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From Pain to Progress: Streamlining LIS Upgrades with JTG Consulting Group

As many clinicians and IT leadership know, laboratory operations are critical to every downstream clinical and IT workflow within a modern hospital and healthcare network. Without the results that originate from the lab, which make up roughly 70% of patients’ total electronic health records, patient care as we know it stands still.

So why are Laboratory Information System (LIS) upgrades often so painful? Unlike many enterprise systems, upgrades to the LIS often require similar levels of effort as an initial implementation. This can take place for a myriad of reasons:

  • Inadequate project governance leading to extended implementation cycles and lower ROI on upgrades.

  • Infrequent version adoption and frequent project postponement due to competing IT priorities and lab-related projects, resulting in large version-to-version gaps existing in a single upgrade cycle.

  • Insufficient resources to effectively upgrade and simultaneously maintain day-to-day support of the lab system and its users.

  • Immense uplift required to build new and/or additional functionality, coupled with regulatory needs for adequate testing and validation of the new version prior to go-live that are often not seen with other enterprise information system components.

  • Plans on moving to an enterprise platform from a best-of-breed solution requiring multiple levels of planning and coordination to account for the many variables of the solution lifecycle.

  • Multiple solutions and solution requirements for Clinical Pathology, Anatomic Pathology, Blood Bank, Molecular, Microbiology, and Outreach departments.

And the list goes on. At the end of the day, many hospital administrators don’t realize that status-quo in the lab almost always result in higher costs for the hospital, whether it be from:

  • Inefficiencies in current workflows resulting from manual processes and old, inefficient workflows.

  • Lost revenue streams due to the inability to implement new clinical offerings to their local and regional healthcare markets.

  • IT-related pains due to version dependencies of older software, reducing cost savings that could have been realized through whole enterprise’s implementations of hardware, network infrastructure, and workstation-level advances.

  • Penalties from software providers for not staying up to date on solutions per contractual obligations.

This is where a partner like JTG Consulting becomes essential. With our core business focusing solely on Laboratory IT, our upgrade services can provide increased ROI and speed of delivery on any Lab-related IT project. With a vendor-agnostic approach and over 400 years of experience that comprehends clinical and workflow implications to patient healthcare outcomes, pains associated with upgrades are a thing of the past for our customers.

Serving as your advocate, JTG takes a proactive approach to bringing our clients ahead of the curve, improving performance of their intrinsic core competencies and exploiting areas poised for enhanced efficiencies often seen with system upgrades. This is done through a tried-and-true approach in four key areas:

Pre-Project Assessment and Strategic Advisement

  • JTG experience lends insight to areas of improvement and optimization that result in the highest levels of return on investment.

  • Strategic planning and scoping of projects enable accurate project management, financial impact, primary resource forecasting, as well as ancillary resource requirements critical for project success.

  • Risk analysis is performed to develop key mitigation and containment strategies if necessary to avoid missteps in both clinical and IT-related arenas.

  • Joint review of system-specific details (current versioning review, future versioning release notes and requirements, vendor and client test plan and testing guidelines evaluation) takes place prior to project kickoff to ensure alignment of organizational strategy, critical resource planning, and client/vendor alignment.

Project Execution

  • Projects services are fulfilled based on a team approach that enables specialized JTG resources to be optimally utilized in specific project facets versus relying on single resources or personnel to complete broad tasks.

  • True client partnering by aligning the most effective use of a clients’ clinical and IT resources with JTG staff to minimize project outlay.

  • Vendor-neutral experience that can align with critical vendor-specific needs with a broad array of alternative solution and workflow knowledge.

System Testing and Validation

  • Comprehensive functional, mapped record, customized workflow, and end-user testing that is built to suit clients of every size and scale.

  • Utilization of proprietary tools and client 3rd party vendor solutions to provide necessary deliverables and documentation critical to clinical sign-off and regulatory scrutiny.

  • An additional legacy of 150 years combined experience tied to the rigorous standards of AABB, CAP, and the FDA and the management of blood bank validation requirements.

People and Change Management

  • Tailoring and delivering effective super user and end user training in line with your specific versioning, workflows, and SOPs.

  • Supplying more general solution-based knowledge transfer critical to ongoing support of the solution for continual value gained through upgrading.

  • Go-live and post go-live support to mitigate any unforeseen obstacles and provide fluent project-to-live transition.

Recently JTG had the opportunity to partner with a large hospital system on the east coast to upgrade their clinical lab system and two separate anatomic pathology lab systems. Kicking the project off in June of 2023 with a required go live date of December 2023 for all three systems, the project scope required new server hardware and the client decided to add Disaster Recovery failover at the same time.

As recommended, the JTG team was engaged as early as possible, and while the servers were set up, the project was still in its kickoff and planning phases. Knowing this had been the first upgrade for the health system in over 4+ years, the client engaged JTG to spearhead primary staffing for all upgrade needs, highlighted by planning, new functionality design and build, testing and validation, as well as a full time Project Manager to manage the CP LIS and the two AP LIS upgrades occurring concurrently.

As typical of a project of this magnitude, flexibility and nimbleness were key to project success. The JTG and client team pivoted several times when faced with network and system challenges. JTG was able to brainstorm with the client to keep timeline on track while meeting multiple hardware and software requirements to support the health system. While the project had its challenges, the JTG project team assigned partnered with the client IT and clinical staff to take a typical 6-month CP LIS upgrade timeline and bring this client live in just over three months.

As the client is always primary focus for JTG, it’s easy to forget that acting on behalf of the client and managing critical vendor touchpoints and resources is just as vital. The vendor PM for this project stated repeatedly that the support of JTG’s team took what could have been a disaster and turned it into an unmitigated success. They were so impressed that they were asking their sales leadership team to propose JTG services over other vendor partners they had in place. They personally recommended JTG to multiple clients they were collaborating with and said:

“JTG’s services are what allowed us to go live so quickly; your team is always professional and an absolute pleasure to work with”.

- Project Manager, Software Vendor

For JTG, ROI and the overall satisfaction of our clients is our primary goal. To achieve similar success, JTG always recommends the following:

  • Engage with our team early, and well before the project is in need of saving.

  • Utilize the upgrade window as an opportunity for workflow improvements.

  • Planning and governance are just as important as execution and can often mean the difference between project success and failure.

  • Experience in the laboratory matters; leverage JTG as a key partner driving your ROI forward.

Contact #TeamJTG today to talk about how JTG can move your laboratory and IT operations forward and find out why JTG Consulting Group is ranked so highly by our customer during our annual KLAS Surveys!

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