LIMS: The Purpose of a Laboratory Information Management System.
What Is A LIMS?
Until the late 1970s, any processes carried out in a laboratory usually involved paperwork and at the time, data collection and how it was reported was certainly a manual process. In the beginning, the primary objective of laboratories was to overcome the challenge of sample management. As pharmaceutical companies grew as did the number of samples that labs received with some laboratories receiving thousands of samples each week. This brought about the concept of a laboratory information management system, or what is known as a LIMS system. A software-based system that allows for effective management of samples and their associated data that tracks and stores information about a sample from the time it enters a lab until it has undergone processing. As well as efficient sample management, a LIMS system also helps improve data accuracy by reducing the human error in the input and output of data.
When we think of a laboratory information management system we might instinctively think of a clinical laboratory or pharmaceutical setting however LIMS software can be found in a range of industries including;
The overarching purpose of employing a LIMS is to build effective processes within the environment it is employed. Due to greater technological advancements and better understanding, the LIMS has developed into more than just a sample management tool. Modern-day LIMS systems are not only utilised for sample management but also workflow management, inventory management and reporting. Workflow management helps improve the efficiency of the environment the LIMS operates in, for example, it allows for the automation of assigning work tasks to laboratory staff as well as outlining to staff what laboratory instruments are required which ensures that processes are always followed. LIMS can also fully automate the process of inventory management. The software ensures that any required inventory is ordered in advance to avoid delays or any issues with lack of stock, helping to improve the day-to-day running of the laboratory. The reporting functionality of a LIMS provides timely and accurate reports based on daily, weekly or monthly reporting tasks, reducing the management and overhead requirements of a laboratory, meaning the cost of reporting for example, is significantly reduced due to the lack of paperwork. LIMS can generate personalised reports with some vendors allowing the creation of bespoke queries and format reports to meet customer requirements. The focus on profitability with LIMS vendors is as a result of the increasingly large volumes of data that laboratories receive which has encouraged LIMS providers to allow electronic data exchange. Focus has shifted towards allowing remote sample collection data to be imported and exported as well as allowing mobile technology and third-party app integration to transfer data files in a range of formats while ensuring quality data security.
LIMS or LIS: What is the difference?
Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS) and Laboratory Information Systems (LIS) are two distinct tools often confused with each other but what separates them?
LIS is software that records, manages and stores patient data for clinical laboratories. A LIS is a patient based software that supports the operations of public health institutions, for example, hospitals and clinics and their supporting laboratories. A LIMS system is centred around the sample compared to a LIS which centres around the patient.
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