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How Laboratory Information System Software Helps Medical Labs Offer Flawless Service

How Laboratory Information System Software Helps Medical Labs Offer Flawless Service

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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 lab reports. Most labs handle a large amount of sensitive patient data, so maintaining 100% accuracy while dealing with these data points is essential.

Even a minor mix-up in clinical lab workflow can be expensive and may compromise a patient’s care. That’s why the scope for human error needs to be minimized to maintain the quality and integrity of the clinical laboratory and/or pathology practice.

This is where a laboratory information system (LIS meaning medical), comes in. Throughout this article, we will discuss what laboratory information system software is. We also explain the advantages of using LIS software (also known as pathology software and pathology reporting software) as well as how to choose the best laboratory information system for your laboratory needs.

Learn More: The Best Laboratory Information System Companies (2024) and the Advantages They Offer to Their Laboratory Clients

Medical laboratories

What is a Laboratory Information System?

A laboratory information system (sometimes referred to as a medical laboratory information system or a medical LIS) is a pathology lab management software that supports modern medical laboratory operations with real-time data and sample tracking, laboratory workflow management, and data exchange interfaces.

Laboratory technicians, pathologists, and medical directors rely on this laboratory information system software to coordinate medical tests such as histology, microbiology, biochemistry, and many more. Laboratory information system functions also include basic features such as order entry, specimen handling, lab reporting, and storage of a patient's previous laboratory test results in its database. 

Modern medical LIS software allows clinical laboratories and pathology groups to automate a large part of their lab operations and manage the samples and data associated with them. These advanced LIS systems also support lab billing (lab revenue cycle management), direct-to-consumer lab testing (learn more about TestDirectly and TestDirectly.com), plus new technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and digital pathology solutions. An efficient laboratory information system is cost-effective by reducing time spent on manual tasks and increasing productivity.

Learn More: How AI Can Propel Medical Laboratories into a New Era of Growth

Laboratory technicians

The Benefits of Using Laboratory Information System Automation

Laboratory information systems that feature rules and automation can assist medical labs in many ways. Here are some of the key benefits of using LIS system automation to enhance LIS staffing and pathology lab management:

Real-Time Sample Tracking 

Laboratory information system (LIS abbreviation medical) software generally includes a feature known as a sample tracking workflow manager. This manager automates the sample tracking and handling process. As soon as the lab collects a sample, the LIS 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 health record (EMR) in the LIS system.

Enhanced TAT and Error-Free Results

LIS system software avoids the time-consuming stage of orders manually accessioned in lab with either direct EHR integration or outreach software in the form of a provider portal. Instead of manual entry, the orders are electronically transferred into the lab. From there the LIS system registers and assigns a barcode to each sample before it is sent on for processing. By eliminating paper requisitions and manual order entry the potential for human error goes way down and even better, the turnaround time (TAT) for a case is sped up.

The best LIS software also includes laboratory information system functions that legacy LIS software may not be able to support without middleware. As an example, the best LIS systems include pathology reporting software. This means there’s no need for a separate laboratory software system. Instead, the data from an analyzer is directly transferred into the LIS system and reports are generated automatically. Processing time is reduced, saving on labor and minimizing errors. 

Pathology Lab Management of Documentation

Previous test results, ailment history, and other patient healthcare information can be critical for determining the course of treatment. It becomes even more vital for patients admitted to specialized facilities. 

A lab information system collates the patient’s medical history at the testing institution. This allows for the comparison of results and a detailed and accurate interpretation of the findings. 

Laboratory Revenue Cycle Management and Effective Laboratory Billing Solutions

Laboratory revenue cycle management (lab RCM) in healthcare 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 typically require precision, skill, and lots of time and manual labor.

Laboratory information systems can make things easier, however,  by automating many of these lab billing tasks. The LIS software can contribute to patient scheduling and document management, set reminders, and optimize the laboratory billing process.

