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Laboratory Information Management System

Laboratory Information Management System Development - Features & Functionalities

So, what is a LIMS? A LIMS or Laboratory Information Management System is a software solution to address the data management, automation, and regulatory challenges of laboratories across the globe. As the name suggests, a LIMS is used to effectively manage laboratory samples and the associated data, thus standardizing operations by maintaining workflows, tests, and reporting procedures. With the growing needs of laboratories, the traditional LIMS too has evolved, with the system being able to do much more than just tracking samples.

The earliest LIMS was developed as a system to keep a track of the movement of samples in a laboratory. Since then, LIMS has expanded to be an integrated solution for all laboratory data management needs including maintaining sample records, tracking of tests performed, managing customer services and managing invoices for the services rendered. This had led to the LIMS slowly replacing other laboratory data management solutions such as ELN (Electronic Laboratory Notebooks), patient portals, barcode management systems, accounting software, etc. Another key feature that most modern LIMS have implemented is a configuration tool. The tool makes the system versatile to meet your workflow requirements and match the terminology you use in your laboratory, eliminating the need for costly customization.

What is the role of a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS)?

The most important role that LIMS plays in a laboratory is to increase the operational efficiency of the laboratory by automating and streamlining the workflows, eliminating the need for maintaining information manually and meeting regulatory guidelines. A good LIMS facilitates both easy record keeping and reporting, thus eliminating the risks of human errors and improving the overall turnaround time.

How does a LIMS work?

Briefly, a LIMS covers the journey of a sample from its induction into a laboratory till the end of its life cycle, including the stages of Sample Storage, Testing, Reporting and Archiving. As a sample is introduced into a lab, the LIMS operation starts by accessioning the sample on to the system and assigning it with a particular identification number. As and when the samples move through the laboratory, the related information can then be updated in a LIMS to maintain the audit trail.

Purposes of Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS)

As mentioned above, a good LIMS balances both record keeping as well as report generation. Some of the core functions of a LIMS include:

Sample Management

Sample management is one of the critical functions of a LIMS. A LIMS manages detailed and accurate records of each sample and stores it securely, thus eliminating loss of data as it moves between the departments. Additionally, when the sample moves from one unit of the laboratory to another, the Chain of Custody is updated to ensure proper tracking of the sample's location and custodian.

Inventory Management

The inventory management function of LIMS is an essential part of a laboratory ‘s day-to-day management. A LIMS manages stock supplies and reagents. A LIMS can also generate automatic reorder alerts in case of stock depletion. These alerts facilitate laboratory workflows and prevent any delays resulting from the unavailability of stocks. A LIMS can also help to keep detailed and up-to-date information about your equipment and notify when any equipment is due for upgrade or maintenance.

Test Management

A LIMS helps standardize testing workflows while providing complete and accurate control of the testing process. A LIMS allows you to manage the test conducted on the batch of samples, enables easy entry of the results, tracking approval/validation of results, and generation of reports. Besides, it allows you to manage test analytes and allocate tests to specific LIMS users.

Reporting

Reporting is an essential part of LIMS that enables a laboratory to achieve an entire view of data collected and potential trends, reducing reporting overhead of the laboratory. A LIMS allows you to generate reports including sample tracking, sample summary, inventory, system configuration, test results, audit trail, QC data, sample/analysis count, invoices, freezer space, instrument calibration, etc.

Who can use a Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS)?

There are various industries that use a Laboratory Information Management System to manage their laboratory data. Some of the major industries include:

  • Clinical Research & Diagnostics - manage patient data and specimen information, maintain various test records and test results, generate reports, and automate laboratory workflows.
  • Biobanks and Biorepositories - track biological samples and manage their storage locations for easy retrieval of the samples and their associated data.
  • Food & Beverage Testing Laboratories - manage food and beverage samples, maintain test records, generate reports, and automate testing workflows.
  • Cannabis Testing Laboratories - manages clients, test orders, cannabis samples, tests for cannabinoid and pesticide levels, terpenes, moisture, heavy metal, fungi and molds, and generates a Certificate of Analysis (COA) while complying with regulatory compliance (ISO 17025)
  • Oil & Gas Testing Laboratories - manages sample batches, tests, testing schedules, sample monitoring, and review and validation of results with complete traceability for external auditing purposes.