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The offline model of LIMS software is an outdated one.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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Every industry modern laboratories are under pressure to enhance operational efficiency, decrease costs, control regulatory compliance, and improve quality. Apart from this, the rise of CRO (Contract Research Organization) and R&D externalization strategies in the industry of pharmaceuticals has led to laboratories gathering enormous data from different partners, preceding to a significant increase in the complexity of lab workflow.
LIMS (Laboratory Information Management System), Informatics Solutions are being used along the pharmaceutical industry to meet these challenges. The main reason why cloud-based LIMS is preferred is due to its advanced features like
● Decreased cost,
● Automatic software updates,
● Disaster and backup recovery services,
● Rapid implementation of LIMS,
One of the successful Laboratory solutions and laboratory report software used by most of the users is SaaS. Let's explore the SaaS in depth below.
What is SaaS?
SaaS(Software as a Service), one of the software distribution models and types of cloud computing like IaaS and PaaS. The third-party provider hosts the program rather than downloading and installing the software to run on your PC. Once the software is hosted, it's accessed over the internet by users via a web user interface.
Why SaaS, a cloud-based LIMS, is perfect for your lab?
SaaS, pathology management software provides plenty of excellent benefits that make it the preferred option of every lab. According to the Forrester Research Inc survey held in last year, 15% of SMB (Small to Medium Business) and 16% of the larger organization make use of SaaS. Compared to the previous year's research, the larger enterprise has seen a 33% increase in the Usage of SaaS. Considering the smaller enterprise, they have seen a 50% increase in SaaS. Below are some reasons to state why Cloud-based LIMS is the right option for your laboratory.
Few providers provide the private cloud option that is able to host within your facility. The private cloud option offers different SaaS LIMS benefits but with fewer security risks. A cloud is public; either it can be private, single-tenant, or multi-tenant. It's easier to validate the single-tenant cloud when compared to the multi-tenant as they are less prone to intrusion or data leakage.
Data Integrity and Audit Trails:
A permanent audit trail is vital for addressing different concerns in data integrity, both from the perspective of product and regulatory quality. You need to ensure that your SaaS LIMS holds a detailed and reliable audit trail for every information. You also need to make sure whether the data is maintained continuously on the various servers rather than on the data itself.
Apart from that, you need to ensure that your provider has set their system default to store a completely reliable and flexible audit trail. It also controls the network logs and detailed server. It offers data center third party auditing insurance. You need to ensure your SaaS LIMS is capable of integrating with the other informatics systems and with your instruments.
Service Level Agreement:
You must develop a Service Level Agreement with your provider who will be able to address all of the above-concerned areas and more. A Service Level Agreement that is well written is capable of making the variation between a smooth execution & roll out of your SaaS time overruns, cost, and few of the unexpected expenses incurred.
When dealing with a SaaS Laboratory Management System, you will depend upon your providers to secure your pieces of information as it is going to be stored in the cloud. Almost every cloud service providers offer excellent security for your valuable data.
Even though the data breach risk is less, few organizations that belong to heavily regulated areas hesitate to enable their information to move away from their firewall. Make sure whether you have evaluated the policies of your security thoroughly. It means you have your data secured adequately before working with SaaS LIMS.
The important compliance responsibility with every regulation resets with the service provider or manufacturer. Most of the vendors advertise these cloud-based SaaS LIMS as a prevalidated system. But this refers to the network of cloud providers. You need to ensure that you get clear about the meaning of the prevalidated system by the vendor. Also, you need to know what scope is covered so that you can know your system is executed in the right way in the user environment.
Apart from that, SaaS LIMS cloud providers handle every clinical laboratory software patches and upgrades. It ensures that you utilize the system's recent version. You need to understand who should manage revalidation once there is an upgrade or patches taken place.
You need to understand how data recovery and backup can be handled, and also explore who is the reason and responsible for it. The details of the guarantee like service, response time, hardware, uptime, etc. provided by the provider should be stated clearly in the SLA (Service Level Agreement). Apart from that, the Service Level Agreement should contain the details of recovery and backup services that are included. Also, it should hold the cost incurred by exploring a few of the optional services.
There can't be anyone who didn't use Google. For instance, what will happen in case a rogue asteroid crashed to the server farms of Google? Nothing happens. Airtight failover technology and Mirrored servers indicate that the news service will display the craters aerial photos, which once acted as the server farm. High availability and uptime are included in the terms & conditions of the cloud deals that are negotiated in any form.
The complexity of the SaaS LIMS is challenging. Private, hosted, and On-Premises cloud LIMS is capable of handling instrument interfacing in the same manner. It is difficult to understand the SaaS LIMS cloud providers' ability, track record, and philosophy when you deal with the instrument interface.
Economics of Scale:
SaaS LIMS cloud providers provide you more or less due to the technology's specialized use. As many customers utilize the identical resources at the same cost, data center, they are slashed, and then the savings passed to the customer.
In the past few years, technology providers have developed cloud-based SaaS LIMS based on market demand. SaaS LIMS enables to facilitate enhanced scalability, agility, innovation, and connectivity across the lab environment. It helps to increase efficiency in operation as well as decrease cost. The decision to make use of a cloud-based SaaS LIMS will be taken into step by a mix of various concerns like regulatory, operations, and security. The best way to ensure that your corporate benefits the higher from SaaS approach to a laboratory information management system is to work with a top-notch informatics consultant.
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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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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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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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