“VITEK® PC 5.01 — A Welcome Boost to the Microbiology Workhorse”
Robert G. Fowler, MT, (ASCP), CLS
Henry Ford Hospital
Robert G. Fowler, senior lead technologist at the 800-bed Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit always considered the VITEK® 2 the “workhorse” of the hospital’s microbiology lab. “It’s hard to improve a device that already turns around pathogen antibiotic susceptibility results in less than eight hours,” said Fowler. But the new v5.01 upgrade, installed late last year at Henry Ford, has made Fowler a believer that even the best instruments can improve.
“Someone in the lab compared the VITEK 2 with the v5.01 upgrade to jumping directly to a smart phone from a rotary dial phone, and I think that’s a very appropriate description,” Fowler said.
The two VITEK 2 units at Henry Ford always have been central to the lab’s antibiotic panels and infectious disease susceptibility testing — including microbial identification with bacteria and yeast identification (ID), antibiotic susceptibility testing (AST) and resistance mechanism detection as well as epidemiologic trending and reporting. However, the old interface presented some challenges for a machine that performs up to 200 tests per day from samples taken at the main hospital and satellite hospitals. According to Fowler, the old “roll and scroll” interface could make it time-consuming to find specific results. Since there was just a single PC in the lab to interface with the two VITEK 2 units, there was often a line of lab scientists waiting to get to their results.
Ease of Use and Flexibility
With the GUI (Graphic User Interface), working with VITEK 2 has gotten a lot easier and more intuitive. The interface is less text heavy and more graphical, including windows, icons and various menus and buttons allowing the staff at the Henry Ford microbiology lab to find and categorize samples by patients or ID type. The automated software generates a list of unusual patterns for review.
“The Advanced Expert System™ (AES) findings, the ART (Antibiotic Resistance Transferability) comments, the analysis messages and the results are all on the same window so branching to other areas such as from the AES findings to the phenotypic graphical display is just a point and click,” Fowler said. “The Navigation tree is very flexible. The view screen has folders for cassettes, patients, bench and date tested.
This fits our needs quite well as our lab has a high volume and is organized by bench. So a tech on respiratory service or urine service can sort by bench folder and review only their own specimens. I can view by date tested, i.e., 5 days ago, which really helps us find those 'stragglers or forgotten' specimens. The filter screens are sorted by the status of the isolate: preliminary, qualified, to be reviewed, etc. Isolates and patients can be searched by accession number or patient number only. All in all, this has been a huge leap forward over the `roll and scroll’ interface.”
Perhaps Fowler’s favorite new feature is the remote viewer. In February, the lab added a new remote viewer application to the VITEK® 2 system, which allows as many as 10 PCs to interface, search and gather results simultaneously. “This is probably the best feature with our staff,” Fowler said. “Before the Web-based interface, the different benches would batch and hold onto problem specimens until they could get in line and view the single VITEK® 2 PC. That’s no longer a problem.
“I definitely think these improvements will help us better treat patients and improve outcomes,” Fowler added. “The VITEK 2 is an incredibly fast and hands-free machine even without these features. In healthcare, every minute counts. When the lab can provide valuable information quickly, we increase our value in the hospital and among clinicians who depend on this data to treat.”
The Microbiology Lab at Henry Ford installed the VITEK 2 upgrade in preparation for introducing MYLA™ to the microbiology lab. The intelligent microbiology middleware solution is designed by microbiologists for microbiologists and can provide an actionable, comprehensive picture of lab workflow to rapidly impact patient management across the full spectrum of microbiology lab equipment.
PC5.01 has been a huge improvement to the lab: the remote viewer feature is greatly appreciated as it suppresses bottlenecks in the lab. Its ease of use and intuitive interface allow for the reduction of multiple steps and is a significant time savings. Finally, the flexibility of the software fits the lab’s needs perfectly.