A new version of the humble pathology specimen bag that can integrate test request information with the electronic patient record is being piloted at NHS hospitals around the country.

Speci-Sak II, made by MailmateSPS, is a plain specimen request form with a bag attached which goes through a specially adapted laser printer. Information recorded on the request form can be integrated with the hospital’s electronic patient record and fed into the ordering communications system.

MailmateSPS says the new product offers operational speed, data accuracy and savings.

Chief executive, Maxine Kent, says, “We’ve been listening closely to users of the existing forms in hospitals and GP surgeries, and it’s clear to everyone that there are some significant costly drawbacks. It’s time consuming to get the correct stock level and costly to store the large volumes needed to get economies of scale on purchases.

“It’s impossible to modify the design once printed, difficult to personalise the GP details and prone to errors or misunderstandings due to poor handwriting.”

MailmateSPS’s solution – the integrated form and bag – required considerable development to find the right materials to go through the specially-adapted laser printer which runs at lower temperatures than standard machines.

Ms Kent said, “After months of trial and error, and with the help of a specialist forms manufacturer and laser printer producer, we finally came up with a very smart solution. It’s really quite simple. It delivers a sophisticated range of benefits and really is the next generation of specimen request form for use by A&E, GPs, outpatients, remote nurses and ward staff.”

A spokesman for the company said further pilot sites were planned for the New Year, including one in a GP surgery. He explained that, in addition to the benefits of integration with electronic records, the system also had the potential to help laboratory managers to schedule work by enabling them to view online the volume of specimens coming in.