Deep learning-based automation for laboratory services scales to meet pandemic demands

Automation for healthcare and laboratory reports has historically been slow to realize due to the inherent nature of requisition forms, which often mix formats and rely on graphical elements as well as text. Legacy automation solutions simply can’t process documents with variable and complex formats, forcing organizations to rely on a disrupted human workforce and supply chain during an unprecedented surge in demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Applica leverages cutting edge research based on deep learning methodologies to process documents similar to a human mind, taking into consideration layout, graphics, and semantics – resulting in precise answers for complex processes.

Lab reports

Situation:

A US-based leader in healthcare and forensic laboratory sciences was executing tests in five categories of lab reports before COVID-19 hit. When the demand for COVID-19 tests started in 2020, their overall volume rapidly increased to 6,000 tests per day. The process was laborious and had inherent risks because it required a human to rekey the data from each form into their internal system for every requisition. The semi-structured requisition forms include checkboxes and signatures, and over time they changed due to updated formatting, new tests added for drug screening, etc. leading to further processing complications.

Problem:

The team of six people responsible for data entry of the requisition forms simply couldn’t keep pace with demand, as it would take the time of 20 employees to meet the surge surrounding COVID-19 tests. This resulted in a major bottleneck for operations, because even with each employee spending a maximum of 90 seconds on each form, turnaround times to healthcare providers were significantly delayed. 

Solution:

Applica automated the ingestion of the lab’s requisition forms and automatically extracted and classified the relevant data into a model that could be quickly surfaced up into their internal system. Additionally, with Applica’s solution able to identify any problematic requisitions upon arrival, the error rate went down precipitously, and prevented additional issues arising down the line.

Results:

All 6,000 daily requisition forms are now processed in 10 minutes vs. the multiple days it would take the team to work through that volume previously. The team of six have successfully scaled up their operations and are now doing the work of 20 employees, leading to a cost savings of nearly $1 million for the organization. 

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