Pathology Lab Software: Determining Which LIS System is the Best Fit for Your Laboratory
April 11, 2023
The clinical laboratory represents big business. Currently valued at around $200 billion, the global clinical laboratory service market is expected to reach a staggering $290 billion by 2028.
The secret behind this impressive growth? It's all about the rise in demand for advanced lab software solutions.
By using these innovative Laboratory Information Systems and Pathology Lab Software, labs can enhance their laboratory workflow, boost efficiency, and streamline the often complicated laboratory billing process. With these tools in hand, labs are better equipped to navigate the fast-paced and ever-changing market.
Types of Laboratory Software Systems
Laboratory software terminology can be confusing. Sometimes definitions are unclear or change over time.
For example, Laboratory Information Systems (LIS) and Laboratory Management Information Systems (LIMS) used to refer to very different concepts, but today their meanings overlap and some people use them interchangeably.
Or, to take another example, the term lab management software can be used as a synonym for laboratory information system, but can also be used more broadly, to refer to any software used by a laboratory.
Taking it even a step further, we call our system an “Informatics Platform” because it goes beyond the basic tenets of LIS or LIMS systems and serves as an end-to-end enterprise-grade software solution for all medical laboratories.
LigoLab Informatics Platform includes modules for anatomic pathology, clinical laboratory, molecular diagnostics, lab revenue cycle management, and direct-to-consumer, all on a silo-free fully integrated platform that supports every role, every department, and every case, enabling laboratories to attain a level of efficiency that allows for differentiation in the marketplace, rapid scaling of operations, and most importantly, more profitability.
In this article, we will use Lab Software Systems and Laboratory Management Software to refer to all software used in a laboratory environment, and we will define commonly used systems below while also highlighting some of the many aspects that allow LigoLab to stand out amongst the competition.
What is a Laboratory Information System (LIS)?
Laboratory Information Systems (LIS) are the most common software suites that one will usually see in a lab.
Traditionally, the LIS brings all parts of a lab under one software umbrella and establishes and maintains one centralized database for all laboratory departments and processes.
Key Features of LIS Software
- Centralized Database: The LIS consolidates data from all laboratory departments and processes, facilitating seamless specimen management and test result reporting.
- Compliance: The LIS ensures adherence to guidelines from CAP (College of American Pathologists), CLIA, (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments), HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), and other regulatory agencies, mitigating compliance concerns and avoiding penalties.
- Efficient Lab Processes: The LIS software manages various lab tasks, such as patient demographic data collection, specimen and test result tracking, order tracking, quality control, diagnosis and treatment recommendations, interoperability with instruments, and interfacing with third parties like physicians and insurance companies.
- Data Analysis and Reporting: The LIS offers robust data analysis, reporting, and audit capabilities, which help improve lab performance and decision-making.
- Digital Pathology Workflow: Modern LIS solutions, like LigoLab's platform, enable automated and electronic workflows, replacing paper-based records and legacy IT systems. This results in fewer errors, faster processing times, lower costs for human resources, and increased scalability.
- Lab Revenue Cycle Management (RCM): By integrating the LIS with laboratory billing and RCM processes, labs can transparently optimize their financial performance, too.
- Pathology Specimen Tracking System: The LIS ensures accurate tracking of specimens and test results, enhancing overall lab efficiency.
LigoLab’s comprehensive, all-in-one platform frees its users from restrictions like paper forms and siloed systems that cause interoperability issues. With one united software infrastructure, end-to-end data integrity is ensured.
The Power of Laboratory Data Management System Reporting
In the modern healthcare landscape, laboratory data management system reporting has become a key aspect of laboratory information software. Insurance companies and other third-party payers now require labs to connect with them through automated electronic portals.
Top-notch LIS solutions can easily accommodate this and provide pre-loaded, customizable templates that make lab workflow and pathology lab reporting a breeze.
Why Reporting Matters in LIS & RCM Operations
Effective reporting plays a vital role in both LIS and Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) operations.
Laboratory billing and communication with billing services represent the backbone of RCM, while the LIS is all about efficiently managing information within the clinical lab workflow.
