The National Virus Reference Laboratory (NVRL) in Ireland has moved its Covid-19 testing hub onto a newer laboratory information system.

The lab implemented CliniSys’ WinPath Enterprise in a bid to reduce the turnaround times at the satellite laboratory Backweston (NSLB) in County Kildare. During the process, the NVRL worked with the Medical Supply Company (MSC), which helps to sell CliniSys products in Ireland.

The NVRL was established at University College Dublin in 1963 and is a public-sector, not-for-profit, medical virology laboratory funded by the diagnostic testing that it performs on behalf of the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The lab has played an important part in Ireland’s national pandemic response as test results are fed back both to the HSE, which uses them to keep the public updated on the spread of the disease, and to the public health experts running Ireland’s test and trace programme.

In order to expand PCR testing capacity within the public sector, the NVRL established a satellite laboratory at the Department of Agriculture Food and the Marine (DAFM) at Backweston laboratory campus in County Kildare.

Dr Cillian De Gascun, NVRL’s director, said: “At the start of the pandemic, we were doing about 30 PCR tests a day, and that soon increased to 1,500 a day within the NVRL, and then almost 20,000 as community testing in multiple laboratories came onstream. All of that work came on top of our normal workload, which declined – due to reduced demand from non-Covid hospital work – but never stopped completely.

“It would be hard to overstate how important the relationship with MSC, CliniSys, and the HSE was when it came to our being able to handle that volume of work. In addition, it’s important to recognise the vital role the NVRL laboratory information management system (LIMS) plays in feeding data – including test results from its associated laboratories at Enfer and Backweston – to the HSE, public health teams, and the national testing programme.

“It was clear that we would not be able to maintain the quality of our service without putting Backweston onto WinPath Enterprise. So, it is great to see them go-live.”

WinPath Enterprise is designed to support laboratory networks and it offers integration capabilities, a better security architecture, and more up-to-date workflows than its predecessor.

Michael Lawlor, clinical IT support manager at MSC, added: “Even though they were incredibly busy, we’re delighted to see that they are already reaping the benefits. Moving to WinPath Enterprise has future-proofed the testing system and improved security. It is a move that is helping in a lot of ways.”