April 17, 2024

Laboratory Information Systems: Streamlining Data Management for Laboratories

Laboratory Information Systems

Laboratory information systems (LIS), also known as laboratory management systems, are computer software designed specifically for use in medical laboratories to streamline processes and improve efficiency. LIS are used to track samples, patient information, test orders, and test results. They allow for electronic ordering and reporting of lab tests by integrated health organizations.

Benefits of LIS for Laboratories

Laboratory Information Systems offer a variety of benefits to clinical laboratories that help improve workflows and the overall standard of care. Some of the key benefits include:

Automation of Manual Processes

LIS automate many processes that were previously handled manually such as test ordering, sample tracking, result validation, quality control, and reporting. This digitization of workflows saves time and reduces errors associated with handwritten records or manual data entry. Automation allows labs to process higher test volumes efficiently.

Consolidation of Patient Information

All patient demographic and test result data is stored centrally within the LIS database. This consolidated view of a patient’s lab data helps avoid duplicate testing and ensures the most up-to-date information is available to clinicians when needed. It eliminates the need to track down physical paperwork or fax records between locations.

Improved Tracking of Samples and Tests

LIS provide detailed audit trails to track samples from collection to disposal. By automating the pre-analytical, analytical and post-analytical phases, LIS help labs ensure samples are directed to the correct analyzer at the right time. This reduces loss of specimens and errors in test assignment. Test status can also be monitored remotely in real-time.

Enhanced Billing and Reporting Capabilities

Electronic interfaces with billing systems allow labs to automate charge capture for billable laboratory services. Detailed reports on productivity, staffing, turnaround times and test utilization can also be generated from LIS data to support operational and strategic decision making.

Integration with Health Information Systems

Modern LIS can interface with hospital electronic health record (EHR) systems allowing clinicians to order tests and view results directly within the patient’s EHR. This streamlines care delivery and removes communication barriers between labs and providers. Integration supports care coordination across settings.

Benefits of LIS for Patients

When implemented effectively, LIS can also benefit patients through improvements in turnaround times, result quality, and care coordination:

Faster Access to Test Results

Automated processes and elimination of manual steps speeds up the total testing process from ordering through results reporting. This gives clinicians access to critical information more quickly to guide treatment decisions.

Enhanced Quality and Safety

Features like built-in rules for result validation, critical value notifications, and error checking help reduce inaccurate or improperly reported results. Electronic interfaces also minimize manual transcription errors.

Continuity of Care

Sharing of laboratory data across integrated delivery networks via LIS interfaces ensures the most up-to-date test results are available wherever the patient receives care. This supports care continuity and avoids unnecessary repeat testing.

Key Components of Modern LIS

To deliver on these benefits, today’s LIS incorporate several important components and capabilities:

Order Communication Interface

Allows electronic ordering of tests from interfaced systems like EHRs or order entry devices directly to the LIS.

Specimen Processing Module

Manages pre-analytical tasks such as specimen labeling, routing, accessioning, shortage management and quality control specimen tracking.

Test and Results Module

Schedules and tracks samples on analyzers, files raw instrument data, performs calculations and validations, authorizes results, and manages reference ranges.

Results Reporting

Electronically delivers final results to requesting locations either through interface or view within ordering system. Provides flexibility in report styles.

Decision Support Tools

Includes clinical decision support, reference ranges, critical values alerts, test utilization evaluation, and electronic signature capability.

Inventory and Maintenance Management

Tracks supplies, reagents, calibrators, QC materials, and maintains equipment master files and quality assurance records.

Dashboards and Analytics

Provides real-time monitoring of lab operations through customizable displays and generative reporting on key performance indicators.

Storage and Backup Systems

Incorporates robust databases, archiving solutions, and disaster recovery plans to keep patient data secure and systems operational.

Data Integration Hub

Serves as centralized interface enabling bidirectional communication between the Laboratory Information Systems and other clinical, financial and administrative systems.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it