Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) is a software-based solution that is used in labs for data management and to process a large number of lab samples to manage laboratory workflow. Evaluating and choosing the right LIMS must be done after analyzing some salient features like cost, interface, the ability of the system to evolve based on your future requirements, etc.
In this blog, we will help you evaluate the best and cost-effective laboratory information system that will suit your requirement in the best way.
What to Choose Between Online and Offline Model of LIMS?
The offline model of LIMS software is an outdated one. Some disadvantages of using offline LIMS are:
No mobile app facilities
Reports can be generated. But patients have to get the reports directly visiting the premises.
Patients record not synchronized with multiple lab locations
In case of a server crash, there is no possibility of getting data back. Less data security.
Future technology updates are tough to install
Maintenance is high.
Offline LIMS has some defects. Due to its unavailability online 24/7, the data collected can be stored only in a desktop, increasing the chances of data loss. The offline LIMS is best suited for small laboratories with only one clinical lab.
Why is Online Model of LIMS the Best Choice?
The online model of LIMS is based totally on the cloud. Hence the data can be viewed from anywhere in the world if they are updated on the cloud. Monitoring live instrument data with the right tools will allow your company to make faster decisions with accurate information and support the on-time delivery of reports.
A time-consuming, manual process will be transformed into a fast, automated process, where human errors in collecting and processing information will be reduced to zero, allowing the company to concentrate its resources on its core functions and attain higher productivity and efficiency in its work.
Some benefits of online LIMS are:
Low Maintenance cost.
Instrument data storage for auditing purposes.
An interface that works with any Database or LIMS.
Get future updates as notifications
Track updates with mobile app
Choosing The Right LIMS For You
Choosing the right Laboratory Information system depends purely on the requirement of the lab and the processes involved in it. You have to know the exact way in which the user data have to be logged in and the ways of analyses. This way you can easily find the exact LIMs software that would suit your requirement the best. Some of the requirements of a laboratory include:
Data management requirements
It is best advised to have business flow diagrams that will clarify the workflow, requirements, process in the lab. This business flow diagram will help in considering the instruments and systems involved in the lab that needs to be interfaced with the software for harmonized workflow.
Understanding the Functionality Requirements
Understanding the requirements of your laboratory systems cannot be explained enough as the utmost important feature for choosing the right type of LIMS. A LIMS software used for the mining of oil and gas cannot be used completely for clinical purposes. Before investing in LIMS software by any vendor, it is vital to check that the software completely fulfills the needs of the laboratory. This includes the process of sample collection and data entry to the process of report generation and saving of reports. The functional requirements should be clearly listed and cross-checked regularly even after implementation in the system.
Some of the functional requirements that need to be checked in a LIMS are:
Once the use cases that include the kind of user type is, sample logging method and result publishing are quantified, your functional requirements will get a lot clearer paving you for the best suitable LIMS purchase.
LIMS Future Upgrades
Choosing LIMS after a thorough analysis of your current needs is the best way of making an apt choice. However, the future in laboratory management might evolve with the changing technologies and more convenient workflow. Keeping that in mind, choose software from a vendor which is best suited for both your current needs and all your future needs.
Seeking advice on the improvement of the system might be too late when the implementation of LIMS software has already taken place. Jot down your requirements clearly and analyze the same with your team of experts who can justify the need for improvement based on futuristic updates.
When businesses want to add more location, tie-up with B2Bs, add home collection module, NABL policy changes, the LIMS software should be able to upgrade and adopt it.
This will ensure that your business is on-speed with the technology involved and can easily benefit from it in terms of productivity and workflow management.
LIMS Mobile Applications
Using LIS is the best method for the automation of Laboratory technologies. This implies that the process of computing of sample analyses must be done faster, more efficiently and there is easy workflow management with mobile apps.
Types of LIMS mobile apps:
Home Collection App
Laboratory Owner App
LIS which helps pathologists approve data from anywhere in the most efficient system and can be extremely useful to labs and doctors alike. This saves a lot of time on the workflow. Automation of doctor approval in a mobile app can help LIS make more decision quickly.
These were some basic points that might help you choose the best-suited LIS for your laboratory. Choose cost-effective software for your lab, but don’t miss on the quality or vendor credibility while choosing the right LIS for your laboratory.
