Question: What are the Uses and Benefits of a Laboratory Information System?

In most modern clinical laboratories, the LIS is the central nervous system of the operations. It can handle patient demographics, sample and specimen management, turn-around time measurements, order and results management and analyzer connections.

In this previous post, we defined a laboratory information system as:

A series of computer programs that process, store and manage data from all stages of medical processes and tests.

Functions and Modules

Many LIS are modular in nature—that is, they are designed as a series of mini-software units that work together. Some lab systems will define their modules according to the specific function, while some will identify modules according to a specific laboratory section or field.

Some of the most common functions of the LIS include:

  • Sample/specimen management
  • Patient demographics
  • Order management
  • Management and quality control of instruments and analyzers
  • Results management
  • Integration with HIS and other systems

Modules based on laboratory sections can include:

  • Hematology
  • Clinical Chemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Histopathology
  • Blood Bank

There are laboratory software that have integrations with Electronic Medical Records. Other have a stand-alone Web-based physician portal or a patient portal.

Tips to Help Justify an LIS Project

It’s not hard to justify an LIS for the laboratory because it often pays for itself. That’s the advantage of setting up an IT system in a hospital revenue center.

Focus on the following areas for your business case:

  • Improved turn-around times: What used to take hours can become minutes when using a system that automates many manual processes.
  • Capacity and volume increase: With better turn-around times, it’s possible to increase test runs and patient volume with existing set of instruments and analyzers.
  • More work, less paper: Lab staff is able to focus on work that provides more value rather than doing paperwork.
  • Improved patient safety: With faster TATs, better access to results, and fully-enforced quality checks, patient safety is improved.