A major pathology transformation programme in Northern Ireland took a step forward recently with both Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust deploying Clinisys WinPath within days of each other.

The transformation programme is being led by the Business Services Organisation and will eventually see every pathology service in Northern Ireland adopt the laboratory information management system (LIMS) to help modernise pathology services.

Belfast and South Eastern are the first two trusts to deploy the LIMS. Belfast went live with microbiology, blood sciences and biochemistry (including new born screening, haematology and immunology) at the start of November, with South Eastern following three days later with the same disciplines.

Karin Jackson, senior responsible officer for the Core LIMS project, said. “Implementing the Core LIMS WinPath solution is a significant achievement for our health services here. It will complement our regional pathology services and enhance care provision for all patients across Northern Ireland.”

Historically, the Belfast trust was using an older Clinisys LIMS and South Eastern was using a “green screen” IT system that was developed by the Business Services Organisation some 40 years ago. With the upgrade to WinPath, both trusts will benefit from a modern system with features that will improve the efficiency and quality of testing services.

The roll out of the new LIMS are tied into two other programmes of work to digitise health and social care services in Northern Ireland. South Eastern was the first trust to go live with Epic’s Encompass electronic patient record (EPR), with remaining trusts rolling out the EPR on a phased basis throughout 2024-2025. In addition, a new imaging system and the Northern Ireland Digital Identity Service for healthcare, was implemented at South Eastern at the same time as the LIMS.

Secondly, is Health and Social Care Northern Ireland’s pathology transformation programme, which is working on a regional model for pathology services to encourage standardised ways of working.

Tony Oliver, programme director at Clinisys, said: “We are already planning for the next go-lives early in 2024. When this project is complete, there will be a single patient record across Northern Ireland and a single LIMS.

“It is a hugely ambitious vision, but it will deliver enormous benefits to laboratories, clinicians and patients to have a modernised pathology service and a single source of the truth. Clinisys is looking forward to supporting HSCNI, the BSO, the trusts and the clinicians involved to deliver that vision.”

Work will now be accelerated to deploy Clinisys WinPath to more specialisms, starting with cellular pathology next spring. It will also be implemented across the Northern, Southern and Western HCTs and the Northern Ireland Blood Transfusion Service. Northern Ireland’s Genomics Medicine Centre will become the first UK organisation to deploy Clinisys GLIMS Genomics.