What is LIMS and How is It Changing Testing Labs

What is LIMS and How is It Changing Testing Labs
Laboratory Information Management System (credit: Biomed Systems)
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Laboratory Information Management System, aka LIMS, was initially designed to help track samples as they move through different laboratories around the world. However, this software has developed into the ultimate data management system for testing labs over the years. Because of it, laboratories have become more efficient in speed and accuracy.

Today, a good LIMS follows a sample’s entire journey from the moment it enters the laboratory system until the final test is completed and that sample is archived. Every test, result and custodian is invoiced, making it easier not just to track samples but to also cross-check and reference information at all times.

These features have made LIMS a standard, as more labs gradually choose it over other laboratory management systems. Using LIMS, a laboratory can both secure and optimise every aspect of its workflow. It can create a system for transferring and storing samples, recording data, granting access to the said records and managing clients’ accounts.

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In this article, we will look at why laboratories are making this choice (choosing LIMS) and the result of that choice.

What does LIMS do for laboratories?

The primary principle behind LIMS is to make the entire laboratory process efficient and error-free. To do this, it influences the management of four elements- samples, tests, reports and inventory. Let’s take a look at each one.

Samples: From the moment a sample enters the laboratory system, LIMS assigns an identification number and creates a log for it. That log is then updated with every test performed and the details of every person that takes control of it. LIMS can also automate the transfer of that sample, scheduling tests and chain-of-authority while also restricting access to authorised personnel.

Tests: Since most samples often undergo different tests by different personnel in different departments and sometimes different parts of the world, logistics is usually a problem. LIMS reduces such delays and possible misplacements or samples by standardising workflow and management of the testing process. Every sample gets to where they need to be, and every test is conducted on time and easily monitored with invoices and other documentation.

Reports: LIMS also provides a database to collect, collate and review results more efficiently and accurately. This means that authorised users can log test results and access information without bottleneck, making it easier to collaborate with users in different parts of the globe.

Inventory: finally, there is inventory. Stocks deplete all the time, delaying analysis and holding up the test process. LIMS prevents this by keeping a record of the laboratory’s inventory, alerting users to depleting stocks and even automating orders to replenish supplies. It also keeps a record of each piece of equipment and its status.

What advantages does LIMS have over other laboratory management systems

There are other laboratory management systems, such as barcode management systems and Electronic Laboratory Notebooks (ELN). However, LIMS have the following advantages over them.

  • Easy to monitor and track samples: because of the sample management system in LIMS, users can track samples anytime. So there is no mix-up. Samples rarely go missing.
  • Less risk of human error: automation is a big part of LIMS. Everything is automated, making the laboratory more efficient and reducing the risks of human errors.
  • Security: Only authorised users can access the sample and its information. Therefore, your client’s data is secure, and the entire laboratory records are secure.
  • Backup storage: LIMS has a backup system in case of emergencies and data loss.
  • Easy to document reports: we have talked about this earlier. With LIMS, it is easier to keep and update reports. However, only authorised users can do this. This ensures that the data is not corrupted and is readily available for audit and reference.
  • Regulatory compliance: LIMS provides a laboratory with a structure and workflow that makes it easier to comply with regulations. Its certifications include Good Laboratory Practice (GLP), HIPAA, laboratory Improvement Amendments etc.
  • Easy to install and customise: The LIMS software doesn’t require special hardware to run. Therefore any laboratory can run it. It is also easy to customise to fit your specific workflow and analysis requirements. The interface is also easy to use
  • Improved billing process: LIMS also makes it easy to document invoices, bill your clients and integrate with a payment system.

Who can use LIMS

Any laboratory that wants the functions and advantages that we have discussed can use LIMS. But for a clearer picture, any testing laboratory that falls within any of the following categories can benefit from LIMS.

  • Clinical research and diagnostics labs: dealing medical and human samples
  • Food and beverages labs: conducting tests on food samples
  • Agriculture testing Laboratories: conducting tests on agricultural products, soils samples and more
  • Cannabis testing labs: labs conducting tests on cannabis and cannabinoid-related samples.
  • Biobanks and Biorepositories: labs conducting tests and storing genetic materials
  • Oil and gas testing labs: laboratories that test hydrocarbon samples.

Conclusion

LIMS has been changing laboratories, making them more automated and efficient since it was first introduced. With automation comes a faster workflow and lower risks of human error. As a result, sample management, storage, transfer and data-recording has improved significantly.

But laboratories are not the only units of the healthcare industry that are feeling this effect. Every part of the industry is reaping the benefits. When test results come in faster and are easier to access, everyone’s life is easier. The entire industry is more efficient and better at complying with regulations.

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