Market Differentiation and Unmatched Customer Service: Two Major Reasons Why You Should Consider LigoLab for Your LIS Upgrade
December 8, 2021
The benefits associated with new technology are incredible, especially when it comes to streamlining and optimizing Molecular, Clinical, and Anatomic Pathology labs. Words like increased efficiency, enhanced productivity, and cost savings are often part of the siren song that lures even the most change-resistant lab managers and operators away from their current technologies. Unfortunately, the excitement of a new lab information system (LIS) can quickly be replaced with disappointment if the lab chooses the wrong vendor to partner with.
This is not to say that lab leaders shouldn’t upgrade their lab’s LIS, quite the contrary. Given the current environment, upgrading to a robust lab management system that can handle a lab’s current and future requirements is a must.
“Modern LIS systems streamline and automate processes, creating a leaner, more accurate, and efficient operation while providing complete visibility into core business processes,” said LigoLab CEO Suren Avunjian.
When evaluating vendors, lab decision-makers need to consider more than just the marketing hype. They should examine the entire package to see what type of market differentiation the system can bring to their business.
What are the system’s features? Where does it rank in terms of functionality? Is it adaptable? Is it scalable? What’s the pricing model? What about the level of customer service? Is the vendor interested in investing in the organization long-term, or just selling software with a high upfront cost?
“The need to differentiate is a major reason why lab managers choose a system like ours,” said Avunjian. “Modern systems and the companies that support them create differentiation by giving labs unique advantages in their marketplaces, enabling them to easily support and retain the business they already have while attracting new sources of clients and revenue.”
Avunjian noted that across the country, labs are using similar equipment, and they all have the same board-certified medical directors. Because of this, modern systems like the LigoLab LIS & RCM Laboratory Operating Platform™ have become the difference-makers, enabling some labs to rise above the others in terms of features, functionality, and scalability.
For LigoLab in particular, the company offers a future-ready platform plus unlimited and unmatched customer service from its best-in-class personnel. This level of support, unfortunately, isn’t the norm. It begins on Day One of the implementation process and carries through to go-live and beyond.
“When you upgrade a LIS system, you also gain the partnership of your LIS implementation provider and all the support – from implementation and training to software support to community membership – that they have to offer,” said Avunjian. “For us, every interaction is an investment back into our own company.”
In 16-plus years of doing business, not a single customer has decide on their own to change from the LigoLab Platform to another.
“I think that speaks volumes about the software, and also our service,” continued Avunjian.
A Lab-First Philosophy for LIS System Implementation
So how is this customer-first approach specifically reflected in terms of implementation?
“We approach every implementation as if we are deploying the LIS system for our own needs,” said LigoLab Implementation Director Petros Martirosian. “As such, while we are not shy about sharing the latest best practices, we don’t force our lab partners into something that doesn’t work for them. Rather, we work with them and adapt our processes if needed to fit their needs.”
When it comes to the implementation of LigoLab’s comprehensive platform, the process has been refined over the past 16-plus years.
“We do the entire implementation in four high-level phases,” added Martirosian.
The Four Phases of LigoLab implementation:
Step #1: Discovery
The first step toward implementation is a complete domain analysis. LigoLab maps out a lab’s entire process, including workflows, tools, instruments, related software, and more to get a thorough understanding of the lab’s current practices. With that understanding, the implementation team can advise and suggest key areas where improvements can be made while consulting with the lab’s interface team, billing team, third-party developers, and others.
Step #2: Configuration
Once the implementation team has established how the lab will operate, it begins configuring the LIS. The team starts with the configuration of the master files and then builds the actual system and its workflows. Next LigoLab’s implementation specialists begin training users on all of the different workflows so they can see if what was mapped out works for them in practice.
Step #3: Testing & Validation
Once the system has been configured in a way that meets the lab’s unique needs, the specialists begin testing and validating the new system, and parallel testing begins. This means that all case types are processed in both the old LIS and in the new LigoLab LIS for a minimum of two weeks before go-live to identify gaps and minimize disruption.
Step #4: Go-Live
Once testing and validation have been completed, the new system is ready for go-live. As the lab starts to use the new system in a live environment, the implementation team handholds the lab for an additional two-week period, working directly with lab personnel to iron out any last-minute issues and make tweaks as needed.
