The rise of new technologies has made the volume of data drastically increasing day by day. The data volume generated globally across clinical research, biobanks, and other relevant testing laboratories are developing at a faster rate. Surviving the vast data volume and influencing it for research or business is stimulative for labs, especially if they don't possess a regulated mechanism to use and process the data.
One of the crucial reasons to invest in the Lab Information Management System (LIMS) is that it is used for organizing the data disregarding what type of industry you belong to. Information availability and rapid data growth have resulted in the extensive evolution of data management. Below are ten vital signs that state why you should invest in a LIMS.
1. Your laboratory holds higher operational costs:
Leading the particular portion of the allotted funds into laboratory personnel for management and data entry operations.
A Lab Information Management System frees human resources from time consuming and unproductive tasks, and therefore, they are considered as the high saver for your data entry and management operations. You will be able to pay-as-you-go on any basis like monthly or yearly if you prefer to go with a cloud-based LIMS. This means that you no need to make any investments towards hardware installations.
2. You hold transcriptional data entry errors and not able to share information (data silos):
It indicates poor data traceability, problems with connecting data across various data sources & instruments, and data's manual input leading to transcriptional errors.
A Lab Information Management System combines with other data sources and instruments flawlessly and manages the data in the laboratory in an enhanced manner. LIMS automated calculations save time and decrease errors for laboratory personnel. Apart from this, the information can also be retrieved accurately at any time.
3. When there is a risk in your laboratory data:
The sign is when you are not able to grab access to perceptive clinical information, no reliability, not able to follow the regulations based on your industries, making use of paper-based systems and spreadsheets to manage data in your laboratory.
A Lab Information Management System provided enhanced reliability and data security by matching the industry related standards, namely 21 CFR Part 11, HIPAA, and more. It also protects perceptive clinical information by hindering user access of unauthorized persons.
4. When your laboratory has inferior disaster management system:
Insufficiency of a suitable mechanism for data storage and retrieval in the event of theft, fire, or natural calamities.
A Lab Information Management System ensures data continual by copying data to mirror servers, storing data on the primary servers, and also make sure on the timely backups. The information can be managed in case of any theft, fire, or natural disasters.
5. When you don't have real-time data metrics:
The sign indicates when there are no updates to laboratory clients and users on sample processing stages when there are no notifications and alerts for sample expiry or inventory depletion, and when there is no real-time display of metrics of the laboratory in the main dashboard to watch out important problems.
A Lab Information Management System alerts you regarding the inventory depletion or assists in identifying expired samples with the help of alarms, and this makes sure about the timely inventory replenishment. The LIMS also helps you to stay updated on testing or processing samples in your labs by sending application notification or email alerts so that you will be able to know the critical problems instantly.
6. When your laboratory has poor traceability and limited data storage capacity:
The sign is when there are any difficulties in tracing the possible data instantly by searching over different piles of paper data when generating an extensive amount of sample information with the help of paperwork, and when there are too many piles of paper data in the labs, limiting the capacity in the data storage.
A Lab Information Management System assists in managing information electronically and helps to decrease paperwork. You can accurately and instantly trace information with the help of different tools. A cloud-based LIMS protects the data in the cloud, and this data is accessible in real-time and 24/7 available anywhere.
7. When your laboratory is unable to reach the expected productivity:
Delayed Turnaround Times and experimental analysis over industry averages, and influencing human resources for auditing, manual data entry, report generation are the vital signs.
A Lab Information Management System helps labs to plan data management effectively, accelerate operations, and execute different business decisions. It also helps in generating rapid reports and control an audit trail along with time stamp and date.
8. When you have sustainability problems:
When your competitors receive more orders when compared to you and when there are insufficient business agility and responsiveness.
A Lab Information Management System can help in making your laboratory business active amid the complicated global market.
9. When your laboratory lacks collaboration scientifically:
When there requires a high sample turn around time and data duplication for sharing with collaborators and partners.
A Lab Information Management System, particularly in the case of cloud-based, helps in decreasing errors, avoid data duplication, enables accelerated turn around time, and effective collaboration. Apart from this, it also allows us to achieve higher profit, market share, and productivity.
