Global Aids Program (GAP)

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Project Overview
This project provides Laboratory Information Systems (LIS) guidance and technical assistance to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Global AIDS Program (GAP) International Laboratory Branch (ILB). This addresses needs at CDC headquarters laboratories in Atlanta as well as in multiple CDC field programs, primarily in Africa.

The Challenge
The primary challenge in ILB is to coordinate development, pilot testing and large-scale implementation of an entirely new and simplified LIS targeted for mid-tier laboratories in resource-poor countries. These activities must be tailored to each country and must gain support from users, facility administrators, district officers, ministry of health officials, and from in-country US Government staff from multiple agencies.

An additional challenge is to coordinate six concurrent StarLIMS implementations in ILB labs and provide ongoing support to ILB StarLIMS users. Additionally, there is need to respond for requests for LIS technical assistance from CDC field offices. These requests are typically related to the evaluation, selection, implementation, and/or support of systems. Responding to these requests requires coordination of US- and field-based implementing partners through field-based CDC staff.

The Solution
The St. John Group formed a technical advisory group comprised of CDC laboratory directors in eight African countries and the Atlanta headquarters staff. With extensive input from the advisory group and through site visits and surveys, we document system requirements and develop prototypes. We also identify and assess future pilot sites, preparing implementation and scale-up plans that emphasize system sustainability within each country.

The St. John Group works with each ILB laboratory and StarLIMS implementation team to facilitate the development of system requirements, system analyses, prototyping, and user acceptance training. Although each laboratory implementation is unique, we ensure that ILB-wide data quality assurance and quality control standards are utilized.

Before initiating specific projects in an area, we focus on clarifying and prioritizing LIS technical assistance needs in international field labs. This is accomplished through establishing and encouraging communication and sharing of best practices between implementing partners and other CDC branches.

The Results
The St. John Group restarted the stalled StarLIMS implementation project in ILB. This required extensive communication and compromise between ILB leadership, end users, and multiple implementation teams. We have coordinated LIS strategic planning meetings involving stakeholders at all levels in four African Countries in a careful process requiring a balance of diplomacy and technical expertise.

The project is on time and on budget.

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