How Oncquest Laboratories Improved its Operations With Cloud

While many organisations look to the cloud to save money, medical laboratory firm Oncquest saw it as an opportunity to improve business operations. By moving their bespoke laboratory information management system (LIMS) to the Cloud, Oncquest rapidly unlocked the ability to develop additional functionality in their key service platform. The result is an astounding 90 per cent reduction in sample status inquiries.
Key Learnings

Display Project Management Leadership: As an IT leader, it is crucial to take charge and demonstrate proactive leadership in project management. By establishing clear timelines, diligently following project plans, and regularly updating and engaging with management through comprehensive presentations, you can showcase your commitment and competence.

In the initial stages, Oncquest Laboratories CIO, Pooja Chatrath played the role of a program manager, aligning with project managers and focusing on strategic execution. By prioritising task completions on predefined deadlines, she gained the trust and confidence of stakeholders.

The Challenge

Oncquest Laboratories is a specialised medical laboratory network that offers pathology tests to clinicians, hospitals and research entities. It has a national footprint of over 35 labs and conducts more than 4,000 different tests, spanning over 200 technologies.

The company’s legacy, on-premises LIMS, developed by a third party vendor, was plagued by a decentralised architecture, high costs, and lack of visibility – crippling its ability to provide timely, high-quality customer services and hampering potential growth. The manual sales processes compounded the problem.

“We recognised the urgent need to modernise the LIMS and automate core sales processes. By embracing cloud-based technologies and end-to-end digitalisation in these areas, we could unlock new levels of operational efficiency, enhance customer satisfaction, and drive sustainable growth,” says Pooja Chatrath, CIO, Oncquest Laboratories.

Transforming the Lab Information Management System

Oncquest Laboratories’ on-premises LIMS lacked a centralised architecture. As a result, hardware had to be deployed at each location to sync with its main lab in Gurgaon, India. This complex on-premises setup incurred significant costs due to the need to provide on-site support, hardware, and private data connections at all lab locations.

The previous LIMS also lacked effective sample tracking and visibility due to the time between synchronisation and fragmented data. This issue was particularly pronounced in managing ‘in-house’ and ‘out-of-house’ samples.

“In-house samples refer to tests processed within individual labs while out-house samples are those tests that are sent from 1 Oncquest lab to another Oncquest lab, for example, Bangalore labs to the Gurgaon lab for specialised testing. Without a centralised system to track the movement of these samples, the Gurgaon registration team had no visibility on the origin of the samples, leading to coordination challenges and delayed reports,” says Chatrath.

To overcome these challenges, Chatrath moved the LIMS to cloud and also modernised its software by adding more functionalities. “Transitioning to a cloud-based architecture proved to be a more efficient solution, enabling seamless data synchronisation across all locations. This shift not only reduced costs but also enhanced user-friendliness and compliance with industry standards such as NABL (National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories),” she says.

As per IBRS, there are more benefits of the Cloud than just cost savings. Far too often Cloud is only considered from a cost perspective, and while important, total cost of ownership (TOC) is not the only factor that needs to be considered in any comparison. 

When evaluating new IT systems and services IBRS recommends evaluating the use of Cloud platforms from more than just potential cost-savings. Non-financial benefits – or benefits where the costs justifications are difficult to measure – are just as important. Such considerations include: 

  • Reducing the time needed to deliver a solution
  • Speed of innovation and continual improvement of solutions
  • Ease of integrating and sharing information between solutions and workflows
  • Availability of cutting-edge services, such as advanced data analytics and AI services
  • Rapid scaleup and scaledown
  • ICT cost transparency and traceability to business outcomes 

Rather than asking, ‘should we move to the Cloud’? IT executives should ask, ‘why, what, and when’, and then use these three questions to create guidelines for comparing the Cloud as an alternative delivery model to on premises.

For Oncquest Laboratories, implementing this new system improved operational efficiency by ensuring 24/7 system availability. The software enhancements, which were done by a third party vendor, made the LIMS user-friendly and enhanced revenue management through optimised invoicing processes.

The ability to track samples from logistics to reporting, improved overall service quality and customer experience.

“The new lab information system has enabled us to create a robust sample tracking mechanism, providing visibility at every stage of the sample lifecycle. Each sample is assigned a unique visit ID, which is used to track the sample’s progress through the various departments, from registration to reporting. This visibility has empowered the quality team to monitor the status of samples on a daily basis and collaborate with relevant departments to address any delays (TAT monitoring of samples),” Chatrath says.

The sample tracking capabilities have been integrated with Oncquest’s customer care system, allowing representatives to quickly look up the status of a sample using the visit ID provided by the client. This has enabled the customer care team to proactively communicate with clients on the expected report generation timeline, improving overall customer experience.

The automated sample tracking has significantly reduced the number of follow-up calls from the lab teams, freeing them to focus on data analysis and providing better support to the business.

“Previously, there would be up to 100 calls pending per day with IT, however, with the new system in place, the number of pending calls at the end of each day has been slashed to just 5 or 10, representing a staggering decrease,” says Chatrath.

“While we don’t have exact cost savings figures, the elimination of the need for dedicated hardware and high-bandwidth internet connections at each location has resulted in substantial cost reductions. The efficiency gains have been substantial, with over 90% of samples being processed within the target turnaround time,” she says.

Streamlining Sales

With the core, which was the lab information system implementation, moved to the Cloud, it was easy for Chatrath to align SaaS applications such as sales force automation (SFA). 

She implemented the SFA solution, transitioning from a paper-based system to a comprehensive Salesforce-based solution. The implementation of the SFA project significantly streamlined client onboarding process and pricing management in addition to basic processes like daily sales visits,customer feedbacks,marketing notifications and expense management. By automating these critical functions, Oncquest achieved substantial operational efficiencies and cost savings. The entire client onboarding process, including agreement management and know your customer (KYC) document storage, has been digitised and integrated with LIMS.

“This automation has eliminated the need for paper-based documentation, aligning with our internal ‘go green’ initiative and reducing the environmental impact of our operations. With around active 3,000 clients, manually monitoring contract renewals and document management was a significant challenge. The automated system now sends reminders and allows for easy contract review, saving valuable time and resources,” Chatrath says.

Salespeople who initiate the onboarding process can now track each client’s progress through the system, reducing manual follow-ups and improving transparency.

“The onboarding process, which took as long as 30 days now happens in 15 days, an improvement of as much as 50 per cent,” she says.

Embracing Emerging Technologies: Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

As Oncquest continues to optimise its operations, the next phase of technology transformation involves exploring the potential of RPA and AI.

“We have already started conducting small-scale proofs of concept (POCs) to identify areas where RPA can be leveraged to automate repetitive, high-volume tasks. The goal is to implement RPA solutions that can streamline our operations, improve efficiency, and free up our teams to focus on more strategic and value-added activities,” Chatrath says.

“In parallel with our RPA initiatives, we are also exploring the integration of AI technologies to enhance our capabilities across various functions. One of the key use cases we are currently evaluating is the deployment of AI-powered language models to enable multilingual support in our call centre, improving customer experience and accessibility,” she adds.

CIO Insights

"Previously, there would be up to 100 calls pending per day with IT, however, with the new system in place, the number of pending calls at the end of each day has been slashed to just 5 or 10, representing a staggering decrease.”

  • Pooja Chatrath, CIO, Oncquest Laboratories.

Company Details

Pooja Chatrath

Chief Information Officer driving IT Strategy & Digital Transformation. Focuses on steering strategic technology initiatives that align with our core mission—enhancing operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Company Name: Oncquest laboratories

Vertical: Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals

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