Let’s say that you’re a medical lab technician and there are 10 samples of blood in front of you, each of which is unmarked and in need to be assigned a unique ID. It’s your job to ensure that they are marked properly and sent to the right person for further testing. The slightest error in IDing a sample or assigning it to a technician can lead to a lot of trouble and make the sample completely unusable. Not to mention, you would have to ask the patients to provide a sample and potentially face their wrath for being asked to come again.
Nerve-racking, isn’t it?
The work that a laboratory puts into managing samples is one that requires acute precision and the slightest mistake could lead to big problems. That’s where laboratory management software plays a key role. Laboratory management systems have been designed to make sample management a piece of cake for lab technicians and administrators. From the moment a sample is obtained to the moment its purpose is over, laboratory management software (LMS) handles the end-to-end of sample management.
But how does it do this? Let’s find out:
1. IDing the Lab Sample
Before a sample reaches the hands of a technician for testing, it is mandatory to assign a unique identification number to it for tracking and storage purpose. Assigning a barcode and/or RFID tags to samples allows laboratory administrators to keep a track of it, as it moves across different locations.
Barcodes and RFID tags are scanned every time a sample arrives at a laboratory or a medical facility and the status of the sample is stored on a network for easier tracking and access.
With a laboratory information management system, sample identification is simpler as:
* An LMS system informs from whom a sample was extracted
* Who’s working on the sample
* Where the sample has been, and where it needs to go next
* How to store it and when it needs to move
When labs can keep a track of their samples in real-time, it reduces the likelihood of misplacing samples or sample data. Additionally, since barcodes are machine generated, it reduces the chances of human error while assigning identification numbers (confusing numbers and alphabets, typing the wrong code, etc) and while reading these samples (accidentally reading numbers as letters or vice versa and errors due to poor handwriting).
2. Sample and Workflow Management
From the moment a sample enters a laboratory, it is important to streamline and track its movement. It is important for the samples to undergo the right test procedure while moving across the right location. To that end, a laboratory management software helps in streamlining work, managing samples properly and maintaining accurate and detailed records through the use of automation. A best LIMS software can be used to assign samples to technicians for testing, creating work schedules and providing details of the tests that have to be conducted on a sample and the places it needs to go, within and outside the laboratory.
Laboratory management software subsequently helps improve efficiency as every technician knows what they have to do, thus reducing any confusion. A lab administrator can view the work schedule of every technician and accordingly assign work using the LMS tool, removing any confusion. Since LMS also details out the tests and locations associated with the sample, it helps lab technicians in creating a plan of action that helps improve their efficiency.
3. Easier to Access and Report Sample Information
A laboratory management system is a digital solution that stores and records samples digitally. This makes it easier for technicians, patients and doctors to access the laboratory sample data, who can simply input the ID number into the LMS and retrieve the associated file.
Report generation is also simplified through the use of laboratory software. Lab technicians can generate digital reports comprising different parameters, create reports that represent archived and current data, and auto-upload patient lab reports on hospital management systems.
Sample data is also beneficial for medical researchers, who can access it digitally, if they have the permission of the sample’s owner. Imagine the prospects and advancements that medicine could make if patient data was readily available. With laboratory management software, that dream might soon be a reality.
4. Better Utilisation of Laboratory Storage
A laboratory management system can not only assign storage space to a sample but also send out alerts when the lifecycle of a sample is over. This helps medical facilities, laboratories and hospitals in removing old outdated samples and making space for new ones. This makes it a lot more cost effective as labs aren’t required to purchase extra storage freezers or accidentally throw out important samples in the quest to create storage space.