Laboratory Information Management System

LIMS refers to a computerized information management system for laboratories

Functions of LIMS

  1. Sample Management
  2. Instrument and application Integration
  3. Electronic Data Exchange
  4. Additional Functions

Depends on the user case and how sophisticated the lab system is.

Sample Management

  • Creation of request and issuing of sample container.
  • Registration of sample details on the system – Accessioning
  • Barcoding
  • Documenting sample custody and movement along the chain 
  • Allocation of storage eg freezer space – room/rack etc

Electronic Data Exchange

  • Increased data volumes and business needs – increased attention to how input/output data is handled.
  • Integration with mobile platforms 
  • Transition from proprietary to open source DB systems revolutionalised data exchange.
  • Many modern LIMS support real time  interfacing with EHRs in hospital/clinical operation.
  • Instrument and application Integration
  • Modern LIMS software can integrate directly to computerized laboratory equipment.
  • Harvest a lot more data points than manual input. Eg RT-PCR
  • LIMS software may control analytic process in the equipment.
  • Extraction of raw and processed data.
  • Allows for more in-depth data analysis

Additional Functions

    1. Audit Management
    2. Barcode handling
    3. Chain of custody
    4. Compliance – HIPPA
    5. CRM
    6. Document Management
    7. Instrument calibration and management 
    8. Inventory & equipment management
    9. Personnel & workload Management
    10. QA & QC
    11. Reporting
    12. Time tracking

Types of LIMS architecture

Thick Client

  • Thick-client LIMS is a more traditional client/server architecture
  • Data processing on client computer, then passed to server for storage primarily 
  • Advantages- Faster data processing, more interactivity & customization.
  • Disadvantages- need for robust client computers, time consuming updates, limited scalability.

Thin-Client

  • Modern architecture with LIMS software in Server / host, accessed through web browser
  • All software tasks handled by the server, automatically seen by all clients
  • Advantages 
  • Lower costs
  • Fewer network maintenance issues
  • Disadvantages – Need for real-time access to server

Hybrid Systems

  • Web- Enabled – A thick client with added web browser components.
  • Added advantage of access to data from a web browser
  • Web Based LIMS – Hybrid of thick/thin systems. Disadvantage
  • SAAS – Cloud based systems- The future?

Rationale of Laboratory Information System

  • Improve data management in lab to increase lab potential 
  • Enable centralization of information
  • Support and enhance business processes of the lab   
  • Take advantage of new lab information technology
  • Provide easy and timely access to data

Factors to Consider when Choosing A LIMS System 

  • Type of labReference/research/public health
  • Volume of specimens
  • Types and number of tests
  • Size of staff/users
  • Existing system
  • Determine which areas will be affected
  • Requirements and expectations
  • Avoid ‘culture shock’

Evaluating LIMS Systems

  • LIMS capabilities
  • System validation/maintenance
  • Interfacing capabilities
  • Confidentiality/data integrity protection
  • Regulatory compliance/accreditation.

LIMS: Challenges

  • Cost
  • Technical Capacity
  • Interoperability, Backward Compatibility
  • Data Security – Data Breach, Ransomware
  • Regulatory compliance/accreditation.

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