Best Pathology Lab Reporting Software - 2024 Buyers Guide and Checklist
February 21, 2024
The healthcare industry continues to go through rapid changes. Demands and opportunities facing the modern laboratory are no exception. While the last few years have been dominated by changes (like the COVID-19 pandemic) that led to dramatic increases in demand, the trend of unprecedented high volumes is expected to accelerate thanks to recent advances in diagnostic testing and personalized medicine.
Simply put: in an increasingly competitive (and regulated) marketplace, digitization and automation of clinical lab workflow are no longer “nice to haves” - they are rapidly becoming base-level requirements. Pathology labs that are slow to upgrade from legacy laboratory information systems, also known as LIS systems or pathology LIS systems, are at risk of losing both clients and market share.
Must Have Pathology Lab Reporting Software Features
No two laboratories are exactly alike, but one element is certain across the board. To achieve maximum efficiency and better serve patients, it’s imperative that bottlenecks and barriers are removed and patient safety is prioritized. That’s why partnering with LIS software vendors that offer all of the modern pathology lab reporting software features listed below is so important.
Overview: Pathology Management Software Features
While the work of a pathology laboratory is very different from, for example, a computer company or a delivery service, it’s useful to note that many key success factors are common across various industries. For example, extremely successful companies such as Apple, FedEx, and Toyota - themselves in very different industries from each other - all rely on streamlined manufacturing processes, intense focus on supply chains and logistics, rigorous quality assurance protocols, and internal state-of-the-art software systems that automate, integrate, and support these functions.
In these respects, the success factors of pathology labs are no different. The equivalent functions in pathology management software systems include workflow efficiency, seamless integration across all modules, automation of complex lab workflow processes, robust interoperability with various analyzers and electronic health record systems, and a growth-driven pricing model. In terms of specific features that pathologists need in 2024 and beyond, lab managers and lab owners should be looking for - among others - modern sample tracking systems, quality assurance protocols, integrated and customizable reporting and distribution modules, and laboratory software systems that support laboratory billing (laboratory revenue cycle management), direct-to-consumer lab testing (learn more about TestDirectly and TestDirectly.com here), voice recognition (pathology dictation software), and digital pathology workflow.
Next we will review the six best pathology management software features below before concluding with an outlook on the future of pathology lab software and offering those interested in a pathology lab reporting software demo the opportunity to learn more.
Key Pathology Lab Software Feature #1: Pathology Specimen Tracking System
In 2024, barcoding samples in clinical labs and anatomical pathology practices can be categorized under basic pathology lab software features. In particular, the use of Quick Response (QR) codes, with their ability to link with laboratory information systems (LIS medical), should be part of a lab manager’s baseline expectations from laboratory information system companies (lab vendors).
Laboratory information system software portals (like TestDirectly) with electronic lab workflow architecture featuring QR coding options allow for significantly more automation and less errors by replacing manual steps and paper records. As a result, laboratories:
- Require less labor to track and report on specimens, which decreases costs and turnaround times, and increases throughput.
- Produce fewer errors, which are at best time-consuming to resolve and fix and at worst impact the lab’s reputation and patient health outcomes.
- Can create end-to-end automation, integrating sample tracking with an online computer lab management system that includes patient self-registration that makes it easier to obtain payment and reimbursement for their work, increasing revenue and efficiency while reducing labor costs.
Key Pathology Lab Software Feature #2: Pathology Lab Reporting Software
While reporting on results to stakeholders like patients, physicians, and government and health agencies tends to happen at the end of the process, it’s often one of the first features discussed in a pathology lab reporting software discussion with a LIS company. This is because of the crucial importance of accurate, automated, customizable and efficient lab reporting of patient records. Without using modern pathology lab reporting software and advanced lab information systems, reporting can be a source of significant inefficiencies.
Experts agree that pathology lab reporting software must have six fundamental characteristics in order for a laboratory to function efficiently and not get left behind by the competition:
Pathology Lab Reporting Software Characteristic #1: Interoperability
Effective pathology lab reporting software must be able to connect with a wide range of electronic health record and lab billing services used by hospitals and health systems across the country. As such, the LIS system should be built on an open architecture, use a versatile interface engine and support a wide variety of formats and reporting requirements, including embedded PDFs, XML, and links in HL7 messages.
Pathology Lab Reporting Software Characteristic #2: Flexibility
The best LIS software should offer fully customizable report templates, including the possibility of client co-branded or white labelled reports. Similarly, modern lab information systems with embedded pathology lab reporting software should offer features such as personalization, saved preferences, full-color rich text, diagrams, and images. These should come with licenses included and pre-loaded into the LIS system, not as extra add-ons.
Pathology Lab Reporting Software Characteristic #3: Configurability
Report configurability is a crucial feature of well-designed pathology LIS systems (medical LIS) that is often overlooked but can be a major time and cost-saver. The pathology lab reporting software template engine should be embedded within the LIS system, as well as provide support for macros, attachments (including images and diagrams), and annotations in generated reports.
