Enhancing Traceability: DNA Testing Solution for Weatherbys

Weatherbys Scientific is one of the most renowned laboratories in the world, providing bovine, equine and other animal species services worldwide.  For bovine animals, Weatherbys Scientific offers a range of genetic testing services for bovine animals, including parentage verification, genetic disease testing, and breeding soundness evaluations. It also offers a microchip identification service for bovine animals, which can be used to track and identify individual animals for traceability and management purposes. Moreover, it provides a range of health screening services for bovine animals, including disease testing, parasite screening, and vaccination programs.

CHALLENGE

Weatherbys Scientific was using an outdated database system to store and manage information on bovine pedigrees, breeding records, and genetic data. This system was difficult to use and had limited capabilities for data analysis and reporting. Most data keeping and reports were manually created in different formats using excel sheets, making it a time-consuming process, prone to errors and inconsistencies and difficult to scale up. Weatherbys Scientific used legacy LIMS to manage and track samples, test results, and lab data. The system was cumbersome and difficult to integrate with other systems, leading to delays and inaccuracies in data. Overall, Weatherbys Scientific’s legacy systems were limiting the company’s ability to manage data effectively, make informed business decisions, and provide high-quality services to customers.

SOLUTION

Weatherbys Scientific engaged TEKenable to provide a solution to streamline and automate their data management processes, improving operational efficiency and enhancing the user experience for clients and employees alike. TEKenable digitised the previously manual and excel-based processes by which Bovine samples were received and processed through the laboratory for the purposes of verifying or excluding parentage and testing for specific disease markers. TEKenable built an end-to-end automated solution that facilitates Weatherbys in importing submission data from a number of bovine societies. In addition, it represents submission data as samples that are processed through the lab. Moreover, it applies custom logic for the allocation of data samples to laboratory plates. It also exports and imports genotype and parentage data to/from third-party specialised systems. The new solution automatically generates result data and provides a custom dashboard to report KPIs and the operational management of the process.

TEKenable developed a system that automates the collection and processing of samples, reducing the need for manual handling and minimizing the risk of errors. Moreover, TEKenable integrated an ELN system that allows Weatherbys Scientific to electronically record and track data, making it easily accessible and searchable. TEKenable also integrated advanced data analysis and reporting tools that allow Weatherbys Scientific to quickly and easily analyze and report on results. Moreover, TEKenable built a customer portal that allows Weatherbys Scientific clients to easily access their test results and order new tests.

With this end-to-end automated data management solution, Weatherbys Scientific has been able to significantly improve efficiency and reduce costs. The system also allows them to provide their clients with faster and more accurate results.

PHASE 2 – KENNEL CLUB

In Phase 2 of this project, TEKenable was engaged by Weatherbys Scientific to help Kennel Club automate its canine DNA testing services. The Kennel Club is a client of Weatherbys Scientific, a leading provider of genetic testing and breeding services for dogs. Weatherbys Scientific offers a range of services to support the breeding and management of purebred dogs, including DNA testing, parentage verification, and genetic health assessments. The Kennel Club works closely with Weatherbys Scientific to ensure that the breeds they register are healthy and genetically sound.

TEKenable helped Kennel Club launch their new DNA testing service to improve & protect dog health and promote responsible dog breeding. The Kennel Club sought to provide pet owners with a comprehensive DNA testing service that would help them understand their dog’s genetic makeup and any potential health risks. These tests simplify the process of genetic testing by using a single cheek swab to check a dog’s DNA for markers associated with a number of different inherited disorders. The results from these tests are automatically registered to the dog’s record and are available on the Kennel Club website. This new testing service by TEKenable provides valuable information to pet owners, breeders, and veterinarians, helping to ensure that dogs are healthy and free from genetic disorders.

OUTCOME

Weatherbys now has an automated data management solution that processes and analyses large amounts of bovine data quickly and accurately, reducing the chances of human error. It has helped Weatherbys reduce costs associated with manual data entry and processing. Moreover, the new solution provides Weatherbys real-time access to bovine data, allowing for faster decision-making and more timely responses to emerging issues. Moreover, the solution allows for more advanced data analysis and reporting, providing more insights into business operations and efficiency. With the new solution, Weatherbys can now process over 500,000 bovine samples in a year.

Kennel Club provides its clients with an easily affordable DNA testing service for dogs, ensuring breeders and buyers can better understand their dog’s genetics, easily check their dog’s health and be aware of any underlying health conditions they might pass on to their puppies. 

Technologies Used

  • Microsoft PowerApps Model-Driven Apps
  • Microsoft Azure Functions (for automation)
  • Microsoft PCF Controls (for extracting .csv files to import into the other lab systems)
  • Microsoft Power Portal (for their customers to see KPIs and reports)

HSE Covid-19 Contact Tracing System

On a Tuesday night, in March 2020 at 9pm, TEKenable received a call for help from the Health Service Executive (HSE) via Microsoft. The HSE asked if we could muster a multi-disciplinary IT team to support the Emergency Response Team in the delivery of COVID-19 related systems. The call went out to many reputable IT providers as the HSE realised that the unique situation could not be managed using existing IT systems and business processes.

