Shared medical lab information system provides service integration in Wellington region

The Wellington region has successfully completed the implementation of a new medical laboratory information system.

In 2011 Hutt Valley DHB (HVDHB) and Capital & Coast DHB (CCDHB) made a strategic decision to share a common Laboratory Information System (LIS) due to the previous system going out of support. This direction was consistent with the IT Health Board’s strategy to rationalise service to improve clinical workflows and realise cost savings.

Sysmex was selected to replace the DHBs aging separate systems with the Delphic LIS.

The essential role of the medical laboratory service and the information system

HVDHB and CCDHB provide laboratory services to a population of half a million people and have three large hospital facilities at Wellington, Hutt and Kenepuru.

Over 70% of healthcare decisions for diagnosis and treatment are based on laboratory results. However there is a seemingly low profile of the medical laboratory in our healthcare system which limits general public perception of the importance of the laboratory’s role in patient and care delivery.

Medical laboratories use the LIS to accurately manage all data associated with a patient lab request. This includes registering the initial laboratory test request, managing the processing steps in the laboratory, recording results and distributing the patient’s test report back to the requesting provider.

The LIS electronically manages the allocation of specimens for testing at the right labs. In the Wellington region the new Delphic LIS streamlines the specimen flow across their three hospital sites.

“This joint LIS implementation is part of our drive to provide a more seamless and efficient experience for patients across all of our services,” says Wairarapa and Hutt Valley DHB CE Graham Dyer.

Laboratory manager for Hutt and Capital & Coast DHBs, Russell Cooke said: “An LIS is like the brain of a laboratory, as such any change is a huge effort for all staff. The staff have risen well to this challenge working closely together across the sites to achieve a very positive solution.

“The change we have implemented has significantly improved the way that our three laboratories work together as one unit. The improvements in the Histology section which was part of the upgrade, has attracted visits from other labs around the country and very positive feedback.”

James Webster, Sysmex CEO explains “because it is a single system which is shared by the three labs, Hutt and Capital & Coast DHBs have been able to standardise the testing, workflow and business process and benefit from shared infrastructure costs.”

“This ‘multilab’ model has also been adopted by other New Zealand public and private laboratories on the Delphic LIS. Further afield in Canada, Diagnostic Services of Manitoba’s Delphic LIS is centred in the city of Winnipeg. This common LIS is now shared across eighteen metro and regional labs with more sites scheduled to join the system over the coming months. We see similar trends emerging in Australia as diagnostic medical labs aim to regionalise and consolidate their service. The LIS is an essential component to achieve this”.

Achieving Ministry of Health goals for regionalisation of services and IT systems

The implementation of a single LIS aligns with the Ministry of Health’s National Health IT plan “The plan encourages DHBs to integrate clinical services and achieve cost savings through the better use of information technology,” says Debbie Chin, CE of Capital & Coast DHB.

“It also fits with the NHIT plan long term vision of having a common laboratory system across each region, making it easier to maintain consistent standards. These objectives are also supported in both of our DHBs’ annual plans and the Regional Services Plan. The completion of this LIS IT project marks a significant milestone in our developing DHB partnerships in the central region.”

Successful project delivery

IT implementations of this scale require effective project management to meet timeframe and cost objectives.

The DHBs reported “the success of the project can be attributed to effective governance model, business leadership, collaboration and strong internal and vendor project management capability”.

Hutt Valley DHB Two thirds of the Hutt Valley population of 145,000 live in Hutt City and one third in Upper Hutt City.

Hutt Valley DHB operates one 300 bed hospital in Lower Hutt and also provides five regional health services – Public Health, Dental, Rheumatology, Breast Screening and the Faciomaxillary, Burns and Plastics service. They also provide other community based services and work with primary care providers to support the health needs of their resident population.

Capital and Coast DHB Currently almost 298,000 people live within the Capital and Coast district, with two thirds of the population in Wellington City, 18% in Porirua and 14% on the Kapiti Coast.

CCDHB operates two hospitals; Wellington and Kenepuru, supported by the Kapiti Health Centre, a large Mental Health campus at Porirua and other community based services. Most of the region’s tertiary services are located on the Wellington hospital campus.

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