Software that is designed to store electronically data for a laboratory is known as a laboratory information management system. It is the accepted standard for data storage and retrieval throughout the analytical laboratory industry. It is a repository of static files that includes data about insurance companies, doctors, diagnostic codes, and the like and patient data with names, demographics, test orders and results, billing history and other relevant details.
A laboratory information management system typically can handle computer interfaces to instruments, other labs, and computers systems of other doctors. Various types of patient reports, billing claims and statements, and internal reports such as account receivable and quality control are the typical output of these systems.
Although medical laboratories may feel derive comfort from their paper systems and their Excel spreadsheets, there are many benefits to a laboratory information management system that require investigation.
One major benefit is that it increases the efficiency of a medical laboratory. Data needs to be entered only once and can be retrieved quickly by using queries created from the available selection criteria. By eradicating a lot of paper records, the occurrence of lost or misfiled worksheets, files and reports are also eliminated.
The accuracy of the data is improved as manual data entry becomes limited with most data entry is done using selections from pull-down lists and menus that are predefined. The system usually validates data that is entered manually, so any errors are caught on entry. Validation protocols also eliminate illogical data conditions before generating reports.
Flexibility is another feature of a laboratory information system. Analytical reports, electronic data deliverables, and special features can easily be customized to meet the needs of any individual lab. The code can also be written to enable the system to exchange data securely with different software applications from the electronic medical records collected and maintained by health care providers. This also ensures that the data exchange is accurate and delivered in a timely fashion.
The success of any such software platform depends on a close collaboration between the health care personnel and the in-house information technology team to ensure that the system runs continuously with minimal or no downtime. The result is an improvement in workflow and a more fully functional medical laboratory.