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What does LIMS stand for?

LIMS stands for laboratory Information management System and it is a solution that helps standardise laboratory procedures and workflows. Today, as the pandemic rages on healthcare facilities have a lot to cope with especially considering a large number of tests and patients needed to keep up with the virus spread.

One of the best ways of dealing with all of these challenges and maintaining the best possible quality is using LIMS for easier management. LIMS will help you get over these challenges by automating processes, handling large amounts of data, accuracy in the research, and assuring proper customer service. It helps store big data, workflow management, minimise human error, reduce paperwork, and improve lab efficiency.

How LIMS Helps in Laboratory Data Management

LIIMS is crucial for any modern laboratory because it improves all the processes. In particular, in the following areas:

Conducting Tests

LIMS helps you manage tests and their associated data by giving you full control of the testing process. Since many modern laboratories conduct a large number of tests, LIMS helps in easy tracking of the results and reporting so the data doesn’t get lost or jumbled up through proper tracking of the chain of custody.

Reporting

LIMS makes it easier to generate reports since all of the data is already in the system. You can filter, generate results and track data by project, dates, quality control and other metrics. The reports include test results, audit trails, sample tracking, invoices, and other data.

Sample management

LIMS helps laboratories organise the records of each of their samples and store the data carefully. Even though these samples may move from one department to the next, LMS captures this move, updates the chain of custody, and makes the information available to associated parties. LIMS makes it easier to manage samples and avoid any mixing up.

Inventory Management

One of the most important parts of a laboratory’s daily routine is managing the inventory in the laboratory. Modern LIMS will help you keep track of your stock supplies and store data so you are not in deficit when you need them. This also extends to clinical labs equipment inventory and give accurate records across the lab team.

How to Implement a Laboratory Information Management System

Knowing you need LIMS systems in your laboratory is one thing and knowing the correct way to implement it into your operations is another. Your implementation process is one of the major factors that determine if the move will be beneficial. LIMS Implementation can be a challenging journey because of the considerable investment cost, resource commitment, and conflicting priorities in a laboratory or organisation.

LIMS MVP For Implementation

The LIMS minimum variable product (MVP) determines the core functionality you need in your laboratory before deploying a LIMS systems so it can give the needed productivity. This is usually different for each laboratory and it is based on the lab’s area of need, strategic goals, risks, and current capability. An MVP aims to give the laboratory operations the needed working functionality to start being productive and produce actionable evidence of what the solution can do.

Developing a Roadmap for Laboratory Information management Systems

A roadmap for LIMS implementation lays out your vision and direction for the proposed LIMS. Your roadmap should have your planned strategy and the efforts you need to achieve the desired objectives. It is ideal to divide your roadmap into three phases as below:

Initiate: Match the desired scope and project approach method with the stakeholders and leaders involved with the laboratory.

Assess: Get data by interviewing the stakeholders and subject matter experts to know your current and future business processes as well as requirements.

Recommend: Summarise your assessment and findings results to have a defined deployment roadmap and strategy for the LIMS solution and how you can automate workflows.

Your roadmap should not only have the iterative possible expansion of the capabilities with time, but it should also give a sense of small victories along the way. This helps you keep track of your progress and gives checkpoints you can always revert and assess.

Factors That Determine the Success of Your LIMS Implementation

It is important to take the time to make the correct choices for your current and future business needs to get success and a great return on investment. In the implementation phase, three main factors determine your success:

·         Starting with a detailed project plan

·         Identifying your unique project deliverables

·         Assembling a competent implementation team

Proper planning and execution can only strengthen the success of any implementation endeavor. If there isn’t a solid strategy or realistic expectations, the project is more likely to fail and waste resources used in carrying out the project.

Steps in Your LIMS Implementation Journey to Effective Data Management

Check out the step-by-step guide to implementing a LIMS software

Clarify system Requirements

Getting your purpose clear before going for LIMS is paramount to making the right choices. Define your scope of work down to the smallest details and do as much research as possible. If you know your requirements for data management, it is easier to identify a LIMS that caters to your needs.

Take Advantage of Experience

Some laboratories prefer to implement these solutions themselves as there is a couple of LIMS software that simplify the implementation process. Getting a LIMS software softwarefrom a third-party vendor will ensure automated, scalable, and reliable lab records management that is set up according to your laboratory’s needs.

Partnering with a qualified LIMS implementation solution provider can help you configure the system to match all your lab practices, nomenclature modification, and other variables peculiar to your lab. The implementation process involves information gathering, recording, data tracking, etc. within the software which a LIMS provider is more qualified to handle.

Communicate Objectives

Your LIMS solution should align with your business objectives, so if you’re using a third-party LIMS solution implementation company, ensure you are very clear about it. Matching your strategy and objectives with a LIMS solution is important and will determine how successful the implementation is.

A large part of this is documented configuration requirements and you must be as explicit as possible. Make sure you are clear about your lab practices and also have an open mind. Sometimes, the process flow in the laboratory information system is more efficient and, in that case, it may do you more benefit to change your lab practices to those of the LIMS for better productivity.

Identify Your Data Types and Formats

Many of the key functions that a LIMS will be doing is data collection so it is worth taking considerable time to understand data types and formats. Lab managers should research and determine the data formats and types that are needed for their workflow and compare them with what the LIMS solution is offering. Strings, Primary keys, Character limits are some of the details that will help you avoid many challenges along the implementation path.

Comprehend Your Hardware Needs

Many laboratories already have their pre-existing IT infrastructure before deciding to use LIMS. Therefore, any chosen LIMS solution must be compatible with the IT infrastructure and account for it in the planning phase before making your decision on the ideal LIMS solution. It should be able to work with your present infrastructure for sample management, inventory management and laboratory workflows management.

Ensure Your Data is Secure

Most of the data in laboratories are privileged and as such you must keep with the highest level of confidentiality. A laboratory information management system is responsible for transferring large amounts of data including personal information about clients, medications, history, health, and more. Data security in the system is paramount and many times, it is part of the regulatory compliance laws you must meet.

Many LIMS typically run with multiple facilities, geographies, and systems, data security is a top priority during implementation and even after when the system is already running. Big data, web based and cloud-based data compromises may occur, so you have to take additional steps in keeping your data storage secure as any breach can be catastrophic.

Try out Test Cases

Many times, the theory and the setup might be sound, but in practice, this might not always work as intended. Before going live with LIMS and all of your confidential data, do a test run of the system with test data to see how the process goes. This can reveal any areas you might have overlooked and you will be able to address any obstacles as they form.

LIMS Training

Once you are ready to roll out the system, the end-users and lab workers must know how to use the system to prevent any mistakes. The more the training, the more you’ll be able to cover all of the possible scenarios that may occur in the process of using a laboratory information management system. If there are any bugs or errors discovered during the training, the developers can work with you to fix the system and make it acceptable.

Conclusion

LIMS Implementation is a process you shouldn’t rush, else the results might be undesirable. Common challenges with implementing LIMS include not understanding the system requirements, choosing the wrong LIMS, and overcomplicating software. Collaborating with the LIMS implementation solution provider can help you weather all of these issues so you can get your system up and running for proper workflow management.