Using Software Solutions to Cut Costs and Improve Efficiency in the Lab

Laboratories need to ensure they are meeting the various regulations placed on them, ranging from maintaining data integrity through safely conducting all work performed in the laboratory. With so many regulations to follow, and so many agencies to comply with, it is important that organizations capture all the necessary data and report on that data efficiently. Labs traditionally spend a huge amount of time and money collecting and managing a wide range of health and safety data.

The Changing Environment

In today’s environment, lab managers are asked to cut operating costs and manage their labs with shrinking budgets. While the mission of the lab will always be to provide the highest quality patient care, the environment within which the lab operates is undergoing rapid regulatory and technological changes including changes to reimbursement, test utilization based on patient outcomes and new competition from non-traditional sources.  

Electronic systems such as laboratory information management systems (LIMSs) can be used to manage and monitor safety data, while reducing costs and improving laboratory efficiency. Let’s examine 3 ways adopting LIMSs can help cut costs while improving efficiency, all while ensuring patient care remains top priority.

Three Benefits of LIMSs

1. Faster, More Efficient Reporting

It is easy to see why laboratories are looking for software solutions that can proactively manage data collection within their organizations. The ability to automate the capture of data can make information more transparent and the data reported more readily available, thus leading to decisions being made more quickly and ultimately reducing time and costs overall.

Historically, the management of experimental data and safety information has been primarily a paper-based process used in a reactive manner. When a “safety” event requires historic data to be reviewed and analyzed, looking through paper records can be extremely laborious and time-consuming. By capturing data in a software system, that data can be used in both a proactive and a reactive manner.

2. Connected, Integrated Technologies Across the Lab

Labs need to deliver reports and lab tests electronically, reliably and efficiently to referring physicians or clients, all in a timely and affordable manner. They need to gain the agility and control to deliver critical information on their terms and time schedule, connecting any device, software and people with no barriers.

Today’s advanced labs need a platform that can easily integrate with their existing systems and interpret data from existing EMRs, LIMSs, billing systems, lab instrumentation and middleware systems, while affording them flexibility to report through multiple channels.

3. Improved Turnaround Time (TAT) of Lab Tests, Reports

Innovative labs are committed to leveraging modern technology to help their teams work smarter, work faster and communicate better, for the benefit of both the lab and the patient experience. These labs need complete visibility and improved communication across their workflows and processes, which inevitably improve turnaround time.

How LIMSs Promote Safety

LIMSs can be configured so they are aware of the standard operating procedures (SOPs) and safety controls used within the lab. Most systems allow configuration of the behavior when controls are exceeded so that organizational controls are met. Users receive warnings if limits have been exceeded and manager approval is needed to continue with the workflow. Events can be flagged so further investigation can be performed and appropriate approvals obtained, ensuring safety practices are followed, events are properly documented and all legal requirements for reporting are met. 

The reports generated by LIMSs can be used in several ways to improve safety and reduce costs. Reporting can show whether there are patterns of safety controls being used or exceeded within a laboratory, which may highlight that a laboratory needs training or an experiment SOP/workflow needs reviewing to see whether it can be improved, so that fewer safety controls are exceeded in the future.

Laboratories generate a huge amount of information, ranging from experiment data to the safety data that regulatory authorities require labs to keep in order to confirm whether workflows and operations are being performed appropriately.

Software solutions, like LIMSs, enable organizations to be more transparent about the activities that are being performed and provide benefits such as better communication of information, a standardized way of capturing and reporting data, prevention of duplication of effort and enabling faster decision making.

Does your organization use such a system? If not, do you think it could be helpful for your organization? Let us know with a comment here or on our Facebook page.

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