More than a billion test results are reported across the NHS each year, making pathology reporting a crucial information exchange in the health and care system. Across the NHS there is no single set of standards used for pathology results. Different laboratories use different test lists and different units to measure and report results. For clinicians this can mean they need to interpret results for the same type of test differently depending on which laboratory has carried out the testing and reported the results. This can lead to misinterpretation and errors.

NHSX/Digital have a programme to implement new standards for pathology test requests and results across the NHS. PRSB was commissioned to support this programme by developing demonstrators to test the feasibility of implementing the new standards and consulting stakeholders about them.

The work was conducted in two phases. Phase one developed demonstrators to show how the standards could work. Phase two engaged with stakeholders, using the demonstrators and their outputs to gather feedback on the feasibility of implementing the new standards.

The PRSB report is now published. The work is based on the clinical terminology, SNOMED CT, to define test requests and results, and machine-readable standards for units of measure. These will all be shared between systems digitally using FHIR (fast healthcare interoperability resources) messaging, the technical standards for sharing information between systems.