10. When you have no capabilities in customizing for your different data management methods:
Applying new changes to the existing data manually to the older records, and where there is no customizations option available with spreadsheets and paper-based systems.
A Lab Information Management System enables customization as per your requirements and is also considered as the highly configurable solution. Any new changes can be applied instantly on the original records and therefore saves more time.
I hope the above signs let you choose the right LIMS. Any other queries and comments on the Lab Information Management System are welcome.
Running a productive lab smoothly is tedious. Whether you are dealing with multiple samples or if you have an excessive number of deadlines approaching, following the practical tips given below will help in managing your lab efficiently.
1. Keep an eye on your stuff:
Your inventory covers all the specimens and reagents your lab will need for diagnostic or experimentation analysis. An effective way of sustaining inventory is to use a tool which makes use of barcodes to identify, categorize, and track samples. Regardless, the labels you utilize for vials, racks, tubes, and boxes need to be suitable for the atmosphere in which they will be used. For instance, labels marked ”cryogenic” can come in handy for any reagents stored in freezers or cell lines or specimens stored in liquid nitrogen.
2. Sustainment is key:
Maintenance of the lab infrastructure is vital to ensure the durability of your reagents and samples. Refrigerators and freezers need to be sustained at the ideal temperature, Co2/O2 levels in each incubator should be controlled carefully, and the stocks of liquid nitrogen and other lab supplies must be replenished. Systems which can control your storage equipment, offering real-time notifications and updates while keeping detailed reports and logs of all parameter related activity can make this entire process automated, with minimal human intervention, and will ensure that no other thing is missed. These type of systems work with a cloud-based framework and can integrate all reports in a single place and will notify the lab personnel if anything goes wrong.
3. Stay Coordinated:
Spending time in workflow management will enable you to enhance sample traceability, track inventory, improve the overall personnel productivity, and more. Incorporating a LIMS (Laboratory Information Management System) is an excellent way to do this as it will note the movement of each sample during the testing process, monitoring its custody chain, and enabling users to schedule downstream processing, analysis, and testing in a smooth manner. Getting the most out of your LIMS by using barcoded labels is critical as both will aid in sample traceability and tracking.
Communication and coordination are also vital when incorporating any system that optimizes workflow. Holding regular lab meetings will enable you to create and control any LIMS you wish to utilize and also keep a good record of all lab activities with the help of well-annotated lab books and LIMS.
4. It’s the system, not the people:
No matter how organized the labs are, errors will occur. Designing barriers and openly discussing the mistakes will decrease the likelihood of them reappearing. By introducing multiple checkpoints and verifications, you can reduce the chances that the mistakes will stack up causing unanticipated consequences. But this should not be done without compromising the speed of processing in the lab. Maintaining lab infrastructure, keeping a managed inventory, and coordinating your workflow are all kinds of barriers which can prevent critical errors. Managing all related data in your lab books will also enable you to revolve the mistakes as each test or experiment can be verified with comprehensive documentation even if the person is no longer a lab member.
5. Utilize Common Sense:
Some labs are specialized in carrying out a small set of techniques that needs specific labels. For instance, Xylene resistant labels for histochemistry labs. Regardless, most of the labs do not have tremendous resources with which to buy labels and equipment. Managing a lab cannot be like a one size fits all approach. In this case, it’s crucial to assess what the issues are and to come up with answers from both financial and organizational standpoints. In most cases, simple solutions are enough. For instance, you can have signed up sheets either online or on paper for machines like biosafety, centrifuges, cabinets, and thermocyclers, etc.
6. Thinking Creatively:
Following the current trends are important. You need to make sure that you’re thinking in a creative manner even for simpler things as it can help avoid issues in the lab and also can enhance the research pace.
Efficient communication is crucial regardless of the lab you work in, but with every member consistently working on various techniques or projects, it's possible that they fall out of the habit of collaborating. Lab meetings are a significant way to solve problems, especially in the beginning of the week, so that everyone knows what their tasks are and how to complete them. It’s a good habit to make a relationship with your office mates even outside the lab as this helps to have excellent communication.
