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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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 the healthcare solutions.
Ever since, the Laboratory Information Management System is in a course of upward trajectory.
As the computers evolved so did softwares. 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 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 softwares 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 the management. The LIMS software used in todays healthcare facilities provides day to day management solutions besides the healthcare solutions.
The LIMS software can make schedules for the 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 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 its future:
The future of 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 the 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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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: