Optimizing the Lab Workflow with Pathology LIS and LIMS
October 6, 2022
Clinical and pathology labs process a heavy workload of patient samples daily. They rely on established, smooth-running clinical workflows to effectively manage and process samples and their associated data. Modern laboratories optimize their clinical workflows and manage their data with the help of dedicated laboratory software systems called laboratory information management software (LIMS) systems or laboratory information systems (LIS). In this article, we’ll refer to both as laboratory management software solutions.
What is a Laboratory Information Management System?
A comprehensive LIS or LIMS system can automate all aspects of a laboratory’s operation management, from sample processing and lab instrument/EMR integration to clinical data management and reporting. A LIS or LIMS data system simplifies the storage and retrieval of clinical data associated with processed samples, allowing clinicians to easily access reports on sample test results, plus audit trails, sample quality analysis, and even generated invoices.
The best laboratory information management systems improve a lab’s turnaround time by automating workflows to easily track and record samples. Clinical lab software leverages advances in data storage approaches (such as cloud storage) and organizational tools to securely store and link large volumes of data to the proper source. For example, each specimen receives a unique ID that’s linked to both the test result and the patient. This automation streamlines processes and effectively minimizes errors in specimen tracking and the recording of sample data.
Advanced LIS and LIMS solutions can do more than simply track or process samples – they can also address compliance with regulatory requirements such as Good Lab Practice (GLP) to indicate, ahead of auditing, whether a lab is conforming to the best quality assurance (QA) standards.
A validated LIS/LIMS system is thus the backbone of clinical labs that handle large volumes of samples and data.
How Does Medical Laboratory Management Software Work in Clinical and Pathology Labs?
A clinical and pathology laboratory software package digitizes the lab’s workflow management. This type of software is designed to automate many operations within a clinical lab, from sample collection to processing, reporting, and patient invoicing and billing.
A lab’s sample tracking data typically include:
- Date of sample collection
- Test location;
- Sample type and tests required
- Patient data
- Additional data customized to the lab’s workflow
The above sample tracking data is recorded at the time of collection and is regularly updated as the sample is processed. When a sample is transferred from one department to another, the LIS/LIMS database monitors it and securely records its movement, thereby avoiding losses and delays.
Interfacing with Lab Equipment
In addition to sample tracking, the LigoLab medical lab software package streamlines laboratory operations management by maintaining a record of the equipment used to process samples and the analytical experiments or tests performed on the sample. Pathology lab reporting software like the LigoLab LIS & RCM Laboratory Operating Platform also has integrated workflows for assuring quality control of the tests run on samples, before approving the results. The results are compiled into reports, which are then distributed to the lab’s clients (physicians, clinics, and hospital systems).
Integrated RCM Module
While legacy systems dealt with sample reporting, the revenue cycle management processes had to be handled separately. Modern medical lab software like the LigoLab Platform saves your staff time, resources, and money by automating much of the billing process. Thanks to its rule-based system and full integration between the LIS and RCM modules, LigoLab clients report 25-35 percent gains in net collections soon after achieving this level of interoperability. They also report over 98 percent of insurance claims were paid on the first submission with this game-changing arrangement.
How LIS and LIMS Software Helps Optimize the Clinical and Pathology Workflow
Clinical and Pathology labs handle diverse workflows, from sample management to regulatory standard compliance, and everything in between. Although the primary workflow centers around sample tracking and data management, a comprehensive LIS/LIMS solution can integrate future evolutions of a pathology lab’s requirements, like digital pathology (in many ways the future of anatomic pathology). A clinical lab workflow management software package like the LigoLab Platform integrates the various steps involved in sample management and digitizes them into a repeatable process that is used for clinical workflow optimization.
Placement of Test Order
The clinic or doctor orders a test, and this requisition includes patient and sample data.
Once the patient’s sample has been collected by the lab, the LIS/LIMS data system generates a barcode that is matched/tagged to record sample tracking data.
The LIS/LIMS tracks the sample through its lifecycle, while also monitoring the equipment used to process it. Clinical information systems like the LigoLab Platform track and maintain a record of the time taken to run a test, the personnel handling the sample, and the laboratory instruments used for sample processing. This data is used to generate a report auditing the performance of the workflow, the equipment, and the lab personnel.
In compliance with the lab’s data entry standards, the LIS/LIMS generates a report and marks them for distribution based on client preferences.
Samples are assigned to storage locations, such as shelves in a freezer, based on their barcoding. Laboratory personnel may retrieve samples for further processing based on the stored location information.
Why Choosing the Right Lab Data Management System is Key
Once the practical part of the work is complete, the lab’s clinical information system needs to have an effective way of handling the resulting data. A LIS/LIMS database converts raw data files from each sample into standardized entries that facilitate data exchange and data integration. For instance, modern clinical and pathology software solutions, such as the LigoLab Platform, can directly interface with the Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems used in hospitals because they include their very own interface engine supported by an experienced and talented interface department.
When looking for a new data management system for a clinical or pathology lab, ensure you choose a future-ready platform like the LigoLab example presented here, one that seamlessly integrates multiple aspects of sample and data management, and one that creates end-to-end efficiencies through rules, automation, and interoperability that empowers laboratories to better serve patients, differentiates themselves in the marketplace, scales their operations, and becomes more compliant, and more profitable.