Pathology Lab Software: Determining Which LIS System is the Best Fit for Your Laboratory

Pathology Lab Software: Determining Which LIS System is the Best Fit for Your Laboratory

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The clinical laboratory represents big business. Currently valued at over $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 pathology lab software (pathology report software) solutions, commonly known as laboratory information systems (LIS abbreviation medical) and sometimes even called laboratory information management systems (LIMS lab management software). For our purposes and our audience here, we’ll use pathology lab software and laboratory information systems interchangeably. 

By using these innovative laboratory information systems, labs can enhance their laboratory workflow management, boost efficiency, and streamline the often complicated laboratory billing process (laboratory revenue cycle management/RCM cycle). With these laboratory information system software and RCM tools in hand, labs are better equipped to navigate the fast-paced and ever-changing market.

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

​​Types of Pathology Lab Software Systems

Pathology lab software/pathology report software terminology can be confusing. Sometimes definitions are unclear or change over time. 

For example, laboratory information systems (LIS systems) and laboratory information management systems (LIMS systems) previously referred to very different concepts and laboratory workflow, but today their meanings virtually overlap. 

Or, to take another example, the term pathology lab reporting software can be used as a synonym for laboratory information system software, but can also be used more broadly, to refer to any other pathology software used by a laboratory. 

Taking it even a step further, we at LigoLab call our LIS system software an “Informatics Platform” because it goes beyond the basic tenets of LIS systems and LIMS systems in terms of features and functionality by including a powerful lab revenue cycle management/lab billing module, and it serves as an end-to-end enterprise-grade pathology software solution for all medical laboratories and pathology practices. 

LigoLab Informatics Platform features modules for anatomic pathology, clinical laboratory, molecular diagnostics, lab revenue cycle management, and direct-to-consumer lab testing (TestDirectly and TestDirectly.com), all on a silo-free and fully integrated informatics platform that supports every role, every department, and every case, enabling medical laboratories and pathology practices 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 laboratory software systems and pathology lab software to refer to all software systems 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 other LIS vendors.

Learn More: Six Factors That Should Be Considered Before Upgrading Your Lab's Pathology Reporting Software

What are Laboratory Information Systems (LIS Systems)?

Laboratory information systems (LIS systems) are the most common pathology lab software suites that one will usually see in a lab. 

Traditionally, the LIS systems bring all parts of a lab under one LIS software umbrella to establish and maintain one centralized database for all laboratory departments and all laboratory workflow management.

Key Laboratory Information System Functions

  • Centralized Database: LIS systems consolidate data from all laboratory departments and processes, facilitating seamless specimen management (sample tracking) and test result reporting.
  • Compliance: LIS systems ensure 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: LIS systems manage 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 physician customers and insurance companies, and customer service.
  • Data Analysis and Reporting: LIS systems offer robust data analysis, reporting, and audit capabilities, which help improve lab performance and decision-making.
  • Digital Pathology Workflow: Modern LIS system solutions, like LigoLab's comprehensive platform, support digital pathology and enable automated and electronic lab workflow, replacing paper-based records and legacy laboratory software systems. This results in fewer errors, faster processing times, lower costs for human resources, and increased scalability.
  • Lab Revenue Cycle Management (Lab RCM): By integrating LIS systems with laboratory billing and Lab RCM processes, labs can transparently optimize technical and financial performance.
  • Sample Tracking System: LIS systems ensure accurate tracking of specimens and test results, enhancing overall lab efficiency.

LigoLab’s all-in-one informatics platform frees its users from restrictions like paper forms and siloed laboratory software systems that cause interoperability issues. With one united LIS software infrastructure, end-to-end data integrity is ensured

The Power of Laboratory Information System Reporting

In the modern healthcare landscape, laboratory information system reporting has become a key aspect of laboratory workflow management. For a streamlined process, it’s best for labs to modernize and be able to connect with customers, payers, and other third-parties through automated electronic portals. 

Top-notch laboratory information system solutions can easily accommodate this digital connection and provide pre-loaded, customizable templates that make pathology laboratory workflow management and reporting a breeze.

Why LIS System and Lab RCM Reporting Matters

Effective pathology lab software reporting (with laboratory report software) is a key aspect of laboratory workflow management (LIS system and lab RCM functionality). 

Laboratory billing and communication with external billing services represent the backbone of any internal laboratory billing system, while the LIS system is all about efficiently managing patient and specimen information within the technical lab workflow. 

Leading pathology lab software providers, such as LigoLab, ensure their medical laboratory solutions address all laboratory information system functions as well as fully supporting the entire laboratory billing process.

Learn More: Documenting the Avero Diagnostics Move From a Legacy Lab RCM System to LigoLab’s All-in-One Lab Informatics Platform

Clinical laboratory management.

LigoLab’s Powerful and Agile Pathology Lab Reporting Software

The LigoLab platform is equipped with robust reporting engines that allow users to fully personalize every aspect of their reporting for both LIS system and Lab RCM operations. 

You can get a taste of the benefits of using LigoLab's laboratory information system and lab revenue cycle management solutions for reporting by accessing our free lab management software download of report template samples. Check out the examples of report templates and see how they can add value for your customers. 

