Laboratories have gradually evolved from being major centers of excellence in the hospital setting to remote testing sites with full connectivity in other testing environments such as reference labs and smaller physician offices. Majority of these laboratories are now automated with laboratory software known as ‘Laboratory information system’ (LIS) or ‘Laboratory information management system’ (LIMS).
It is fairly easy to confuse LIS and LIMS, due to their similar terminologies. Before making the decision as to whether LIS or LIMS is best suited for a lab facility, it is essential that one knows the difference in the two terminologies. There are two thoughts on the differences of LIS vs. LIMS systems in the laboratory industry. There are leaders in the lab world that state the two terms are interchangeable as they both function to automate laboratory testing. Some argue that LIMS are more suited for larger facilities that need to process big batches of data and that LIS systems are suited to prioritize patient care with the ability to handle large volumes But historically we know that there has been a cost difference between LIMS vs LIS systems.
It is time we considered the needs of your clinic, lab or hospital. Single-record bases setup of an LIS would best suit individual clinics and labs. However, a larger facility has more complex needs and the need to process big batches of data might make a LIMS the better option. A LIMS is best suited for larger organization that input hundreds-thousands of samples simultaneously. A LIS is more cost effective and may be simpler to implement depending on the variety of your testing services.
Implementing automation to your clinical laboratory boosts performance and the list of benefits of a Lab Information System is inexhaustible. To begin with, samples are tracked in real time as the handling process is automated and the technician is able to track the samples in real time. Secondly, the previously time costly registering of samples as they are sent out of the collection center and recording them again upon receipt at the processing center has been made way easier by use of batch-sheet-based tracking model. In addition, elimination of laborious manual efforts minimizes human error and saves time. Furthermore, the effectiveness of lab information systems makes custom financial and operational reports that enable owners to create projections and increase revenue. Determining when you’re ready to automate may be a question of your laboratory workflow and operational efficiency.
There exists a difference between just an LIS/LIMS and a desirable LIS. The latter on top being cost effective, is user friendly, has intuitive interface and has the capability of scaling your business to the next level. There are a number of important factors that will help you choose the software solution best suited for you and your business. To begin with, the cost of ownership of the Laboratory Management System is a serious issue that should be put into consideration. The price should be compared to business requirements, availability of a secure web portal, after-sale support such as free upgrades and market trends where you determine whether you are buying old technology. A second factor to consider is user friendliness. Features should be self-evident and the system should be easily adoptable within the organization. Finally, one should consider functionality and features before deciding on an LIS.
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