This article aims brand new laboratories and existing, planning to or in the process to, change their Lab Information System (LIS) for some reasons or others. Though lab professionals know exactly what their need is for the time being, this article can be used to cater ones constantly changing need and no option or luxury to change the system with each need change.
The laboratory business being a highly technical and regulated by various Agencies, requires a thoughtful process to get managed efficiently. Different laboratories may employ different tools like automated lab analyzers, manual techniques and/or outsourcing along with lab personals of different qualification and change above resources as needed, yet all require a common tool, the Lab Management Software (NOT easily changeable once implemented), to conduct business on a day to day basis.
The implementation of a Lab Software in a new laboratory, is relatively quicker and easier than that in an existing laboratory with data and some system in place. An existing laboratory needs to exert more procurement time to select LIS as its implementation being more painful and time consuming. A common factor to be incorporated in a LIS procurement process, among both new and existing laboratory is the laboratory’s changed requirements after the LIS implementation, taken place. For example, the laboratory starts new tests in house, the laboratory employs couriers to collect a higher number of specimens, the laboratory decides to establish an HL7 Interface with Insurances or to Regulatory Agencies to exchange data or the laboratory starts a new department (e.g. pathology) in house.
- Specimen driven LIS opposed to the patient driven as the patient driven is not capable to handle patient less specimens, like Proficiencies etc.
- LIS should be capable to handle Prescription less specimens as Over The Counter (OTC) testing is being allowed in US.
- LIS must be capable to interface with any lab analyzer.
- LIS is capable to interface with external systems like EMR, other LIS and/or any health care software.
- LIS is economical in its extendability and maintainability.
- LIS accessioning and Reporting features conform to Regulations.
- LIS provides a web portal with bidirectional data access.
- LIS has Integrated Billing with contract management, EDI capability (both ANSI X12 837 production and 835 consumption) and regular payment management.
- LIS has Order (future and standing) Tracking capabilities and House Call Management.
- LIS supports Logistics management.
Some features in the above list, can be thought of similar to an air bag in a car which is not used during a normal operation of the car but when ever used proves to be a life saver. Additionally each lab should determine her own level of satisfactory automation in her day to day operation.