Best practices in lab information system integration

A typical software integration is even more complex when installing a lab management system that needs to connect with software and instrumentation.
Software installations are complex for several reasons. There’s the need to transfer data from existing to new systems. There’s a critical need to revisit existing and document new policies and procedures.

Perhaps one of the most complicated parts of a lab management software installation is the need to ensure that the program works properly with related systems … and equipment … used by the lab, its suppliers, and its customers.

Lab management software and data exchange
A laboratory information management system (LIMS) needs to access, collect and store data from other systems while at the same time providing data for users. Data is used for analysis, reporting, billing, auditing, and reporting.

In addition, lab management software needs to integrate with equipment, again in a bi-directional data exchange.

Managing all of these considerations is complex. Fortunately, there are best practices in lab information system intergration to follow.

Careful consideration of data collection, quality and reporting are key to a smooth LIMS integration.
Labs deploying a LIMS need to make several key decisions related to implementation, including
  • Naming conventions that closely align with those used by instrument data systems, reducing the need for translation.
  • Sample transfers that move information from the LIMS to the lab bench. Bar-coding protocols need to be established if that process is used.
  • Systems need to match results with lab samples. The interface needs to know which data is used to make a data transfer.
  • How are calculations attained prior to completion? Are all the calculations completed via the LIMS or are additional, manual steps necessary?
Multi-system integration needed
There are myriad systems that could be at play when a new LIMS is installed. Other systems may need to be incorporated or, if the LIMS is an enterprise solution, the now-obsolete systems’ processes and procedures need to be redone.

Among such systems are electronic lab notebooks, scientific data management systems, enterprise resource systems, vendor database systems, customer billing systems, insurance reporting and payment systems, calibration systems or inventory management systems.

Three steps for wise integration
Below are three fundamental phases for consideration with a new LIMS.
  • Information collection. A lab needs to assess how information is collected about samples and how those samples are associated with runs. A modern LIMS can automate processes that in the past required scientists to pore over spreadsheets to make matches. When sequencing instruments are used, labs need to ensure that new software is integrated with vendor-provided kits and procedures.
  • Data quality assessment. Your new LIMS should be able to track the data quality coming from various instruments. With some sequencing instruments running constantly for days, it is inefficient and costly to wait for the end of machine runs before measuring performance. With large data sets available and archived in an LIMS, users can analyze metrics and determine if any samples need to be reworked, if more samples need to be requested or if additional analysis time is necessary.
  • Tracking results. Labs have spent considerable amounts of money and storage space to retain data. These systems are often inefficient, and when specific details are needed, staff can spend hours hunting for information. Your LIMS should provide centralized, searchable archives that allow for easy retrieval.

At Freezerworks, we understand the importance of integration. To assist in your integration projects, we offer on-site services, web services configuration support, a customer care program, and a video libraryRequest a demo to find out how Freezerworks can improve the operations of your lab today.