Laboratory Information Management System

In many ways, a LIMS is the automated file clerk of a laboratory, responsible for storing, organizing and maintaining the laboratory’s data and information. However, a LIMS is more than just a file clerk; it has evolved to automate, simplify and secure many operational aspects of a laboratory.

What is a LIMS?

The definition of a LIMS has changed almost as rapidly as the workflows and data management needs of labs have changed over the last several decades. However, at its core, the LIMS remains a software-based tool designed with the goal of improving efficiencies in a laboratory’s workflow and supporting efforts towards standardization and compliance in the lab. When designed well, the LIMS also provides flexibility and security to a lab’s operations.

A LIMS can have an extravagant list of features, or it may have minimal functionality. Experienced software developers usually do well to include a collection of the essential features, as well as any industry-specific features a laboratory may need. However, not all developers get it right. A generic development approach to a clinical diagnostic or research LIMS may not suffice, given that workflows and regulatory requirements may differ across the various clinical care and research laboratory subtypes.

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What is a LIMS? | LabLynx

Essential Features of a LIMS

What follows is a list of system functionality that is considered by a variety of laboratory experts to be vital to almost any clinical diagnostic or research laboratory.
  • Specimen log-in and management, with support for unique IDs.

  • Clinical decision support, including test ordering tools and duplicate test checks.

  • Templates, forms and data fields that are configurable.

  • Analytical tools, including data visualization, trend analysis and data mining tools.

  • Quality assurance/quality control mechanisms, including tracking of nonconformance.

  • User qualification, performance and training management.

  • Configurable system access and use (log-in requirements, account usage rules, account locking, etc.).

  • Data encryption and secure communication protocols.

  • Customizable rich-text reporting, with multiple supported output formats.

  • Instrument interfacing and data management.

  • Instrument interfacing and data management.

  • Integrated (or online) system help.

Finding the LIMS that Fits Your Lab Industry

Before arriving on the LIMS that fits your laboratory’s needs, you’ll need to conduct some planning and research. The planning phase involves assessing the lab’s goals, regulations, capabilities, workflows and budget, while also ensuring strong buy-in from management. The research phase involves determining what solutions are available, who is developing and supporting them, and what their reputation and experience is.