Learn More: How LigoLab's Pathology Lab Software Supports Lab Report Customization and Client Preferences

Laboratory Information System Vendors: Meeting the Growing Demands of the Healthcare Industry

The market for pathology software with laboratory information system functions in the U.S. is estimated at roughly $650 million currently and all signs point to consistent throughout this decade. Most laboratory information system vendors realize this and are responding to laboratory demands for enhanced 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 lab billing services.

Learn More: Laboratory Information System Software and its Role in Overcoming Laboratory Staffing Challenges

Legacy LIS Systems vs. Future-Ready & Scalable Laboratory Information System Solutions

Medical labs using outdated laboratory information systems lacking essential modules and features find themselves at a disadvantage. These legacy LIS systems hinder scalability and prevent labs from adapting to the evolving marketplace. 

In contrast, labs that adopt future-ready, scalable LIS laboratory information system solutions like those offered by LigoLab, can quickly adjust to market changes.

When comparing potential LIS vendors, labs should consider factors beyond laboratory information system functions and examine LIS system scalability and integration capabilities. LigoLab offers comprehensive medical laboratory solutions that cater to the ever-changing healthcare landscape, ensuring labs remain competitive and efficient no matter what the future holds.

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

Information System Solutions

What are Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS)?

The difference between laboratory information systems (medical laboratory information systems, LIS pathology) and laboratory information management systems (lab LIMS, LIMS lab management software) is often unclear.  

While they share many features, like centralized lab workflow, tracking of samples, analysis and diagnostic functionality, and real-time data access, they do in fact have key differences.

LIS vs. LIMS: What is the Difference?‍

Laboratory information systems (LIS lab) and laboratory information management systems (LIMS full form) play essential roles in the laboratory landscape. However, they differ in their primary focus, end-users, and complexity.

Core Focus

  • Laboratory Information Systems:  LIS system software prioritizes individual patient records centered on patient data storage and management, including lab test results. The LIS software caters primarily to individual needs, such as healthcare providers or the patients themselves.
  • Laboratory Information Management Systems: Lab LIMS software emphasizes sample-oriented data and laboratory operational workflows in a commercial rather than medical setting. LIMS vendors build systems capable of processing and analyzing large data batches like complex sample data from drug trials or biological testing.


  • Laboratory Information Systems: LIS systems are designed for pathology and clinical laboratories, veterinary clinics, and hospitals.
  • Laboratory Information Management Systems: Lab LIMS are used in commercial settings, such as pharmaceutical labs, manufacturing plants, and water treatment or food and beverage testing facilities.

Cost & Implementation

  • Laboratory Information Systems: Although it can vary greatly LIS systems are usually more cost-effective, easier to implement, and adjust to specific lab needs.
  • Laboratory Information Management Systems: LIMS lab management software often comes with more complex implementation protocols and higher initial costs.

It's important to note that the distinctions between LIS system software and LIMS lab management software systems are becoming less clear over time. However, understanding their key differences (LIS vs LIMS) can help laboratories choose the most suitable pathology software for their needs.

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

Types of LIMS‍: Key Features & Compliance Standards

A laboratory information management system (Lab LIMS) provides 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, that govern the criteria under which electronic records and electronic signatures are considered trustworthy and reliable.

Other Important Laboratory Workflow Management Software

Laboratory Revenue Cycle Management (Lab RCM)

Lab revenue cycle management software (lab RCM) plays a crucial role in facilitating revenue collection from patients, providers, and insurance companies while managing the laboratory billing process (RCM cycle). 

The rapid growth of the RCM cycle software market accurately reflects the growing importance of having an effective laboratory billing strategy to combat market challenges and remain efficient and productive as a lab business. 

Key Benefits of Modern Lab Revenue Cycle Management Solutions

Modern lab revenue cycle management (lab RCM) solutions offer numerous advantages by digitizing and automating the laboratory billing process, including:

  • Collecting patient insurance and demographic information
  • Charge capture
  • Coding
  • Claim submission
  • Payment collections

These features significantly improve the RCM cycle and 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.

Lab RCM Software

LigoLab Informatics Platform: A Comprehensive LIS System and Lab Billing Solution

A deeply integrated laboratory information system like LigoLab Informatics Platform provides users with multiple lab RCM 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, improved cash flow, and enhanced profitability for laboratories.

Learn More: The Power of Integration: Unleashing the Potential of LigoLab's LIS System & Lab RCM Platform

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 lab information systems/laboratory information management systems, 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 workflow management 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 also 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

Please note that some laboratory information systems like the LigoLab platform come with CMMS functionality such as a comprehensive audit trail and a sample tracking and management module. These features enable users to monitor every entity and activity with user permission and visibility control and track each specimen with a unique identifier that ensures the chain of custody and security of the specimen.

As a result, modern LIS systems like the LigoLab platform significantly reduce the likelihood of lost or misplaced orders, enhancing laboratory efficiency and security.

LigoLab platform

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 laboratory software systems that labs use.

A few significant factors are driving the laboratory service market growth:

  • 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 direct-to-consumer lab testing portal that allows for easy and accurate lab testing by connecting patients directly with labs.

Interestingly, the laboratory software system market is expanding more rapidly than the laboratory service market. Clinical labs and pathology groups 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 laboratory workflow management 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 enhanced software has a direct impact on improving lab efficiency and productivity.

Michael Kalinowski
Michael Handles Marketing and Communications for LigoLab

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