Thursday, April 28, 2005

Innovative integration and use of well-known Information Technology tools to support the management of ISO Quality and Environmental Standards in a clinical laboratory

D. M. Périgo, A. S. E. Gonçalves, D. P. Santos, and Rogerio Rabelo.

The use and implementation of Information Technology (IT) systems to support ISO-based certifications is essential to provide effective ways of communicating, controlling and updating information. They can ensure an adequate workflow for documentation, nonconformities, preventive actions and continual improvement reports and also gather statistical data for monitoring the performance of the system.

To present innovative applications of IT systems developed in-house to support the ISO-based Quality and Environmental Management Systems at Fleury Diagnostics, a large reference laboratory in Brazil.

We developed and implemented a user-friendly, online electronic system using well-known software and computer interface tools based on the Microsoft platform (Word, Outlook, Internet Explorer, Windows NT, SQL/Server, IIS, ASP and Visual Basic).

The system was developed during three months and validated for 10 months. It was designed to create and register SOPs, non-conformities, preventive actions and continual improvement reports and assure their traceability. All documents and reports are available in an Intranet System that can be accessed by all employees. This same system was used to publish environmental aspects and impacts and monitor environmental programs. Easy and fast training was provided for all employees. Educational materials are available through the same user interface. An internal electronic administrator module allows authorized personnel to control the entire system. This application is currently managing 1,100 SOP's, 182 environmental aspects, 33 environmental programs. About 3,000 nonconformities reports have been registered since 1999.

The implementation of an online, paperless, electronic system was essential to support the management of ISO standards. Besides being a user-friendly and reliable system, the cost for implementation was low. The internal development allows quick customization and updating and complies with the requirements of certification and accreditation agencies. The paperless approach was also useful for reducing paper usage, contributing to achieve the environmental goals of the laboratory.

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