Implementation of an error-reporting module within a biorepository IT application to enhance operations.


The Collaborative (formerly the Cooperative) Human Tissue Network (CHTN) is a federally funded service oriented grant that provides high-quality biospecimens and services to the research community. The CHTN consists of six institutions located throughout the United States to assist investigators in obtaining research specimens required for basic research. The CHTN divisions have similar operating goals: however, each division is responsible for maintaining operations at their local institutions. This requires the divisions to identify ways to maintain and sustain operations in a challenging federally funded environment, especially when the number of investigators requesting services drives the operation. Sustainability plans and goals are often times patched together out of necessity rather than taking a thoughtful approach by clearly defining and aligning activities with business strategy and priorities. The CHTN Western Division at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (CHTN-WD) has responded to this challenge of biospecimen resource sustainability in the face of diminished funding by continually identifying ways to innovate our processes through IT enhancements and requiring that the innovation produce measurable and relevant criteria for credibly reporting our operations progress and performance issues. With these overarching goals in mind, CHTN-WD underwent a Lean Six Sigma (LSS) series to identify operational inefficiencies that could be addressed with redesigning workflow and innovating the processes using IT solutions. The result of this internal collaborative innovation process was the implementation of an error-reporting module (ERM) hosted within our biorepository donor IT application, which allowed staff to report errors immediately; determine the operational area responsible; assess the severity of the error; determine course of action; determine if standard operating procedure (SOPs) revisions were required; and through automated e-mails, alert the area personnel responsible. The module provides a data-reporting feature by date range and area of operation for management and analysis.