Last Updated | April 4, 2022
Overview: Advantages of Using Laboratory Information Management Systems
Is your laboratory dealing with a data deluge and looking for ways to manage it effectively?
If that’s true, you are not alone.
Since laboratories deal with massive amounts of sample volumes, most are struggling with the influx of data. This struggle is the inability to manage data which causes inefficiencies.
To deal with data management issues, laboratories (like yours) must implement and adapt solutions to automate recurring tasks.
With the top healthcare IT companies and healthcare app development services developing more advanced solutions, it is becoming easier to implement automation and adapt technology in laboratories.
The most reliable tech system you can adapt to achieve automation and drive laboratory efficiency is Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) software.
LIMS helps address data management, regulatory, and automation challenges of laboratories across the globe to effectively manage the data and simplify the acquisition of samples from multiple sources.
Isn’t it all you need? You do, right?
If so, you must also learn about some more perks of using this system. This way, you will have a more sophisticated plan to implement the software.
But, before we get into details and talk about benefits, let’s first go over to understand what LIMS is:
What Is LIMS Software?
A laboratory information management system (LIMS) is a data management software. It provides a single platform for managing all laboratory operations.
By facilitating electronic interfaces with interactive UX healthcare design for data management, the system allows all relevant information to be stored in one place. So, you can adopt a paperless approach in your laboratory.
What Are The Benefits Of A LIMS System In Healthcare?
Once you implement a LIMS software in your laboratory, you can leverage lots of benefits, including the ones listed below:
- LIMS can easily integrate with your analyzers, chromatographs, and other instruments to automatically pull test results from them.
- Instead of multiple spreadsheets, it has one secure database to hold the resulting data. This security comes with healthcare compliance services that help you meet the compliance standards.
- You can easily look up sources of information when needed.
- It tracks samples and all associated test data and uses it to generate reports and information-based insights to support your laboratory business.
- It helps define and enforce standard workflows, ensuring that your staff follows the right protocols.
- By facilitating an electronic repository for all lab operational data, LIMS reduces management and reporting overhead.
- A highly configurable LIMS will be easier for your lab staff to learn and adapt, aiding them to streamline their daily tasks.
- It eliminates unnecessary workflow steps, making your workforce faster and more efficient.
- If you ever decide to operate your lab internationally, LIMS will support your expansion of multi-national multi-department systems.
What Is The Importance Of A Laboratory Information Management System?
In today’s data management space, laboratory information management systems are indispensable to industries such as healthcare.
With the market size of LIMS software reaching $505.2 Million in the US in 2022, their use across the laboratories is increasing by leaps and bounds.
You need LIMS software and a committed telemedicine software development company to address the complexities and regulatory challenges your lab faces. A LIMS software is a vital component for your laboratory to support workflow and manage lab-related data.
LIMS software is designed to help manage data in medical and industrial laboratories. So, implementing them is important for you for several reasons such as:
- A LIMS software provides many management functionalities for data, samples, resources, communication, validation, quality, and security.
- They manage the flow of lab data to improve laboratory productivity and quality.
- LIMS standardizes tests, procedures, and workflows while also giving you control over the process.
- LIMS can integrate with other instruments to automatically collect test data and reduce transcription errors in your lab.
Ideally, these systems work in combination with medical diagnostic software and integrate with EHR data integration to provide test results and combine them with patient health records.
So, if you ever want to integrate the system with other medical devices, you can easily do that.
What Is The Purpose Of The Laboratory Information Management System?
The laboratory information management systems make data management easier within laboratory workflow. By organizing data efficiently, they support the operations of your laboratory business.
Many advanced laboratories and modern scientists adopt this piece of technology (LIMS software) to reduce costs and increase productivity through more efficient workflows.
The function of LIMS is not only confined to data and workflows, but it goes beyond to support standards and regulatory compliance (through HIPAA compliance for software development). It offers accuracy for multiple and repeatable results.
By automating and speeding up tasks, LIMS can save your staff from long hours of hard labor. It can also help your lab staff quickly retrieve the data, reduce human errors, and eliminate the possibility of a loss of any data.
