The CliniSys National Conference 2013 – Transforming Pathology

26 June 2013

The CliniSys national conference and summer user group meeting, was once again held at The Belfry, West Midlands with attendance of over 230 delegates representing over fifty NHS trusts across the country. The programme was spread over two days, with the first being focused on bringing together experts and opinion leaders who explored, debated and shared their experiences on pathology transformational change and the key role of IT.

The meeting was opened by Fiona Pearson, CliniSys CEO, who discussed the evolving situation with pathology networks. This was of particular significance with the audience as after a quick show of hands all delegates were either involved with a pathology network or in the process of forming one.  Through recent discussions with current and prospective customers, CliniSys understands that no one network solution will suit all; however, the end goal of all should be a single IT platform. Fiona went on to highlight the new challenges being identified by the pathology service namely the logistics of specimen transportation, tracking and management and the requirement for real time monitoring of the service against service level agreements. A brief summary of what IT and CliniSys can provide to support these areas was presented. After a short company update, where some of CliniSys’ recent projects were covered such as the upgrade to WinPath Enterprise at NHS Ayrshire & Arran, Fiona discussed the new CliniSys hosting solution. This addresses a number of issues being experienced by pathology services i.e. helps to reduce Trust IT overheads, avoids expensive hardware refresh costs, and delivers an easily expandable and scalable platform as the service develops.

Advice for Pathology Networks

Fiona handed over to Simon Brewer of Trinity HCS Consulting Ltd to provide a summary of the Transforming Pathology Workshop event hosted by CliniSys earlier this year. Simon began his presentation with a humorous overview of the key steps involved in network development which was followed with the aims and objectives of the event. The workshop provided a forum for open discussion and debate and aimed to identify and capture the key questions that need to be answered, challenges that need to be faced and to share any lessons already learnt which would help inform and build greater appreciation of IT solution options and roadmaps in support of developing networks. The workshop also considered what would constitute a successful IT solution, and how success could be measured. To facilitate participation and debate, the delegates were split into 3 round table workgroups. 

In his conclusion, Simon reinforced a number of the key messages gathered from the event:

  • Strong leadership is required to drive service transformation - Employ ‘Attila the Hun’ as SRO / programme director / manager and implement a clear programme plan with appropriate resources;
  • Early and inclusive engagement is recommended with all parties including commissioners, service users, lab staff, and Trust IT departments;
  • Have a clear vision for the end stage – Need to consider service model and information flows, single patient record and effective sample management / logistics;
  • Understand the internal dependencies and their impact on programme delivery;
  • Success is… “when IT is ‘an enabler’ and not ‘a constraint’ to service delivery and development”.

The future of pathology diagnostics

Dr Vanya Gant, Divisional Clinical Director for Infection at UCLH NHS Foundation Trust followed Simon and once again captivated the whole audience with an impassioned, informative and extremely entertaining presentation on the future of pathology diagnostics in the ever changing world of medicine. 

The pace of science & technology and the development of new innovative IT solutions in diagnostic healthcare have never been so rapid. Vanya presented a wide range of examples of new technologies; from conceptual ideas, brand new designs only recently patented, through to pioneering solutions already delivering real benefits. The essential role that IT has to play in the continual developments of diagnostics was stressed. Vanya concluded his presentation with some thoughts on how these technologies might sit within  the new NHS landscape and aspirations and the impact on the day to day sample processing and testing in the laboratory. 

Logistics Management

Picking up on the topic of challenges faced by pathology networks and the role that IT has to play in the development of innovative solutions, Derek Truman, Quality Manager of Southwest Pathology Services (SPS) discussed the importance of accurate and real time specimen logistics management. He began his presentation with a simple definition of logistics, i.e. managing the flow of resources between the point of origin and the point of destination. However, the logistics requirements for any network are never simple and often multi-layered.  CPA and ISO 15189 accreditation places significant emphasis on ‘control’ of sample collection and transport especially around time frames and sample integrity.

Derek went on to highlight some of key requirements for SPS in designing and developing a Logistics Management solution with CliniSys; these being the maintenance of sample Integrity, the adherence to transport compliance requirements, improvement of operational efficiency, enabling real time sample tracking and monitoring and the management of samples across multiple laboratory locations.

This generated a lot of questions and feedback from the audience who were intrigued with SPS and CliniSys’ approach in implementing such a solution. It was felt that any pathology service provider taking end to end responsibility for sample management will have a clear advantage over their competitors. Derek concluded with a warning that the difficult part will be encouraging SPS’s service users to embrace sample logistics and support the new processes.

Real time monitoring of results

On a related topic, Nick Kirk, Pathology Manager at Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and IBMS President Elect, concluded the first day’s presentations with a thought provoking presentation on the requirement for real time monitoring of results with reference to the new commissioning environment and its implications.

With the commercialisation of the pathology services, providers need to be generally more business focused. With the adoption of numerous programmes such as the National programme to reduce length of stay, the introduction of enhanced recovery pathways and A&E performance targets being increasingly missed, the pathology service is in desperate need for a way to identify service bottlenecks with a visualisation and management of laboratory KPIs in real time. Clinical Commissioning Groups are also now considering financial penalties for non compliance with quality metrics so the need has never been greater.

Having witnessed and been impressed by the use of CliniSys’ dashboards at Southwest Pathology Services (SPS), Nick presented a selection of the various graphical dashboards in use at SPS which easily provide an at a glance way of monitoring workflow and target turnaround times.

The second day of the user group saw presentations and demonstrations of new and innovative solution and service offerings from CliniSys. Delegates had the choice to attend one of three presentation streams in the morning session where a number of statutory body organisations were also represented. Sue Cotton of NHSBT gave the Blood Transfusion delegates an update of the Hospital Stock Management project and John Ringrow of CPA (UK)/UKAS gave an invaluable presentation on the latest accreditation standards relating to pathology IT which affect all pathology LIMS users in the UK.

The afternoon session followed a concurrent discipline specific meeting format which held a programme of workshops and discussion forums relevant to specific disciplines to an agenda defined and agreed in consultation with the CliniSys customer chairs. These interactive workshops provide the CliniSys users with an opportunity to see new and planned enhancements in each discipline and to put forward and discuss ideas and thoughts as to future needs and requirements.