Single LIMS set to unify pathology services at Barts Health NHS Trust

04 April 2016

Whipps Cross University Hospital NHS Trust and Newham University Hospital NHS Trust merged with Barts and The London NHS Trust on 1st April 2012 to form Barts Health NHS Trust, the largest NHS trust in the UK servicing a diverse and immediate population of 2.5 million and with a tertiary service covering a region in excess of 4million people.  It has one of the largest pathology units in the country with over 600 staff and performing in excess of 20 million tests a year, the equivalent of 2.5% of the total NHS pathology workload.

With the hub pathology laboratory site situated in the custom-designed Pathology and Pharmacy building at the Royal London Hospital, pathology services are also provided from three rapid response spoke laboratories at Newham University Hospital, St Bartholomew’s Hospital and Whipps Cross University Hospital.

A modern, flexible and agile IT solution is an essential aspect to support such a high throughput service. The WinPath Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS), as supplied by CliniSys, has been an enduring part of the pathology service at each of the hospitals since Newham first went live in 1996. However, as each trust initially contracted separately, Barts Health NHS Trust is currently serviced by three separate WinPath systems on three individual databases. Barts Health NHS Trust, has appointed CliniSys to implement WinPath Enterprise, their Network optimised LIMS, to address the issues inherent in operating disparate systems and to unify the service on a single IT platform.  This will not only enable the move to increased standardisation and quality of processes but will also provide full access to all patient data across all laboratory locations no matter where the tests are performed. Having unified methodologies across all hospitals and laboratories in the network makes interpretation and understanding of the results by clinicians and patients alike much easier.

Professor Finbarr Cotter, Clinical Director for Pathology said “Our current processes are heavily reliant on paper, obviously not an ideal arrangement for a joined up approach for patient care and certainly not conducive with NHS England’s newly announced Sustainability and Transformation Plans which require a paper free environment by 2020. A single LIMS system will expedite open access to data for all physicians and is supportive of “shared care”. Having one system covering the whole East End of London has got to lead to an enhanced patient experience and improve service quality”.

Barts Health NHS Trust is a GMC accredited centre for cancers and rare disorders and UKAS accredited across the whole of pathology.  Professor Cotter comments, “With the NHS working within financial constraints, outreaching rather than consolidation or outsourcing is our preferred operating model and we are proud to be supplying a superior NHS pathology service from within the NHS”.

Barts Health NHS Trust is at the forefront of the molecular revolution in pathology with the trust holding regular inter-speciality committees to discuss molecular diagnostic elements. Development in molecular technology is seen as an integral part of the future service and the IT systems in place must support this growing area of pathology in all disciplines.

Upgrading and consolidation to a single pathology IT solution and central LIMS database is the cornerstone in a much larger unification project following the merger that includes the replacing of all old and redundant kit with new and modern IT systems. Barts Health NHS Trust believe that this is a vital step to unify the trusts after the merger and helps provide all staff with a sense of becoming a cared for partner.

Strengthening relationships with the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and being able to show them real benefits and value added reasons to use the pathology service is crucial for any Trust. Some of the value added areas where Barts Health are focusing include the provision of reporting algorithms to deliver enhanced levels of clinical interpretations and advice. This data interpretation can then be used to reduce hospital appointments and hospitalisation by moving the care pathway into the community which is a faster and more cost effective approach. After all, the approximate cost of a first hospital appointment is around £270. Barts Health NHS Trust is passionate that pathology services remain local to the community, the hospital trust and GPs, ensuring a timely and efficient service for their patients.

Professor Cotter continues: “We are pleased to be building on our existing relationship with CliniSys to deploy WinPath Enterprise to all our laboratories and CliniSys’ proven credentials in delivering a multi-site solution with the ability to provide the necessary levels of functionality and flexibility to all aspects of the service gives us confidence in the project ahead. Sharing a single IT system across all the Barts Health sites is a key step in providing an efficient, safe and cost effective service to all our users. It will also enable our newly consolidated service to better manage the business of pathology and support much tighter commercial controls.

The new system will enable pathology across our four hospitals to work together in a more collaborative fashion than previously possible. This will result in an enhanced service for the clinicians and therefore offers our patients a centre of excellence providing all aspects of a quality pathology service”.

Simon Hurst, Commercial Director for CliniSys, comments "We are delighted to be working with Finbarr and the Barts Health team and believe that this project will strengthen our longstanding partnership. Pathology outreach and adoption of modern technologies has always been and continues to be an important area for Barts Health NHS Trust and as such, the delivery of seamless integratio with their external systems and support for their specialist testing is vital. We look forward to a successful project ans supporting Barts Health NHS Trust to enhance and grow their service and deliver real benifits to their patients".