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To provide a safe environment for its students and faculty during the COVID-19 pandemic and expand testing capacity across the state of Indiana, the Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (ADDL), part of the Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, worked with Orchard Software to perform a large volume of COVID-19 tests for human patients. The ADDL received CLIA certification to conduct human diagnostic testing, with Parkview Health providing clinical oversight. The ADDL then worked with Orchard, which provided connectivity and molecular testing tracking and management tools.

Orchard-Purdue Partnership

Purdue University has a long-standing partnership with Orchard Software, having used Orchard® Harvest™ LIS in the Purdue University Student Health Center laboratory since 2006 and Orchard® Pathology™ in their Veterinary Pathology Laboratory since 2011. After they made the decision to bring in human COVID-19 testing for students and faculty, Orchard® Molecular™ was added in October 2020.

Photo of a laboratory technician using a computer.About the ADDL

The ADDL employs approximately 65 full-time employees (FTEs), eight within its molecular diagnostics section. At the height of the pandemic, there were eight FTEs focused on COVID-19 testing, plus three more cross-trained for weekend testing. At the peak of the pandemic response, the ADDL was performing up to 2,000 samples on the busiest days, and consistently processing approximately 1,500 samples per day to help monitor the health and safety of students and faculty on campus.

Graphic showing a quote from Dr. Rebecca Wilkes, DVM, PhD, an Associate Professor of Molecular Diagnostics at Purdue University. "From a quality standpoint, manual tracking of pooled samples is a nightmare. Finding a way to automate that tracking process was an absolute necessity."Boosting Efficiencies—Sample Pooling to Achieve Faster TAT

The Orchard Molecular solution was selected to address the need to speed testing turnaround time (TAT) and manage the large quantity of data. Specific to workflow benefits, the Molecular module allowed the ADDL to improve efficiencies by automating the tracking of pooled samples that otherwise would have involved a tedious manual process with greater potential for error.

Sample pooling is a workflow methodology applied to surge testing as part of epidemiologic surveillance to conserve reagents,Graphic showing a quote from Dr. Craig Bowen, DVM, Assistant Director,
Client Services Veterinarian at Purdue University. "Specifically, what we
gained with Orchard Molecular was the capacity to manage the large volume of COVID-19 testing with the necessary HIPAA security. But the biggest driver of our decision to partner with Orchard was their ability to automate transmission of those results in a timely manner to client EMRs and to regulatory agencies, such as our State Health Department." address reagent shortages, and speed TAT. The premise is to test several patient samples simultaneously in a “pool.” If the pool tests positive, the individual specimens that make up the pool are tested individually. This strategy is particularly effective in scenarios with a low community positivity rate. The Orchard Molecular solution allowed the ADDL to utilize specimen pooling—tracking sample IDs within each pool, extracting sample IDs with the corresponding results, and automatically holding and reflexing positive pooled samples for deconvolution and individual testing. “Pooling made it possible for us to manage the volume of testing, and Orchard Molecular’s tracking capabilities enabled us to tackle sample pooling,” said Associate Professor of Molecular Diagnostics, Dr. Rebecca Wilkes, DVM, PhD. “The sample tracking capabilities helped make the entire testing process faster and more efficient, supporting our quality assurance efforts and reducing the likelihood of errors.”

Fast Result Transmission with Orchard Connectivity

Using Orchard software, the ADDL automated its manual rack/plate builder user interface process for pooling COVID-19 samples and interfaced to their robots to capture pooling data. “Overall, we have been very happy with the results and Orchard’s support, responsiveness and openness to our suggestions and recommendations,” Dr. Wilkes said.

Tracking Progress—Purdue’s COVID-19 Dashboard

Photo of a smiling female using a computer.The Orchard Molecular solution allowed the ADDL to address the need for quick TAT by speeding and automating the COVID-19 testing workflow to allow all results to be reported to the caregiver within 24 hours of collection. Rapidly communicating results enabled Purdue University to perform near real-time surveillance and contact tracing, and effectively quarantine infected individuals to mitigate spread of the virus. Purdue University kept a watchful eye on COVID-19 testing volumes and TATs, posting volumes on their COVID-19 dashboard. The university saw a noticeable decrease in TAT after sample pooling was implemented. Orchard Software is proud to partner with customers like Purdue University who continually strive to support their students and faculty and the surrounding community, state, nation, and world.