Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS pathology services is replacing four standalone systems that are currently used across eight hospital sites, with a single Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS).

The modernisation of the pathology network will help enhance patient services in the area and optimise the use of information to improve healthcare.

The new LIMS, which will be powered by Citadel Health, will deliver a common platform that will see all laboratories linked together for the first time. This new contract follows on from Citadel Health’s largest LIMS project in the UK to date – that of the country-wide connected LIMS network in Wales.

The Lancashire and South Cumbria Pathology Service was awarded nearly £10million after a successful bid to NHS Digital to procure the new system. The money will fund the implementation of Citadel Health’s Evolution vLab LIMS.

Professor Anthony Rowbottom, clinical director of the Lancashire and South Cumbria Pathology Service, said: “This really takes us to the next level of technological advancement and will support our future aspirations for utilising machine learning and artificial intelligence. It will also support the transition that we are planning to near-patient testing and future wearable technology.”

The common platform will synchronise the processes within the service, improving clinical decision making, patient outcomes and safety. Communication between the different laboratories will be significantly improved, and access to patient data from any site will be enabled.

Another key benefit is the seamless movement of orders and results across all pathology sites. This will streamline processes allowing for samples to be analysed in a more efficient way and reducing sample and test turn-around times. With data sharing made possible across all IT systems, it can be used to inform research and enhance patient care too.

The trusts within the pathology service will also realise cost benefits. Rather than having to replace individual systems as they become outdated, each trust will instead contribute to the deployment of the single LIMS.

Stephen Lynch, executive general manager at Citadel Health, said: “We are delighted to be partnering with Lancashire and South Cumbria Pathology Service, a forward-looking organisation that has shown it is ready to deliver essential pathology services in a more structured, efficient and connected way.

“Clinical collaboration across pathology networks cuts costs, streamlines processes and helps improve patient outcomes – delivering a win for everyone. The cooperative model will offer the rest of the country a clear example of what best practice connected pathology can achieve.”

Citadel Health will now work alongside Lancashire and South Cumbria Pathology Service to develop plans to implement the new LIMS with a phased deployment. Deployment at the sites will be based on operational need and readiness, and will also factor in other works currently underway, such as the replacement of blood sciences equipment.

The new system will support future intended technology developments such as the introduction of digital pathology and the use of artificial intelligence.