University Hospital Bonn
The University Hospital Bonn (UKB) can look back on a history of 204 years. With more than 8,000 employees, the 38 clinics and 31 institutes conduct research and medical care at the highest level. Every year, more than half a million patients are treated in outpatient and inpatient care.
The Institute of Legal Medicine is part of the UKB and performs a wide range of tasks and services for the judiciary, executive authorities, public health authorities and private individuals. It is divided into three areas, all of which are accredited to carry out investigations on behalf of the authorities. For the authorities and judiciary, results from all areas are used in legal proceedings. The services of forensic medicine include the assessment of the causes of injuries and deaths (e.g. examination of victims of violence, post-mortem examinations, autopsies), crime investigations or corpse examinations and the preparation of expert reports on medical cases. In forensic toxicology, blood samples are examined for alcohol, narcotics and other toxicological substances in connection with possible legal violations. In forensic genetics, biological traces are evaluated (for example, from crime scenes) and parentage assessments are produced.
A laboratory information and management system (LIMS) has been used in the three areas for 15 years to organise daily work in the field of services. The system records all the incoming samples and tests that are performed. The daily tasks and work steps are planned and processes in the laboratory are controlled on the basis of the system. The LIMS is integrated into processes, from the receipt of orders at the institute to the preparation of expert reports and invoices.
The system has been adapted several times over the 15-year period of operation. However, the maintenance and further development has become increasingly time-consuming and labour-intensive over this period. In addition, the institute increasingly wanted to further strengthen the IT security of the software. The LIMS used up until now was a flexible standard client software solution, which over the years was adapted by the experts at the university hospital to the needs of legal medicine and the hospital’s own institute of legal medicine. This customising is now increasingly reaching its limits. For these reasons, the hospital took the decision to order its own custom-made software solution. During the migration and replacement, operations should also continue to be maintained.
The system architecture of fLIMS at UKB.
Analysis, development, maintenance, further development and last-level support, UI-/UX-DesignMethods
Agile development with regular system demosTechnologies
Spring Boot, Spring Security, Gradle, React, MS SQL DB, Hibernate, Docker, Jenkins, SonarQube
This project demonstrates the need for solutions that are tailored to the requirements of the requesting parties and can be expanded accordingly. The project maps the complexity of legal medicine in innovative solutions. Both partners worked together to build a system that reduces the users’ workload and intensively drives forward the digital transformation.
— Michael Pfeil, Department Head of Business Applications, University hospital Bonn
cronn developed a concept that was intended to replace the old application in small steps. As a first step, our team quickly developed a new frontend in the form of a web-based user interface to enable parallel operation of the old and new application during the period of development and replacement. After about 5 weeks, the first module was ready to be used and was put into productive use. Further modules followed successively in the following weeks. This enables central work steps and processes in forensic medicine to be mapped: The data of deceased people is recorded, examination data is captured, barcodes for evidence objects and samples taken are printed out, invoices are generated etc.
An important feature for this special software, we have called fLIMS, is also precise and transparent change histories, so that all legally relevant work steps can be traced and samples can be tracked. In order that invoices created in the fLIMS can be processed automatically by the accounts receivable department at the UKB, the team also programmed an interface to the SAP system at the university hospital. In the course of the project, the modules for forensic toxicology and forensic genetics were developed and put into operation in the new target architecture. This now made it possible to plan and control the orders and tasks in the respective laboratories.
The user interfaces were created in close collaboration with the users and adapted to the needs and work processes. User surveys and tests were also carried out for this purpose. In this way, the users were able to influence the design of the interfaces right from the start and immediately use improvements, which ensures an excellent user experience.
Screenshot of a fLIMS user interface with generic test data.
In the second step, our team reinstated the background systems. The original two-layer architecture from the database and fat client was turned into a modern and secure three-layer web application. All laboratory measuring devices were connected to the new backend and bilateral interfaces were also established. This allows laboratory equipment and software to exchange data in both directions. With the old software, for example, information that already existed in the system had to be manually re-entered in the user interfaces of the devices.
With the cronn solution, scanning the barcode is sufficient and the measuring device exchanges all the necessary data with the software. In the final phase, there was a completely new application, which was introduced in several small steps. The solution is state-of-the-art and easy to maintain. The application will be expanded in further steps in order to continuously advance the digitisation and automation of the processes in the institute.
There is virtually no special software available on the market for institutes of legal medicine. In addition to a general LIMS that can be used in all types of laboratories, there are a few special solutions that are also designed for use by authorities, such as the police service. fLIMS provides a laboratory system that is adapted to the needs and requirements of institutes of legal medicine and covers processes and procedures in the fields of forensic medicine, forensic toxicology and forensic genetics.
It also maps applications outside the laboratory, for example, examinations in clinical forensic medicine. In allowing the recording and reporting of personal data, elements of a LIMS, which is mostly concerned with the management of sample data and laboratory processes, have been combined with elements of a laboratory information system (LIS).
Our team also focused on a high level of efficiency for data entry and the highest possible degree of automation for the users’ work steps. In addition, excellent quality management and high IT security are guaranteed. The new system is easy to maintain from a technical perspective and will receive intensive support from us. For the cost of a standard solution, the University Hospital Bonn received specialised software for a highly specialised institute. In addition, cronn will remain a close and reliable partner for the continuous development and expansion of the software in the interests of the users over the next few years.
Non-disruptive replacement of an existing system with agile incorporation of user feedbackComprehensive solution
Individual solution that covers all processes in legal medicines, even outside the laboratoryLong-term support
Maintenance, further development and support – all from a single source
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