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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:



Benefits of using LIMS in your lab are:

  • Workflow automation

  • 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:

  • Blood Bank

  • Immunology

  • Hematology

  • Microbiology

  • Clinical chemistry

  • Histopathology


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:


Sample Management:

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.


Workflow Management:

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.


EMR/EHR:

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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Increased efficiency is one of the crucial factors that every business people require. When there is a business running efficiently, it indicates a decrease in waste and an increase in profits and also this results in a healthy bottom line. There are different types of software tools that small business owners can make use to enhance the efficiency of the operations. 

Whether you are an accountant, who is looking for the QuickBooks in a belief that it holds the right software to make a more significant difference for the better business outcome or an engineer who is in search of trying out the PCB design software, below are the 5 best ways in which the software will help the small business owners to take their business to the topper level. 


Five ways to grow your business through software: 

Here are some ways through which you can improve your small business with the diagnostic software. 


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Follow sales leads: 

With the help of the right sales management software, you will be able to follow sales leads accurately and quickly, and you need to contact your prospects who have requested a quote before. If you are ready with sound strategies that can reach your end of year sales goals, people who are interested once in the offer you places but have not purchased with you can start with it. 


Projects creation and tracking: 

It's easy to build and track projects at every process stage easily through a reputed small business management software. If you have different types of systems to manage your works and projects, there is no possibility to link with the costs or customers. In case you have single systems, then it's easy and quick to view expenses or link with any project or customers and also send the invoice for the appropriate projects. 


Shortening the task of the employees: 

With the help of time tracking software, the employees can efficiently finish their timesheets and also can be easily accessed by owners and managers. This enables a streamlined system, especially for calculating all types of wages. With the help of small business software, you can also use shared calendars to track how much human capital is present for any projects. 

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The profession of laboratory management is a complicated one that requires the utmost care of the patients. The lab must convey a sense of trust to the customers so that they can entrust you with their samples for the analysis.





Clinical Laboratories can now Wave off Manual Work:


With all this hard work already being done by clinical laboratories, the department of HealthCare took a new turn when it was decided that a lab has to send results directly to the patients. This was mainly done to relieve the stress from the patients who are waiting for their reports from the doctors. With instant report generation, the doctors can now decide quickly on the critical cases.


The mandatory direct lab report delivery to the patient can be done in various ways whichever is comfortable with the patient and the lab. With the latest technology on queue, the task has been rendered easy for the labs to be in touch with the patients. In this blog, let us discuss the various smart ways in which a lab can send lab reports to patient and deliver the test sample reports to them.


Conveying the Message via Short Message Service (SMS):


Sharing reports via SMS can add on to the benefit of sample report collection. One small SMS on the result of the test analysis can set the patients mind at peace.


Lab reports once generated can easily be shared via SMS straight to the Patient or the Doctor, thus completely eliminating the need for manual handling, wait time or traveling. Reports of multiple tests performed by the patient are shared as separate updates to avoid possible commotion. With the intervention of LIMS in clinical laboratories, we help in conveying instantaneous report results to the patient as soon as the technician generates the results. SMS conveying system for test results has so many advantages some of which are:


  • No manual human intervention is needed

  • Immediate report sharing is made possible for emergency cases or critical patients



Conveying the Message via E-mails:


One of the fail-safe methods for accessing patients anytime is messaging via the electronic mails or E-mails. This way the patient can be notified even at their place of work without them having to visit our facilities for manual collection of the report.


Once the lab report is generated with all the optimum observation made from the testing of samples, it can be sent via an E-mail in PDF format of an attachment so that the patient can infer from the report and take the necessary action if any required. A LIMS linked lab can save a lot of unwanted manual task and convey the message to the patient and doctor immediately for analysis. It has the same benefits as that of SMS with an added advantage of the whole report being shared.


Report generation on Mobile App:


A pre-installed mobile app on your smartphone can even track your test analysis phases in your mobile and let you know when you can expect the test results. With just a few swipes, you can view your test results as soon as it is generated by the technician. What better than the confidentiality of your smartphone to let you know the results.


A smartphone with internet connectivity is all that is needed to access reports on the go. The advantage of the mobile app is that you can check the readiness of your report anywhere and at any time.


Direct Collection of the report from the lab:


Out of all the smart ways listed above, this method can be said as the last smart one. However, direct collection of the report from the lab itself is also the safest method when dealing with sensitive information.


Though it requires the physical job to get the report from the lab, it can also be completed by posting the report from the lab to the patient’s home directly.


The direct collection can be combined with all of the above methods of lab report collected by the patient. The patient can first be notified of the result and feel at ease to collect the report. With the full PDF as sent via an E-mail, the report can be viewed and consulted with a doctor also. This makes the task of collection of the printed report generated in the lab at ease and not urgent.


These were the few methods to send lab reports to the patient, the clinical laboratory can use all of the methods or some of the above to make the patient feel at ease with the lab and thereby creating a sense of trust with the lab.


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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:


  • Not user-friendly.

  • 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

    • Secure environment

    • 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:


    • Functional requirements

    • IT requirements

    • Interface requirements

    • Data management requirements

    • Error handling


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:


    • Laboratory Test Processing.

    • Test scheduling.

    • Sample Collection Methods

    • Sample Tracking.

    • Instrument control.

    • Report generation.

    • Quality control and Quality assurance.

    • Statistical analysis.

    • Resource management.

    • Laboratory Safety and Accident Prevention techniques.


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

  • Runner App

  • Laboratory Owner App

  • B2B App

  • Patient 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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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. 


7. Collaboration: 

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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