Comparison of electronic versus manual witnessing of procedures within the in vitro fertilization laboratory: impact on timing and efficiency

Assisted Reproduction

VOLUME 2, ISSUE 2, P181-188, JUNE 01, 2021


Rebecca Holmes, Ph.D., Kelly Athayde Wirka, M.S., Allison Baxter Catherino, Ph.D., Brooke Hayward, S.M., Jason E. Swain, Ph.D.



To evaluate the impact of an electronic witnessing system (EWS) on witnessing standard operating procedures and to assess embryologist perceptions of the EWS.


Prospective cohort study.


Private in vitro fertilization laboratory network.





Main Outcome Measure(s)

The time difference between manual and electronic double-witnessing procedures, and embryologist perceptions of the EWS.


From 342 witnessing times analyzed (114 EWS, 114 manual, and 114 interruptions to witnesses), the EWS reduced mean (SD) total witnessing time (in seconds) by 91.5 (23.6) for intracytoplasmic sperm injection, 62.0 (17.9) for Day 3 embryo assessment, 58.3 (18.9) for fresh embryo transfer, and 59.4 (13.3) for frozen embryo transfer. This time reduction significantly decreased the overall time required for double-witnessing by 3.1- to 5.2-fold. A survey with 50 embryologists within the laboratory network indicated that most embryologists considered the EWS to improve sample traceability (78.3%), reduce errors in labeling issues (80.4%), and reduce the risk of sample mismatch errors by minimizing disruptions (60.9%). Furthermore, 82.6% thought that visual completion of the EWS dashboard provided peace of mind when leaving work and 84.8% were more confident knowing that all procedures were completed according to the EWS.


An EWS can improve laboratory efficiency by significantly decreasing the time required for witnessing procedures and by minimizing interruptions. The EWS was well perceived by embryologists and laboratory managers and enhanced their confidence and peace of mind with regard to witnessing compliance and safety/accuracy.

Please sign in or register for FREE

Your Fertility and Sterility Dialog login information is not the same as your ASRM or EES credentials. Users must create a separate account to comment or interact on the Dialog.