While the consensus is that clinical laboratories will benefit from adopting the latest practices, processes and digital software solutions, the next step, selecting and implementing such a system, is likely to be more challenging, given the choices. So what are the key factors to consider for those tasked with taking their laboratory systems into the future?

Key Factors When Selecting a Laboratory Information Management System

The Clinical Biochemists Reviews offers a perspective on the broader considerations that might be taken into account, highlighting the growing complexity of the testing environment, “Larger test repertoires and greater use of new technologies including POCT [point of care testing] will almost certainly lead to increased service demand.” and suggests that, “Planning new IT systems requires a medium-to long-term approach…”

Requirements of the laboratory process
Ben Tagger from the Computer Science Department at University of Wales, Aberystwyth, published ‘An Introduction and Guide to Successfully Implementing a LIMS (Laboratory Information Management System) in which he recommends, “When selecting a LIMS, it is important to select one that is the ‘best fit’ for your requirements. There are obvious problems with selecting ones with less functionality than needed…” The paper identifies a number of generic capabilities that should be incorporated in the process of selection: portability – mobility is a growing feature of modern work; customisation– the system will need to be adaptable to the laboratory’s specific requirements; safety, security and reliability – given the materials being tested, safety is critical and avoid contamination, also security to protect patients’ privacy and reliability because life changing decisions will turn on the results.

Requirements of the IT system
Beyond that, many of the factors to take into account will be as for any IT system that needs to realise the potential of the latest hardware, software and processes. Is the system on offer configurable to meet the specific needs of the laboratory where it will work and to handle developments that are bound to take place during the time when it is in use? Also, will it be flexible to adapt to changing workflows, variable priorities and improvements in processes? Will it be easy to use, i.e. not require a burdensome training regime, and will it offer capabilities such as data mining to leverage the huge opportunities presented by big data? And will it be capable of interoperability and compliant with other systems, i.e. be able to work within a network and/or on collaborative projects with a variety of other parties who might also be interested in a particular test type?

The above is an excerpt of an article in Global Business Media publication, Special Report: Improving Laboratory Operations and Efficiencies, written by John Hancock, Correspondent Global Business Media. To read the article in full click here.

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