Specimen Event Tracking

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Specimen Event Tracking (SET) profile is a project of the IHE PaLM Technical committee that was started in 2016. The purpose of this new profile of the PaLM domain is to define a series of use cases and all related events relevant to be tracked, when one or more macro operations involving a specimen occur (i.e., container preparation, collection, movement from one facility to another one, archiving, and so on).


The Specimen Event Tracking (SET) profile covers use cases and transactions related to the tracking of biological specimens in vitro collected for the purpose of diagnostic testing, during their entire lifecycle, from creation to storage inside a laboratory specimen archive or a biobank for future usage, and to final disposal. Specimen workflows can involve a ward and a laboratory in the same hospital, different laboratory facilities inside the same institution, or across different institutions. In the latter case, specimens need to be transferred by a courier service from the sending institution to the receiving institution. Another important use case to be tracked is the specimen creation for the specific purpose of becoming part of a biobank for a research institution or program. The SET profile tracks macro activities related to specimens, such as collecting, shipping, receiving, accepting... Micro operations part of a macro activity (e.g. decapping a tube) are out of scope of the profile. For most recent information on the SET please see: http://wiki.ihe.net/index.php/Pathology_and_Laboratory_Medicine_(PaLM)#Current_Activity.

SET main profile image.jpg

Figure 1 - Some of the main events that might occur to a Specimen during its overall lifecycle, and that the SET profile aims to track. Traceability messages are collected at each step by an Informer entity and sent to a tracker entity (repository). Notice that, according to the use case, the trackers may be more than one, if the Collecting and Laboratory, if the Collecting Facility and the Laboratory have independent tracking environments.


  • Keep under control the chain-of-custody of the specimen, when operation addressed by all the other profiles occur to the specimen
  • Prevent specimen loss, opportunity to raise alerts if some exceptions occurs to the process (i.e., broken container, specimen collection unavailable)
  • All events might be collected in a single place and use to improve the overall process


Four main use cases have been identified for the SET profile, according to the main operation that might be tracked for a specimen, in different contexts:

  1. Container Delivery and Specimen Collection Tracking
  2. Specimen Inter and Intra organization transfer
  3. Specimen tracking within the Laboratory
  4. Biobank Specimen Tracking

Each of these use cases describes a scenario where one or more macro-operations might occur to the specimen. For each operation, a correspondent event is tracked by the SET profile. An event is composed of common attributes and specific attributes. For example, all events carry the specimen identifier and the timestamp of occurrence, while only “movement related” events carry information about the departure and the arrival facilities. The SET Profile defines a total of 15 different types of events, which in turn are divided into 4 macro-categories, as shown in the following table:

SET Events List
Tracking specimen container preparation and specimen collection events Containers Prepared For Specimen Collection
Specimen Collection Succeeded
Specimen Collection Failed
Tracking specimen movements events Specimen Departed
Specimen Arrived
Specimen Accepted
Specimen Rejected
Specimen Archived
Specimen Retrieved from Archive
Specimen Disposed Of
Tracking specimen identification events Specimen Identifier Changed
Tracking specimen processing events Specimen Procedure Step Successfully Produced a Derived Specimen
Specimen Procedure Step Succeeded (with no derived specimen)
Specimen Procedure Step Failed

Systems Affected

<List (in user terms) the types of systems they might expect to have implemented actors from this profile, e.g. RIS, PACS, HIS, CAD Workstation, etc. and for each, how it would participate.>

  • EHR-S
  • LIS
  • Lab automation manager
  • ...

Actors & Transactions: SET.jpg

<Insert an actor-transaction diagram, and or list of Content Definitions>


Profile Status: Final Text <Replace "Final Text" with "Trial Implementation" or "Public Comment" as appropriate.>

Documents: Link to current draft document: [1] Link to SET matrix with collection of all data elements per use case: https://wiki.ihe.net/index.php/File:2019_01_SET_new_mapping_structure_pre_HL7_call.xlsx

Underlying Standards:

  • HL7 v2 - chapters 7 (for OSM^R26) and 13 (for SSU^U03) HL7
  • ...

See Also

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Related Profiles

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  • <to be updatedReporting Workflow [RWF] may use Evidence Documents as inputs to the reporting process.>

Consumer Information

The Profile FAQ Template answers typical questions about what the Profile does. <Replace the link with a link to the actual FAQ page for the Profile>

The Profile Purchasing Template describes considerations when purchasing equipment to deploy this Profile. <Replace the link with a link to the actual Purchasing page for the Profile>

Implementer Information

The Profile Implementation Template provides additional information about implementing this Profile in software. <Replace the link with a link to the actual Implementation page for the Profile>

Reference Articles

<List References (good and bad) (with link if possible) to Journal Articles that mention IHE's work (and hopefully include some analysis). Go ahead, Google: IHE <Profile Name> abstract or Google: IHE <Profile Name> and under the "more" select "Scholar". You might be surprised. >

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