Alchemy: A web 2.0 real-time quality assurance platform for human immunodeficiency Virus, hepatitis C Virus, and BK Virus quantitation assays

Academic Article


  • Background: The molecular diagnostics laboratory faces the challenge of improving test turnaround time (TAT). Low and consistent TATs are of great clinical and regulatory importance, especially for molecular virology tests. Laboratory information systems (LISs) contain all the data elements necessary to do accurate quality assurance (QA) reporting of TAT and other measures, but these reports are in most cases still performed manually: a time-consuming and error-prone task. The aim of this study was to develop a web-based real-time QA platform that would automate QA reporting in the molecular diagnostics laboratory at our institution, and minimize the time expended in preparing these reports. Methods: Using a standard Linux, Nginx, MariaDB, PHP stack virtual machine running atop a Dell Precision 5810, we designed and built a web-based QA platform, code-named Alchemy. Data files pulled periodically from the LIS in comma-separated value format were used to autogenerate QA reports for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) quantitation, hepatitis C virus (HCV) quantitation, and BK virus (BKV) quantitation. Alchemy allowed the user to select a specific timeframe to be analyzed and calculated key QA statistics in real-time, including the average TAT in days, tests falling outside the expected TAT ranges, and test result ranges. Results: Before implementing Alchemy, reporting QA for the HIV, HCV, and BKV quantitation assays took 45-60 min of personnel time per test every month. With Alchemy, that time has decreased to 15 min total per month. Alchemy allowed the user to select specific periods of time and analyzed the TAT data in-depth without the need of extensive manual calculations. Conclusions: Alchemy has significantly decreased the time and the human error associated with QA report generation in our molecular diagnostics laboratory. Other tests will be added to this web-based platform in future updates. This effort shows the utility of informatician-supervised resident/fellow programming projects as learning opportunities and workflow improvements in the molecular laboratory.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Agosto-Arroyo E; Coshatt GM; Winokur TS; Harada S; Park SL
  • Volume

  • 8
  • Issue

  • 1