Is Your Laboratory Information System Able to Support the Latest LIS System Technology?
January 16, 2024
Each year, the laboratory information system (LIS) technology available to independent clinical and reference laboratories and anatomic pathology groups continues to grow and become more advanced. That’s because LIS system vendors understand that their lab customers need innovative new tools to withstand current challenges like declining reimbursement rates, rising costs, and staffing shortages.
So the advanced LIS system technology is readily available, but are lab managers and directors fully aware of this, given their hectic day-to-day schedules?
Suren Avunjian, LigoLab’s CEO, thinks so. He said he’s recently noticed a lot more awareness when discussing the features and functionality of the LigoLab LIS & RCM Laboratory Informatics Platform with potential new customers.
“We're seeing more and more well-educated prospects coming to us to discuss the exact issues that they are having, and that's been enlightening,” he said. “Overall, I think there's a lot more awareness of what laboratory information system companies are offering and where the LIS software constraints are. These potential new customers are doing their homework and that benefits everyone.”
Avunjian also noted that the sales process between laboratory information system vendors and medical labs typically takes several months to unfold and often includes multiple LIS software demonstrations.
“The sales cycles are long and they should be because this is such an important decision for the lab. Pathology lab software is truly mission-critical software. Fortunately, decision-makers at the lab level are paying attention, asking the right questions, doing their due diligence, and choosing the best LIS for their operations,” he said.
Still, across the entire laboratory spectrum, there is room for improvement when you consider that a recent study published in Clinical Lab Products revealed nearly a quarter of respondents said they are unsatisfied or highly unsatisfied with their lab’s current LIS laboratory information system and the pathology lab management that it supports.
A major reason for this level of dissatisfaction can be traced back to the fact that despite the innovative tech that’s now available to them, many labs continue to operate with old and outdated lab information systems. In some cases, these LIS systems are well over 10 years old.
Avunjian found the fact that some labs are missing out on a decade-worth of technology disturbing because old and outdated LIS systems rely on manual processes that create inefficient gaps in lab workflow and limit the lab’s ability to sustain long-term growth.
Going further, when these mostly manual processes are coupled with the current widespread staffing shortages for medical laboratory technologists, the result significantly impacts the lab’s bottom line.
Avunjian said this impact should be factored into the total cost of ownership for LIS system software and warned labs against staying with the status quo or choosing quote-unquote cheap laboratory information systems because the inefficient lab workflow they support leads to increased labor costs, staffing frustration, morale issues, longer processing time, and a higher potential for errors, all of which adversely affects patient care and lab revenues.
“It's crucial to understand that investing in up-to-date laboratory information systems isn't just about keeping up with technology. It's about ensuring overall operational efficiency, financial sustainability, and success in a challenging healthcare environment,” he said.
Recent Advancements in Laboratory Information System Technology
Now let’s take a closer look at how LIS system software technology has grown in the recent past so lab operators that continue to use legacy LIS systems can get a better understanding of the areas where the most advancement has taken place.
Cloud-based laboratory information system solutions continue to gain popularity because they offer the lab greater flexibility, scalability, and accessibility. Additionally, providers across the entire healthcare continuum can access the data securely from various locations, thereby improving collaboration and streamlining clinical lab workflow.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML):
Artificial intelligence and machine learning applications, once integrated into pathology LIS systems, can automate repetitive and routine tasks, improve data interpretation, and enhance diagnostic accuracy. When supported by modern LIS systems, these technologies can assist in areas like pattern recognition, anomaly detection, and predictive analytics.
The emphasis on interoperability between laboratory software systems (LIS systems, EHRs, laboratory billing systems, etc.) continues to grow. Modern LIS software systems that support standards such as Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) and Health Level Seven (HL7) have helped facilitate the desired seamless communication between the laboratory and its provider clients.
Rules and Automation:
Modern LIS systems are built with rule and automation engines that create automation via decision-support trees, and this contributes to not only direct cost savings that would otherwise be spent on labor, but also increased efficiency, reduced errors, and quicker turnaround times.
