We all know that an investment in the right technology can create efficiencies for an organization. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of managing the diagnostic testing laboratory using a comprehensive LIMS that is well-implemented and supported by a reputable LIMS vendor.
In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic many new laboratories went live with testing, using spreadsheets as a substitute for a LIMS with the hope of commercializing COVID-19 testing faster. Those laboratories created bottlenecks in specimen processing and decreased their throughputs and overall efficiencies. These pieced-together systems introduced the need for extra quality control steps in order to achieve the required quality for diagnostic testing. These solutions created compliance and security issues as well.
The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of a LIMS for the clinical laboratory to achieve optimal efficiencies, to ensure high quality testing, and to maintain compliance across its processes.
1) Streamlines processes within the laboratory, resulting in increased efficiency
The diagnostic laboratory is a complex environment with many processes running in parallel. In this type of environment, it is very easy to have systems and processes in place that are counter-productive and inefficient for the laboratory. Inefficiencies cost the business time and money and create pain for the laboratory staff.
Diagnostic laboratories that use spreadsheets and or inadequate LIMS products to manage their workflows and data limit their abilities to scale laboratory services and their ability to grow their business effectively. A diagnostic laboratory should implement a proven and comprehensive LIMS as soon as its diagnostic testing menu begins to solidify and the basic laboratory processes are being established. During this early stage, your LIMS partner can provide recommendations on how to configure your workflow and your LIMS to achieve maximum efficiency for your laboratory.
Beyond its ability to manage the diagnostic testing workflow smoothly, a well-designed and implemented LIMS will manage a variety of other business processes for the diagnostic testing laboratory. A LIMS can facilitate inventory management, specimen storage, test result reporting, reporting within the laboratory, and billing, to name a few. Selecting a LIMS that can accommodate your laboratory’s workflow and business needs is the best way to ensure that your laboratory’s processes are streamlined and your customers receive the service they deserve.
2) Ensures Quality across the testing workflow and testing menu
The value a well-implemented LIMS brings to overall diagnostic testing quality cannot be over-emphasized. Diagnostic testing laboratories experience significant risks to quality when spreadsheets or other decentralized systems not designed for diagnostic testing are used in lieu of a LIMS. It is easy for even the most cautious and well-meaning laboratorian to delete data and lose chain of custody of specimens when spreadsheets, “home-grown” systems, or bare bones LIMS are in use in the diagnostic laboratory. A LIMS with years of development behind of it will standardize data collection and data management. The standardization of data will further ensure data integrity and maintenance of chain of custody across the entire workflow, ensuring that every patient gets the right result, every time.
3) Compliance - test records and other auditable data elements are centralized and reliably stored (security/HIPAA) for easy retrieval
A well-implemented LIMS has compliance built into the system, relieving the laboratory from worry come inspection time. Diagnostic laboratories without a solid LIMS will struggle to reconstruct patient records and to gather the data elements requested during an inspection, which casts the clinical laboratory in a poor light and reduces the inspector’s confidence in the laboratory’s compliance and quality. Beyond the strains that the laboratory experiences during an inspection, insufficient technology create risks to patient privacy that increase the burden for IT departments.
A well-designed LIMS removes the risks and pains associated with home-grown and basic systems by centralizing the laboratory’s data, ensuring security and privacy, and providing a full audit trail across the diagnostic testing process. A fully featured LIMS will reduce the burden and concern around data security and patient privacy.
At the end of the day, we all know technology can create efficiencies for a company. Laboratory software has been around for years, but in the face of the events of the last year, it’s time to surface once again why a LIMS is so critical to a laboratory’s operations. For a diagnostic testing laboratory, the need is not just any LIMS. Your diagnostic testing laboratory demands a LIMS that is proven, comprehensive, flexible, scalable and supported by an organization that understands that the sale is just the beginning of the relationship. Further, labs that underestimate the importance of a tried-and-true LIMS will ultimately pay a steep price in terms of money and wasted time.
The ApolloLIMS team will work with your laboratory to implement a LIMS solution that will fit your laboratory’s workflow and business needs from the very beginning. Contact our team to learn more about the Apollo Alliance.