Hope the above blog helped you to know about managing a lab productively and their benefits in depth.
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An Introduction to LIMS
Laboratory Information Management system (LIMS) is a software that is used in labs for data management and to process a large number of lab samples to manage laboratory workflow. With LIMS, the lab can automate workflows, integrate instruments, and manage samples and associated information. Additionally, labs can produce valid results quickly and can track data across experiments to improve efficiency.
LIMS that are commonly used in clinical labs fall under the below categories:
Clinical Chemistry Analyzers
Immunoassay Systems etc.
Benefits of using LIMS in your lab are:
Integrate instruments or other in-lab systems
Centralize access and storage of data
Track data from sequencing runs
Initiate downstream data analysis.
The Efficiency of LIMS:
The main purpose of using a LIMS in a lab is to improve the efficiency of sample processing and management. Using LIMS would cut down on the need for manual tasks thereby increasing the accuracy in sample analysis. LIMS captures data automatically, gets processed, and is stored for future reference. The LIMs vendor you choose will define the proceeding process of the software.
Generally, the process of a LIMS is divided into five stages:
The sample is logged in after reception.
Assignment, scheduling, and tracking of the sample and the analytical workload
Processing and quality control associated with the sample
Storage of data associated with the sample analysis
Inspection, approval, and compilation of the sample data for report generation and further analysis.
Types of LIS Modules Used In Clinical Laboratory:
The features of Laboratory Information system (LIS) have seen an evolutionary growth over the years from sample tracking to enterprise resource planning for clinical and specialty laboratories.
A typical workflow pattern of a LIS in a clinical lab flows through three phases:
Pre-analytical: Specimen collection.
Analytical: testing of the specimens.
Post-analytical: Result review.
The LIS modules are used by various laboratory departments like:
Various Common Functionalities Used In LIMS:
With the progress in technology, the functions of a LIMS progresses too. LIMS software is built in a way to support any upcoming progress while effectively working on a basic set of definite functionalities like the collection of data, tracking of sample, processing, data storage, and report generation.
Some of the core functionalities of LIMS are explained as below:
LIMS was originally created to help in the process of sample management systems occurring in laboratories. This system gets initiated when a sample is received in a laboratory and gets registered in a LIMS. Since a large number of samples are collected and analyzed in a day, it would be difficult to record the samples without the chance of being confused with other analysis. With LIMS, It would be easier to track the sample if it is labeled and assigned correctly by using RFID on the samples or barcodes.
The information collected and stored via a LIMS would fall under the following criteria:
1) Details about the person whose sample is taken
2) Details of the doctor/clinic who recommended for an analysis
3) The tests/analysis needed to be taken on the sample
4) Stages of the sample and destination
5) Storing procedures
6) Expected report generation date
7) Record creation for future purposes.
The need for workflow management using a LIMS is as important as Sample management and record-holding. The accuracy of a working system does not just depend on the data; it needs an on-point process assessment where a LIMS system can be used. As the name indicates, workflow management helps automate workflows and assign work if delegated precisely in the software.
All you would have to do for better workflow management using LIMS is:
Enter proper codes to direct the LIMS system for a work assignment
Configure the process flow of the work for sample analysis
Assign exact instruments for the particular work.
Workflow management using a LIMS saves time and conducts the job with precision.
Electronic Medical Record (EMR)/ Electronic Health Record (EHR) is software that collects and stores information on the patient’s medical history in the form of records that can be shared via different health care mediums. Many LIMS have this EMR/EHR functionality built-in in their system. Using a LIMS with EHR function will be a huge asset to your lab as the real-time data exchange can be made possible easily.
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Lab Management Software is simply a tool that can ease the operations involved in modern laboratories by automating most of them. As an all-inclusive software including lab management system, ERP tools, data analytics tool and virtual software, LIMS efficiently works out on the laboratory informatics. While each of the operations involved in LIMS is possible manually, why should one choose the software? Here is why:
1. LIMS is Error-free
Being error-free is the first and most important feature of LIMS software. Lab management being a tedious process involving many stages, the probability of data mismatch, incorrect readings, and erroneous updates are more when manually handled. Hence, an automated system such as Lab Information Management Software can largely help in ensuring record precision.
