Product News: Zymo Research releases free software to streamline COVID-19 test reporting

California Laboratories can now instantly transmit covid-19 data to the CalREDIE system

04 Aug 2020


Zymo Research recently has released a free open-source software program that allows California laboratories to rapidly report COVID-19 test data to the California Reportable Disease Information Exchange (CalREDIE). According to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) website, “CalREDIE is a secure system for electronic disease reporting and surveillance. Over 350 laboratories statewide electronically submit reportable lab results to public health officials through the CalREDIE system.”

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, labs have been tackling compliance issues regarding the reporting of COVID-19 test data to their respective public health departments. In turn, the public health departments have been dealing with the best way to process large amounts of data received from these labs. News outlets like the New York Times and Science cite common problems in this reporting process, such as incompatibilities between reporting systems, outdated technology, and an overload of manual data entry. All of these factors contribute to the backlog of COVID-19 test data reporting in states like California, where public health agencies are trying to keep pace with the rapid influx of data received from these commercial laboratories.

To help streamline the configuration and uploading of COVID-19 test data to the CalREDIE system, Zymo Research developed the Zymo Research Transmit Program (ZRTP) that eliminates manual submission errors and other frequent errors by connecting California clinical laboratories directly to the CalREDIE Information Exchange. This direct connection eliminates manual data entry that is commonly required at state and county health departments. The ZRTP further simplifies the reporting process in that labs no longer have to submit test data to both their state and county public health departments. The CalREDIE System automatically distributes COVID-19 test data to the appropriate local public health authorities.

“This is a time to come together and support one another however we can. I'm grateful the ZRTP software program can help so many labs solve critical COVID-19 epidemiology challenges,” said Dr. Michael Weinstein, Bioinformatics and Microbiome Scientist at Zymo Research and Developer of the Zymo Research Transmit Program. “Having comprehensive COVID-19 test data immediately available to county and state health officials means public health decisions can be made faster to keep people safe during this pandemic.”

Labs simply download the ZRTP software from the Zymo Research website to a computer running Python 3.6 or later. Before the initial use, the users install dependencies, load their encryption certificate (provided by the California Department of Public Health), and enter their information into the configuration file. Once the program is set up, test results are easily transmitted to the CalREDIE system by simply filling in the template spreadsheet and feeding it into the ZRTP.

The ZRTP has successfully been used by Pangea Laboratory, an Orange County-based, CAP-accredited, and CLIA-certified lab that is processing COVID-19 test samples. “The Zymo Research Transmit Program allowed our lab to promptly report COVID-19 test results to the CDPH, which we weren't able to do before,” said Henry Le, Clinical Laboratory Scientist at Pangea Laboratory. He continued, “It solved a big problem many clinical labs are facing right now, which is getting COVID-19 test results reported to the state without delay. This is a big advancement for both our laboratory and epidemiology.”

Currently, the ZRTP software can only be used with California’s test data reporting system; however, Zymo Research hopes to support labs across the country with an expansion of the ZRTP software in the future. For more information or to download the free Zymo Research Transmit Program, visit zymoresearch.com/pages/tools.

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