Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has contracted CliniSys for the implementation of its CyberLab.

About 40% of the trust’s lab test requests come from the 44 GP practices within NHS City and Hackney, and at the moment they all lodge requests on paper. CyberLab will enable the GPs to make the requests electronically through the web.

Homerton’s pathology IT manager, John Gooch, said this will vastly improve the lab’s efficiency.

“It takes between 30 seconds and a minute to log a paper request into the LIMS [laboratory information management system] – electronic requests take five seconds,” he said.

“Sometimes, on really bad days, when we’ve got poor attendance in the lab, [paper requests] can delay the process by a couple of hours. If [the requests were] electronic it wouldn’t be of that sort of level.”

The CyberLab software is currently being installed. Gooch said he hopes to pilot the system with one or two GP practices during the summer, with the first practice actually going live in late summer or early autumn.

The trust is then planning to continue to transfer one practice per week to the electronic system – aiming to have all converted by mid-2012. This would mean that 90-95% of the lab’s requests would then be made electronically.

Homerton has paid for CyberLab and has received no financial support for the improvements from the primary care trust.

“We’ve wanted this for probably about three years now,” Gooch said. “In the end I actually persuaded the trust that it was in our best interests, so we’re happy to pay for it all.”

He added that the system will help to secure the lab’s income as the healthcare sector moves into a more competitive phase.

CliniSys’ chief executive officer Fiona Pearson said the system gives GPs a better quality service.

“There’s quite a big change in the relationships between GPs and laboratories, and that’s where we are starting to see these types of systems, because it helps the laboratory deliver a better service to GPs.”

Following the GPs’ conversion to electronic requesting, mental health will be the only services to still lodge paper requests with the Homerton’s pathology service.