TEKenable provided seven full-time staff into the HSE by 9 am, the day after the 9 pm request was received, some on-site with the Response team in Dr Steeven’s Hospital in Dublin and some working remotely. Over the coming days KPMG, EY and PwC also responded with small teams or individuals.

What was required of us was not known at this time.

THE CHALLENGE

The immediate need was to design, build and deploy a Contact Tracing System. The system was to be designed, developed, delivered and live in a week and a half. It was to be delivered to circa 1200 users spread over multiple locations who were drawn from different disciplines. The first team to use the system would be the Irish Army, who were busy turning the ground floor of the hospital into a contact tracing centre.

THE SOLUTION

Working long hours and weekends, TEKenable collaborated on the design with the HSE and the Army, built the Contact Tracing Application, deployed it to the call centre and clinicians using a Low Code platform, and went live within the one and a half weeks deadline.

The system receives laboratory test results from COVID testing centres, triggers the initial call to positive patients, gathers details of who they have been in contact with, contacts them, does a basic medical assessment of their condition, deals with special cases such as healthcare workers and other persons with a large number of potential contacts as well as family and friends contacts. The system is a key tool in the reduction of the rate of spread of the viral outbreak.

Contact Tracing is not the only project that we have delivered in this emergency. Others include data collection via mobile applications and portal interfaces that capture data points that are critical for effective crisis management and that are not captured in any current IT systems. We are currently in the process of delivering a temporary hospital management system that addresses bed allocation, patient tracking, equipment assignment and also working on building software that is optimising the testing of potential COVID patients in temporary test centres.

As can be seen from the image below, we have also been responsible for the delivery of many other projects.

The projects include:

  • National Ambulance Service Capacity Monitoring;
  • Fatality Tracking;
  • Hospital Bloodstock Level Management;
  • Offers of Assistance;
  • Lab Data Collection;
  • Mortuary Remains Tracking;
  • Data Governance Access Management and
  • Temporary Staff Recruitment.

Additionally, we have collaborated with other service providers in creating a Data Lake for information gathering and using data visualisation tools to deliver key data and trends to the crisis management team in near real-time.

We will remain engaged with the HSE as long as the requirement persists and we continue to bring value.

We have recently integrated the highly publicised Mobile App as a data source for the Contact Tracing system and at the time of writing (August 2020) have just been awarded a contract to implement a National PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) ordering and stock management system for the HSE. This will also be delivered using the Power Platform.

THE OUTCOME

The outcome is two words – Lives Saved.

We played a small, but key, part in helping to keep people who were exposed to the virus, but unaware of that, away from others, in enabling the Emergency Response Team to have the data that they need to make informed decisions and in ensuring the effective use of finite resources. We did all this in weeks compared to a “normal project” of this scope that would have required many months, if not years to deliver, and we did so while remaining compliant with GDPR and IT security considerations.

The author of this document has 35 years of bespoke software delivery experience ranging from safety-critical systems, financial services and healthcare and I have literally never seen systems designed and developed so fast and so successfully in the context of an evolving situation, in a very stressful environment and with many dispersed stakeholders. This can become a model of software delivery for the future.

HSE – Positive Antigen Results Reporting System

THE CHALLENGE

The HSE turned to us (TEKenable) to build an online portal where people could register a positive antigen test. The portal had to be live within an extremely tight deadline, we built it and it took just 7 days from request to go live.

From 14/01/2022, people who test positive on an antigen test will be able to upload their results directly to the Antigen Positives Portal (hse.ie). From there, the close contact details can be entered and that will flow into a management system. Close contacts will then get contacted in the same way that happens through the PCR system.

The online portal is being introduced after Cabinet approved a number of changes to rules around close contacts. The new rules that came into operation will allow thousands of people who are staying at home to return to the workplace.

THE SOLUTION

Anyone uploading their positive antigen test to the HSE website will be asked to submit their contact details, PPS number, the date they had a positive antigen test result, and select the reason they took an antigen test. The HSE says the online portal is anonymous, and the name or number of the positive case will not be shared with their close contacts.

The current guidance is for anyone with symptoms to take an antigen test. If that antigen is positive, people are now asked to log their results and isolate for seven days.

Close contacts will then get contacted in the same way that happens through the PCR system. Logging an antigen test on the portal does not qualify people for a recovery cert, a PCR test or a professional antigen test is required to receive the certificate.

THE OUTCOME

People will now be able to register a positive antigen test directly through the HSE website. The portal can be used to report a positive antigen test and list close contacts.

The ability to record positive antigen tests will start to give us a better idea of how many cases of Coronavirus are in the country because we’ve lost sight of that at the moment because the testing system is overwhelmed.

Anthony Staines

Dublin City University’s Professor of Health Systems

The system will also ensure that close contacts are given the correct public health advice. Up until recently, the only cases that were reported by health officials were those confirmed by a professional PCR test.

Dublin City University’s Professor of Health Systems, Anthony Staines, says the antigen testing changes are welcome. “Antigen testing is part of the solution to managing Coronavirus in any society,” he said.