LIMS is used for tons of other purposes that include:
The primary purpose of LIMS software is to keep records of lab results (be it in the healthcare or food industry). It stores accurate sample data and allows you to create a detailed record of batches of samples.
The detailed information includes sources of the sample, names of researchers working on it, and what lab areas it has passed for testing.
Keeping such records of samples will help you reduce the risk of the loss, contamination, or expiration of data associated with them.
LIMS puts your workflow on automation- from assigning tasks to researchers to figuring out where a sample needs to move in the workflow for its next test.
The LIMS software can also suggest equipment and instruments for better management based on your lab criteria or pre-set rules.
A laboratory information management system is an essential tool that streamlines reporting by automating weekly, monthly, or daily reporting tasks.
Additionally, it helps lab workers quickly run ad-hoc reports to make informed decisions. It can directly take readings from your other equipment and generate reports with the highest possible level of accuracy.
In day-to-day lab management, keeping track of inventory is an important task. A LIMS software can fully automate this task by ensuring the advance orders of supplies before they get over.
Keeping lab requirements on top, it analyzes stock availability and keeps your workflow moving, preventing delays or issues that arise from lack of stock.
What Is The Best Feature Of A Laboratory Information System?
The best and the basic feature of a laboratory information system is data storage and maintenance.
However, over the years, it has evolved. Now, it offers more efficient tools to manage lab operations.
So, a well-configured software will have the following key features for you:
- Easy configuration to meet your customer needs and individual lab requirements
- Management for the entire life of the sample- including storage, specific needs for biobanks, the chain of custody, stability studies, and more
- Quick accessibility through role-based interfaces and controlled access to test, sample, and management information
The best LIMS software is the one that adapts to the way you work despite its own set of built-in features.
It helps you achieve staff efficiency, create an automated process, and provide customers with what they exactly need (i.e. high-quality lab results).
Some more advanced LIMS software will likely feature the ability to integrate and seamlessly transfer your lab data across devices like electronic laboratory notebooks (ELNs), personal computers (PCs), mobile phones, and tablets.
What Are The Key Components Of The Laboratory Information Management System?
The laboratory information management system works identically to other data management systems used in the business world.
Hence, it incorporates all the core components of information management software.
The three core components of a LIMS software you can expect in your system are:
Like a data lifecycle management system (DLM), LIMS primarily functions to track sample data throughout its lifecycle- from when it enters the lab to testing and storage.
It also involves recording other data associated with the sample, for example, the sample’s source, ID, quantitation information (such as volume, concentration, or particulate amount), and collection date.
As the sample moves through the lab, more data (such as derived sample data, test results, and study metrics) is also captured and stored in the LIMS.
In addition to tracking data unique to each sample, LIMS software also records who interacts with the sample and what tests it passes throughout the lifecycle.
For example, if one sample is combined with a pool of other samples, the system will label and track it so that there is no chance of losing it.
This makes it the system you can rely on.
LIMS also plays a significant role in developing workflows and protocols for labs.
So, the second component of a LIMS software is the standardization of workflows, underlying procedures, protocols, or steps in the lab.
By standardizing protocols for your lab, the system makes sure that every operation follows the published SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures).
While processing a sample, protocol implementation will help you produce accurate and reliable results, regardless of who is testing the sample.
It digitizes every step and ensures that your lab staff corresponds to the right steps when running a test.
The third important component of a laboratory information management system is tracking samples throughout the data lifecycle.
It follows a hierarchy that involves the following steps:
- Once an individual sample comes in, the system tracks where (in a particular box) the sample is stored.
- Next, it also tracks which drawer, rack, freezer, and room the sample is placed in.
This storage organization of sample data keeps your lab teams organized, productive, and efficient.
We have got down to the nitty-gritty of a laboratory information management system.
If you are impressed by what the system accommodates for the labs, now, you may want to know the costs it involves.
So, How Much Does A Laboratory Information Management System Cost?
Answering this question precisely is more complicated than you might realize and depends on the specific solution you choose.
However, to make it easier for you to understand, let’s break the costs down into three segments for the three most common LIMS platforms in the market.
Freeware (Open Source) LIMS
Just as the name suggests, the freeware LIMS is free.
Then, why are we talking about its cost?
