The Best Laboratory Information System Companies (2024) and the Advantages They Offer to Their Laboratory Clients
January 9, 2024
As we rapidly move through the year, pathology groups and clinical laboratories throughout the country continue to look for laboratory information systems (LIS systems) or laboratory information management systems (lab LIMS) that will help them navigate within an industry that’s in constant flux so they can become more productive, compliant, and profitable. That’s because medical labs continue to deal with fee reductions, unique payer requirements, increased regulations, claim denials, a lack of skilled medical laboratory technicians, and consolidation.
To thrive while addressing these serious challenges, laboratory operators should align their businesses with laboratory information system companies or LIMS vendors that understand the obstacles they are facing and can help them meet and surpass today’s challenges while also preparing them for future success.
LIS vs LIMS - What’s the Difference?
Laboratory information systems (LIS abbreviation medical) and laboratory information management systems (LIMS full form) are comparable laboratory software systems. Often these two terms are used interchangeably. Both LIS systems and lab LIMS are important tools that medical laboratories use to manage diagnostic testing and informatics.
LIS systems (also known as medical LIS) are designed to prevent medical errors and manage clinical diagnostic testing within a healthcare environment. These pathology lab software systems track, store, and manage patient demographics and the clinical tests associated with each patient’s specimen individually. They also generate and send lab reports with test results to physicians and other healthcare providers.
LIMS systems (also known as lab LIMS) are primarily designed for analytical testing environments other than the medical lab. LIMS systems are most often associated with research laboratories and the pharmaceutical and manufacturing industries. These laboratory software systems typically focus on the sample rather than the patient. That said, a modern laboratory information management system (LIMS lab management software) includes many of the same features and components that come with a modern laboratory information system, and this further blurs the line of distinction between the two systems (LIS vs. LIMS).
Like laboratory information systems, modern LIMS systems now regularly include computerized provider order entry, specimen barcoding, sample tracking, rules and automation, customizable reporting, interfaces with other laboratory instrumentation (including electronic health records, EHRs), as well as patient and provider portals, and can be either server-based or cloud-based.
The Basics: What Laboratory Information System Vendors and LIMS Vendors Offer Their Customers
Lab operators, motivated by a desire to differentiate themselves in the marketplace, scale their operations, and become more profitable, are turning to laboratory information system companies and LIMS vendors that offer comprehensive and flexible software solutions that address the common problems that prevent efficiency and growth:
- Issues with reliability and performance
- Insufficient functionality (lacking modules and features)
- Lack of scalability (current system can’t keep up with demand)
- Difficult to configure (requires external vendor support)
- Legacy report formats and delivery options that don’t cater to customer needs
- Inefficient lab workflow and manual processes
- Specimen handling and sample tracking workflow that lacks a robust chain of custody, uniquely barcoded specimens, and verification at specimen security check-points
- Information on processes, bottlenecks, and compliance is difficult to access or inaccessible
- Need for intradepartmental and external (EMR/EHRs, APIs, instruments, state registries, billing services) interoperability
Trends in Clinical Laboratory Management
Modern medical lab operators are looking for more than just a sample tracking system, they’re seeking future-ready and scalable informatics platforms that offer the flexibility, automation, and interoperability needed to fully support all technical and financial operations (laboratory billing), improve patient outcomes, expand services, and increase collections.
The best laboratory information system companies and LIMS vendors tend to be the ones that can offer infinitely configurable laboratory software systems that meet the specific needs of each customer, no matter the size of the lab or the diagnostic discipline.
When buying a lab information system (LIS medical) or a laboratory information management system (diagnostic lab software), one should consider how it adapts to more users, interfaces, and increased services as laboratory operations expand. Additionally, the best lab information system or laboratory information management system software benefits users by improving operational lab workflow, reducing labor costs, and increasing profit by:
- Managing all departments and operations on one platform with no data silos
- Automating complex processes and reducing manual touchpoints
- Market differentiation to expand services and acquire new business
- Maximizing interoperability and efficiency
- Eliminating human errors and lost specimens
- Producing fully customizable reports
- Providing multiple options for report delivery
- Monitoring quality control to quickly identify, troubleshoot, and resolve problems
- Improving turnaround times
- Obtaining easily accessible business analytics (dashboards, stats, dynamic reports) from every department in real-time
Taking the best trends in LIS software and LIMS lab management software even further, when the best lab information systems are also paired with a robust laboratory revenue cycle management (lab RCM) system that provides end-to-end laboratory billing solutions for all laboratory activity, laboratories gain a major advantage that comes with starting the RCM cycle at order inception rather than after the case has been finalized. Add further front-end lab billing support like verification, eligibility, and scrubbing components, and these medical labs can drastically increase accepted claim submissions on the first pass, while also decreasing denials and compliance risk.
How to Justify the Cost of Modern Laboratory Information Systems?
Modern laboratory information systems (LIS systems) and laboratory information management systems (lab LIMS) help organizations not only remain relevant but also differentiate in their marketplace and become more profitable. These types of laboratory information system software remove the potential for mistakes and bottlenecks and operate more effectively by heavily automating core processes that would otherwise be performed manually.
As an example of laboratory information system companies that produce modern LIS systems, LigoLab Informatics Platform creates end-to-end efficiency for labs that wasn’t possible with the homegrown or legacy lab information systems they migrated away from. By upgrading to the LigoLab platform, these laboratories gained the functionality, reliability, and scalability needed to increase lab productivity, no matter their diagnostic discipline (anatomic pathology, clinical laboratory, molecular diagnostics, genomics, toxicology, etc.).
Beware, Not All Laboratory Information System Companies Offer Complete LIS Software Solutions
So what are the things to be wary of when lab operators begin exploring new LIS systems or new lab LIMS options for their respective laboratories?
The questions to ask include…
Can the LIS system software or lab LIMS be configured to meet the lab’s immediate needs and is it scalable?
To change any configuration within the LIS system or lab LIMS, is external development required, or can changes be made by laboratory personnel?
Following implementation, will the laboratory be charged by lab vendors for support requests?
How often is the LIS system or lab LIMS updated?
How are laboratory personnel supported and trained during LIS system or lab LIMS implementation and beyond?
The best laboratory information system vendors and the best LIMS vendors take full responsibility for all of a client’s laboratory information system needs by connecting and integrating every department and lab process and removing information silos. They also offer infinitely configurable modules that are ever-evolving and then take it a step further by empowering lab users to LIS system or lab LIMS changes themselves and without the need for external help. Additionally, they also offer their clients deep expertise and best practices within the laboratory domain, hands-on training during implementation and beyond, and responsive 24/7 customer service and support.
In summary, when buying a modern LIS system or lab LIMS, these operators shouldn’t settle for a rigid and boxed pathology reporting software solution. Instead, they should look for a strategic partner, one that will be there to assist, tailor, and advise their laboratory team when help is needed, while also providing an innovative and adaptable pathology management software platform that can grow with the business as it grows and thrives.