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North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine logoNorth Carolina State University (NCSU) College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM) diagnostic laboratories implemented Orchard Software’s laboratory information system (LIS) and Orchard® Outreach™ solution to automate lab processes, reduce opportunities for errors, and integrate their laboratory. Orchard’s products help improve overall lab efficiency and productivity.

NCSU Veterinary Labs Provide a Broad Spectrum of Services

NC State’s veterinary laboratories serve veterinarians, scientists, educators, companion animal owners, and the livestock and poultry industry. Their laboratory provides everything a human lab would offer, including diagnostic services for all animal species. Services include necropsy, bacteriology, clinical chemistry, electron microscopy, serology, endocrinology, histopathology, immunohistochemistry, virology, parasitology, molecular diagnostics, and toxicology. The various laboratory sections are staffed with approximately 25 technicians performing more than 50,000 tests per year, of which approximately 60% are diagnostic.

In addition to diagnostic testing, the lab has teaching and research components. The CVM research programs cover more than 25 disciplines and work with more than 20 species. The lab helps with the training of future veterinarians by sharing their knowledge of diagnostic laboratory medicine.

Orchard Software & NCSU Vet Labs Partner

Photo of NC State Veterinary Medicine staff members looking at computer
Diva the rabbit visits radiation oncology. Photo by Nathan Latil/NC State Veterinary Medicine

NCSU’s CVM lab implemented Orchard® Harvest™ and Orchard Outreach in early 2021. The lab also uses the Orchard® Device Engine™ to address a number of unique interface scenarios. With limited bench space, the lab has no room for a workstation beside every analyzer. To solve the space limitation, they set up central servers to manage HL7 traffic and instrument connectivity.

Graphic showing a quote from Chris Eichman, Information Technology Director of the Computing Resources Team at NCSUCVM. "Orchard’s LIS is incredibly flexible and that allows their systems to support different laboratory use cases, plus they offer cloud-hosting, which is attractive to us.”From their previous experience with a home-grown system and another shared university system, the lab knew exactly what they wanted in a LIS. In doing their research for a new LIS, several options were considered but none other than Orchard were found to be veterinary-friendly. Sandra Horton, CVM LIMS Manager said, “We created a 20-page set of LIS criteria that we wanted, and Orchard fit the bill in so many ways.”

Graphic showing a quote from Sandra Horton, CVM LIMS Manager at NCSUCVM. "Orchard’s LIS offers so many different ways to define reference ranges—and that was incredibly important, especially for our veterinary clinical and pathology faculty.”Veterinary-specific Functionality on the “Must-have” List

Horton is pleased that Orchard’s LIS provides the absolute must-have feature for the NCSU CVM LIS, which is the ability to effectively manage and track breed and species—to be able to define specific reference ranges (e.g., canine, feline, equine, age-specific, etc.). In addition, for microbiology, Orchard’s LIS helps manage species-specific plates, sensitivities, and rules.

Integration Expertise Solves a Myriad of Challenges

One of the lab’s greatest challenges is the need to integrate a wide variety of instrumentation, both old and new. With the varying options for integration that Orchard employs (HL7, API, etc.), the lab was able to connect both brand new analyzers and legacy equipment that still holds value. Equipment in STAT labs throughout the hospital is now interfaced, replacing a cumbersome manual data entry and printing process and freeing up a significant amount of technologist and administrative time.Graphic showing a quote from Chris Eichman, Information Technology Director of the Computing Resources Team at NCSUCVM. "Orchard has really great people to work with who are committed to finding solutions. They want to talk to you, find out what your problem is, and work with you to find the best possible scenario for your organization”

Tools for Overall Efficiency & Productivity Gains

Implementation of Orchard’s LIS enabled the CVM lab to reduce manual (paper) processes and implement interfaces, leading to a more efficient and productive lab. As an example, one workflow booster that Horton appreciates is the system’s rule capabilities. The lab implemented order entry rules and result evaluation rules to reduce errors and standardize lab procedures. The CVM lab also uses the LIS data mining capabilities to access system data for valuable administrative reports. For example, Orchard’s data browsers helped the CVM lab automate a complex monthly billing and invoicing report.

Photo of Casey Theriot, Assistant Professor at NCSU CVM
Photo by Nathan Latil/NC State Veterinary Medicine

Among several unique challenges, the CVM lab simultaneously implemented an EMR and their Orchard systems. Throughout the process, they were incredibly pleased with the support they received from the Orchard team. In particular, Orchard’s Post-implementation Team helped them work through the nuances of an LIS-EMR interface.

The CVM lab also performs a significant amount of referral testing from clinics around NC and from around the world. With Orchard LIS’s connectivity, they can automate result reporting and eliminate a time-consuming manual email process.

Orchard Lab Specialists Bring Needed Knowledge

Horton attended Orchard’s microbiology, anatomic pathology, clinical, and Orchard Outreach training classes and feels very competent using and adjusting the LIS. She particularly appreciates the value of working with Orchard employees that have expertise in specific lab specialty areas. “The fact that Orchard was able to provide me an anatomic pathology specialist, a skilled microbiologist, and someone with expertise in serology testing for the administrator training was invaluable,” said Horton.

Collaboration to Find the Best Support Option

Eichman explains that it is advantageous that Orchard offers various levels of specialized and professional services support to meet different organizational needs. For example, the CVM lab has a strong IT staff, which means they require a different level of support than an organization with technologists stepping into the lab IT roles. He appreciates the opportunity to select the level that best meets their lab’s needs.

Looking to the Future for New Opportunities

Photo of lab technician holding a pipetteThe NCSU CVM lab intends to keep growing and innovating with Orchard Software as a valued partner. They are looking toward the future at ways to improve their laboratory and its services. With the realization that Orchard’s roadmap will continue to evolve based on customer feedback, the CVM lab has plans to improve their IT architecture, looking toward a cloud-hosted enterprise LIS, and support for point-of-care testing. Orchard Software and NCSU CVM laboratory have mutually aligned goals and look forward to a bright collaborative future.