Leading pathology lab software providers, such as LigoLab, ensure their solutions address the needs of both LIS and RCM.
LigoLab: A Powerful Reporting Engine for Tailor-Made Templates
The LigoLab platform is equipped with a robust reporting engine that allows users to fully personalize every aspect of their reporting templates for both LIS and RCM operations.
Get a taste of the benefits of using LigoLab's laboratory information system (LIS) and lab revenue cycle management (RCM) solutions for reporting by accessing our free download of report template samples. Check out the examples of report templates and you’ll see how they can add value for your customers.
LIS Vendors: Meeting the Growing Demands of the Healthcare Industry
The LIS market in the U.S. amounts to almost $2 billion and is predicted to grow at 6.5 percent per year over the next decade. Most LIS vendors are responding to laboratories’ demand for information technology to support higher productivity, reduced costs, fewer errors, and better data management and analysis.
These needs are compounded by external pressure on laboratories to provide seamless integration with third parties such as public health agencies, payers, physicians, and billing services.
Legacy Systems vs. Future-Ready & Scalable LIS Solutions
Labs using outdated systems lacking essential modules and features find themselves at a disadvantage. These legacy systems hinder scalability and prevent labs from adapting to the evolving marketplace.
In contrast, labs that adopt future-ready, scalable LIS solutions like those offered by LigoLab, can quickly adjust to market changes.
When selecting your LIS vendor, consider factors like the laboratory information system's scalability, integration capabilities, and available features. LigoLab offers comprehensive solutions that cater to the ever-changing healthcare landscape, ensuring labs remain competitive and efficient no matter what the future holds.
What is a Laboratory Information Management Software (LIMS)?
The difference between a Laboratory Information System (LIS) and a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) is often unclear.
While they share many features, like centralized workflows, tracking of samples, analysis and diagnostic functionality, and real-time data access, they have key differences.
LIS vs. LIMS: What is the Difference?
Both LIS and LIMS play essential roles in the laboratory landscape. However, they differ in their primary focus, end-users, and complexity.
LIS and LIMS solutions differ in their core focus:
- LIS: Prioritizes individual patient records, centered on patient data storage and management, including lab test results, catering primarily to individual needs, such as healthcare providers or patients themselves.
- LIMS: Emphasizes sample-oriented data and laboratory operational workflows, better suited for commercial settings, processing and analyzing large data batches like complex sample data from drug trials or biological testing.
Different end-users typically use LIS and LIMS:
- LIS: Designed for pathology and clinical laboratories, veterinary clinics, and hospitals.
- LIMS: Used in commercial settings, such as pharmaceutical labs, manufacturing plants, and water treatment or food and beverage testing facilities.
Cost & Implementation
LIS and LIMS vary in terms of cost-effectiveness and implementation:
- LIS: Usually more cost-effective and easier to implement and adjust to specific lab needs.
- LIMS: Often comes with more complex implementation protocols.
It's important to note that the distinctions between LIS systems and LIMS systems are becoming less clear, and some people use the terms interchangeably. However, understanding their key differences can help laboratories choose the most suitable system for their needs.
Types of LIMS: Key Features & Compliance Standards
A Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) should provide valuable data insights to various stakeholders within an organization, aiding in decision-making processes related to maintenance, operations, and product development.
Modern LIMS solutions often come equipped with essential compliance standards and guidelines to ensure optimal laboratory performance.
Key Compliance Standards in Modern LIMS Solutions
Today's LIMS solutions frequently adhere to the following compliance standards:
- ISO 17025: This international standard specifies the general requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories.
- Good Laboratory Practice (GLP): A set of principles that provide a framework for the organization and management of test facilities while ensuring the quality and integrity of test data.
- 21 CFR Part 11: The U.S. FDA's compliance rules for electronic records, governing the criteria under which electronic records and electronic signatures are considered trustworthy and reliable.
Other Lab Management Software to Maximize Your Lab's Efficiency
Revenue Cycle Management (RCM)
Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) Software plays a crucial role in facilitating revenue collection from patients, providers, and insurance companies while managing all related processes.