24/7 Support System
When you choose a LIMS software, make sure you are provided with 24/7 support facilities. When you face any issues with the LIMS software, you can contact the support professionals anytime and from anywhere and get the issues resolved quickly.
Data Security in LIMS
Security of data is the most basic need for any kind of industry; especially one involving the data and reports of patients. Implementation of a LIMS is specifically done to make the process easier and more secured, safeguarding the patient information from misuse. This has to be done while improving the knowledge level in the organization about the system by sharing the lab information accessible across various departments globally in the organization.
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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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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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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.
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Keeping up with the fast-evolving world of trends means that smart work with innovation is required. Having a smart-infrastructure built on informatics solutions can benefit the lab by implementing automation. Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) is a critical part of the system to be incorporated in all functioning laboratories for better results. The LIMS of today has gone far beyond just sample management invoking functions like resource management, workflow management and many more. By adhering to National Accreditation Board for Testing & Calibration Laboratories (NABL) standards, labs can manage NABL quality indicators easily.
Quality control in LIMS:
Quality control in LIMS is the process of assurance of quality at every stage included in the automation system. It may also be called as a statistical process used to evaluate the analytics produced in the patient’s results. The sampling of the product is continued after every successful stage until the end of the sample management process. Quality control is very essential in a LIMS used in clinical laboratories as the result cannot be tampered with. Quality control is done on three major factors in a clinical lab, which are:
Quality control on the sample
Quality control of the utilized equipment
Quality control for the process.
For quality control of the sample, the result might either be quantitative or qualitative. Meaning that the result can either be a number count (hemoglobin count in the blood) or can define if the test result is positive or negative or can be limited to a few different values alone.
Quality control checks on the equipment or instrument are used to validate whether the instrument is operating within pre-defined specifications, inferring that patient test results are reliable. Once this validation is completed, the result of the patient can be used for further diagnosis.
Sample management is the primary process of a LIMS system. Any QC lab needs to analyze many kinds of the sample depending on the industry of the laboratory. Our QC laboratory helps in the analyses of samples in a unique and distinct method. We have the following salient features for sample management:
Single sample management and multi-sample management by using templated management techniques
Sample recognition field that can easily identify the sample and logs in the details, minimizing manual data entry.
Barcoded labels for sample tracking
Implemented workflow automation features for reduced confusion and increased productivity
Preparation and method Execution:
We have predefined execution methods for sample tracking, analysis of tracking response, complaint reception, reduce the dead time, and overall to increase the efficiency of our system.
Special features for execution such as content uniformity, dissolution, stability, etc.
Strict preparation and method execution policies like standardization, tracking of reagents, control of the environment, trainees, and equipment analysis.
We understand the importance of report generation and sensitivity in handling the report data. Hence we have assembled the following features for report management:
Instant visualization on any abnormal notifications.
Configurable testing methodologies and calculation techniques for managing high variant products.
Multiple level approvals with comment entries for sensitive results.
Flexible facilities that are fully configurable to the product and customer level including layout, content, units, significant digits, etc.
Bi-directional integration with SAP-QM or SAP Batches for finished product testing. Interfaces to other ERP/MES systems available.
Streamlined delivery of event notification and results to end-users via e-mail, fax, etc.
The documents like SOP, analytical, maintenance, etc. are version controlled for ISO standard compliance.
As important as quality control is in laboratories, so is analyzing the proper features best suited for every laboratory and making use of it appropriately. Some important Quality control features are as follows:
Latest and updated versions of specifications are available on request.
Multi-level product specification management is made with controlled releases.
Sample management, sample storage, and reserve management are all done with accuracy.
Sample planning with the batch-wise process and test plan management is done.
Templated sample management by templating the sample at registration is effectively carried for sample tracking.
Quality control is done at multi-level, multi-departmental, and multi-premises.
Workflow management with work schedule according to work plan for analysts and instruments alike.
Accuracy in result capture and OOT management.
Quality control on instruments by instrument calibration and regular maintenance scheduled at different time intervals with a proper update on status lock for instruments.
Training on the new releases and sample management for every instrument is carried for every lab personnel
Any deviations from the original workflow are promptly recorded and validated.
Stability in the study module is maintained.
LIMS quality control process allows managing the data of products, samples, and instruments alike on a regular basis by monitoring at various levels. This ensures that quality can be monitored and, if necessary, actions to improve quality.
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