2. Centralized data access
LIMS extends to ease of access to patient records and reports. Thus, any referencing or verification of patient details can be done in a jiffy or shared with clinicians, technicians, and others instantly. It furthermore auto-updates critical values and crisis situations, thus ensuring immediate attention to the demanding cases.
3. Integrate with Instruments
Analysis and testing performed on clinical instruments can be directly linked with the Lab Information Management System. And LIMS shall automatically obtain test results from the instrument and store them in its primary database which can then be shared, reviewed and maintained at any point of time. This completely eliminates the need for manual handling that has very high chances of errors and is extremely time-consuming.
5. Sample Tracking
LIMS initiates a track record of the samples right at the point when a sample is collected from patients. The records maintained includes clinical reports, phenotypic information, freezer location, etc. In many cases, the freezer location is fed in detail such that the row, column, rack, box, and shelf are precisely specified. The software tool maintains a thorough track record of all freeze cycles and thaw cycles that the sample gets subjected to, details of collection center, clinician/lab technician who handled the sample, sample
movement tracking, and so on. With this information, LIMS makes 100% sure that the sample does not get mismatched or lost at any point of time during the entire course of the process.
6. Improve TAT
The overall time required from the start when the sample is collected until the reports are shared with patients/clinicians for further procedures, the manual handling is reduced, thus reducing error and the need for cross-verification at various points. LIMS also automatically manages and calibrates medical instruments connected with it and auto-updates in case of alarming readings/reports. This improves the overall Turnaround Time of the entire process.
7. Hassle-free workflow
LIMS automates workflow and records maintenance, thus saving a lot of time. As you codify the processes with LIMS, the software instructs as to which instrument is to be used next, which technician is supposed to handle the process in the following phase, and so on. Hence, manual intervention to instruct or direct record movement and tracking is largely cut. In other words, LIMS manages and assigns works to the lab technician and makes the process hassle-free on the whole.
8. Quicker Workflow
LIMS allows impeccable access to Doctors and Patients with their respective login portals. It has preset templates to generate and send across an invoice for patients and labs. Further, it is also easy to make a comparative analysis with the convenience of setting against previous reports and patient history, thus making enabling quicker workflow on the whole.
LIMS increases throughput and thus acts very productively. Automatically, the lab test results are shared across users. And patient history can be quickly referred to. The reports are synchronized with the physician EMR for quick access. In cases of abnormalities, automatic updates and alerts are raised without the need for manual intervention. The software also enables digital signing and cuts down on the wait time for approving a physical document.
10. Quality Control
Through the course of testing, the machine-driven analysis remains subject to change and may demand calibrations. With the help of effective Quality Control measures, identifying variations becomes very easy. Simply put, Quality Control helps in ensuring the accuracy and precision of data. Furthermore, QC results are stored as database and can be set against actual results, thus enabling complete control over deviations or errors, if any. With NABL and other lab accreditations, the quality of results and the workflow are guaranteed.
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The healthcare industry, like any other industry, is not self-reliant. Since this is an ever-evolving industry there's no stopping for the challenges that arise or the solutions for it. One such healthcare solution is the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS). The Laboratory management system has been providing healthcare solutions for the industry, over the past couple of decades: but what it really is?
LIMS And What Does It Do?
The Laboratory management system started as a system to keep a record of test samples, their results and all other particulars of donor and patients sample. From the point of its inception, the laboratory management system followed the traditional methods of manual labeling and record-keeping; it was followed only until the introduction of computers to healthcare solutions.
Ever since the Laboratory Information Management System is in a course of upward trajectory.
As the computers evolved so did software. Dedicated LIMS software packages began appearing with tweaks and new features every time. The LIMS software today is so reliable that once a test sample is collected in lab or patients house, it is taken to a pathology laboratory and given a tag, it is almost impossible to lose track of it. The LIMS software packages can manage and update the progress in tests and can also update the result of the tests to the database in real-time.
