 150 students a day for a wide variety of conditions, including women’s health issues, influenza, fatigue, stress, drug and SDT testing, routine physicals, and even occasional cancer support care.  Our seven-member team conducts draws samples and conducts testing on about 25-50 of those patients daily.

One of the ways we have been able to enhance our value to providers and patients alike is by essentially becoming paperless.  About seven years ago, we invested in technology that enables us to barcode all our samples, which reduces the pre-analytic phase of testing and allows us to cut our turnaround time for in-house stat results to 30 minutes; that’s about half the time it takes in a hospital ER.  The barcode system also eliminates any instances of mislabeled samples.

It took a lot of teamwork to put this system in place, but the result is increased efficiency, improved patient care, as well as financial savings for the Center.

Last year, we also set up an electronic interface with our reference lab, so that when we have to send them more complex tests — such as molecular testing or HIV confirmatory testing – they scan the same barcode information.  When the results come back, if they meet certain pre-determined requirements, they are sent directly to the ordering doctor, bypassing our lab altogether. That also improves turnaround time; about half of all reference lab results now go directly to the doctors.

We’re looking for other ways to innovate as well.  Just recently, for example, we began sending secure email messages to student patients to remind them to return for follow-up testing that couldn’t be conducted during their previous exam visit because of fasting or other requirements.  It’s all part of our how we demonstrate our value to our physicians and patients alike.