Learn More: Laboratory Billing Automation: Boosting Efficiency & Clean Claim Rates

Open to Scale

An advanced laboratory information system enables users to leverage all of its modules at any time without the need for additional hardware, servers, middleware, or interfaces. Some laboratory information system vendors, like LigoLab, even offer LIS software built on a singular database that removes silos and forms the foundation of an all-in-one platform, one that supports all LIS system software and all in-house lab billing functionality. In this scenario, finger-pointing among multiple lab vendors goes away and is replaced by a united system that represents one source of truth for all lab data. 

Learn More: How do I Know if My Laboratory has Outgrown its LIS System?

How Laboratory Information Systems 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 provided by laboratory information system companies such as the LigoLab LIS & RCM Laboratory Informatics Platform help ensure best practice lab 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.

Medical Laboratory Solutions

The Differences Between LIS Systems Laboratory Information Management Systems

Laboratory information system (LIS) and Laboratory information management system (lab LIMS) – these two lab terms are often used interchangeably. However, in practice, these laboratory software systems are not the same.

The term ‘laboratory information system’ is used to describe the medical laboratory 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 non-medical laboratories in other testing environments like environment control, pharma, and food manufacturing.

For even more discussion about the two types of laboratory software systems, click on the link below. 

Learn More: Differences Between Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) and Laboratory Information Systems (LIS)

Laboratory Information Management System

How to Choose Laboratory Information System Software

The features of laboratory information system software were once limited to managing orders, keeping records, and producing test reports. But today’s LIS systems have become significantly more sophisticated to match the requirements of a complex healthcare system.

Choosing any random LIS system (also sometimes called a medical laboratory information system) 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 the best LIS system software for your lab:   

Laboratory Requirements

Requirements for medical laboratories vary depending on the cases they have to deal with. When choosing LIS software, you should consider your specific needs to find medical laboratory solutions that can provide the perfect fit for your lab operations.

Operational Efficiency

The LIS software you choose should have an end-to-end solution that enables technicians to spot and eliminate any problems as they are happening. When pain points and bottlenecks are dealt with right away, there will be better control of the lab’s processes, faster turnaround times, and improved customer service. 

Security

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 and Scalability

The purchasing of a lab information system 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 customizations, maintenance, software upgrades, and after-purchase technical support. Before making a decision, consider whether it is the most cost-effective option. 

Learn More: What You Need to Know Before Contracting with a Laboratory Information System (LIS) Company

Also, enquire about the scalability options for the LIS system you are interested in. In the future, as your business grows, you will want to upgrade the LIS system to meet your needs and not have to migrate to a new system. Pathology LIS systems that are fully supported by laboratory information system vendors that are committed to continuous improvement of the system - that’s what you should be looking for.

With LigoLab, the cost to license the LIS software is straightforward and aligned with the medical lab. The LIS 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 the size of the lab, and that includes shared risk, unlimited technical support, and rapid development.

Learn More: LigoLab’s New Tiered Pricing Model for its LIS Platform Delivers a Tailored Fit and Maximum Value

Because LigoLab is so aligned with its lab partners, the LIS company is very motivated to develop lab information system enhancements and features that will help its customers stand out among the competition, go after new business opportunities, and scale. 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 Lab Information Systems

Lab information systems are critical for maintaining accuracy and speeding up pathology lab management processes. Many lab information systems (LIS lab) 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.

About LigoLab

LigoLab is a leading provider of innovative end-to-end laboratory information system software for pathology laboratories, servicing hundreds of facilities nationwide. As a comprehensive enterprise-grade LIS software solution, the LigoLab LIS & RCM Laboratory Informatics Platform™ includes modules for anatomic pathology, clinical laboratory, molecular diagnostics, lab revenue cycle management, and direct-to-consumer lab testing, all on one powerful and integrated platform that supports every role, every department, and every case. 

LigoLab empowers medical laboratories to better serve patients, differentiate themselves in the marketplace, scale their operations, and become more compliant, and profitable.

Michael Kalinowski
Author
Michael Handles Marketing and Communications for LigoLab

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