Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIS & LIMS) for Data Management
March 10, 2023
Modern clinical laboratories and pathology groups produce a vast amount of lab data. Whether for patient care or research purposes, using the right lab data management software to track, store, and access this data is crucial.
Laboratories benefit from a lab management system which can handle all this information input and storage, for more efficient lab processes. Laboratory data management software helps in lab sample management, organizing records, and automating data management processes.
In this blog post, we review the key features of laboratory information management systems (commonly known as LIS & LIMS) and the benefits they offer for data management.
What is a Laboratory Information Management System Database?
A Laboratory Information Management System (“LIS” and “LIMS” are terms that are often used interchangeably for Laboratory Information System) is a software solution that helps modern laboratories with many aspects of data management such as inputting, tracking, processing, reporting, and storing. A LIS or LIMS in laboratory settings plays a significant role in improving lab efficiency and productivity. Modern versions of these systems have open architectures and also allow third-party integration to maximize interoperability.
How to Choose the Best LIS/LIMS?
There are many LIS/LIMS software vendors in the market, and each information system has a different set-up for data management. When deciding which lab data management system to invest in, consider the following questions:
- Is the system built to handle the laboratory workflow processes for this specific lab? If not, is there an option to customize to suit the laboratory’s specific needs?
- Does the software support rules and automation that streamline workflows and reduce manual touchpoints?
- Does the software offer full integration with the laboratory’s instruments?
- Will the system also support billing and revenue cycle management? If not, will a separate RCM or lab billing software be required, and how will they interface?
- What are the data storage and security options? Is data stored on local servers or on the cloud? Does the system offer scalability as the laboratory’s business grows?
- What reporting options does the system offer, and are these reports customizable? Does it interface with electronic health records (EHR), or enable access through an online provider and patient portals?
A laboratory manager should have clear objectives when purchasing this software to ensure it meets their organization's needs. For instance, forward-thinking managers most often conclude that a single, integrated system which can provide for the laboratory’s current and future needs is a valuable investment and worth the cost. With "One source of truth" there's no fingerpointing among multiple software vendors when there’s an issue. Instead the lab works with one software vendor that provides an integrated, all-in-one solution and takes full responsibility for all laboratory informatics, allowing the laboratory partner to concentrate on what it does best.
Core Laboratory Information System Benefits
Getting the right LIS/LIMS software solution is key to successful laboratory operations and management in clinical labs. At their core, laboratory information systems streamline sample management and bring a range of benefits to the lab.
- A laboratory sample inventory management system helps with lab sample tracking to ensure safekeeping, proper handling, and correct testing of the samples within the lab.
- Integration of the LIS/LIMS software with EHRs and laboratory instruments removes much of the need for manual data entry. Not only does this interfacing reduce human error, but it also reduces the workload on overstretched laboratory staff.
- A LIS/LIMS provides security and the ability to conveniently share documents online. These systems enable security features so that only authorized users can access the data, thereby ensuring patients' private data is protected.
Advanced Features of a Lab Management Software Package
Today’s advanced clinical laboratory solutions offer more than just laboratory database management capabilities. These solutions boost the growth and performance of labs through additional features.
Ability to Report and Analyze
A modern medical lab management system incorporates data analysis, lab report production, and database backup without the need for separate medical lab report software. Systems like LigoLab Operating Platform facilitate integrated reporting and offer custom template formats to fit the needs of each lab and their specific client preferences.
Functional Workflow Management
A LIS/LIMS does not just automate sample processes: it also helps in lab workflow management and team coordination. Of all the benefits of a laboratory information system, workflow optimization can have the greatest impact on the lab’s profit margins.
Software to automate lab workflows helps with laboratory staff management in that procedures are already set, leading to greater efficiency and productivity. When these standard operating procedures are followed, it leads to accurate clinical results.
A good LIS/LIMS reduces the time spent by staff in handling compliance with standards and regulatory requirements. As an example, LigoLab supports standardized operations to ensure quality control (QC) and quality assurance (QA) through accurate testing, reporting, and competent operations.
LigoLab’s QC module is important in the live monitoring of control data and in case of abnormal readings, an alert is sent. The QA infrastructure ensures all workflow steps are monitored, and lab operations are performed systematically and safely.
Integrated Billing Solutions
Revenue cycle management (RCM) of laboratory billing often involves multiple administrative steps. Because of this, most labs use an RCM laboratory billing solution to handle medical bill generation, claims and payment processing, and revenue collection.
However, a modern lab information management system can incorporate laboratory medical billing services so that financial services are automated and interwoven alongside the sample processing. This enables labs to collect billing and insurance information as soon as the order is received, hence optimizing cash collection. Labs benefit from full payment for their services and much fewer denied claims.
Today’s advanced LIS/LIMS software solutions can offer customized laboratory workflows to suit the lab’s size and the preferred procedures. To get the most out of a chosen laboratory information system, it is important that technical support is on hand to help the laboratory manager and technicians access all the features and use them effectively. This support is not a given for all software vendors. Sometimes support is provided on a limited basis and can serve as a potential hidden costs. If unlimited support is a high priority, lab managers should confirm this as part of the package when speaking and negotiating with potential vendors.
Final Thoughts on Laboratory Data Management Systems
Laboratory database management software like the LigoLab Operating Platform offer the technological solution to managing large amounts of data. This serves as the core of an information management system that also empowers laboratories to better serve patients, differentiate themselves in the marketplace, scale their operations and become more compliant, and more profitable.