The average LigoLab implementation time, from start to finish, is about two months. A refreshing change for an industry practice that is often measured in years, not months.
LigoLab Never Leaves its Lab Partners Out in the Cold
The end of implementation doesn’t mean an end to LigoLab’s support and hand-holding. In fact, in many ways, it merely marks the beginning.
“At the point where the implementation team drops off, the support team takes over,” said Martirosian. “To our lab partners, the transition is seamless. They inherit a dedicated team with intimate knowledge of the system that can quickly resolve any reported issues.”
To help ensure that potential issues get resolved appropriately and without delay, LigoLab’s support team works within a three-tiered system. Each support tier is focused on solving a specific range of issues and complexities. For every type of incoming request, there’s a specialized team member that’s qualified to resolve the issue. This tiered system makes it possible for the support team to triage and escalate its response to match the issue at hand.
Here’s how it works:
- Level 1
The lab simply emails or calls LigoLab to report an issue, and that automatically triggers a service request that gets sent to a level one engineer. The ticket is read, and if additional information is required, LigoLab contacts the lab. If the ticket cannot be resolved in level one for any particular reason, it gets escalated to level two.
- Level 2
The level two support team receives the service request with additional, relevant input from the level one team. The level two team is composed of experienced engineers, who also have access to LigoLab’s Developer On Call (DOC). After a service request reaches level two support, the engineers themselves work on the solution. If they can’t resolve the issue, it gets escalated to the DOC for assistance.
- Level 3
If the issue can’t be resolved by the DOC or the level two engineers, the issue gets escalated to level three, a level composed of LigoLab’s elite software developers.
At each level, the engineer's performance is measured by weighing each request and categorizing it for a proper internal SLA (service level agreement). Peers and managers weigh in on the request to ensure proper weight and defined turnaround time are assigned. As issues get escalated the SLA changes as well. At each level, an initial assessment is performed to ensure that the issue has been properly escalated to provide the shortest SLA available.
After a request has been completed it may be used as a random sample to QA the engineer’s performance as well. This ensures that best practices and knowledge are shared by everyone on the team.
The support team is available 24/7, and at no additional cost, and this allows for the immediate fast-tracking of an issue as needed. Typically, the support team responds to the customer in less than 24 hours with a diagnosis, resolution, or an estimate on the timing for the solution.
What About Updates?
Another aspect of LigoLab’s lab-first philosophy to highlight is the company’s approach to platform upgrades and updates. LigoLab’s software is constantly growing, improving, and expanding daily to meet the growing needs of its Molecular, Clinical, and Anatomic Pathology labs customers.
“We are known for our responsive service and listening to our customers' needs,” said Emanuel Basag-Taroata, a key member of LigoLab’s Customer Success team. “We are a dynamic team, and all of our lab partners benefit from this agility. The platform is continuously evolving. At the same time, we regularly ask for customer feedback because these features help our customers differentiate themselves and either become more productive or bring in more accounts, both of which are good for the entire ecosystem.”
How Often is LigoLab Updated?
LigoLab is constantly adding new features and functionality, which can be added to a lab’s testing, training, and production environments at any time. However, to make the process less cumbersome, LigoLab also provides quarterly updates. Labs can opt-in or out of these updates with the understanding that after two years with no upgrades, the lab’s version of the software will expire.
“All that a lab manager or system manager has to do to reference our latest updates is click the version features button within the application,” added Basag-Taroata. “They can see what’s new instantly. All the latest features and their explanations are listed chronologically on this page.”
Updates to the system are performed nightly, but this doesn’t impact the customer’s live version.
“Once an upgrade request is made, we work with the lab to schedule the update on the date and time the laboratory has requested,” said Basag-Taroata.
How Long Does the Upgrade Take?
“During a majority of the update process, there isn’t any downtime,” said Basag-Taroata. “The only real downtime is when the lab’s updated training environment gets turned to production. The downtime differs for each customer, depending on the server performance and the database size, but, in general, the bigger the version jump, the more time it will take to complete the upgrade.”
The final step of the upgrade process involves taking the lab’s production system down and switching off all of the users that are currently logged in. LigoLab then takes a backup of the current production environment as a safety measure to protect the lab in case anything goes wrong during the upgrade.
