County speeds disease data with LabWorks

In light of last fall's anthrax attacks, health centers in communities nationwide are searching for the fastest possible way to report lab test results.

The Los Angeles County Health Services Department's Acute Communicable Disease Control unit is using LabWorks software from Atlas Development Corp. of Woodland Hills, Calif., to speed the transmission of health data to 110 users at 16 countywide offices.

The county stores information on more than 200,000 communicable disease cases in a Cach' database system from InterSystems Corp. of Cambridge, Mass.

LabWorks resides on a 466-MHz Compaq Deskpro server on a secure, internal LAN. Running under Microsoft Windows 2000 , the application transmits data packets over the Health Services Department's TCP/IP network.

Previously the county used the Automated Vital Statistics System, which is written in M, a medical information systems language.

State health officials still use AVSS, which runs under MS-DOS, to report births and deaths in dozens of California counties.

Before LabWorks went live in February, it took the lab several days to produce a report for the Acute Communicable Disease Control Unit. Using the new system, the lab can send a case report of a disease outbreak in less than 24 hours, county officials said.

Virus online

The county is developing a pilot for a Web app it's considering for LabWorks so that doctors and health care workers can report communicable disease information via the Internet. An alert system called ARNOLD'Advanced Results Notification and On-Line Delivery'warns on-call doctors of cases that need immediate attention.

Over the next few months, county officials will link ARNOLD to the county's public health lab.

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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