Pathology Lab Reporting Software Characteristic #4: Integration
A successful pathology information system with pathology lab reporting software should support synoptic reporting and automatically integrate multiple test results from various departments into one easy-to-read lab report summary.
Pathology Lab Reporting Software Characteristic #5: Decision Support Systems
As much of the healthcare industry moves toward value-based care, the best laboratory information systems (LIS meaning medical) and medical laboratory solutions are ones that provides various risk assessment tools in reports, such as decision support systems and best practice protocols. This provides an efficiency value-add to caregivers and makes reports into more than a “data dump.”
Pathology Lab Reporting Software Characteristic #6: Automated Multi-Channel Distribution
Quality pathology lab reporting software should allow for automated distribution of lab reports via multiple platforms including email, fax, provider and patient web portals, remote and local printers, and/or SMS/text message.
Key Pathology Lab Software Feature #3: Scalable Pricing Model
If healthcare leaders learned anything from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that demand for pathology lab services can change extremely quickly. Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has passed, many experts agree that the world is increasingly likely to face additional and unpredictable public health challenges in the future. These “known unknowns” will necessarily impact pathology laboratory business models, as anatomic and clinical pathology labs will necessarily be on the front lines of any response.
As such, it is crucial that labs partner with LIS software vendors that have flexible and scalable pricing models. Relying on a one-size-fits-all LIS software price is inefficient, wasteful, and ultimately harmful to both labs and laboratory information system companies, and, as a result, the overall health care system.
For example, the LigoLab LIS & RCM (lab revenue cycle management) Laboratory Informatics Platform has a unique tiered pricing model. In this aligned partnership model, there is no large, upfront capital investment or restrictive licensing fees, plus no limit on seats, support, and maintenace. Therefore the lab is free to focus on growth, innovation, and maximizing resources.
Key Pathology Lab Software Feature #4: Lab Billing
Claims processing can be a time-consuming laboratory billing process that generates significant labor costs and decreases potential lab throughput. The best LIS lab software provides that part of the solution, too. In 2024, the highest standard for laboratory information systems can be found in no-touch lab billing functionality that automatically checks a patient’s demographics and insurance eligibility with information collected at the time of registration, and uses this information to expedite the lab RCM cycle payers and clients. Automating the laboratory billing process not only saves time and money, as per above, but also reduces errors and speeds up cash collection, which allows pathology labs to put their working capital to better use.
While laboratory billing automation can be an issue for any business, pathology lab reimbursement requires effective laboratory revenue cycle management software that complies with ever-changing regulatory frameworks.
Key Pathology Lab Software Feature #5: Pooled Testing Capability
One interesting innovation for pathology labs can be found in pooled testing, which involves processing multiple specimens together in a single batch. When done effectively, pooled testing can allow pathology laboratories to increase capacity while decreasing turnaround time and cost-per-test. The best LIS systems support pooled testing and can track multiple specimens simultaneously after barcoding them, which is otherwise a complex and error-prone process if attempted manually. Another crucial part of the pooled testing process is the ability to track the retesting of positive samples for confirmation. It’s imperative that the pathology lab software supports this.
Key Pathology Lab Software Feature #6: Digital Pathology
Digital pathology and its integration with anatomic pathology LIS became increasingly important during the rise of COVID-19, with pathologists - thanks to relaxed guidelines - choosing to swap their glass slides for digital slides and the laboratory setting for a home office digital pathology suite.
Now with the regulatory hurdle gone, more and more pathologists are choosing to embrace digital pathology workflow solutions to improve efficiency and image management, and rapid growth is expected to continue in 2024.
To capitalize on this growth and ultimately better serve patients, modern laboratory managers and owners are leveraging pathology lab software like the LigoLab LIS & RCM Laboratory Informatics Platform and its proprietary interface engine. The LigoLab platform integrates with whole side imaging scanners that digitize glass slides into digital slides.
It’s believed that digital pathology, aided by deep learning methods and image analysis powered by artificial intelligence, will continue to make advances within the pathologist community as diagnostic confidence in this sub-field of pathology grows.
Book a Pathology Lab Software Demo Today to See These Features in Action
As highlighted above, today’s high-demand pathology labs require a laboratory information system software solution that is both robust and flexible at the same time. It’s also important that the LIS system includes features like sample tracking, custom reporting, scalable pricing, lab billing, pooled testing, easy interfacing, and much more. Pathology lab software that doesn’t have this comprehensive array of functionality is unlikely to help your lab optimize and scale its operations. Fortunately, the LigoLab platform has everything pathology labs need to be successful.
To experience the informatics platform for yourself, book a demo here.
The Future of Pathology Lab Software
Like many industries, the pathology lab software sector has been dividing for some time into winners and losers in part based on a company’s underlying business model, including its ability to deploy technology effectively. This trend was dramatically accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which helped make the use of high-quality laboratory information systems (LIS abbreviation medical) a minimum and necessary standard for pathology labs in 2024 and beyond.
Lab managers and lab owners who have not already made these investments risk being left behind, while those who continue to stay at the forefront of LIS system technology stand to reap the rewards.