Any issues that arise during an upgrade take priority in LigoLab’s service queue, with bug fixes usually addressed within a matter of hours, and the complete update usually completed within a day.
“We consult with our lab partners during every phase of the update process,” added Basag-Taroata. “We make sure they know how and when we will do it, so there are no surprises. It’s a partnership and we do it together.”
To make the process as quick as possible and mitigate the potential for any errors, it’s LigoLab policy that no two customers undergo upgrades at the same time.
How the Upgrade Process Works
To initiate an upgrade, all that’s needed is a formal request. This starts the process, with LigoLab’s award-winning support team taking care of the heavy lifting.
Step #1: The lab decides if it wants an upgrade.
To see the latest version, lab personnel can simply click the top menu within the application (click on “system” and then “version features”). When something new catches their attention they start the upgrade process by contacting the support team.
Step #2: Preparing the system for the upgrade.
As soon as an upgrade request comes in, LigoLab configures a training environment to mirror the production environment of the latest version of the software.
Step #3: The coordination of communications between the lab and support.
The support team maintains constant communications with the lab to make sure that any ongoing projects that have been configured inside their training environment have also been copied into the production environment, and that the latest configuration of the software is reflected in the production environment.
Step #4: A backup is created.
Once all of the configurations have been synchronized between the production and training environments, the support team creates a backup in case anything goes wrong during the update.
Step #5: The system is validated.
A copy of the lab’s production environment is brought over to LigoLab’s training environment, and the upgrade is initiated. Next, the system is analyzed to make sure it includes all of the updates the lab has requested.
Step #6: Regression testing takes place.
This is where any issues are identified and immediately fixed. Regression testing includes a set of test cases and workflows (or test suites) that go through the application from start to finish. Every time a developer makes a change to the code, a series of automated test cases are started and if part of the new code is broken, or if any of the outcomes are unsatisfactory, the developer is alerted.
Regression testing helps eliminate many of the frustrations and headaches that typically come with an update. In addition, LigoLab uses a proprietary solution known as Hydra to test if the new version will break on the lab’s server. The development team accomplishes this by pointing Hydra at the lab’s server and recreating all of the lab’s orders from the previous 10 days, releasing them all at once to see if any errors or issues surface.
Step #7: The lab begins to test on its own.
After all of the issues have been corrected, the support team hands the new training environment back over to the lab so that its personnel can commence testing. It’s recommended that the lab test the system from end-to-end to make sure that everything is in order before the upgrade to the production environment takes place. During this testing period, the lab reports any bugs or errors, and they are addressed urgently by the support team before the version is moved to production.
Step #8: Go-live is scheduled and the upgrade is triggered.
After all remaining issues have been addressed, and the support team has received the go-ahead from the lab to deploy the upgrade in the production environment, both the lab and the support team agree on a timeframe for the upgrade to commence.
How Does LigoLab Decide When and What to Update?
“When we design upgrades, we look ahead to where technology trends are taking the industry and anticipate what our lab partner’s needs will be in the future,” said LigoLab COO Gor Kalantaryan. “We also design new features based on customer requests, which gets included into one code base slated to be part of our normal update to the rest of our laboratory partners.”
If the requested new feature can go on the development road map and be completed on LigoLab’s timeline, the feature comes without a billable development cost. If the requested new feature is a show-stopper and needs to be designed immediately, the LigoLab development team forwards a do-not-exceed quote to the lab in need of the expedited development work and makes the job a priority.
“In both cases, whether the new feature is on our timeline, or on a specific lab’s timeline, all of our customers will eventually benefit as the new feature will be incorporated into the latest version of the software,” said Kalantaryan. “We do this because our customers are a community amongst themselves and it’s in our best interest as a forward-thinking company to give all of them what they need to remove growth barriers, become more efficient, and become more profitable.”
Best-in-Class Personnel that Specializes in Advanced Medical Software Development
At LigoLab, we partner with our customers and take FULL RESPONSIBILITY for a laboratory’s information system needs. Our platform offers rapid development and unlimited 24/7 support. It fuels business growth and transforms laboratories into information-driven and future-ready operations.
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