The Brentwood-based laboratory information management company ApolloLIMS is helping dozens of labs across the U.S. reconfigure their workflows to accommodate COVID-19 testing.
ApolloLIMS sells information management software for lab testing facilities. The software helps labs keep track of samples, organize test results and share results with patients.
When the pandemic spread to the U.S., many labs were not set up to conduct the type of test used for coronavirus infections, which searches for the virus’ genetic material. A lab that focuses on blood or urine tests wouldn’t normally need to do that type of test.
However, as the need for coronavirus testing skyrocketed during the spring, many labs modified their existing systems to conduct COVID-19 tests. Apollo CEO Daniel Hart said many of his company’s current customers asked for help.
“They'll come to us and say we need to set up COVID testing in our laboratory,” he said. “We'll come in and say, given how you're operating today, let's take a look and understand how the workflow is going to unfold for you relative to COVID testing.”
The company helped its existing lab customers connect new machines to the software and redesign testing procedures to make them faster and more efficient. In August, Hart, along with an Apollo developer, visited a customer in North Carolina to help the lab save just a second or two off of steps in the workflow.
Some customers jumped from processing 1,000 samples a day in March to 20,000 samples per day in August. Hart said most labs simply can’t handle that kind of volume without a sophisticated information management system. With that many tests, an Excel spreadsheet just won’t cut it.
“Labs would really be dead in the water without an automated process,” he said. “We've already heard the news stories around turnaround times taking too long and laboratories struggling to keep up with the amount of testing that needs to be done. If we were trying to do all of this manually, it would be that much worse.”