To put in simple words:
A laboratory Information management system, shortly known as LIMS, is a software that is used to help lab faculties in collecting samples, processing and delivering reports to patients. It acts as an interface between the lab faculties and the database where all the information and essential details are stored. This includes all the tests conducted under a particular facility.
In its early days, the laboratory management system was an isolated off the network system. But as technology paved the way for more advanced secure networking, the Laboratory Information Management System stepped into the next-gen of healthcare solutions.
Even though the laboratory management systems provide easy accessibility of the information from the database, it isn't enough. Its information resource was limited to that one particular facility alone. The limitations of a standalone laboratory management system include
Limitation in the storage capacity of the database servers
The maintenance of servers at the healthcare facility itself involves difficulties
Medical procedures that involve referral to different locations will require carrying of physical records; which is an inconvenience again.
Though the chances are less: if the servers go down it is almost impossible to recover the data unless there is a backup, which will require additional servers.
Since standalone laboratory management systems are not cloud-based, sharing patient reports via App, SMS or Emails is restricted.
Since there are technologies developed already to overcome these limitations, they should be employed immediately.
The cloud storage is a powerful technology than it sounds. The cloud storage has virtually no limits on the storage capacity, thereby immensely supporting the laboratory information management system and other healthcare solutions.
The data centers provide a larger bandwidth to access the servers. That is more than enough to provide traffic less access.
Since the cloud servers have multiple redundant systems, there is always a backup and data loss is not a thing to worry about.
The centralized data center for the laboratory management system makes it possible to access data from anywhere in the world with authorization.
The maintenance of these servers is extremely cost-effective compared to the standalone LIMS.
As LIMS is cloud-based, it can connect multiple stakeholders. You can also have control over sample tracking, processing and delivering. And there is easy scalability in business.
The inter-connection of LIMS software servers also introduces the patients to the inside of the Laboratory Information Management System. Since the LIMS software made the information easily accessible, the patients can easily keep track of their records. This also helps patients to keep their personal health records up to date with no effort.
LIMS Beyond Limits:
The LIMS software, even though started as a record-keeping and managing healthcare solution, it has now evolved into a state of complete management solution. It has given a massive boost to the administration of the healthcare facility and also the financial management of the healthcare centers.
The LIMS software acts as an interface between the laboratory equipment and other devices. The Laboratory Information management System is capable of interfacing with the database in real-time to import and export data. It also acts as an interface between multiple devices within the lab for better coordination.
For instance, an MRI scanner is only a scanning machine with an image display unit and a control unit. But, with the LIMS software machine interface, the data from the scanner can be stored directly in the database to the respective patient name. It helps the doctors to analyze the data whenever required.
Time management is one of the most challenging objectives of management. The LIMS software used in today's healthcare facilities provides day to day management solutions besides healthcare solutions.
The LIMS software can make schedules for doctors and specialists. It also helps in scheduling for follow-ups and cancellation of appointments at the request of patients through IVRs and websites.
Since there is always a demand for the time slots to access the laboratory equipment and devices, including the high-cost scanners which are a rare resource, LIMS software can schedule their time slots in the most effective way.
In addition to these, the Laboratory Information Management System also has the in-house pharmacy records maintained, notifies the maintenance of laboratory equipment and other services.
The AI of LIMS and it's future:
The future of the Laboratory Information Management System has already shown us a glimpse of what it is capable of over the years.
The AI is definitely the future of every field and the Laboratory Information Management System is no exception. The introduction of LIMS software to artificial intelligence can automate pretty much everything in the laboratory management system and improve the qualities of healthcare solutions. Smart labs will be the newest addition to the list of healthcare solutions by the LIMS software.
The advancements in various supporting fields such as microfluidics, biometrics, lab-on-a-chip technologies, and their automation have ensured the steady progress of the Laboratory Information Management system. The day is not far when the AI Laboratory Information management System (AI LIMS) will be working along with humans and serve humanity.
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