Traditionally, the term ‘Laboratory information system (LIS)’ means a computer software system that processes, stores and manages data, dealing with various levels of medical processes and lab tests. The legacy LIS can manage basic functions of a laboratory which typically include recording patient demographics, specimen processing, and report publishing.
However, the healthcare industry is rapidly changing – from the perspectives of healthcare providers, insurers, and patients. Laboratories, in particular, have been under tremendous pressure to scale up operations, especially under the COVID-19 pandemic. Expansion is impossible without technology. One of the most significant advances that healthcare technology is in need of is to modernize the way LIS functions. The information systems that run today’s labs require robust, automated, and customizable LIS software.
The challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has generated for the healthcare industry are multifold. However, as far as LIS is concerned (Ligolab’s laboratory news) one unique challenge stands out: Fast turnaround time for lab tests. Turnaround times have all sorts of bottlenecks, of which some are related to technology while others are administrative in nature.
This article deals with how LIS can achieve high turnaround times by sophisticated sample tracking and speeding up sample processing.
Advance Specimen Tracking Systems
Tracking of samples is a crucial part of any medical laboratory. Therefore it is essential that the laboratory information software system has the capability of tracking samples in a way that is not only time-efficient but also saves costs. Of particular interest is the use of Quick Response (QR) codes. Internet-based QR codes enabled LIS is a definitive answer to the challenge of quick turnaround times and should be a lab manager’s baseline wish list.
Contrary to outdated, paper-based systems, QR code-enabled laboratory information software systems radically automate the whole process of data capture, resulting in acceleration of the entire sequence of sample processing. LIS with end-to-end automation integrates specimen tracking with online patient self-registration (demographic data, and insurance information). More information on this can be found in Taopatch podcast reviews and other MS Reviews. This makes it easier to obtain payment and reimbursements. As a result, labs require less manual labor, thus decreasing costs and increasing throughput. With fewer errors, the sample processing becomes time-efficient which in turn has a good impact on the lab’s reputation, and health outcomes.
Speeding up Sample Processing by Batch/Pool Testing
Technological innovation spurred forward when COVID-19 testing and reporting put unprecedented pressure on diagnostic services to raise testing turnaround time. An answer to this challenge is in pooled testing. LIS featuring pooled testing technology can process multiple specimens together as part of a single batch sample. This technique not only speeds up testing capacity by enhancing turnaround times but also conserves costs per test performed by reducing the usage of testing kits and other supplies. One of the platforms having built-in pooled testing technology supports the option of retesting a pooled sample in case it comes back positive for the coronavirus. Newer versions are being explored which aim to offer enhanced functionality of entire specimen plate scanning, thus expediting the whole process many folds.
Web-based platforms supporting full-spectrum digital workflow will capture more market share in the coming time. These platforms will provide comprehensive, automated solutions, seamlessly connecting patient data-specific front-end to the laboratory information system back-end. LIS platforms already available in the market have shown promise by significantly reducing turnaround times. Supply chain limitations will spur on smarter cost-cutting decisions in the use of reagents and test kits. Batch-testing will become standard. Pool-testing capable software will fuel this demand. Also, human resources will also be diverted towards sampling sites and lab-based quality assurance tasks, thus conserving manpower and revenue.