Rapid Delivery of COVID Restart Grant using Power Platform

THE CHALLENGE

On the 15th of May 2020, Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, agreed details of a new €250 million Restart Grant, that provides direct grant aid to micro and small businesses to help them with the costs associated with re-opening and re-employing workers following COVID-19 closures.

The Grant is available to businesses with a turnover of less than €5 million and employing 50 people or less, that were closed or impacted by at least a 25% reduction in turnover out to 30th June 2020. The Grant is a contribution towards the cost of reopening or keeping a business operational and re-connecting with employees and customers.

The Minister announced that the Local Authorities would be responsible for managing, processing, and paying the grant to qualified and eligible companies in their catchment area.

THE SOLUTION

Dublin City Council engaged TEKenable to provide a minimum viable product (MVP) using Microsoft Power Platform that would allow Dublin City Council to provide a public-facing application portal to allow qualifying SME’s to submit their Re-start Grant application and to also provide a back-office application that would store the data securely and allow for the efficient, timely and secure processing of applications.

The Government announced the Re-start grant in mid-May 2020, and little or notice was provided to the Local Authorities that they would be responsible for processing the applications in their area. Dublin City Council IT staff were under extreme pressure to have a Grant Management application up and running in a very tight time frame. A system of this scale and size could have taken up to 3-6 months to scope out, design, develop, test, and deploy, the fact that we delivered and went live with a working system in under a week is a great testament to the delivery capability of TEKenable, the proactive and very supportive DCC staff and the power of Microsoft Power Platform technology. The project is of course fully aligned with the Digital Citizen Services agenda enabling the public to interact with state and semi-state services online.

Restart Grant Sample Back Office Screen
Restart Grant Sample Back Office Screen

The solution comprises a Power Portal for applicants to register and make their application, which includes the upload of proof of account documentation and is stored on the Common Data Service. A back-office Power App provides the workflow for the assessment of applications with verification of details, rejection, and payment authorization and (as shown below) a management Dashboard to allow the assessment team’s management to visualize the workload and progress.

The application process is mobile and tablet friendly and the whole system is accessible by DCC staff while they are working remotely with appropriate security.

Restart Grant Management Dashboard
Restart Grant Management Dashboard

THE OUTCOME

The required MVP was delivered and live in one week from the initial request. Further functionality was added over the next few weeks and the system is rapidly changed to reflect additional needs and changes to the Restart grant rules as they arise.

To date the platform has been very well received by those breeders who have made their foal registrations via the new system. It is our objective to incorporate new technology into the General Stud Book, to create user friendly, mobile and efficient systems to meet the demands of the modern breeder.

Brendan O’Brien

Russell Ferris, CEO Weatherbys

While the project described here is COVID related this is only one point solution built on the Power Platform. This project has firmly demonstrated the benefits of a Low Code solution including speed and cost of delivery, out-of-the-box functionality, and a fully managed platform and other non-COVID-related projects have already been identified for the platform.

HRB LINK – A Unified Health Information System

The Health Research Board (HRB) is a statutory body under the aegis of the Department of Health.  The Health Research Board (HRB) is Ireland’s lead agency supporting and funding health research. The HRB’s mission is to improve people’s health, patient care, and health services by leading and supporting research and generating knowledge, then promoting its application in policy and practice. The HRB focuses on research that helps to drive innovation in Ireland’s health system and supports economic development.

The HRB manages five national health information systems namely:

  • National Drug Treatment Reporting System (NDTRS)
  • National Psychiatric Inpatient Reporting System (NPIRS)
  • National Intellectual Disability Database (NIDD)
  • National Physical and Sensory Disability Database (NPSDD)
  • National Drug-Related Deaths Index (NDRDI).

THE CHALLENGE

These information systems provide information regarding disability service, admission and discharge of patients, alcohol and drug treatment, and record of deaths related to drug abuse for policy, service planning, and research. So there were five systems in place, which were doing more or less the same job, each for a different health segment.

This created challenges regarding support and maintenance of infrastructure as each system required a separate set of service providers, additional cost in staff training, and overhead expenses. Moreover, due to the lack of integration within systems, getting timely access to updated information was time-consuming.

THE SOLUTION

HRB chose TEKenable to provide them with an integrated, unified system that consolidates all the five national health information systems into a single platform where data regarding alcohol/drug treatment and disability services can be accessed and updated when required by the health service providers.

TEKenable through its Digital Systems service worked in collaboration with the HRB to develop a unified national health information system. This information system is used by a varied set of health service users from service providers such as St. John of Gods and addiction treatment centers to subgroups within the HSE and Dept of Health and Children such as. Local Health Offices.

THE OUTCOME

The information this system helps to capture and maintain is used in strategic HRB research and reporting, annual reports, and HSE service provision planning in 5-year strategic slices.

The new national health information system has not only transformed how the HRB gathers national health data, but also generated substantial cost savings through consolidating five individual information systems onto one platform and removing multiple suppliers in providing services and support, and maintenance.

Accessing different data sets and reports has become easy as all the information is available on a single platform. Given the sensitivity of the information, special attention has been paid to the design of LINK to ensure data quality, privacy and security.

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