SCC: Preparing labs for molecular growth
SCC Soft Computer, Clearwater, Fla., touts more than 30 years of experience as one of the country's leading laboratory information system vendors. In addition to robust LIS systems, the company's product portfolio also offers applications for genetics labs, blood labs, healthcare outreach management and data integration among the LIS, pharmacy information systems and radiology information systems.
This privately-held company, ranking #49 on the 2010 Healthcare Informatics 100, has seen steady financial growth over the past decade, due in part to client retention: Some of its installation sites have been customers for 25 years.
The company's success stems from its ability to document, track and integrate all aspects of the lab, while offering clients a customized, buy-as-needed module approach, explains Gilbert Hakim, SCC's founder and CEO.
“Through integration of all parts of the laboratory, we can bring enormous benefits to our clients in the maintenance of the application data on their side,” Hakim says. “We can be their sole vendor for clinical, anatomical and molecular pathology, as well as outreach.”
SCC's hallmark LIS product, SoftLab, integrates a master-patient index, charge capture, instrument interfacing and deep quality control features within a Web-based platform, allowing efficient data exchange among multiple care sites. Its SoftExpress courier tracking module uses GPS to track lab samples from the collection point to the lab, and back to the physicians.
This year, SCC received approval for its SoftID.Tx application, which enables labs and hospital nurses to verify patient identification for blood transfusions.
SCC's latest product, SoftTotalQC, is a cross-module quality control/quality analytics tool that can be used with any LIS system. Released earlier this year, the module fills a crucial void in the current market, Hakim notes.
“This quality control module is very important because many of our vendors in microbiology and genetics don't have much quality control at all,” he explains. “Our package goes into molecular, pathology and microbiology quality control, which includes scheduled maintenance, instrument repairs, temperatures of holding spaces, etc. Anything that relates to maintaining the laboratory can be scheduled and recorded within this application.”
Amid today's regulatory environment and the constant emphasis on achieving greater efficiency, many hospital labs have been forced to look harder at laboratory automation, Hakim says. “Now, even very small hospitals are being encouraged to change their laboratories to do more business in-house, and to emphasize laboratory outreach to maximize profitability,” he says. “Teaching hospitals have the broadest needs in terms of technologies, but we tailor the applications and dictionary setups based on whatever the client needs.”
Solving the automation challenge in the labs means more than finding the funding to buy a product, he adds. “Automation, artificial intelligence, integration and the breadth of our product allow integrated delivery networks (IDNs) and laboratories to adjust to today's lower reimbursements and the need for higher volumes, while reducing their costs.”
As the fields of genetics and micropathology continue to blossom, data mining tools will become increasingly important, especially as the integration between LIS and electronic medical records grows, he adds. “Ironically, most electronic medical records do not have as much information on the patient as we have, from the standpoint of molecular or genetics.”
The company's reputation for long-term client relationships comes from its deep product portfolio, its well-trained staff, and its dedicated attention to customer service, Hakim says. “Whenever a client calls with a problem, it'll be answered by a real person that day.” Delivering top quality service and support is something SCC takes very seriously, and it's continually looking for ways to improve. In 2009, SCC received SCP certification, and was recertified in 2010. With an employee development score that surpassed the industry benchmark, the auditor noted that training is one of SCC's strongest areas.
SCC is experiencing a major transformation through education, Hakim adds. “For SCC to provide the best products and service to our clients, we must ensure that our associates receive the best possible training. Employee retention in this competitive industry is a real issue, and at SCC we use workforce training and leadership development to help reduce turnover, get employees onboard from day one, and establish a career path,” he says.
SCC's efforts have not gone unnoticed. In 2009, SCC ranked third in ASTD's BEST Awards Winner's Circle, and SCC's CLO and training department were selected for the ASTD/ISPI OPAL Award for Excellence in Leadership Development. In 2010 SCC received its eighth Training magazine Top 125 award and became the first healthcare IT company to rank in Training's Top 10 for three consecutive years.