Dendi Team Spotlight:
Lizzie VanSword, MLS (ASCP)
Lizzie VanSword is a seasoned professional in clinical laboratory science, with both depth and breadth in the field. Holding a Master of Science in Clinical Laboratory Science from the University of Alabama, she’s also an active member of the American Society of Clinical Laboratory Scientists and the American Society of Clinical Pathologists. Lizzie has been at the helm of significant roles, including a hospital Point of Care Coordinator at Grandview Medical Center and Lab Manager at Southern Lab Partners.
As Product Manager for Dendi’s LIS, she channels her extensive laboratory experience into creating innovative technological solutions for labs.
From Lab Manager to Product Manager - Bridging the Gap Between Healthcare and Software
Creating a best-in-class lab information system (LIS) is no easy feat. A team of talented software engineers alone simply isn’t enough to ensure that the real-world demands of medical lab professionals are met, especially in the ever-changing US healthcare landscape. Determined to offer an LIS platform that, not only met, but exceeded the expectations of lab professionals, Dendi constantly sought invaluable insights and feedback from lab experts, which were instrumental in shaping our product.
Among the many voices, one stood out – Lizzie VanSword. Once a valued Dendi customer, Lizzie’s articulate insights and deep understanding of the lab environment were unparalleled. Her feedback wasn’t just feedback; it was a blueprint for excellence. Recognizing her unique expertise and vision, we welcomed Lizzie to lead Dendi’s product team. In this feature, we delve into Lizzie’s journey and explore how her experiences have become the cornerstone of Dendi LIS’s evolution.
In today’s feature, we take a closer look at one of Dendi’s most integral team members, Lizzie VanSword, currently serving as a Product Manager. Lizzie’s journey is unique: transitioning from a lab manager to overseeing product developments at Dendi. We sat down with her to understand how her previous experience as a lab manager has influenced the design and functionalities of the Dendi LIS product.
Could you share a bit about your experience as a lab manager?
Lizzie VanSword: Absolutely! As a lab manager, I was responsible for overseeing the daily operations of the lab, ensuring that all procedures were performed accurately, and maintaining the highest standards of quality and safety. This involved everything from managing personnel and equipment to evaluating and implementing new technologies. It was a challenging but rewarding role that allowed me to gain a deep understanding of the needs and pain points of lab professionals.
How did your journey from being a lab manager lead you to Dendi?
Lizzie VanSword: While working in labs, I often found myself frustrated with some of the lab information systems we used. They were clunky, not user-friendly, and lacked features that could have made our lives easier. But it was something that we had to live with since there really weren’t any modern alternatives. During my time as a Lab Manager at an independent lab, we switched from Merge LIS to Dendi LIS, which was a big improvement, but I knew it could be even better. I was surprised to find that the Dendi team was so responsive to my ideas and requests! The more feedback I gave, the more they listened.
Eventually, they asked me to join the company. I saw it as an opportunity to use my lab experience, contribute my ideas, and make an impact by helping to design a product that truly meets the needs of lab professionals. And the rest is history!
In what ways has your lab experience shaped the Dendi LIS product?
Lizzie VanSword: Having been on the front lines and in management, I’ve been able to lead the Dendi LIS product development roadmap to add real-world, practical functionalities. For example, understanding the importance of accurate reporting, I emphasized the development of robust and useful reports that providers want. Understanding the importance of HIPAA compliance, I make sure that patient data is secure wherever it’s accessible. Automating redundant tasks is important for lab technicians so I led the design of plate maps and auto-verification tools. Having worked in a hospital, I understand it’s important to make ordering for large patient organizations easy, so I led the development of bulk and standing orders. Also understanding that claims are a major challenge for every lab, we recently released insurance eligibility verification and discovery so that accurate patient and insurance information is collected at the time of order so that reimbursements are more successful (I’m extremely proud of this one!).
Every feature we add is evaluated against real-world scenarios to make sure it adds value.
Have lab professionals given you feedback about the features you’ve helped implement?
Lizzie VanSword: The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Many lab professionals appreciate the user-centric approach we’ve taken. They often comment on how the Dendi system feels like it was “made by someone who has actually worked in a lab,” and that’s the biggest compliment for me.
What are some of the challenges that lab professionals face in working with software systems and how do you address those challenges?
Lizzie VanSword: One of the primary challenges they (and I) faced with LIS software is the lack of user-friendliness, especially in older systems. Poor user experience can be incredibly frustrating when doing repetitive tasks. It becomes especially challenging when training and onboarding younger staff who are accustomed to more intuitive interfaces of modern software.
Also, there’s often a gap in customer support. Lab professionals and software teams sometimes seem to operate in different realms, leading to miscommunication and misaligned expectations. This can result in slow response times and unresolved issues. Before joining Dendi, I experienced these challenges firsthand. What set Dendi apart was their prompt and attentive support. They genuinely listened to my feedback, which encouraged me to provide even more insights. Transitioning to Dendi’s product manager was a strategic move for both of us. Now, not only do I lead product development, but I can answer very nuanced lab-world questions. This ensures that Dendi LIS is not just functional but also makes sense for lab folks.
What’s next for Dendi LIS?
Lizzie VanSword: At this point, the product is very mature and meets the needs of most labs, but there’s always room for improvement! We’re continuously seeking feedback and looking to innovate. We’re improving our advanced data analytics to further assist lab owners in monitoring operations. More and more labs are utilizing our API Suite for custom applications, so that is also being constantly updated. The rest of the team is also always improving our integrations capabilities. Our goal remains to be the go-to LIS that understands and anticipates the needs of its users.
Lizzie VanSword’s journey from a lab manager to a product manager at Dendi is a testament to the company’s commitment to understanding and serving the needs of lab professionals. With her invaluable insights, Dendi LIS continues to evolve, ensuring labs operate smoothly and efficiently.