With the spike of COVID-19 cases in late 2021 and early 2022, the national reference laboratory data entry team in Rwanda was becoming overwhelmed, and as result the turnaround time from sample collection to result dissemination increased. To tackle this challenge, the Rwanda Ministry of Health tasked the Digital Health team in collaboration with HISP Rwanda to find a quick solution that would restore the standard turnaround time.
The digital health team and HISP Rwanda approached the lab teams to evaluate the challenges causing the delay. The primary challenges identified were delays at sample reception caused by manual sample checking and delays due to manual data entry of test results.
To address these challenges, the team decided to develop a web-based interoperability layer between the testing machines and DHIS2 that uses the DHIS2 API to interact with Rwanda’s existing DHIS2 COVID-19 Surveillance instance. This integrated platform allows for:
Sample reception process bulk upload
Lab codes checks
Error warning for mismatch codes (Red)
Lab request auto check
Error warning for missing lab request (Red)
Sample reception data entry
Results bulk upload
Bulk import of results
The implementation of the Covid Lab Automation Platform in Rwanda significantly reduced the result turnaround time for COVID-19 test. In particular, once laboratory users got fully acquainted with the features of the system, the turnaround time at specific stages that the lab teams had identified as bottlenecks was much improved. This is thanks to the simplified reception of samples using built-in controls, quick and exact matching of sample IDs and a layer that allows validation of results before importing unmatched samples.