Fully Integrated Laboratory Billing Solutions:
The best LIS software offers clients modern features and functionality that are encompassed within an all-in-one pathology lab software platform that also covers laboratory billing. Fully integrated laboratory billing solutions such as this excel in data integrity because all case and patient data is stored in one comprehensive platform, enabling the billing platform full visibility of all technical operations and maximizing coding opportunities, eliminating the data silos between disparate systems and the need to synchronize master files across multiple laboratory software systems.
Direct-to-Consumer Lab Testing:
Mobile-friendly web portals and direct-to-consumer applications like TestDirectly enable both healthcare professionals and patients to access LIS system data (lab test results) on the go. The best LIS platforms have adapted to support direct-to-consumer lab testing with a unified patient experience, providing real-time results for all stakeholders and facilitating faster clinical decision-making.
LIS pathology platforms can incorporate advanced data analytics capabilities into clinical laboratory workflow. This allows laboratories to use the insights gained from large datasets to make data-driven decisions that improve both operations and patient outcomes.
Advanced Lab Reporting and Visualization Tools:
The best LIS platforms also feature improved lab reporting and visualization tools that enable laboratory data to be presented in a more understandable and actionable format, promoting better communication of test results to both healthcare providers and patients.
Enhanced User Experience:
Lab vendors know the value of the user experience and have made more intuitive and user-friendly interfaces a priority. The best LIS software now has features such as customizable widgets and dashboards, drag-and-drop functionality, and streamlined lab workflow designed specifically for a user role.
Compliance with Regulatory Standards:
Laboratory information system companies are continually updating their LIS systems to adapt and comply with regulatory standards in healthcare that are constantly evolving. By doing so, LIS software vendors assist laboratory clients who must adhere to guidelines related to data privacy, security, and reporting.
LIS System Self-Assessment Questions
Now that we’ve examined the importance of deploying modern laboratory information systems within the medical lab, let’s turn our attention to how the lab can self-determine the current state of its LIS software technology and identify areas where improvement is definitely needed.
To help with this evaluation process, we’ve compiled a list of questions that any lab can use for a self-assessment of its LIS system.
Data Silos and System Fragmentation - Does your lab use different systems for managing various aspects of laboratory operations (such as financial, technical, and clinical data)?
Scalability - Can your laboratory information system handle an increase in test volume and adapt to new tests or technologies without significant modifications?
Integration Capabilities - Does your lab information system seamlessly integrate with other laboratory software systems and devices used in your laboratory (such as EHRs and analytical instruments)?
Data Management and Accessibility - How effectively does your lab’s LIS system manage, store, and provide easy access to lab data?
Future Planning and Technological Advancements - Is your LIS system able to keep up with tech advancements (like digital pathology and AL integration)?
User Interface and Usability - Is your LIS system’s user interface intuitive and easy to use? Do staff members find it user-friendly in terms of navigation and task performance?
Customization and Flexibility - Can the LIS system software be customized to fit specific lab workflow within your lab?
Support and Maintenance - Does your LIS company offer adequate technical support and regular LIS software updates? Are you satisfied with the response time and the quality of support provided?
Performance and Reliability - Does the LIS system perform consistently and without frequent downtime or errors?
Analytics and Reporting Capabilities - Does your laboratory information system solution provide robust data analytics and flexible reporting options to support decision-making and operational insights?
At LigoLab, We Help You Win!
In today’s business environment, it's clear that medical labs need to leverage advanced laboratory information system LIS technology to run a better business and better support their laboratory clients.
At LigoLab we’ve built our business by first offering the most modern, comprehensive, and flexible laboratory information systems, and then supporting these LIS systems and our laboratory clients with best-in-class white glove service.
If you’re interested in improving your lab’s performance and productivity and winning in your marketplace, contact us today. That way you can see firsthand how our advanced LIS system solutions enable success and growth for all of our lab partners.