The Central Public Health Laboratory (CPHL), Colindale, has completed the installation of a new Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) which enables automated results to be sent online and real-time statistical analysis.

The software brings nine laboratories, including those which monitor bacterial infection, respiratory and neurological viruses and sexual health, each of which had a separately-developed system or were not computerised.

"We weren’t replacing just a single system in isolation," said Terry Roome, who worked on the installation of Sysmex MOLIS for Sysmex UK as Business Manager. "They were stand-alone access over eight laboratories, there was no integration of data. There was no integration in terms of workflow; the work flow was totally independent by laboratory."

The reason the system was installed over a long period of time was to give people time to get used to the new implementation and to garner feedback. Regular meetings and demonstrations were held for laboratory staff, and LIMS ‘super-users’ were appointed to assist with queries. Roome explained: "It was very much based upon their availability. They realised that if they wanted this system to be successful, they had to devote time to it.

"For instance, in the winter, the flu lab has a very high workload. The scheduling of the implementation was based upon their own requirements."

Another change that was made to the CPHL work processes includes the creation of a paperless ‘central accession facility’, a single database and reception for the 800 specimens per day sent to the laboratory. The system registers the arrival of each sample and also allows them to be tracked.

Roome says that although it may not seem obvious, there are public health benefits to the new system, particularly because of its ability to track statistics and data in real-time: "The availability of statistics that show trends in different areas of the country help to protect all of us."

The LIMS software, originally manufactured by Belgian software house MOLIS, was purchased by Sysmex Corporation back in 1988 and was developed in partnership with them.