Today various healthcare companies and scientific institutions use laboratory management systems (LIMS) in their workflows. There are many processes where you can apply LIMS software.
They include: sample registration and monitoring, inventory tracking, data storage, and a lot more. For example, you can employ LIMS to analyze the efficacy of new medicines or research outcomes.
Improved document management, reduced paper flow, minimized human errors, better control over lab operations are just a small list of LIMS advantages that you can get.
In this article, we will answer the following questions:
- What is LIMS (a laboratory information management system)?
- What industries use LIMS and take advantage of its features?
- How LIMS work ?
- What issues does a lab information system resolve?
- How do you choose the best LIMS software that will meet your industry-specific needs?
- A bonus from YSBM Group: a checklist to define whether your company really needs a lab information management system or not.
What is LIMS software?
Simply put, a laboratory information management system is a software solution that enables organizations to track samples and test results in order to enhance lab efficiency, minimize errors, and standardize various procedures. This type of software provides functionality to support the processes of a modern lab, for instance, pre-built report templates and electronic data exchange.
When it comes to the question “ What is a LIMS ?”, we should note that there are lots of use cases that it can be applied for. So, the LIMS meaning may a bit differ depending on what is LIMS software main purpose. For example, it can be mainly used for audit or data management, or lab project scheduling. However, the primary LIMS features and applications remain the same.
What industries use lab information system software?
Although it may seem that a lab management system can be used only by healthcare providers and scientific institutions, many other industries successfully know what is LIMS and employ this software too. Take a look at the main sectors that can benefit from integrating LIMS software.
LIMS software is being actively used in labs across numerous industries that include:
- Clinical research
- Contract laboratories
- Metallurgy and mining
- Oil and gas
- Forensic examination
- Chemical industry
- EcologyBiotech, biorepositories
- Research institutes
- Cosmetic industry
At the moment, the number of LIMS applications is steadily growing across multiple industries. According to Statista, the worldwide revenue from LIMS systems reached $634 million in 2016. In 2021, it is expected to increase to over $900 million.
LIMS integration can be done by a software house with appropriate expertise and will help organizations simplify the tasks of their employees and optimize costs. That’s why LIMS software is becoming widely adopted across different sectors. Now, let’s consider how a laboratory information management system works.
In this article, you will explore how LIMS works and how to build LIMS software tailored to your business-specific needs.
How does LIMS software work?
Almost the whole work in the lab is based on sample recording, processing, and analysis. These operations generate a huge amount of information, which requires not only large data storage but also reliable management tools. Therefore, you should define the right set of features for your LIMS program to address challenges.
There are many functions that you can integrate into your system to keep LIMS data in one place, generate various reports to monitor all internal processes, share files, docs, and other information with all parties involved (e.g., employees, other departments or organizations).
Another helpful feature in how LIMS work is that it can be used for creating barcodes for samples. By scanning the barcode, different users can track the entire history of changes without losing intermediate results.
See how LIMS work and what you can do with a lab information system in your company:
- Register and track numerous samples
- Audit test results
- Integrate a convenient reporting system
- Automate workflow
- Store information
- Integrate with other information systems
Through workflow automation with LIMS software, you will manage to relieve employees from completing manual and routine tasks. Hence, staff productivity will be significantly increased.
How to choose the right LIMS software?
When choosing a laboratory information management system, you will need to decide between an off-the-shelf solution and a custom product. With ready-made programs, you will save time on software development while having the ability to pick the app based on user reviews.
Although you will surely get access to rich functionality, in most cases you end up paying for many features you don’t actually need. These “extra” features may also decrease the speed of software due to the raised resource consumption.
By creating your own LIMS application, you will build an efficient system fully tailored to your industry-specific needs. This will take more time and require investments but you won’t have to spend extra expenses on the unnecessary functions.
To make sure that a LIMS solution will address all of your challenges, we recommend you to closely cooperate with your IT service provider during the project. Another advantage of choosing custom LIMS software development is that you won’t have to worry about the software license. The product will be entirely yours, therefore, there won’t be additional payments.
Does your company really need to integrate LIMS software?
Although LIMS software development and integration provides plenty of benefits, it requires time and money. Before creating or purchasing LIMS software, you should define whether your company will actually take advantage of using it.
We’ve prepared a checklist with questions that will help you clarify this issue.
Pass this simple test to learn whether you should build a lab management system or not:
- Do you work with dozens and hundreds of different samples?
- Do you use various equipment and consumables during sample testing (reagents, test tubes, containers, machines, etc.)?
- Do you spend a lot of time entering information and generating output documents?
- Do you have difficulty creating numerous reports in a timely manner and sending them to multiple parties (to the administration, investors, clients/patients, etc.)?
- Have you ever faced some problems, for instance, confusion in documents, due to errors of employees?
- Did you have a shortage of human resources when implementing research projects?
- Have you had incidents that led to having false data in your reports?
- Do you need to organize a quality management and audit system in accordance with international, security, or other standards?
Did you answer “Yes'' to at least two or three questions? If this is so, you will really benefit from making a lab information management system. The next stage is the search for a trusted software development company with solid experience in building LIMS software or for a quality market-ready solution (you can browse it in Capterra).
Today, LIMS integration is quickly becoming a standard of modern laboratories.
By analyzing your business processes and defining areas of improvement, you will be able to develop LIMS software that aligns with your goals. This will increase the overall lab efficiency and make your organization more competitive. Thanks to LIMS integration, you will perform manual and repetitive tasks more quickly, minimize human errors, raise accuracy, and improve the final lab products.