Six companies have been shortlisted as potential providers to develop a national pathology laboratory system for Wales.

The procurement is expected to award a £7.9m national contract for pathology services to become available in 2010.

The Welsh IT agency Informing Healthcare has announced that Cerner, Clinisys, EMIS, iSoft, InterSystems and Technidata have been selected to respond to a more detailed requirement following publication of an Official Journal of the European Union procurement notice.

Informing Healthcare said 17 companies submitted proposals to deliver the new all-Wales Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS), a national networked pathology system that will replace the 13 systems currently in use across 18 pathology laboratories.

The current systems are approaching the end of their technical life and Welsh assembly health minister Edwina Hart approved £7.9m plans to replace the systems just before Christmas.

Informing Healthcare said the new LIMS system will make it easier for laboratories to share information and provide greater scope for standardisation and expansion to meet future demand.

The new system will be required to deliver a single pathology patient record, improved management and tracking of samples and better access to workload information for service planning.

Informing Healthcare said the new system was expected to become available during 2010.