In an effort to control the COVID-19 pandemic and to significantly scale up testing capacity, governments throughout the world have set up screening programmes. In Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Germany, the software systems from MIPS are playing an important role in these programmes by facilitating the communication between the laboratories, the governmental software platforms, and the various agencies that centralise and report on the data.
As the European market leader in laboratory information management solutions, MIPS is also responsible for providing essential support to its customers – those laboratories that are in the line of fire of this health crisis and are devoting all their energy to processing increasing numbers of COVID-19 tests while, at the same time, continuing to perform their daily diagnostic tasks.
Belgian federal platform for COVID-19 testing relies on solutions from MIPS
The Federal Government decided to set up a federal testing platform to increase testing capacity by creating a consortium of university hospitals and software, biotech, and pharmaceutical companies. A cloud-based IT platform was then created to digitally support the workflow and to ensure that the information could be shared, optimally and in a structured manner, between the various laboratories, governmental agencies, care providers, and contact tracers.
This platform has been built with MIPS solutions: namely, the GLIMS laboratory information system, which has an impressive track record not only in Belgium but across Europe, and CyberLab, the application used by doctors to requests tests and to consult their patients’ test results.
The members of the consortium focused all their efforts on setting up this platform in record time. “The involvement of MIPS started with a telephone call during the weekend of 22 March. We immediately assigned a team to the project to support the government in their approach to this crisis, and by the 9th of April the system generated its first results – only 17 days after that first contact about this project,” explains John Lebon, CEO of MIPS.
The entire process was based on a standard approach and a method was developed to automate the testing in short order. This made it possible to add an extra laboratory in less than a weeks’ time.
At the same time, MIPS was helping the individual laboratories to increase their capacity for PCR testing by connecting extra PCR devices.
Meanwhile, more than 1,200,000 test results have already been recorded in the platform. And that is not the end of it. Currently, MIPS is actively involved in the roll-out of ‘Platform.bis’. Via this platform, the Belgian government aims to further expand testing capacity so that all recognised Belgian laboratories can process a total of 70,000 to 90,000 tests per day. MIPS remains instrumental in achieving this goal by ensuring that the requests for COVID-19 tests from primary care sources and from hospitals are automatically transferred to the laboratories’ information systems so that they can optimally, and quickly, process the tests.
MIPS supports the Netherlands’ GGD laboratories
Dutch residents who show symptoms of coronavirus infection can be tested at a GGD (Gemeenschappelijke Gezondheidsdiensten) test site. The samples collected there are then analysed in a microbiology lab.
To make this wide-ranging, national COVID-19 screening possible, the Dutch government has set up a central IT platform called the ‘CoronIT-platform’. This platform shares data with the laboratory information systems (LIS) in the labs that perform the corona tests.
On 10 April, MIPS, whose GLIMS laboratory information system has over 70% of the market share of Dutch microbiology laboratories, was asked to help support the launch of the CoronIT-platform. A special task force was immediately created at MIPS to facilitate rapid implementation.
In just a few weeks’ time, MIPS connected the 12 laboratories that work directly with the GGDs, all of whom are GLIMS users, to the platform. Another 15 laboratories that perform analyses when the GGD testing labs have reached their capacity limits were also integrated during a second phase. Now all of the connected laboratories can seamlessly receive electronic orders for COVID-19 analyses and send the results back to the GGDs.
French government chooses MIPS systems to control the pandemic
In order to ensure the well-organised tracing and monitoring of people infected with COVID-19, the French government has established the national SI-DEP IT platform. This platform makes it possible to request laboratory tests; to return the test results to requesting clinicians and to the patients, to feed the information into the contact tracing app from the French government, and to store the results securely in a national database.
The French government, together with the Assistance Public – Hôpitaux de Paris (AP-HP) hospitals and MIPS, has succeeded in building this platform in just two months. The heart of the platform is CyberLab, MIPS’ web-based order entry and result consultation application.
CyberLab was chosen because this application can easily be linked to all the LIS systems that are used in France. The solution is also capable of processing large volumes of data, independent of their origins. The fact that CyberLab had already proven its effectiveness in a similar configuration certainly played a role in the French decision to work with MIPS.
During the first phase, the hospitals that were equipped with MGI machines, which allow large numbers of tests to be carried out, were connected to SI-DEP. All other laboratories that perform COVID-19 testing have been connected in a second phase. Today, there are 374 GHT’s (Groupement Hospitalier de Territoire) and hospitals, and approximately 4,500 private laboratories connected to the platform. Together, they can process up to 500,000 test results per day.
Support for diagnostic processes with new functionalities in Germany
MIPS has developed various tools and functionalities in the context of the pandemic for its German customers as well. Customer systems have been adapted in response to the federal government’s decision to reduce the VAT from 19 percent to 16 percent.
Furthermore, in the context of the corona contact tracing app that was commissioned by the German government, MIPS has ensured it offers its customers the highest level of support for the processes related to SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics, such as the transfer of data and the invoicing of the accompanying laboratory services.
MIPS has also made significant contributions to the diagnostic process itself. In record time, MIPS has interfaced to a whole series of laboratory equipment from various manufacturers and helped its customers to quickly set up complete analysis platforms and equip new laboratory departments.
MIPS has also developed a new interface for the export and digital transfer of SARS-CoV-2 results to the DEMIS reporting and information system for infection control at the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).
“We are very proud that we can contribute to the national testing platforms in Belgium, The Netherlands, France and Germany, helping to stem the tide of the COVID-19 pandemic and that we can help the national governments and healthcare workers to get the crisis under control,” says John Lebon, CEO of MIPS. “What’s more, we also take care of providing optimal support to every one of our customers that is confronted with the challenges brought about by the fight against this pandemic. Wherever necessary, we continue to adapt our solutions – in fact, we also support our international customers by enabling pooled testing in GLIMS. By sharing knowledge and experience across borders, we have succeeded in optimally supporting four national projects, despite the unprecedented time pressure and the exceptional circumstances in which we were forced to work.”
“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone from the MIPS team who was involved in these massive projects,” adds John Lebon. “An accomplishment like this is only possible because of the enthusiastic, professional, responsive and constructive attitude of all parties involved, from our customers and employees to the national governments.”