Journal of Pathology Informatics Journal of Pathology Informatics
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TECHNICAL NOTE
Year : 2014  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 36

Streamlined sign-out of capillary protein electrophoresis using middleware and an open-source macro application


1 Department of Pathology, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, IA, USA
2 Department of Pathology, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics; Department of Pathology, Veteran Affairs Medical Centre, Iowa City, IA, USA

Correspondence Address:
Gagan Mathur
Department of Pathology, University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, IA
USA
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/2153-3539.141990

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Background: Interfacing of clinical laboratory instruments with the laboratory information system (LIS) via "middleware" software is increasingly common. Our clinical laboratory implemented capillary electrophoresis using a Sebia; Capillarys-2 (Norcross, GA, USA) instrument for serum and urine protein electrophoresis. Using Data Innovations Instrument Manager, an interface was established with the LIS (Cerner) that allowed for bi-directional transmission of numeric data. However, the text of the interpretive pathology report was not properly transferred. To reduce manual effort and possibility for error in text data transfer, we developed scripts in AutoHotkey, a free, open-source macro-creation and automation software utility. Materials and Methods: Scripts were written to create macros that automated mouse and key strokes. The scripts retrieve the specimen accession number, capture user input text, and insert the text interpretation in the correct patient record in the desired format. Results: The scripts accurately and precisely transfer narrative interpretation into the LIS. Combined with bar-code reading by the electrophoresis instrument, the scripts transfer data efficiently to the correct patient record. In addition, the AutoHotKey script automated repetitive key strokes required for manual entry into the LIS, making protein electrophoresis sign-out easier to learn and faster to use by the pathology residents. Scripts allow for either preliminary verification by residents or final sign-out by the attending pathologist. Conclusions: Using the open-source AutoHotKey software, we successfully improved the transfer of text data between capillary electrophoresis software and the LIS. The use of open-source software tools should not be overlooked as tools to improve interfacing of laboratory instruments.


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