With the rapid growth of the RCM software market, from just over $80 billion in the U.S. in 2016 to $120 billion today, and an expected growth rate of 12 percent per year, RCM software is becoming increasingly essential for efficient and productive laboratories.
Key Benefits of Modern RCM Software Solutions
Modern RCM software solutions offer numerous advantages by digitizing and automating various processes, including:
- Collecting patient insurance and demographic information
- Charge capture
- Claim submission
- Payment collections
These features significantly improve revenue collection, helping laboratories navigate the increasingly complex claims reimbursement process, rising demands from third-party payers for digitalization and improved efficiency, and the shift toward value-based reimbursements.
LigoLab LIS & RCM Informatics Platform: A Comprehensive Solution
A deeply integrated system like LigoLab Informatics Platform provides users with multiple benefits such as:
- Real-time verification, eligibility, and scrubbing components
- Automated ICD and CPT coding
- Automated client billing
- Much more
These capabilities result in fewer denials, reduced audit risk, increased collected revenue, and enhanced profitability for laboratories.
Scientific Data Management Systems (SDMS)
Scientific Data Management Systems (SDMS) fall under the category of Laboratory Data Management System Software or Laboratory Data Analysis Software. They are designed to capture, catalog, and archive data generated by various types of laboratory instruments and applications, providing an efficient solution for handling diverse data types.
Key Features of SDMS
SDMS solutions offer several essential features that set them apart from typical Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS), which primarily deal with homogenous data:
- Ability to handle unstructured, structured, and semi-structured data, including PDF files, images, instrument data, and spreadsheets.
- Integration of lab-generated data with administrative information, such as standard operating procedures and safety documents.
- Centralized database with easily searchable indices.
These features enable SDMS to efficiently manage heterogeneous data, streamlining laboratory workflows and data management processes.
Enhancing Research Productivity with SDMS
SDMS can also be leveraged to improve research productivity through collaborative efforts between various departments or organizations. By providing a centralized platform for data storage and management, SDMS promotes effective communication and collaboration, ultimately driving innovation and progress in the laboratory environment.
Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS)
A Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS), sometimes referred to as a CMMIS (Computerized Maintenance Management Information System), plays a vital role in helping laboratories optimize performance against the key metric of reliable uptime.
CMMS achieves this by scheduling, managing, and reporting on maintenance operations, with its database serving as a central repository for information about an organization's assets, equipment, materials, and other resources.
CMMS Features Within the LigoLab Platform
The LigoLab platform incorporates robust CMMS functionality, offering benefits such as:
- A comprehensive audit trail
- A specimen tracking and management module
These features enable users to:
- Monitor every entity and activity with user permission and visibility control
- Track each specimen with a unique identifier that ensures the chain of custody and security of the specimen
As a result, the LigoLab platform significantly reduces the likelihood of lost or misplaced orders, enhancing laboratory efficiency and security.
The Evolution & Future of Laboratory Software Systems
The future of laboratory software systems can be analyzed from two perspectives: the growth of the laboratory service market and the developments in the software systems labs use.
A few significant factors are driving the laboratory service market growth:
- The emergence of new infectious diseases and virus strains, like Covid-19
- An aging population
- A growing awareness of preventative health measures
- The increasing importance of disease surveillance and screening
- Patients taking a more active role in their healthcare
To make the most of this growth, labs should embrace innovative technology. TestDirectly is a great example of this: it's a web-based patient engagement portal that allows for easy and accurate direct-to-consumer testing by connecting patients directly with labs.
Interestingly, the lab software market is expanding more rapidly than the laboratory service market. Clinical and anatomic pathology labs are in the midst of an IT revolution, as their data-intensive work requires effective data use and reporting thanks to insurance companies and other third-party payers that are increasingly demanding automated and digital reporting.
One more factor propelling the growth of laboratory software systems is the number of labs still relying on paper-based or outdated software systems. Modern IT solutions, offering digitization and automation, are now essential to support the complex daily operations of a modern lab and enable future expansion. Adopting such software has a direct impact on improving lab efficiency and productivity.