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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As labs are updated and become more modern, better methods of data management and record-keeping may be necessary in order to maintain or improve efficiency. Luckily, there is a means to achieve this: Laboratory Information Management Systems, or LIMS.
With the increase in disease and the growth in medical diagnosis sector, the number of samples collected is increasing day by day. With the help of Machine interfacing, labs can handle a large volume of samples easily, increasing the efficiency of sample processing and quality of lab reports.
Types of Machine Interfacing in LIMS:
Unidirectional instruments perform one-way communication between the samples and LIMS. Results will be stored in the LIMS after the completion of the rest. The technician has to perform sample placement manually and decide on what type of sampling to be done.
The bi-directional Instruments are more sophisticated and advanced as they can generate both output data reports and results while also having an Application Programming Interface (API) to import data, information, commands, functions, worklists etc. into the system.
Our LIMS sends commands to the sampling unit on the type of sampling to be conducted with the given sample. After the testing is done by the LIMS command, the results are auto-fetched on the LIMS Server. The bi-directional instruments are interfaced with the LIMS system programmatically.
The need to Interface Instruments with LIMS:
There are a number of reasons why it is beneficiary to interface lab instruments with LIMS. Let us look into a few reasons here:
Increase in Productivity by Effective Machine Utilization:
Interfacing your instruments to your LIMS is a one-time investment of cost and work with a repetitive increase in lab productivity and effectiveness. Interfacing LIMS to your lab instruments removes many complexities like manual entering of data every time or referring data from other instruments to the LIMS. This altogether saves a lot of time and effort when done by a LIMS rather than manually, also avoiding any human errors during data entry.
Utilizing machine effectively can increase the productivity drastically. When the task is done manually, very fewer samples are completely analyzed in the given time period, but with MI they can perform many sample processing and that will increase machine utilization and increase revenue.
Increase in Data Quality by Reducing Manual Errors:
The second best reason for interfacing your lab instruments to your LIMS is the increase in the data quality and integrity. As a human, we are eligible to commit human errors that might not be over influential over the system as a whole, but might still be considered as an error. By removing the human interference, these errors are avoided thereby guaranteeing better data transfer in the system.
Similarly, transcribing data into the system by people can also lead to common errors affecting the quality of data. Data integrity is considered a very important issue in laboratories. By interfacing your instruments to your LIMS, you will eliminate this issue.
Saves Time in output generation thereby satisfying the patients:
Machine Interfacing helps to analyze the given samples at a faster rate and generates quality results within a lesser duration of time. After result processing is done, the report will be generated manually.
With the use of MI, ultimate patient satisfaction can be achieved by generating the results in a quick manner with good quality.
Machine interfacing in laboratories is more of a comfort rather than a negative factor. What might be a one-time investment in your labs can save a lot of time and work when interfaced properly with your systems.
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Every modern industry laboratories are under intense pressure to enhance operational efficiency and to decrease costs, while at the same time controlling regulatory compliance and improves quality.
LIMS (Laboratory Information Management System) is adopted across various verticals to meet the challenges. The on-premises system fails most of the time to offer the flexibility which is required to stay competitive in today's economic environment; therefore, an on-premise system is not agile, connected, or responsive.
Advantages of the cloud-based LIMS:
Integration, upgrades & implementation of the on-premise system indicates that the in-house IT workers having less time to work on improved innovation systems & this can also be a time-consuming process. There are plenty of advantages for your organization in case your moving to a SaaS LIMS.
Rapid LIMS implementation:
You need not invest your time to set up servers or install the software. Most of the works are done already if you are using the SaaS LIMS. Apart from that, your lab can run on the unique LIMS quickly and also help your lab to be up.
Online based LIMS are best for enterprises with inconsistent user requirements. With SaaS, it's simple to balance your works either up or down, based on what is happening on your business, and it's enough to spend money on what you make use. New features, services, and a user can be added anywhere by just with the click of the button. The skill that SaaS offers can provide organizations using cloud computing a straight edge over the competitors.
Accessibility and Collaboration:
Online based LIMS allows hassle-free, and easy access to your data anytime and anywhere from different locations, multiple branches, and various systems with a secure login ID. This accelerates enhances collaboration within laboratories in organizations globally. Apart from that, the ability to access workflows and data from where you hold an online connection.
Cloud services are providing mobile applications, and there are no restrictions for specific devices to establish the system.
Levels the playing field:
An online-based LIMS enables every type of small business to possess the ability to provide the organization-level features and functionalities on a pay as you reach the top. This results in, the small business running a LIMS can be more agile and nimble when compared to the large companies which are still making use of the on-premise legacy system.
By using the SaaS LIMS, there is no license cost, just a minimal installation fee, and no need for any databanks or in-house servers, no IT maintenance costs for software or hardware. You can only pay as your subscription you need to choose, and you can pay for the functionalities you need. The funds can be used to invest in essential businesses as there is no higher expense based on the Saas LIMS, and this can fuel the creations which are required to keep your company competitive.
Automatic Software Updates:
When you are using SaaS LIMS, the service providers take responsibility for security or software updates and patches to keep the system up-to-date. This indicates you get enough effort and time from your IT department, enabling them to put efforts over other initiatives of the laboratories which add business values.
Disaster Recovery and Backup services:
Any business needs a perfect disaster recovery plan, and the recovery solutions & the cloud-based backup solutions which come along with the SaaS LIMS are offered without the requirements for a more significant investment, making this vital protection of data services enabling every business in the verticals.
When a SaaS LIMS provides the prospects for essential advantages, it is not the right option for any laboratory. One harmful functionality of SaaS LIMS is that it is tedious to modify the system based on the company's supported design options. Executing a SaaS LIMS in a more prominent company that already possesses a higher developing on-premise function.
Below are some of the factors that need to be considered when you choose to work with a SaaS LIMS provider.
You rely on the company to secure your sensitive data when it moves to the cloud and when you work with a SaaS LIMS. Most of the providers in the cloud perform an excellent job to offer a secure environment for your information, which are the highest vulnerabilities that are probably related to human nature.
The vital responsibility for regulatory compliances always is based on the manufacturers. Few providers lease an online-based LIMS focus on a prevalence system, and this refers to the system of the cloud provider. Apart from this, the providers of SaaS LIMS handle any software patches and upgrades to make sure that you run the most crucial system version.
You need to make sure that your SaaS LIMS has the scope to validate the informatics systems and LIMS instruments.
Service level agreement:
It's essential to create an SLA with your vendors that address any concerned areas and more. One of the best SLA can make the variations between the rollout of your SaaS time & cost and smooth execution along with the unexpected expenses made down the road.
Some of the vendors provide a private cloud option that is facilitated within the facility. The opportunity offers different advantages of SaaS LIMS, but with controlled and decreased security risks. A cloud can be single-tenant, multi-tenant, private, or public. A single-tenant cloud is simpler to less prone and validated to intrusion or data leakage.
Data integrity and audit trails:
An audit trail is vital to address various concerns of the data integrities, both from product quality and regulatory perspective. You also need to ensure that your LIMS online based SaaS has a detailed and reliable audit trail for any data, and also make sure it's controlled on two different servers when compared to the data.
Simplifying certain things can add complications to the business processes when you move to the cloud. The decision to distribute SaaS LIMS will be presented by a mix of regulatory, operational, and security concerns that are unique to any laboratory. Working with the best online-based LIMS consultant is an excellent way to make sure that your enterprises required the best value from laboratory information management to new SaaS approaches.
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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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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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