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OUH introduces CliniSys to develop pathology service across region

26/04/2021

Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) has joined forces with labs at three other NHS trusts to develop new IT software and an enhanced pathology service for the patients we care for.

The South 4 Pathology Partnership, formed in 2018, covers Buckinghamshire Healthcare, Milton Keynes University Hospital, and Great Western Hospital trusts, as well as OUH.

The network has selected CliniSys, a laboratory diagnostic company, and its WinPath Enterprise laboratory information management system (LIMS) to support joined-up working, build a common IT platform for innovation, and deliver an integrated, consistent, and high-quality service across all network sites.

Once the LIMS is in place, it will ensure all trusts, clinicians, and patients are able to take advantage of new technology, such as digital pathology and machine learning.

The process of building the new system to support the exact requirements of the network will start at OUH. Once OUH is live, there will be a phased deployment to the other trusts in the network.

All partners already use IT provided by CliniSys, but the systems are older and less connected than WinPath Enterprise, which was built to meet the needs of pathology networks. CliniSys will host the new system, so the network does not have to worry about security, maintenance, and updates.

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the procurement process for a new LIMS, because it has unlocked central funding for technology to help services respond to the crisis.

Jude Craft, OUH-based Programme Lead for the South 4 Partnership, said: "COVID-19 showed the network in its best light; there was a high level of collaboration between the trusts which helped to deal with the challenges facing pathology services throughout the pandemic. Now, we want to take that same collaborative spirit and run with it.

"Deploying WinPath Enterprise will be an important step for us, but we also want to innovate, and to bring in networked digital pathology and the use of AI tools. So, we are looking to bring CliniSys into our partnership. We want them to support us and to complement our path for innovation. We want the LIMS to provide the platform for future development."

Derek Roskell, Clinical Lead for the South 4 Pathology Partnership and an OUH Consultant Pathologist, said: "We recognise that while physical consolidation is important for some parts of the service, an integrated LIMS, digital histopathology, common equipment, and shared procurement can deliver many benefits through a virtual consolidation. 

"We want key pathology services in Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes, and Swindon close to their clinicians, but working as part of a joined-up service across the network. This model needs to be flexible and able to respond to new challenges.

"The COVID-19 pandemic showed the importance of this way of thinking. When it arrived, hospitals needed a lot of tests conducted very quickly. The LIMS will support an organic model that can respond to changes of this kind. Results will be shared across the network, so they are available to clinicians wherever our patients are treated."

The South 4 Partnership is already looking to adopt innovations such as digital pathology, which turns the traditional glass slide into a digital image that can be viewed on a computer screen or mobile device, and machine learning, which can be used to improve workflow and help clinicians interpret results.