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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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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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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Going wrong in experiments taking place in laboratories is usual, but proper attention and planning can help in preventing damaged reputations, wasted resources, and unnecessary accidents. Below are some reasons why laboratories fail and what can be done to stop them.
A shortfall of orientation with the Business:
Bell Labs, Xerox PARC, and other legendary labs can evoke images of complete isolation and extreme secrecy from the core business. Split-up sorting is significant in the case of organizations where rules and regulations heads to balance new ideas. In this case, split-up remains as a rare problem.
The issue inclines that the labs do not have a clear strategy planned with the organization. You can see most of the labs offers kombucha by installing kegs on tap to acquire the creative things beginning and then start to evaluate with only a finite conception of their goals. Some of the team in the labs are not sure that they are charged with disruption or serving the core business.
The committee members and leaders should consider the importance of opening a lac, decide on how the lab will benefit or interrupt the present and future Business, should plan for a remedy in the case of disruption, prepare the works for how the new ideas are going to be executed, and more. The planning and other steps can be successful if it's made with the following considerations.
Vitality: Making clear and creative goals for the lab will assist both company leaders, and stakeholders understand the intent and direction of development vision.
Growth: Let's imagine, you have come with the idea that is validated as well as requires growing outside of the lab. Now, where will you get the additional support for the plan? There are few options like you go back to an accelerator, an incubator, or into the core business. Possibly, troublemaking innovations will go outside of the core enterprises, as it can be developed in a further way and also secured from business-as-usual fingerprints and corporate antibodies.
People: People with purpose and passions are considered to be the heart of the most influential development initiatives as there is no chance for the lab to support the stakeholders who come up with new ideas and implementing them in unchartered territory.
Lack of team balance:
Some people have good intentions and knowledge of the industry but fails as they do not have any idea how innovation works. Possibly, the leaders of this type deal with the development and changes as they deal with a problem in the core business. This will lead to more significant incremental improvements.
The other way lab fails when they are staffed merely by a team of external tycoons, whose only thinking is to set fire to conventional forms of operating burns bridges along with the organization. It means the people know steps to build a business or launch startups but will miss the internal networks and knowledge needed to handle corporate networks.
It's essential to take a diverse team to be more successful at your organization. You also need people outside the enterprise, but you need to make sure that they possess different skills including employees for long with a passion for development, creativity and also should know the working nature of the company.
It's not much easy to maintain this balance, but you need to make it happen. The practical development team in or out of the lab needs to be diverse and purpose-driven in terms of background, function, and cognitive style.
The shortfall of metrics to trace success:
Innovation needs unique and creative thinking around economic support. Labs require space to incubate, evolve, or iterate new ideas. Return and financial need to be tracked over time and also should be insisted in advance even if your lab acts as a cost center that is mandated to experiment over the longer term.
Apart from this, there are some other essential things for the laboratories failing like Undervaluing ROI (Return on Investment), hiring extremes, building vs buying, meaningless hackathons, inflated expectations, the CTO/CINO/CIO dilemma, undue focus on interruption, poor project management, a big plan with no stepping stones, ignoring people by focusing on technology, and more.
Do you have any other suggestions to stop the laboratories from failing?
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Upgrading your clinical laboratory might be the latest enhancement you are implementing in your lab. This upgrade means you are automating the key functions to easily maintain the workflow. To make sure that your systems work in a smooth, harmonized and safe manner, consider installing a cloud-based Laboratory Information Management system in your Lab. The cloud-based LIMS is no doubt the best choice to make as it has many advantages. A few of which are:
The data stored in the cloud are fully encrypted, hence 100% data safety.
Cost saving as there is no need of server maintenance.
With effective data recovery, any data loss can be reverted.
No manpower required as everything is stored in the cloud, unlike physical servers.
Below are some simple tips to effectively manage your Cloud-based Laboratory Information Management System:
Implement a Cloud-Based Service Desk:
The most important step to do while implementing a cloud-based LIMS system is to provide a mini web page for clients to find information that caters to the need of every patient. The internet is the influence king of the virtual world; so most of your patients will visit your website first, before heading over to your lab. Set up a cloud-based service desk and assist your patients just like you would do in your physical laboratory premises.
Make sure the webpage has a live chat facility so your customers can chat about the types of tests they can do and laboratory locations. Providing a live chat facility can help you to follow-up in case the customers log out of the page suddenly. Also, features such as patient portals and customer portals empower your customers to download report through the website making them completely independent.
Ease of Mobility:
Investing in a LIMS mobile app or website is the biggest advantage that Cloud-based servers can provide a laboratory. Since the data is stored at a remote location and is not bound by the constraints of physical hardware on the premises, investing on a mobile version of your laboratory’s website or even an App is a good idea.
You can take patient satisfaction to another level when you offer your patients and potential patients the ease to reach or access their health information on the go. With a virtual service desk in place, going mobile would mean more and better interactions, increased patient satisfaction.
LIMS Staff Training:
It’s essential to train laboratory staffs to unlock the full power of your LIMS software application. To utilize LIMS software effectively, you can segregate the employees, department wise and provide training accordingly. Delegating one person as the head of training in every department can take the responsibility of providing LIMS related knowledge sharing and periodic training. LIMS software training can include configuration options, storage, and retrieval of data, managing your workflows and reporting. Staff training in each department is very important for businesses to succeed.
Increase Speed of Operation:
While there is technology in place to conduct meetings between people from different locations, Cloud-based LIS effectively helps access any data from any location as long as their login has access rights to that data. This ensures faster exchange of information resulting in an overall increased speed of operations of the laboratory.
Ease up the Implementation Process and Quality Indicators:
The constant check of quality to ensure stability in business is the major requirement for any industry. With clinical laboratory, it is more of a service quality check rather than product one. Hence, quality indicators are of utmost importance to a laboratory.
LIMS can monitor jobs like Sample monitoring, sample workflow process, patient visit count, inventory flow, cash flow, consultant performance, and overall business fluctuations over a period and analyze the metrics to issue performance-based documents. Then LIMS can develop standard quality indicators and key performance indicators.
These are the few steps in which you could optimize our laboratory functions by using cloud-based LIMS. By identifying your business metrics, you can now establish new grounds for business optimization with cloud technology.
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