Unified Test List, FHIR & UCUM: Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Standards

The Problem

The NHS is dependent on rapidly obsolescing standards for lab results coding and transmission. The NHS has used coded results to send to GPs for many years using the Pathology Bounded Code List (PBCL) in an EDIFACT message wrapper.

The PBCL was coded using the now deprecated Read Codes terminology, making it unsuitable to meet the future needs of the NHS.

The Solution

A replacement standard for PBCL is required to meet UK's evolving needs for pathology/lab results. In fact, we need a set of standards enabling exchange of test requests and results; the Unified Test List (UTL), units of measure and the message standards (FHIR).

In England, NHS Digital initiated a new lab results coding standard work under the title the Unified Test List (UTL), as the replacement for the PBCL.

The Future

NHS Digital have rapidly scaled up coverage of lab test results in the Unified Test List (UTL) in the past few years covering blood sciences, immunology and microbiology. These standards also tie in with NHSX and NHS Digital guidance for use of SNOMED CT across all settings in healthcare.

The UTL is part of the broader move to use SNOMED CT as a terminology standard across health and care in England.

Standards now approved!

The Information Standards Notice (ISN) for the Pathology Test and Results Standard has been approved! We really needed these standards to enable sharing of lab test results, but that's just the start. These standards are also a game changer for the Pathology Consolidation work happening across England.

Read the official publication

What benefits do we get?

New national standards improve how digital lab requests and results are sent from labs to clinicians, amongst clinicians and between clinicians and patients.

Easier access to test results

Ensures seamless transmission of lab results and requests in lab to lab, lab to primary care, secondary care and other settings

Improved Patient Safety

Ensures lab results are trackable and comparable across different settings, improving patient safety and reducing duplicate testing.

Better analysis of results

Ensures secondary data analysis is accurate, driving up efficiency at a time of significant lab realignment and re-procurement activity.

Want to learn more about UTL?

Understand what the UTL covers, how it related to PBCL and other standards.

Our Role in UTL Development

Termlex team worked closely with NHS Digital in the design of the future pathology standards – covering the terminology (Unified Test List – UTL), messaging (FHIR) and Units of Measure (UCUM) standards.

In additional to the design, we leveraged our terminology expertise to support NHS Digital in rapidly producing standardised codes for test results that constitute the UTL.

Empirical Approach

We kicked off the creation of UTL content by adopting an empirical approach using most frequently used results/requests from NHS organisations. We combined this with our clinical & terminology knowledge process to iterate the through content creation, with on-going consultation with pathology experts.

Agile delivery

We used an Agile approach, to turn around new standardised lab test names (UTL) from labs and hospitals at volume and pace. By helping NHS Digital adopt this approach we ensured scalable, iterative delivery of UTL with built-in clinical validation. We can help you meet deadlines by adopting delivery for your project needs.

Content Scaling

We designed a logical model for UTL content creation and maintenance. This logical model forms the basis for patterns that can be used to rapidly scale UTL content for different diagnostic specialties in the future. This logical model can be adapted for use in local hospital and lab settings to meet your needs!

Standardising your Lab Test Codes?

We used our expertise in pathology (lab medicine) to standardise lab tests as part of the UTL (Unified Test List) work with NHS Digital. We can can help you standardise your own lab test codes too – based on the UTL, addressing gaps that might arise.

  • Pathnexus, our Lab Data Harmonisation platform makes standardising your local test codes easy!
  • Migrate from legacy standards to the UTL. You can reuse any mappings you might have to the PBCL.
  • Use Pathnexus to establish governance processes for any lab data harmonisation (consolidation) work you might be undertaking!

Pathnexus Platform

Trying to harmonise your test list in a network/hub?

We can help you standardise your existing data, harmonise test lists across different sites, UTL (Unified Test List), PBCL, etc

Pathology Standards Brochure

Download our brochure on England’s upcoming standards