Laboratory information management systems are designed to help researchers handle and analyze the data gathered during experiments and clinical work. Most types of laboratory information systems are broken into modules that address specific functions. Let's take a look at how all that comes together in a typical LIS.
Each module is intended to handle a basic set of data about the testing being conducted, the individual participants, or the chemistry being tested. This may include banking blood, collecting immunology data, studying hematology, checking for pathogens, and examining patterns of reported patient symptoms.
A module has the capacity to handle inputs from a variety of sources, and it also can be used to conduct analysis and generate reports. If there are potential safety issues, the software will also try to flag these problems before they endanger patients in your care.
Automation is used to improve the volume of work that can be done and to coordinate a wide range of instruments. Some of the more advanced systems available now integrate with automated testing systems, too.
Unsurprisingly, most of the functions are repeated across most of the modules. Standard functions for most modules include management of samples and specimens, order entry and tracking, reporting of results, quality control analytics, demographic data for patients, archiving and integration with other systems used for experiments, and tests. Access control is usually also included with all functions, addressing both security and privacy concerns during trials, tests, and experiments.
As with the modules themselves, many of these functions can also be automated. For example, electronic notifications can be shipped to stakeholders when certain modules have been started or have completed their cycles. With precise data about when each module has operated, it's also possible for testing firms to provide more accurate billing.
Companies generally have processes that they integrate into large workflows. Good laboratory information systems are designed to help with the production of workflows and the scheduling of workers. Instruments can be managed through the same process, too, allowing teams to seamlessly integrate both researchers and machines.
Given the strong emphasis on compliance in modern research, auditing is a big part of using laboratory information management systems. Documentation can be produced for compliance with securities law, privacy, and medical ethics reasons. Companies can also conduct audits to see how well their processes are working, using the data to identify where improvements may be possible.