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How to connect MultiQC to a clinical chemistry analyser

MultiQC can be used as a stand-alone quality control programme but this configuration condemns users to manually type in all the results of QC assays and prevents them from taking advantage of the moving average or patients. Direct acquisition of data from an analyser is much more efficient and secure. Two difficulties must be overcome: • The lack of standardisation of the communication protocols with clinical chemistry analysers imposes a specific QC receiver interface for each machine. However, the ASTM protocol is more and more widespread and many machines can be connected to MultiQC thanks to the ASTM QC receiver interface. Clinical chemistry analysers usually exchange data with a laboratory information system (LIS) by way of a serial port (RS232) and a null-modem cable. MultiQC needs to receive the analytical results that are sent from the analyser to the computer without disrupting neither the upstream nor the downstream of transmitted data. Four different architectures that preserve the normal flow of data are feasible from the version of the QC receiver interfaces to download at

1.1. Soft Sniffing architecture This architecture applies to the installation of MultiQC on a workstation that is already connected to the analyser. It is only feasible if the main software of the workstation conforms to the multitasking operation of Windows. Thus the operator can have access to the task bar of Windows to be able to switch between the main software and MultiQC. The Soft sniffing architecture does not require any hardware change. A COM sniffer is inserted in the QC receiver interfaces since version You have only to check the box Soft sniffing of the page Connexion to start the integrated sniffer. • • The connexion with the main programme remains bi-directional and works as if the COM port was not sniffed. The connexion with the QC receiver interface is uni-directional (= sniffing). The only downstream of data from the analyser is read by MultiQC.


Workstation Null-modem cable Main programme COM1 COM sniffer MultiQC + receiver interface 1. The QC computer takes the place of the LIS. just copying on the way the downstream of data. Three architectures are possible: • • Architecture LIS like: The analyser is not connected to a laboratory information system. Architecture Diverting: The upstream and downstream of data between analyser and LIS are diverted through the QC computer. The latter must have two available serial ports.2. LIS like Null-modem Diverting Null-modem Null-modem LIS Hard sniffing Null-modem LIS 2 . The QC computer immediately re-sends the messages that it receives through one port to the other one and vice versa. Its DB9 socket is free. Wire QC network A new connexion cable is necessary when the QC computer is not already connected to the analyser. One is connected to the analyser and the other one to the LIS.

This driver converts the TCP/IP protocol to RS232. by taking advantage of waves broadcast everywhere in the laboratory to sniff QC data coming from the analyser . TCP/IP RS232 Virtual serial port driver 3 . Wireless QC networks Small and cheap serial to WLAN converters are now available from different sources (for instance the converter CSW-H80 from Sollae Systems. The drawback of this configuration is that you must build a home-made cable. The DB9 socket of the WLAN converter is connected to the cable that links the analyser and the LIS as shown in section 1.• Architecture Hard sniffing: Analyser and LIS are linked by a regular null-modem cable.3. The QC computer and the WLAN adapter establish an ad-hoc mode WiFi connexion.2 (hard sniffing). They make connexion of MultiQC to clinical chemistry analysers easier: • • by reducing the mess of cables running through walls and ceiling of the laboratory. Two wires are soldered to this cable (see section 1. a) 2-tier WLAN linking one analyser and one QC computer. Thus MultiQC can receive data from a virtual COM port exactly as if it was a real one.4) to sniff the downstream of data. 1. Null-modem LIS RS232 TCP/IP WiFi adapter QC computer QC receiver Interface + MultiQC A virtual serial port driver provided with the WLAN converter is installed on the QC computer. Korea). The advantage is that the QC computer needs only one serial port free and that it can be stopped without blocking transmission between analyser and LIS.

4. LIS RS232 UDP WiFi adapter A virtual serial port driver provided with the WLAN converter is installed on the LIS and on the QC computer. 4 . 1. TCP/IP protocol cannot help us because this protocol is intended for communications between only two devices. Thus both computers can exchange data with a virtual COM port exactly as if it was a real one. LIS and QC computers QC receiver Interface + MultiQC UDP RS232 Virtual serial port driver c) Multi-tier WLAN linking several analysers. the LIS and one QC computer Data coming from the clinical chemistry analyser must be shared between the LIS and the QC computer. This driver converts the UDP protocol to RS232. One serial to WLAN converter takes the place of the cable connected to the analyser. We must turn to the UDP communication mode which can broadcast data to several computers.b) 3-tier WLAN linking one analyser. Appendix a) Sniffing connection cable Two additional wires must be soldered on the DB9 female connector of the LIS cable that is plugged into the DB9 male connector of the analyser. the LIS and one or several QC computers This configuration needs an infrastructure mode WLAN with a WiFi access point.

Thus the derivation can be easily inserted in or removed from the original LIS cable which does not need to be modified. an RS-232 serial cable where the transmit and receive lines are cross-linked. b) DTE and DCE devices Most clinical chemistry analysers have a DB9 serial socket that transmits on pin 3 and receives on pin 2. spy connection QC computer It might be more practical to build a short extension cord (female DB9 / male DB9) with the 2-wire derivation soldered on the female DB9 connector. i. There are older machines that transmit on pin 2 instead of pin 3. So the computer receives on its pin 2 what was sent by the analyser on its pin 3 and vice-versa.Analyzer LIS cable LIS 2-wire. 5 .e. In such a case the cable must not contain cross-links between signals. They must be connected to a computer by a null-modem cable.