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OMNI-Lab Smoothing the Way to Expanded Newborn Screening at GSTS Pathology

Published: Monday, September 09, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, September 09, 2013
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Laboratory management software ensure that babies are not only screened within days of birth for the five established life-threatening diseases of infancy, but also for a further five rare conditions.

Integrated Software Solutions Ltd has announced the latest implementation of its OMNI-Lab Newborn Screening management suite, this time at GSTS Pathology LLP, the unique and innovative joint venture between Guy’s and St Thomas’ and King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trusts and Serco plc.

OMNI-Lab software is at the heart of a system that facilitates the safe and efficient management of bloodspots, taken by heel prick for screening from thousands of newborn infants each year in the South East Thames region (approx. 60,000 live births p.a.).

The screening either indicates that the infants are not suspected of having any of five serious diseases of infancy, or alerts paediatricians to the need for further testing and/or possible treatment.

Prior to implementing OMNI-Lab, GSTS had been using a bespoke LIMS based on a custom-written and since unsupported Microsoft™ Access 97™ database.

Staff were concerned that the database was at increasing risk of data loss or corruption - unthinkable given the critically-important nature of the data being acquired and stored.

In addition, the system was rapidly becoming obsolete in the face of new standards and was unable to interface with various laboratory analyzers. So tenders were invited from several providers and Integrated Software Solutions, the developer of OMNI-Lab, was selected.

Analie Booth, Service Delivery Manager – Biochemical Sciences at the time, stated: “We chose OMNI-Lab for its good electronic links, the fact that it future-proofed us and we liked its flexibility.”

Unlike previous customers for OMNI-Lab, who have usually opted for an off-the-peg solution, GSTS decided to get right under the skin of the system and build their own version from scratch. That meant several people learning how to write SQL and first they had to be trained by ISS.

Analie explains: “We’ve got a system now that’s bespoke for us, but which is fully supported by ISS. We’ve built up the capability in house such that we’ve got experts on site and don’t have to wait for ISS to come up with the solutions to problems for us - we can start working on them ourselves, which is a massive bonus. Having said that, we’ve had a lot of support from the ISS guys both in Winchester, here in the UK and in Australia and that’s ongoing.”

She added: “Although the implementation hasn’t been without teething problems, we’re getting there and we feel an awful lot safer than we did previously. We’ve also got interfaces to all our analyzers, something we didn’t have before. In phase two of the project we’re looking to introduce messaging with child health and maternity units through an N3 secure data connection, allowing us to download patient details and populate our database automatically.”

GSTS is currently taking part in a pilot study for expanded newborn screening, so in addition to the usual five tests they are also screening for five additional but rare conditions: Glutaric Aciduria Type 1 (GA1), Homocystinuria [pyridoxine unresponsive] (HCU), Isovaleric Acidemia (IVA), Maple Syrup Urine Disease (MSUD) and Long Chain 3-Hydroxyacyl-CoA Dehydrogenase Deficiency (LCHADD.

Analie comments: “As this is a pilot project we are not required to report the results of the extra tests back to the Child Health Records Department. At the moment we simply record the results and suppress them so they are not sent out to clinicians, but are available internally for statistical analysis.”

Analie observes that GSTS is constantly reviewing processes and that includes what is happening with OMNI-Lab so that, before manual checks are removed, the system is as safe as it possibly can be.

She concludes: “OMNI-Lab has made us a lot safer overall and we have much more confidence in what’s happening with our processes. Phase two of the project will set the seal on OMNI-Lab’s effectiveness for us.”

Project Manager David Doran signed off for GSTS: “GSTS and Integrated Software Solutions (ISS) recently worked together to replace our existing newborn screening lab IT system with OMNI-Lab’s. The ISS Project Manager joined us in regular team meetings which brought about a very cohesive approach to meeting deadlines and making sure resources were available. We found ISS to have a ‘can-do’ approach to our project and they were very supportive in getting the job done. Completing this project as ‘one team’ ensured the project was delivered on time and under budget and will be an exemplar for our future projects.”

Alex Anderson, Managing Director of Integrated Software Solutions, noted: “What GSTS has done with OMNI-Lab illustrates perfectly just how versatile and therefore powerful it is – whether a lab wants to take an off-the-shelf solution straight from us or customize the suite to a high degree. It’s particularly exciting for us to be helping GSTS play its part in the Expanded Newborn Screening study, which is surely another ringing endorsement for OMNI-Lab in itself.”

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