How Medical Laboratory Management Software Helps Clinical Labs and Pathology Groups Offer Flawless Services
February 13, 2023
The workflow in medical laboratories can be complex as there is a need to maintain real-time coordination between lab instruments, collected samples, and test results in the form of lab reports. Most labs handle a large amount of sensitive patient data, so maintaining 100% accuracy while dealing with these data is essential.
Even a minor mix-up in the process can prove to be expensive and may compromise a patient’s care. The scope for human error needs to be minimized to maintain the quality and integrity of the clinical laboratory or pathology practice.
This is where medical laboratory management software, or a laboratory information system (LIS), comes in. Throughout this article, we discuss what medical laboratory management software is. We also explain the advantages of using this software solution as well as how to choose the best lab management software for your laboratory needs.
What is a Medical Laboratory Information System?
A medical laboratory information system is a management software that supports modern medical laboratory operations with real-time data tracking, workflow management, and data exchange interfaces.
Laboratory technicians, pathologists, and medical directors rely on this laboratory information management software to coordinate medical tests such as histology, microbiology, biochemistry, and many more. The medical laboratory information system also handles basic features such as order entry which includes a patient’s demographic and insurance information, specimen handling, and reporting. The system also stores a patient's previous laboratory test results in its database.
Modern medical laboratory software allows medical laboratories to automate their lab operations and manage the samples and data associated with them. An efficient laboratory information system is cost-effective by reducing time spent on manual tasks and increasing productivity.
Benefits of using a Laboratory Information System
System automation by medical laboratory software can assist medical labs in many ways. Here are some of the key benefits of using medical laboratory management software:
Helps Track Samples in Real-time
Medical laboratory management software generally includes a feature known as a sample workflow manager. This manager automates the sample handling process. As soon as the lab collects a sample, the software assigns a barcode to that sample.
The barcode holds details like the names of the lab assistants responsible for testing the samples and the equipment they used. It ties the results back to the patient’s electronic medical record in the laboratory management system.
Saves Time and Produces Error-free Results
Medical lab software avoids the time-consuming stage of manually accessioning samples as they arrive at the laboratory. Instead, the software registers and assigns a barcode to each sample before it is sent for processing, bypassing the need for order entry and the potential for human error.
The best lab management software also integrates the functions of medical lab reporting software, without the need for a separate system. The data from the equipment is directly transferred to the reporting system, where the reports are generated automatically. This system reduces processing time, saves labor, and minimizes errors.
Helps with Document Management
Previous test results, ailment history, and other patient health care information can be critical for determining the course of treatment. It becomes even more vital for patients admitted to specialized facilities.
A medical lab management system collates the patient’s medical history at the testing institution. This allows for the comparison of results and allows for detailed and accurate interpretation.
Helps with Revenue Cycle Management and Medical Lab Billing Services
Revenue cycle management in health care facilities is a complex and most often laborious process. Managing patient registration, scheduling tests, coding diagnosis, reaching out to the insurance company, and reworking denied claims – all these tasks require precision, skill, and time.
Laboratory information systems can make things easier by automating many of these administrative tasks. The LIS software can contribute to patient scheduling and document management, set reminders, and optimize the billing process.
Open to Scale
A good laboratory information system should enable users to leverage modules at any time without the need for additional hardware, servers, middleware, or interfaces. Our award-winning LigoLab software is built on a singular database that removes silos and forms the foundation of an all-in-one platform that allows for improved accuracy, standardized lab processes, and reduced manual processes within the laboratory.
How Medical Laboratory Solutions Help with Regulatory Requirements
Medical labs are required to comply with certain regulatory requirements, including CLIA compliance (clinical laboratory improvement amendments) which is overseen by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Labs that apply for accreditation by an industry body, such as the College of American Pathologists (CAP) will also have to comply with specific requirements.
These regulations relate to aspects of human resources, such as knowledge and training, and lab management, such as SOPs, quality control, and equipment maintenance. This includes, for example, systems for ensuring reagents are not expired, calibration of equipment, and traceability.
By standardizing these processes, medical lab solutions such as the LigoLab LIS & RCM Laboratory Operating Platform help ensure best practice workflow that adheres to CLIA guidelines. They maintain data integrity and identify any discrepancies that may be otherwise flagged by the auditors. They also make the records easily accessible for an audit.
Differences Between a Laboratory Information System and a Laboratory Information Management System
Laboratory Information System (LIS) and Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) – these two terms are often used interchangeably. However, in practice, they are not the same.
The term ‘laboratory information system’ is used describe the solutions that are designed for managing clinical testing and pathology labs situated in the healthcare environment.
In contrast, laboratory information management systems are used by laboratories in other testing environments like environment control, pharma or food manufacturing, and other forms of non-clinical testing.
How to Choose Medical Laboratory Software Systems
The features of a medical lab software system were once limited to managing orders, keeping records, and producing test reports. But today’s medical laboratory management software has become significantly more sophisticated to match the requirements of a complex health care system.
Choosing any random LIS software may not suffice in today’s environment, and therefore, testing facilities need to consider their options. Here are a few things to keep in mind while selecting laboratory software:
Requirements of different medical laboratories vary depending on the cases they have to deal with. When choosing management software, you should consider your specific needs to find software solutions that can provide the perfect solution for your lab operations.
The software you choose should have an end-to-end solution that enables technicians to spot and eliminate any problems in real-time. When pain points and bottlenecks are dealt with, there will be better control of the lab processes, faster turnaround times, and improved customer service. Web-based LIS software systems have the advantage that they are accessible from any device.
Medical labs must protect the confidentiality of their patients as they deal with sensitive personal information and medical records. Your chosen LIS system must employ a robust security protocol that adheres to the regulations set forth by regulatory bodies.
Cost-effective and Scalable
The purchasing of software is not a one-time investment and the buyer should be on the lookout for hidden costs. For instance, you may need to pay for the medical laboratory billing services, maintenance, software upgrades, and after-purchase technical support. Before making a decision, consider whether it is the most cost-effective option.
Also, enquire about the scalability options for the system you are interested in. In the future, as your business grows, you will want to upgrade the software to meet your needs without migrating to a new system.
With LigoLab, the cost to license the software is straightforward and aligned with the medical lab. The company doesn’t nickel and dime its customers by putting limits on seats and modules. Instead, it establishes long-term relationships with a transactional pricing model that’s based on shared risk, unlimited technical support, and rapid development.
Because LigoLab is so aligned with its lab partners, the company is very motivated to develop system enhancements and features that will help its customers stand out among the competition, go after new business opportunities, and scale. In fact, the platform is enhanced daily, and this should be very reassuring for any lab operator that makes having a future-ready LIS system a top priority.
Final Thoughts on Medical Laboratory Software
Medical laboratory management software is critical for maintaining accuracy and speeding up lab management processes. Many lab information systems (LIS) are out there in the market – you simply need to choose the best LIS software to suit your operational processes, and take the step toward a more efficient, effective, and profitable lab.
LigoLab is a leading provider of innovative end-to-end healthcare software for pathology laboratories, servicing 200+ facilities nationwide. As a comprehensive enterprise-grade solution, the LigoLab LIS & RCM Laboratory Operating Platform™ includes modules for anatomic pathology, clinical pathology, molecular diagnostics, revenue cycle management, and direct-to-consumer, all on one powerful and integrated platform that supports every role, every department, and every case. LigoLab empowers laboratories to better serve patients, differentiate themselves in the marketplace, scale their operations, become more compliant, and more profitable.