Remote Laboratory Management: Respiratory Virus Diagnostics

This article has been accepted and is currently in production


An uptick in recent pandemics (Ebola, Zika, MERS, influenza, etc.) underlines the need for a more 'nimble,' coordinated response that addresses a multitude of issues ranging from transportation, access, facilities, equipment, and communication to provider training. To address this need, we have developed an innovative, scalable, logistics-enhanced, mobile, laboratory facility for emergencies and epidemics in resource-constrained global settings. Utilizing a background in clinical operations as an academic medical center, we designed a rapidly-deployable, modular BSL-2 and BSL-3 facility with user-friendly software for tracking and management of drugs and supplies in remote regions during epidemics and outbreaks. Here, we present our intermodal, mobile, expandable shipping-container laboratory units. The design of the laboratory facilitates off-grid usage by minimizing power consumption and allowing alternate water sources. The unit's information communication technology (ICT) platform provides (i) user-friendly tablet-based documentation, (ii) enhanced tracking of patients and supplies, and (iii) integrated communication onsite with built-in telehealth capabilities. To ensure quality in remote environments, we have developed a checklist for a basic laboratory workflow and a protocol for respiratory viral diagnosis using reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). As described, this innovative and comprehensive approach allows for the provision of laboratory capability in resource-limited global environments.