Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals Successfully Goes Live with Achiever Medical in COVID-19 Lockdown

    Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals Successfully Goes Live with Achiever Medical in COVID-19 Lockdown

    Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Logo

    On March 23rd 2020 amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and enforced operational changes, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) went live with the Achiever Medical laboratory information management system (LIMS).

    The unconventional go live was conducted virtually using Microsoft Teams. Online hand-holding sessions connected members of Interactive Software Limited’s (ISL) project team with members of the NNUH and Quadram Institute Bioscience.

    The Norwich Research Park Biorepository is a partnership between Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, Quadram Institute Bioscience (QIB) and the University of East Anglia and provides samples of human tissue to health researchers. The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council provided £3.5 million of capital funding towards the project.

    Background

    The NRP BioRepository provides samples to researchers across the Norwich Research Park, its associated hospitals as well as externally. Its aim is to leverage samples within its tissue bank to improve research outcomes.

    NNUH chose Achiever Medical LIMS in September 2019 to provide a central sample processing and management system. The system will help NNUH transform its biorepository and meet regulatory compliance.

    The project started in late 2019 and had a scheduled go live date of 23rd March 2020.

    At the beginning of March 2020 with the planned go live date quickly approaching all teams were busy making final preparations. Data was being prepared for import, final testing was completed, and the hand-holding days were booked.

    Then with just over a week to go before go-live, COVID-19 began impacting everyday life. Immediately NNUH and ISL started to draw up contingency plans for the project. The importance of the Achiever Medical system to NNUH and its tissue bank operations meant that the go live should continue to go ahead if possible and safe to do so.

    A few days later the health crisis had worsened. Everything changed again. With less than a week to go everyone had to start working remotely. Added to this, some of the project team members were in self-isolation while others were also juggling childcare duties.

    Outcome

    But even these didn’t stop the go live preparations. Everyone pulled out all the stops to make go live happen. This included both IT teams to make sure the underlying technology was in place to facilitate remote working and communication.

    “I’m so impressed with how everyone from NNUH and ISL has pulled together not only to make this go live happen but also to make it such a success.” comments Sharon Williams, Director at ISL. “Both teams have adapted extremely well to some very dramatic changes at such short notice.”

    This is the first time that ISL’s go-live handholding process has taken place virtually and with everyone in completely different locations. It was a tremendous effort not only to get everyone using new technologies but to implement them at such short notice.

    “It’s been a remarkable journey, but everyone has been so committed. There are times when I’ve said jump and the response from ISL has been how high?” explains Lizzie Meadows, NRP Biorepository Project Manager, Quadram Institute Bioscience. She continues “ISL has been fantastic to work with. The whole team has been pragmatic, proactive and dynamic in response.”

    Despite the challenges and the unprecedented, as well as constantly changing, situation both teams have conducted themselves and carried out their work incredibly well. Thanks to the hard work and commitment from both companies the go live has been extremely successful. Virtual training sessions have given everyone the confidence and support to start using the system straightaway.

    It doesn’t stop there. Further training and handholding sessions are taking place in the following days and weeks.

    NNUH is now carrying out research into COVID-19 and Achiever Medical is supporting it in its research efforts.