Intelligent Liver Function Testing: Working Smarter to Improve Patient Outcomes in Liver Disease

Iain Macpherson, Jennifer H. Nobes, Eleanor Dow, Elizabeth Furrie, Michael H. Miller, Emma M. Robinson, John F. Dillon (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
182 Downloads (Pure)


Chronic liver disease (CLD) is a significant health problem affecting millions of people worldwide. In Scotland, CLD is a major cause of premature mortality. Liver function tests (LFTs) are a panel of frequently requested blood tests which may indicate liver disease. However, LFTs commonly contain at least one abnormal result, and abnormalities are rarely investigated to the extent recommended by national guidelines. The intelligent Liver Function Testing (iLFT) pathway is a novel, automated system designed to improve early diagnosis of liver disease. Initial abnormal LFT results trigger a cascade of reflexive testing to help identify the cause of any liver dysfunction. Algorithms combine these results with demographic and clinical data (such as patient age, body mass index, and alcohol intake) and fibrosis estimates to produce an electronic diagnosis and management plan. The pilot trial demonstrated that iLFT increased diagnosis of liver disease whilst remaining cost-effective. As such, iLFT has been fully operational across our region (NHS Tayside, Scotland) since August 2018. In the first year, iLFT generated over 2000 diagnoses from 1824 patient samples with an abnormality in the initial LFTs. The majority of these patients could be safely managed in primary care. iLFT allows maximal value to be obtained from liver blood tests across biochemistry, virology, immunology, and hematology with only minor changes to working practices. 'Intelligent', algorithm-led testing pathways break down the barrier between clinical and laboratory medicine and offer solutions to many of the challenges experienced in modern healthcare systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1090-1100
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Laboratory Medicine
Issue number5
Early online date11 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


  • Abnormal LFTs
  • Automated testing
  • Blood tests
  • Intelligent liver function testing
  • Liver disease
  • Noninvasive diagnosis
  • Reflexive testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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