Managing your clinical diagnostic laboratory’s information has become as important as managing the laboratory itself. More data-intensive technologies, more comprehensive regulatory compliance, and other trends require an effective laboratory information management system (LIMS) to effectively manage all that data.
In our e-book The Ideal LIMS for Clinical Diagnostics: A Practical Buyer’s Guide, we shared several lessons we’ve learned over more than 25 years of helping clinical diagnostics labs improve their information management. Turning to an effective vendor selection process is among the most important of those lessons. Naturally, we think LabLynx should top your list! But how do you truly know a vendor is a good match? These seven steps will help you find the right LIMS for your laboratory.
Assess what your lab needs now
These first steps will clearly define what your lab does, as well as the effectiveness of your information management practices.
1. Evaluate your lab’s current capabilities.
First, consider what your lab does today. Identify data management strengths and weaknesses as you ask these and similar questions:
- What testing services do we offer?
- What instruments support those services?
- How many locations do we have?
Not linking your instruments to your lab’s IT systems, for example, means your staff wastes time manually setting up test runs and transferring results. This may cause delays induced by transcription and conversion errors. LIMS solutions such as LabLynx LIMS for Healthcare integrate laboratory instruments to automate data transfers and eliminate errors.
2. Identify existing workflows.
Next, look at how your lab works. Identify the processes that generate, transform, and distribute information by asking questions such as:
- How often do we change or create methods and workflows?
- How do we accession and manage specimens?
- How do we communicate with physicians and/or patients?
Flag the issues that affect your lab’s performance. Creating aliquots complicates specimen tracking and makes compiling reports more difficult. The LabLynx LIMS for Healthcare associates aliquots with the original specimen. Besides making the sample-handling process more efficient, our LIMS lets you easily group test results and issue reports faster.
3. Document compliance requirements.
Accreditations, certifications, and regulations shape your laboratory’s practice. Identify the requirements your lab must meet:
- How well do we comply with HIPAA and HITECH privacy regulations?
- Where do we struggle with CLIA compliance?
- What does it take to maintain CFR 21 part 11 or other quality accreditations?
Along the way, identify sources of compliance friction. Assessments become labor-intensive when your lab’s data is scattered across databases, spreadsheets, and filing cabinets. LabLynx’s informatics solution consolidates your lab’s data in a single location to streamline your compliance efforts while making quality management much easier.
Define where you want to be
Choosing a LIMS that only handles your lab’s present needs could become a costly mistake. Finding a LIMS that supports your lab into the future requires knowing what that future is.
4. What are your growth plans?
Innovative medical technologies, disease outbreaks, an aging population, and other trends are reshaping healthcare priorities. Ask yourself how your lab may change over the next five years:
- What new diagnostic services will you offer?
- Will you expand into clinical research or other healthcare sectors?
- Will you grow beyond your current location(s)?
Identify the LIMS capabilities these plans will require. A LIMS designed exclusively for clinical diagnostics will make transitioning to clinical research more difficult. LabLynx offers a more flexible solution. Today, you get features specific to clinical diagnostics, but the capabilities for other workflows and business models could be simple configurations, as the LIMS is built to provide labs with scalability.
5. Build support for your growth plans.
Your laboratory’s mission is to help patients. At the same time, your laboratory is a business. You have to make the numbers work for stakeholders. Make an honest assessment of your lab’s financial performance:
- What drives costs within the laboratory?
- How much do we spend on laboratory IT?
- Do we spend more on consumables to keep them in stock?
Explaining how your LIMS selection improves financial performance builds the support you need to move forward. Our customers appreciate that their LabLynx LIMS solution reduces capital expenditures. Running your LIMS in the cloud eliminates the costs of buying and maintaining servers. At the same time, our per-concurrent-user price structure turns your LIMS into an operational expense.
Narrow your LIMS vendor search
Now that you’ve laid the groundwork, you can efficiently search for the ideal clinical diagnostics LIMS. You can cut the vendors that don’t meet your criteria with a quick website visit or a phone call. However, these final steps will help you further narrow the list to your ideal solution.
6. Issue a request for information (RFI).
Send an RFI with your LIMS software requirements to at least half a dozen qualified LIMS vendors. Clearly describe your lab’s needs and ask questions that generate informative responses:
- What is their implementation process?
- How do they provide ongoing support?
- Can they help with specific needs?
A clear and focused RFI helps get the best possible responses. Should your requirements state that you share data with a specific EHR system, for example, our response would describe the integration capabilities of LabLynx LIMS and its use of LabVia, as well as similar system integrations we performed for other LabLynx customers.
7. Ask for a demonstration.
Invite your final candidates to demonstrate their LIMS solution. More than a superficial walk-through, this demonstration should help answer such questions as:
- Does the vendor understand our needs?
- Have they shown us their solution will do what we need?
- Is the LIMS easy to use and administer?
A LabLynx demonstration would show you how a browser-based software solution can make LabLynx LIMS easy to use for everyone in your organization.
Learn more about finding the ideal clinical diagnostics LIMS
Following these seven steps will help you find the right LIMS vendor for your lab now and in the future. However, much more goes into this decision. We published The Ideal LIMS for Clinical Diagnostics: A Practical Buyer’s Guide to help you through the discovery process. This e-book explains baseline LIMS capabilities, as well as enhanced features for different types of healthcare labs. We also describe the expertise and services that a LIMS vendor can provide to make implementation, operations, and support much easier. Best of all, the guide is completely free and ready for you to download now!