Well, it provides you a free user license, and the user database is often free, but you still need to invest in its implementation. In case you do not have the required hardware and peripheral devices, you will incur costs to get what you need.
With freeware software, lots of costs are associated. In most cases, you may want to use scanners, barcode printers, notepads, laptops, and even RFID tags with readers.
Like most organizations, you may not have these devices before implementing LIMS, so you will need to procure as many as possible to fully backup your new LIMS.
Besides these implementation costs, there will be training and perhaps validation costs.
Software As A Service (SaaS) LIMS
SaaS LIMS software involves user license costs ranging from $200 to $1500/ user per month. Often, vendors bundle up database license costs and support costs with the user license cost. So, the costs for a complete package might be different.
This cost model offers you great flexibility to change when you want to scale up. You can get more user licenses or shift monthly subscription costs to yearly.
Since the vendor hosts the SaaS software, it saves you the cost of purchasing hardware. At a minimum, you may still have to spend some bucks to get the peripheral devices you require.
Traditional (Web-Based/Server Based) LIMS
The traditional LIMS is either web-based or server/client-based. It applies costs on user licenses anywhere between $3000 to $13,000/user.
With Traditional LIMS, your organization will own the license- which is an advantage for you (from a financial point of view). Over time, your costs will be depreciated.
It also involves additional costs for peripheral devices and hardware. For example, your existing IT infrastructure might need to be expanded by adding a server to support the system.
With traditional LIMS solutions and SaaS systems, you will need to understand whether the vendor provides you with concurrent or named user licenses.
While named licenses are only for the named person or user, concurrent users involve multiple users operating the system simultaneously but with the same user license.
You can go for whichever deems fit your lab needs.
With all the advantages a laboratory information management system offers, you may willingly decide to invest in the system.
Once you step into the market to explore LIMS software, you will find that each system is a bit different from others, depending on the manufacturer. Some vendors offer customization options, mobile access, and the required technical support, while others do not.
So, you must evaluate the needs of your laboratory and compare them with what the software offers before you implement one.
When you establish your needs and requirements before settling on a system, you can hit the right solution that smoothly fits in your laboratory.
What is the difference between LIMS and LIS?
The key difference between both systems is that Laboratory Information System (LIS) is more patient-centric software used in clinics, and LIMS is a sampling-centric system used in research laboratories.
A laboratory information system (LIS) is commonly used in clinical laboratory settings to process, manage, and store data on individual patient lab results and testing. It is designed to help laboratories comply with HIPAA compliance services, FDA, and other regulatory bodies.
On the other hand, LIMS (laboratory information management system) is more common in forensic settings, research and development, and other settings to help effectively manage batches of samples and sample-related data.
Is LIMS a database?
LIMS is a database management system that stores laboratory informatics and supports all disciplines. The disciplines where it is more common are pharmaceutical tracking, medical, environment monitoring, and quality assurance labs.
It works as a storage system that backs up medical device integration to connect with multiple devices. It also allows laboratory staff to generate reports such as sample summary, sample tracking, test results, inventory, system configuration, and sample/analysis count.
What type of data is stored in LIMS?
There are many types of data that a LIMS software can store. The list of major types of data includes:
- Scientific data
- Report records
- Waste disposal
- Scientific apparatus
- Training records
- Quality assurance
What are some examples of excellent customer service in healthcare?
There are lots of telemedicine software development and healthcare data integration companies offering integrated solutions that make up a good list of examples of the best customer service providers in healthcare.
They accommodate hospitals with many solutions such as Epic EMR integration, Cerner HL7 integration, Allscripts professional EHR systems (including the 10 components of medical records in a hospital), and HL7 integration to enable a seamless flow of data across systems.
What is the difference between HL7 and FHIR?
Though both define standards and provide HL7 messages examples for how healthcare data must be exchanged, the major difference between HL7 vs FHIR is:
- HL7 standards have several versions, including V2 and V3 which provide computer systems a common language to communicate.
- FHIR is an alternative to those versions and provides an open standard for more applications to connect and exchange data easily.
Which hospitals use EPIC software?
The hospitals and medical schools that use EPIC software include UCSF Medical Center, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital, and others.